RESEARCH AREAS

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MICROBES ON FIRE: HOW MICROBES RESPOND TO BURNING REGIMES

Due to changing climate, fire will be increasing in frequency and intensity among ecosystems. We work to understand how soil microbial communities recover after differing fire regimes in temperate and semi-arid climates. 


Currently, we have projects tracking nutrient scavenging and recovery dynamics in the Southern Appalachian Mountains (wildfire effects) and in savannah woodlands (experimental burning plots). 

UNDERSTANDING DRIVERS OF MICROBIAL COMMUNITY STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION

Microbes are sentinels of environmental change. We examine how microbial community diversity varies among climate, nutrient, and water availability gradients across soils and aquatic habitats. A key goal is to link microbial diversity to large-scale "function" to provide perspectives on how microbes drive ecosystem health. 

Current projects include (1) species turnover in response to drought in plants and soils, (2) link between stream microbial community to energy flow dynamics in wastewater impacted intermittent streams.

MICROBIAL INDICATORS AND RESTORING URBAN LANDSCAPES

Urbanization is expanding globally. With that expansion, biodiversity and ecosystem services will be reduced with large implications for human and environmental health. However, management practices can be implemented to maintain important functions for urban ecosystems.

Upcoming projects in this area will include (1) using berm-maintained watersheds as a means of increasing water infiltration, microbial biomass, and carbon storage, (2) urban lawncare maintenance regimes to retain microbial biodiversity.