Earth Scientist
Earth Scientist


Montana is an Earth scientist with the Biogeochemical Transformations team in PNNL’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Division and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory user program. She has been at PNNL since 2016, starting as an alternatively sponsored fellow. Her research interests include soil microbial ecology and biogeochemistry. She started in this field in 2013 during her undergraduate work and grew to love soil and began her career.  

Smith participated in a variety of projects, from peatlands in northern Minnesota at the Spruce and Peatland Response Under Changing Environments, to the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. She has also been involved with the creation of the real-time mass spectrometer, which allows for real-time atmospheric monitoring. She’s used this technology to study the Birch Effect in soils and track carbon utilization using stable isotopes.

Research Interest

  • Soil microbial ecology 

  • Biogeochemistry 


  • BS in Biology, Iowa State University 



Weitz, K. K., Smith, M. L., Hixson, K. K., Hill, E. A., Jansson, J. K., Hofmockel, K. S., & Lipton, M. S. (2020). Real-Time Mass Spectrometry Measurements of Respiration Rates in Biological Systems. 

Dohnalkova A., S.L. Bell, M.L. Smith, L. Kovarik, M.E. Bowden, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2019. "Mineral-Organic Interface on Clay Minerals: Imaging and Analytical Approaches." Microscopy and Microanalysis 25, no. S2:2438-2439. PNNL-SA-148288. doi:10.1017/S1431927619012923 

Keiser A.D., M.L. Smith, S.L. Bell, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2019. "Peatland microbial community response to altered climate tempered by nutrient availability." Soil Biology and Biochemistry 137. PNNL-SA-147067. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2019.107561