I am an ecosystem ecologist specializing in
nitrogen cycling between plants and soils.
My research utilizes stable isotopes, manipulative experiments, field data collection, and collaboration with the earth system modeling community to better understand the response of high latitude ecosystems to climate change.
In high latitude ecosystems, permafrost currently stores twice the amount of carbon found in the earth's atmosphere. Arctic ecosystems are warming rapidly and the decomposition of thawing permafrost is expected to release large amounts of carbon to the atmosphere in the coming decades. Fortunately, arctic plants are expected to experience accelerated growth, or productivity, under these warmer conditions. Greater plant productivity could lead to arctic plants storing more carbon and offsetting some of the losses from the permafrost carbon pool. Any increases in plant growth, however, will be mediated by nutrient availability in thawing soil profiles. Right now, arctic soils are very nutrient-poor and the availability of nitrogen limits plant productivity as well as microbial activity. My work focuses on these belowground dynamics and the role they play in determining the response of high latitude ecosystems to climate change. I have done extensive research quantifying increases in nitrogen availability during the process of permafrost thaw and am currently working on understanding plant acquisition of nitrogen in arctic ecosystems. My current projects look at plant root traits across a variety of arctic plant communities, plant uptake and allocation of nitrogen in response to short-term warming, and symbiotic nitrogen fixation within the root nodules of alder shrubs.