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PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Forest Isbell

Dr. Isbell is an associate professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; the associate director of Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve; and an associate at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. He also serves on the editorial boards of Ecology Letters and Oecologia. He investigates how global environmental changes alter plant communities and ecosystem processes, and how both ecosystems and people depend on biodiversity. This research builds on previous studies of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships, biodiversity–stability relationships, nutrient enrichment, land use changes, and ecosystem services. View his profile on Google Scholar.


 

POSTDOCS

Amy Churchill

Dr. Churchill focuses on the characteristics of plants and their communities which drive ecosystem responses to global change such as rising CO2, climate extremes or nitrogen deposition. Her work spans community and ecosystem ecology, and past projects have included large-scale field experimental manipulations as well as glasshouse projects in the US and Australia. Her current post-doctoral work is funded through the USDA AFI NIFA program, and examines how shifts in net plant community interactions associated with grassland succession may influence ecosystem resistance and resilience from drought. Read more details about her work on her website.

 

Chad Zirbel

Dr. Zirbel explores how plant functional traits structure the assembly of plant communities and functioning of ecosystems undergoing restoration. Focusing on improving restoration success by applying knowledge from basic ecology research while also using restoration as a system to test community ecology and diversity-ecosystem function theory. His postdoctoral research asks how grazing by bison reduces fire intensity and competition from dominant grasses to promote oak regeneration and the diversity of savanna species. Read more about his work on his website.


 

GRADUATE STUDENTS

Hanan Farah

Hanan's interests lie at the intersection of disturbance and restoration ecology. She is specifically interested in better understanding the underlying mechanisms that drive the recovery of biodiversity in grasslands. She also hopes to utilize soil microbial communities as a tool to facilitate recovery.

 

 

Maggie Anderson

Maggie is interested in the effects of plant functional traits on the diversity of wild bee communities. She seeks to understand how climate change and habitat fragmentation can alter patterns of plant phenology and ultimately impact pollinator communities in the future. The findings of her work will have conservation and management applications.

 


 

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Alexis Pearson
Annie Nelson
Emily Neeson
Lila Beck
Logan Olson

(social distancing)


 

 

PREVIOUS LAB MEMBERS

Cristy Portales-ReyesCristy Portales-Reyes

Dr. Portales-Reyes was a PhD student in our lab. She is now a postdoc at the University of Georgia. Cristy is interested in understanding the mechanisms that lead to coexistence and maintain high levels of plant diversity. Her dissertation research considered recovery of grassland plant communities after cessation of nutrient enrichment, including the roles of plant-soil feedbacks, dispersal limitation, and fire.

 

Jane CowlesJane Cowles Ditmer

Dr. Cowles Ditmer was a postdoc in our lab. She is now a Data Scientist at Metro Transit. She is interested in the theoretical links between coexistence mechanisms – the reasons there are so many species to begin with – and the consequences of these coexisting species – biodiversity – for ecosystem functioning. Past projects include examining the role of plant-soil feedbacks in the diversity-productivity relationship and ecosystem responses to warming. She co-led an NSF LTER synthesis working group at NCEAS that is scaling-up biodiversity analyses. View her profile on Google Scholar.

 

Kaitlin KimmelKaitlin Kimmel

Dr. Kimmel was a PhD student in our lab. She is now a postdoc at Johns Hopkins University. She explores how human actions are altering biodiversity and community composition by utilizing both long-term data sets and theory. She is interested in the many ways we can describe the community structure and how these different measures may give us insights into how ecosystems may function in the future. To read more about her work, check out her website here.

Zhiyuan Ma

Zhiyuan was a visiting PhD student in our lab, coming to us from Peking University in China. He is interested in exploring the consequences of global changes, such as warming and precipitation alteration, on alpine grassland ecosystems on the Tibetan Plateau. His current research investigates how plant communities, including their temporal stability and their community composition and assembly trajectories, would respond to anthropogenic climate changes.

Clare Kazanski

Dr. Kazanski was a NatureNet Postdoctoral Fellow in our lab. She is now a Sustainable Grazing Scientist for the North America region at The Nature Conservancy. She investigates how global environmental changes and land management practices affect soils and ecosystem carbon storage. Her research addresses the potential for enhancing soil carbon storage in grasslands and rangelands through specific grazing practices. Visit her website or view her Google Scholar Profile.

 

Jushan Liu

Dr. Liu was a visiting scholar in our lab, and he is currently an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences at Northeast Normal University in China. He has a wide range of research interests and experiences, including investigating plant response to animal saliva and geographical variation of seed mass across Canadian Boreal Forest. His current work mainly focuses on the response of grassland ecosystem processes and functioning to global change (e.g. nitrogen deposition) and human activity (e.g. grazing).

Meredith Palmer

Dr. Palmer was a postdoctoral research associate in our lab, investigating the cascading effects of wolf recolonization on soil and plant communities at Cedar Creek. She is currently a postdoc at Princeton. Her research explores the direct and indirect effect effects of predators on prey behavior, prey demography, and ecosystem functioning. She investigates anti-predator decision-making in large herbivores in response to predators such as wolves and lions and works intensively with citizen scientists to classify data from large-scale camera trapping projects. Visit her website.

Dylan Craven

Dr. Craven was a postdoctoral research fellow in our lab. He is currently an associate professor at Universidad Mayor in Chile. Some of his current work in our lab considered whether plant diversity can buffer ecosystem processes under perturbations. Visit his website or view his Google Scholar profile.