Dan (Maggie) Zhu

GFI Fellow - Class of 2019

Undergraduate student, environmental systems (ecology, behavior and evolution)
UC San Diego


Maggie currently works with Dr. Julian Schroeder and the Superfund Research Center to test plant tissue samples for heavy metal contaminations. She has already taken extensive samples from UC San Diego’s gardens, and that of a community garden established in collaboration with the GFI (Ocean View Growing Grounds) located in a neighborhood with little-to-no access to fresh food or ‘food desert’ located in South East San Diego. With the GFI, Maggie will be expanding on this to also include soil sample testing by utilizing a mobile, handheld spectrometer (XRF Analyzer), which allows for high-throughput testing of soil samples anywhere within minutes. Maggie will utilize this data with the ambassador Lindsey Johnson to create a ‘toxicant map’ of the region, to not only determine if the produce being grown at the current gardens is safe, but to also allow informed decision making for future gardens and growing spaces. Instead of being reactionary to the presence of heavy metals in the soil, citizens and scientists can instead become proactive before the first seed is planted.