🎙 Tell us about yourself?
I am a forest- and agro-ecologist in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, interested in plant ecophysiology, plant functional traits, forest carbon dynamics, and ecosystem functioning. My work revolves around better understanding the plant functional traits that underpin ecosystem functioning in both natural and managed terrestrial ecosystems, and how these same traits respond to environmental change.
🎙 What are your research interests & what are you currently researching?
I am interested in how differences in the morphological, chemical, and physical characteristics of plants – or their functional traits – influence the structure and function of forests- and agroecosystems. I am particularly interested in understanding how differences in leaf functional traits, both between and within crops, influence agroecosystem resilience and resistance to global change. Additionally, my research focuses on how variation in wood chemistry and anatomy, both across and within tree species, influence forest ecosystem functions including carbon storage and cycling.
🎙 What is the significance of your current research?
My research makes significant contributions to two primary areas of global change science. First, my research in the area of agroecology and crop traits, informs a better understanding of how crops are expected to respond to environmental change, including drought or heatwaves. Second, my research in the area of forest ecology and wood traits is explicitly designed to improve models and estimates of forest carbon stocks and fluxes.
🎙 Any interesting insights/results so far related to your research?
Of particular note, is that our research program has revealed that:
- Quantifying the variation that exists in wood carbon concentrations across tree species, refines existing errors in forest carbon stock estimates as high as ~8% in some forests; and
- During the process of domestication, crops have been inadvertently selected to express leaf physiological, chemical, and morphological traits that differ substantially from closely related wild plants.
🎙 What aspirations do you have for your research? How do you see it being utilized?
In the future, our research in the field of agroecology and crop traits seeks to better understand how crops respond to extreme climate events (including drought and heat waves), and 2) our research in the area of forest ecology aims to explicitly be incorporated into/ refine forest carbon accounting guidelines used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Finally, 3) in both of these areas, we plan to use remote sensing technologies (LIDAR and multispectral imaging) to better quantify the causes and consequences of trait variation in ecosystem functions, in both agricultural and forest ecosystems.