Melanie Mayes

Melanie Mayes

Senior Staff Scientist and Team Lead


Dr. Melanie Mayes is a Senior Staff Scientist and Team Leader with the Environmental Sciences Division and the Climate Change Science Institute. She also holds a Joint Faculty Appointment with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Tennessee. She has a background in geology and contaminant hydrogeology. She designs experiments to build better models of natural processes, and is interested in diverse research at the intersection of water, minerals, solute chemistry, and biological cycling. Her current research involves improving the representation of terrestrial carbon cycling processes in earth system and process models, developing techniques to incorporate genomic information into nutrient cycling models, developing technologies to reduce mercury loading and methylmercury generation in surface and ground water systems, and using advanced techniques such as neutrons to understand the interface of soil organic matter and minerals.


Melanie Mayes received the U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Award for the proposal “A Comprehensive Framework for Modeling Emissions from Tropical Soils and Wetlands”. In 2015, she was an Honoree of the Knoxville YWCA’s Tribute to Women. In 2014, she was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was also the 2011 recipient of the Stanley I. Auerbach Award for Excellence in Environmental Sciences from the Environmental Sciences Division at ORNL, the University of Tennessee Earth and Planetary Sciences Young Alumna Award, and was an Associate Editor of Excellence by the Soil Science Society of America Journal.


Mayes, M.A., Lajtha, K., and Bailey, V. 2016. EOS Meeting Report: Advancing Soil Carbon Cycle Science: Workshop to celebrate 2015–2024 International Decade of Soil; Boulder, Colorado, 14–16 March, 2016.

Jian, S., Li, J., Chen, J., Wang, G., Mayes, M.A., Dzantor, K.E., Hui, D., and Luo, Y. 2016. Soil extracellular enzyme activities, soil carbon and nitrogen storage under nitrogen fertilization: A meta-analysis. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 101: 32-43. DOI:10.1016/j.soilbio.2016.07.003

LeDoux, S.T., Szynkiewicz, A., Mayes, M.A., Faiia, A., McKinney, M., and Dean, W (2016). Chemical and isotope compositions of shallow groundwater in areas impacted by hydraulic fracturing and surface mining in the Central Appalachian Basin, Eastern United States. Applied Geochemistry 71:73-85.

Moore JAM, Jiang J, Patterson CM, Mayes MA, Wang G, Classen AT (2015). Interactions among roots, mycorrhizae, and free-living microbial communities differentially impact soil carbon processes. Journal of Ecology 103:1442–1453. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12484.

Wang, G., Jagadamma, S., Mayes, M.A., Schadt, C., Steinweg, J.M., Gu, L., and Post, W.M. 2015. Microbial dormancy improves development and experimental validation of ecosystem model. The ISME Journal doi:10.1038/ismej.2014.120.

Jagadamma, S., Steinweg, M., and Mayes, M.A. 2014. Influence of substrate chemistry on carbon decomposition and microbial community composition. Biogeosciences 11:4665-4678.

Wang, G., Mayes, M.A., Gu, L., and Schadt, C.W. 2014. Representation of dormant and active microbial dynamics for ecosystem modeling. PLOS One 9(2):e89252.

Li, J., Wang, G., Allison, S.D., Mayes, M.A., and Luo, Y. 2014. Soil carbon sensitivity to temperature, carbon use efficiency, and model complexity in two microbial-ecosystem models. Biogeochemistry doi:10.1007/s10533-013-9948-8.

Petridis, L., Ambaye, H., Jagadamma, S., Kilbey II, S.M., Lokitz, B., Lauter, V., and Mayes, M.A. 2014. Spatial arrangement of organic compounds on model mineral surface: Implications for soil organic matter stabilization. Environmental Science and Technology 48: 79-84,

Jagadamma, S., Steinweg, J.M., Mayes, M.A, Wang, G., and Post, W.M. 2013. Mineral control on decomposition of added and native organic carbon in soils from diverse eco-regions. Biology and Fertility of Soils 49, doi: 10.1007/s00374-013-0879-2.

Jagadamma, S. and Mayes, M.A. 2013. The role of sorption on mineralization of carbon in soils. JSM Environmental Science & Ecology 1(1): 1005.

Jagadamma, S., Mayes, M.A., Zinn, Y.L., Gísladóttirc, G., and Russell, A.E. 2013. Sorption of organic carbon compounds to the fine fraction of surface and subsurface soils. Geoderma 213:79-86.

Hui, D., Mayes, M.A., Wang, G., and Post, W.M. 2013. Kinetic parameters of phosphatase: A quantitative synthesis. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 65:105-113.

Sharma, P., Mayes, M.A., Tang, G. 2013. Role of soil organic carbon and colloids in fate of TNT, RDX and HMX in training range soils. Chemosphere 92(8): 993-1000. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.03.028

Steinweg, J.M., Jagadamma, S., Frerichs, J., and Mayes, M.A. 2013. Activation energy of extracellular enzymes in a global suite of soils. PLoS ONE 8(3): e59943. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059943.

Martin, M., Mayes, M.A., Heal, K., Brice, D.J., and Wullschleger, S. 2013. Investigation of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy and multivariate analysis for differentiating inorganic and organic C in a variety of soils. Spectrochimica Acta Part B 87: 100–107.

Mayes, M.A., Jagadamma, S., Ambaye, H., Petridis, L., and Lauter, V. 2013. Neutron reflectometry reveals the internal structure of natural organic matter deposited onto an aluminium oxide. Geoderma 192:182-188. doi: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2012.07.025.

Wang, G., Post, W.M., Mayes, M.A. 2013. Parameterizing an enzyme-mediated soil organic carbon decomposition model. Ecological Applications, 23(1): 255-272. doi: 10.1890/12-0681.1.

Jagadamma, S., Mayes, M.A., and Phillips, J.R. 2012. Selective sorption of dissolved organic carbon compounds by temperate soils. PLoS ONE 7(11): e50434. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050434.

Wang, G., Post, W.M., Mayes, M.A., Frerichs, J., and Jagadamma, S. 2012. Parameter estimation for models of ligninolytic and cellulolytic enzyme kinetics. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 48:28-38, doi 10.1016/j.soilbio.2012.01.011.

Mayes, M.A., Heal, K., Brandt, C., Phillips, J.R., and Jardine, P.M. 2012. Relation between soil order and Langmuir parameters for sorption of dissolved organic carbon. Soil Science Society of America Journal 76:1027-1037, doi:10.2136/sssaj2011.0340.

Lavoie, B., Mayes, M.A., and McKay, L.D. 2011. Transport of explosive residue surrogates in saturated porous media. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, doi: 10.1007/s11270-011-0999-y.

C.T. Garten, Jr., Brice, D.J., Castro, H.F., Graham, R.L., Mayes, M.A., Phillips, J.R., Post III, W.M., Schadt, C.W., Wullschleger, S.D., Tyler, D.D., Jardine, P.M. Jastrow, J.D., Matamala, R., Miller, R.M., Moran, K.T., Vugteveen, T., Izaurralde, R.C., Thomson, A.M., West, T.O., Amonette, J.E., Bailey, V.L., Metting, F.B., and Smith, J.L. 2011. Response of “Alamo” switchgrass tissue chemistry and biomass to nitrogen fertilization in west Tennessee, USA. Agriculture, Ecosystems, & Environment 140: 389-297,

Cropper, S.C., Perfect, E., van den Berg, E.H. and Mayes, M.A. 2010. Comparison of average and point capillary pressure-saturation functions determined by steady-state centrifugation. Soil Science Society of America Journal 75: 17-25, doi: 10.2136/sssaj2009.0373.

Tang, G., Mayes, M.A., Parker, J.C., and Jardine, P.M. 2010. CXTFIT/Excel – A modular adaptable approach for parameter estimation and uncertainty/sensitivity analysis. Computers and Geosciences 36:1200-1209, doi: 2052/10.1016/j.cageo.2010.01.013.

Stewart, B.D., Mayes, M.A., and Fendorf, S.E. 2010. Impact of uranyl-calcium-carbonato complexes on uranium(VI) adsorption to synthetic and natural sediments. Environmental Science and Technology 44:928-934.

Mayes, M.A., Tang, G., Jardine, P.M., McKay, L.D., Yin, X.L., Pace, M.N., Parker, J.C., Zhang, F., Mehlhorn, T.L., and Dansby-Sparks, R.N. 2009. Influence of sedimentary bedding on reactive transport parameters under unsaturated conditions. Soil Science Society of America Journal 73:1938-1946, doi:10.2136/sssaj2008.0317

Tang, G., Mayes, M.A., Parker, J.C., Yin, X.L., Watson, D.B., and Jardine, P.M. 2009. Improving parameter estimation for column experiments by multi-model evaluation and comparison. Journal of Hydrology 376, 567–578. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2009.07.063.

Tang, G., Alshawabkeh, A.N. and Mayes, M. A. 2008. Automatic time stepping with global error control for groundwater flow models. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering 13(9):803-810.

Tang, G., Perfect, E., van den Berg, E. H., Mayes, M. A. and Parker, J. C. 2008. Estimating effective hydraulic parameters of unsaturated layered sediments using a Cantor Bar composite medium model. Vadose Zone Journal 7:493-499 (doi:10.2136/vzj2007.0013).

Pace, M.N., Mayes, M.A., Jardine, P.M., McKay, L.D, Yin, X.L., Mehlhorn, T.L., Liu, Q., and H. Gürleyük. 2007. Transport of Sr2+ and SrEDTA2- in partially-saturated and heterogeneous sediments. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 91:267-287 (doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2006.11.006).

Gwo, J.-P., Mayes, M.A., and Jardine, P.M. 2007. Quantifying the physical and chemical mass transfer processes for the fate and transport of Co(II)EDTA in a partially-weathered limestone-shale saprolite. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 90:184-202 (doi: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2006.09.013).

Jardine, P.M., Mayes, M.A., Mulholland, P.J., Hanson, P.J., Tarver, J.R., Luxmoore, R.J., McCarthy, J.F., and Wilson, G.V. 2006. Vadose zone flow and transport of dissolved organic carbon at multiple scales in humid regimes. Vadose Zone Journal 5:140-152, doi: 10.2136/vzj2005.0036.

Ginder-Vogel, M., Borch, T., Mayes, M.A., Jardine, P.M., and Fendorf, S.E. 2005. Chromate reduction and retention processes within Hanford sediments. Environmental Science and Technology 39:7833-7839.

Mayes, M.A., Mehlhorn, T.L., and Jardine, P.M. 2005. Coupled hydrological and geochemical processes influencing the transport of chelated metals in the ORNL vadose zone and groundwater. In: ACS Symposium Series 910: Biogeochemistry of Chelating Agents, Nowack, B. and Van Briesen, J., Eds., pp. 297-315.

Mayes, M.A., Yin, X.L., Pace, M.N., and Jardine, P.M. 2005. Rates and mechanisms of Co(II)EDTA2- interactions with sediments from the Hanford site. In: ACS Symposium Series 910: Biogeochemistry of Chelating Agents, Nowack, B. and Van Briesen, J., Eds., pp. 278-296.

Mayes, M.A., Pace, M. N., Jardine, P.M., Fendorf, S.E., Farrow, N.D., Yin, X.L, and Zachara, J.M. 2005. Coupled hydrological and geochemical processes governing the fate and transport of Sr and U in the Hanford vadose zone. In: ACS Symposium Series 904: Subsurface Contamination Remediation Accomplishments of the Environmental Management Science Program, Zachry, T., and Berkey, E., Eds., pp. 229-250.

Mayes, M.A., Jardine, P.M., Mehlhorn, T.L., Bjornstad, B.N., Ladd, J.L., and Zachara, J.M. 2003. Transport of multiple tracers in variably saturated humid region structured soils and semi-arid region laminated sediments. Journal of Hydrology 275: 141-161, doi: 10.1016/S0022-1694(03)00039-8.

Gwo, J.P., D’Azevedo, E.F., Frenzel, H., Mayes, M.A., Yeh, G.-T., Jardine, P.M., Salvage, K.M., and Hoffman, F.M. 2001. HBGC123D: a high performance computer model of coupled hydrological and biogeochemical processes. Computer and Geosciences 27: 1231-1242.

Mayes, M.A., Jardine, P.M., Larsen, I.L., Brooks, S.C., and Fendorf, S.E. 2000. Multispecies transport of metal-EDTA and chromate complexes through undisturbed columns of weathered fractured saprolite. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 45: 243-265, doi: 10.1016/S0169-7722(00)00108-X.

Jardine, P.M., Fendorf, S.E., Mayes, M. A., Larsen, I.L., Brooks, S.C., and Bailey, W.B. 1999. Fate and transport of hexavalent chromium in undisturbed heterogeneous soil. Environmental Science and Technology 33: 2939-2944.