Megan Barbara Young


Megan Young specializes in isotope biogeochemistry research as a member of Carol Kendall’s Isotope Tracers Project at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California.  She also manages the Menlo Park Tritium Laboratory, providing tritium analysis for groundwater age dating within the USGS.  Megan received her Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of Puget Sound, Washington, and her Ph.D. in Geological & Environmental Sciences from Stanford University in 2006, working with Dr. Adina Paytan.  Her research has focused on using a wide range of natural tracers, including stable isotopes, geochemical constituents, and radioactive isotopes to trace natural and anthropogenic nutrient sources through surface and groundwater systems, and on the development and application of new isotope tracing techniques.  Megan is currently working on large scale multi-isotope tracer studies in rivers, estuaries, and ground water in the San Francisco Bay Delta and Central Valley, California. One focus of her current research is on expanding the use of the oxygen isotopic composition of phosphate into freshwater systems as a tracer of phosphate sources and cycling, and she has co-authored several articles and book chapters on this topic.


Ph.D., 2006 Stanford University, School of Earth Sciences, Department of Geological & Environmental Sciences  (Stanford, CA) 
B.S., 1997 University of Puget Sound, Geology Department (Tacoma, WA)

• October 2010 to present: Research Hydrologist/ Isotope Biogeochemist
Isotope Tracers Project, Water Mission Area, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA
• June 2006 to October 2010: Postdoctoral Researcher/ Physical Scientist
Isotope Tracers Project, Water Resources Discipline, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA
• September 2008 to January 2009: Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, CA
• Summer 2006: Instructor- Introduction to Oceanography (C82), U.C. Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
• January 2006 to May 2006: Postdoctoral Researcher (short-term)
Chemical Oceanography Lab, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
• September 1999- January 2006: Graduate Student & Teaching Assistant (PhD program)
Chemical Oceanography Lab, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
• April 1998- July 1999: Geologist (for environmental consulting firm)
Environmental Partners, Bellevue, WA
• Fall 1997: Field Assistant, crab predation project in Bahia Kino, Sonora, Mexico


USGS Star Awards (annual)     2008-2012
NRP Lecture Series Speaker     2010
Lieberman Fellowship, Stanford University   May 2003- June 2004
Stanford Graduate Fellowship: 3-year fellowship   Sept 1999- June 2003
McGee Foundation, Graduate Research Grants   2000, 2001
Shell Fund Research Grants (conference travel)   2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
Phi Beta Kappa, Delta of Washington chapter   May 1997
Murdock Summer Science Research Grant for Senior Thesis  April 1996



Kendall, C., Young, M.B., Silva, S.R., Kraus, T.E.C., Peek, S., and Guerin, M. (2015) Tracing nutrient and organic matter sources and biogeochemical processes in the Sacramento River and Northern Delta: proof of concept using stable isotope data. U.S. Geological Survey, Data Release: ; and online 109 page report: [Link]

Lehman, P.W., Kendall, C., Guerin, M.A., Young, M.B., Silva, S.R., Boyer, G.L., and Teh, S.J. (2015) Characterization of the Microcystis bloom and its nitrogen supply in San Francisco Estuary using stable isotopes. Estuaries & Coasts, 38:165-178.

Kendall, C., D. Doctor, M. Young (2014) Environmental Applications in Hydrologic Studies. In: Volume 5 of Treatise on Geochemistry: Fresh Water Geochemistry, Weathering, and Soils. J. Drever, ed. Elsevier.

McLaughlin, K., M. B. Young, A. Paytan, C. Kendall (2013) The oxygen isotopic composition of phosphate: A tracer for phosphate sources and cycling. In: Application of Isotope Techniques for Assessing Nutrient Dynamics in River Basins.International Atomic Energy Association, Vienna. IAEA-TECDOC-1695, 235 pp.

Kendall, C., M.B. Young, S.R. Silva (2010) Applications of stable isotopes for regional to national-scale water quality monitoring programs. In: Isoscapes: Understanding movement, pattern, and process on Earth through isotope mapping. West, J.B., G.J. Bowen, T.E. Dawson, K.P. Tu (eds). Springer, 487 p.

Zohar, I., Shaviv, A., Young, M., Kendall, C., Silva, S., Paytan, A. (2010) Phosphorus dynamics in soils irrigated with reclaimed waste water or fresh water- A study using oxygen isotopic composition of phosphate. Geoderma. doi: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2010.07.002.

Young, M.B., K. McLaughlin, C. Kendall, W. Stringfellow, M. Rollog, K. Elsbury, E. Donald, and A. Paytan (2009) Characterizing the oxygen isotopic composition of phosphate sources to aquatic ecosystems. Environmental Science & Technology 43(14) 5190-5196. doi: 10.1021/es900337q.

Elsbury, K.E., A. Paytan, N.E. Ostrom, C. Kendall, M.B. Young, K. McLaughlin, M.E. Rollog, and S. Watson. (2009) Using oxygen isotopes of phosphate to trace phosphorus sources and cycling in Lake Erie. Environmental Science & Technology. 43(9) 3108-3114. doi: 10.1021/es8034126.

Young, M., M. Eagle, D. Fong, W. Moore, J. Herrera-Silveira, A. Paytan. (2007) Characterizing sources of groundwater to a tropical coastal lagoon in a karstic area using radium isotopes and water chemistry. Marine Chemistry 109: 377-394.

Geibert, W., M. Charette, G. Kim, W.S. Moore, J. Street, M. Young, A. Paytan, (2007) The release of dissolved actinium to the ocean: A global comparison of different end-members, Marine Chemistry 10.1016/j.marchem.2007.07.005

Paytan, A., Shellenbarger, G., Street, J., Gonneea, M., Davis, K., Young, M., Moore, W. (2006) Submarine groundwater discharge: an important source of new inorganic nitrogen to coral reef ecosystems. Limnology & Oceanography 51(1) 343-348.

McLaughlin, K., Kendall, C., Silva, S., M. Young, A. Paytan. (2006) Phosphate oxygen isotope ratios as a tracer for sources and cycling of phosphate in North San Francisco Bay, California. Journal of Geophysical Research, Biogeosciences 111, G03003, doi: 10.1029/2005JG000079.

Young, M., M. Eagle, J. Herrera-Silveira, and A. Paytan. (2005) Export of dissolved and particulate carbon and nitrogen from a mangrove-dominated lagoon, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences31(3): 189-202