The Ecosystem Ecology Lab

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Colleen Iversen, PhD 2008, DOE GREF fellow, NSF DDIG recipient, co-advised with Richard Norby

Colleen quantified the importance of climate driven changes in fine root morphology on below-ground processes.

Colleen is a Staff Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

John Bevans, DOE SURE fellow- (2008)

John investigated how climatic change shapes ecosystem function.

Jennifer Burks, Undergraduate researcher- (2007)

Jennifer examined how climate change alters hyphal decomposition.


Jennifer is a MS student at Purdue University

Catlin Guthrie, DOE SURE fellow- (2007)

Caitlin completed her senior thesis at FACE measuring how elevated atmospheric CO2 alters forest nitrogen cycling.

Catlin is working on her masters in OR.

Vanessa Garcia, Undergraduate teaching fellow- (2007)

Vanessa explored how climate change alters aquatic macroinvertebrate communities.


Zach Kiershmann, Undergraduate researcher- (2006-07)

Zach worked on all aspects of the OCCAM project.

Zach is studying marine ecology in the Navy

Onike Mnzawa, Undergraduate researcher- (2006)

Onike was interested in how climate change alters ecosystem structure. Onike became a new mother to Grasu in 2007!

Luke Zachmann, DOE SURE fellow- University of Minnesota, Morris (2006)

Luke explored the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem resistance and resilience anthropogenic environmental perturbations.

Luke earned a MS at Utah State & is now a tech @ NAU

Sharon Gray, DOE SURE fellow- UI Urbana-Champaign (2006)

Sharon explored how ecogenomics could inform climate change science.

Sharon is a PhD student at UI at Urbana-Champaign. Sharon is now a post-doc at UC Davis.

Kerri Crawford, Undergraduate researcher-  (2006)

Kerri explored the links between plant genetics and herbivore populations on Solidago.

Kerri is a PhD student at Rice University. Kerri is an Assistant Professor at University of Huston.

Rebecca Roha, Undergraduate researcher- (2006)

Rebecca studied how how climatic change alters litter decomposition and nutrient release.



Marlene Tyner, Undergraduate researcher- (2006)

Marlene’s work on decomposition won a DOE prize to present her research at the 2007 AAAS meeting in San Francisco. She published her results in JUR.

Katrina Cox, Undergraduate researcher- (2005-06)

Katrina worked with us on OCCAM and FACE.

Sam Freyaldenhoven, Undergraduate researcher - (2005)

Sam was interested in climatic change and chemistry.

Sam earned an MS in biochemistry and is a medical student.

Sarah Kortebein, High school intern- Farragut High School  (2006-07)

Sarah was interested in climate change alter litter production and soil microbial communities.

Sarah is an undergraduate @ Tufts University

Emily Mitchell, High school intern- SECME student (2006)

Emily investigated how plant genotype alters gauling rates in goldenrod.

Emily is an undergraduate @ Austin Peay University

George Byrd, Sabbatical Ferrum College - (2007-08)

George collaborated with us on the OCCAM project and the switchgrass root exudation project.

Xiongwen Chen, Summer sabbatical - Alabama A&M University (2007)

Xiongwen worked with us on modeling soil respiration under changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, warming and precipitation change in old-field plant communities.

Courtney Campany, MS Post-MS technician (2007-08)

Courtney kept the OCCAM project running.

Court is a PhD student at HIE in Australia

Gloria Jimenez Post-BA technician - (2007)

Gloria worked with us on the FACE and OCCAM projects - she was interested in geologic processes.

Gloria was in the Peace Core and is now a grad student in Arizona in geology.

Katherine Sides Post-BS technician - (2005-07)

Katherine worked with us on the FACE and OCCAM projects - she was interested in microbial ecology. Katherine is a tech at NAU in Flagstaff.

Emmi Felker-Quinn Post-BA technician - (2006-07)

Emmi was interested in invasion biology and the impact of climatic change on plant communities.

Emmi earned her PhD in EEB at UT & is now a post-doc.

Elizabeth Ferguson, Undergraduate researcher- (2006-08)

Elizabeth worked on all aspects of the OCCAM project.

Kelly Rula Post-BA technician - Bowdoin College (2008)

Kelly worked with us on the root-microbe project and the OCCAM project.

Kelly works for an environmental non-profit.

Shannon Pelini, PhD 2009, visiting DOE GREF fellow

Shannon investigated the role of host plants in determining the success of insect range shifts under climate change.

Shannon is an Assistant Professor at Bowling Green State University.

Laura Marsh, Undergraduate researcher- (2009)

Laura worked with our group on the small mammal climate change project.

Paul Kardol, Post-doc at UT & Wigner fellow at ORNL (2007-09)

Paul’s work focused on community dynamics under natural conditions and as affected by human impacts.

Paul is an Assistant Professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umeå, Sweden.

Anna Proffit, Undergraduate intern- (2009)

Anna worked with our group as an intern investigating how plant genotype can influence aphid population dynamics.


W. Nick Reynolds, student (2008-10)

Nick was interested in the linkages among soil, microarthropods, and nutrient cycling.

Nick is a high school biology teacher.

Chris Habeck, PhD 2010; visiting DOE GREF fellow

Chris is an assistant professor at Kutztown University.

Tander Simberloff, Undergraduate researcher- summer (2010), West High School- summer (2009)

Tander spent the summer working with us on Sollidago projects.

Tander is in medical school.

Jackie Aareson, Undergraduate researcher- (2010)
Jackie worked with us on the Solidago genotypic diversity project.

Haley Smith lab and field manager (2008-10)

Haley joined our group from OK and was integral in getting the UT lab up and running (and even learning something about soil nematodes in her spare time).

Haley works for the park service.

Gordon Robinson, Undergraduate researcher- (2010-11)

Gordon was awarded a grant in 2010 to measure how small rodent herbivory alters nutrient cycling and microbial activity in old fields. He is now working at ORNL.

Lauren Breza, Undergraduate researcher -(2009-11)

Lauren worked with us on the Solidago genotypic diversity project examining how plant genetic identity may influence ANPP and NEE. Lauren was awarded a grant in 2009 & was the top undergrad in EEB award in 2011. Lauren is a PhD NSF GRFP fellow in New Hampshire

Danny Lusk, Undergraduate researcher- (2010-11)

Danny is broadly interested in ecology. He is worked on a review paper that looks at climate impacts on stream decomposition.

Danny is off to Australia & New Zealand to work with Jen Schweitzer & Paul Kardol!

Minh Tran, Undergraduate researcher- Emory University summer (2011)

Minh is an undergraduate student at Emory and will be joining our group to get experience working in a field ecology lab this summer.


Amanda Oaks, Undergraduate researcher- (2011)

Amanda is a senior at UT majoring in Microbiology. She is helping us with the small mammal and Solidago projects this summer.


Katie Park, Undergraduate researcher/ intern- (2011@ RMBL)

Katie’s project looked at above- and below-ground community responses to ant colony presence. When not at the RMBL, she is an undergrad at Maryville University in St. Louis.

Stephanie Jensen, Undergraduate researcher (2011)

Stephanie worked with Emily Austin on her warming & wood decomposing fungi project. Stephanie is most interested in marine biology.


Matt Olive, Undergraduate researcher- (2010-11)

Matt is broadly interested in plant-soil feedbacks. He worked with us on the Solidago project.

Phoebe Wright, Undergraduate & Post-BS researcher

Undergraduate honors researcher (2009-11)

Phoebe examined how soil nutrient availability and insect herbivory interact to shape soil microbial communities & was awarded a grant in 2009.

Phoebe runs for Nike.

Hector Castro, Post-doctoral fellow

Hector is interested in environmental microbiology and ecological aspects of the microbial geochemical element cycles in soils.

Hector is an Research Associate in Chemistry at UT

Emily Moran, NIMBioS Post-doctoral fellow

Emily is modeling genotype by environment interactions in aspen stands to better understand the selective effects of climatic changes on forest structure.

Emily is an Assistant Professor at UC Merced

Heather Tran, Undergraduate honors researcher (2009-12)

Heather worked on the Solidago project and presented her results at ASB and ESA. Heather was awarded a grant in 2010 and was an REU student at the SEV in 2011.

Heather is a MS student at Villanova.

Matt Floyd, Undergraduate researcher- (2011-12)

Matt is working on a project examining how fungal communities respond under climatic warming.

Matt was awarded a 2011 summer research grant he is now in medical school.

Katie Sloop, Undergraduate honors researcher - (2010-12)

Katie is a data whiz and works with us on a variety of data sets on soil microbial communities and solidago temperature responses.


Kelly Giro, Undergraduate researcher (2012)

Kelly is a senior in EEB and is working with Jessica Bryant on how mycorrhizae function.

Kelly was awarded a summer research fellowship in 2012.

Lara Souza, American Association of University Women (AAUW) American Post-doctoral fellow

Lara headed up the Solidago genes to ecosystems project.

Lara is an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma

Marie-Anne de Graaff, Post-doctoral fellow - ORNL (2008-10)

Marie-Anne is interested in determining the impact of elevated atmospheric CO2 on ecological processes occurring at the plant-soil interface.

Marie-Anne is an Assistant Professor at Boise State University

Emily Austin Post-BA technician - (2007-08)

Emily helped with our molecular work at ORNL.


Emily is now a post-doc at UNH.

Melissa Cregger, PhD 2012, Department of Energy GREF fellow

Melissa investigated the effects of climate change on microbial communities & ecosystem processes.

Melissa is a staff scientist at Oak Ridge National Lab

Corinne Calhoun Undergraduate REU researcher- summer (2012)

Corinne is an undergraduate at Pomona College and joined our group as an REU student at BMBL.


Kelsey Richesin, Field & lab tech 2012 & Undergraduate researcher - (2012)

Kelsey collaborated on a number of projects with us. 

Kelsey is a PhD student in Michigan.

Relena Ribbons, Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education (CIRE) fellow 2011

Relena was interested in forested ecosystems. She is pursing a PhD in the UK.

Alaina Marinello, Undergraduate researcher - (2012)

Alaina is working with Leigh Moorhead on the mammal project. She is interested in how small mammals affect decomposition and soil macro-faunal communities.

Courtney Patterson, Undergraduate researcher - (2012)

Courtney collaborating with us in the Sanders lab on hemiparasitic plant impacts on plant community structure.

Courtney is our TN lab manager.

Sarah Wood, Undergraduate honors researcher - (2010-13)

Sarah’s senior thesis focused on how ants alter ecosystem processes in alpine meadows. She worked as an ecologist in Alaska and ORNL.

Sarah is a medical student.

Su’ad Yoon, Undergraduate researcher - (2012-14)

Su’ad worked with us (and Quentin) on a plant trait project. She is also an expert on culturing mycorrhizal fungi (useful trait, for sure).

Su’ad is pursuing a PhD in Nevada

Jaime Call, Undergraduate researcher- (2009-13)

Jaime is broadly interested in soils. She investigated if herbivory has a lasting imprint on soils after a disturbance event. Jaime was awarded a summer research fellowship.

Jaime is pursuing a masters in soil science at UT.

Raina Fitzpatrick, High school researcher - (2012-13)

Raina experimented with field biology for as long as she could remember, but only recently decided to explore ecosystems. She works with Leigh on the mammal project. Raina is an undergraduate in biology at Haverford.

Leslie Smith, PhD, Oceanography, University of Rhode Island (2011)

Leslie is a marine ecosystem ecologist examining anthropogenic impacts on coastal ecosystems. She also runs a consulting business – Your Ocean Consulting, LLC – focusing on science communication

Emily Austin, PhD 2013, National Science Foundation GRFP fellow

Emily investigated wood decaying fungi, warming, and diversity effects on the carbon cycle. She is now a post-doc at UNH.

Brandy Pieper, Undergraduate researcher - (2012-14)

Brandy is interested in how global change shapes ecosystems. She has specific interest in soil microbial and fungal ecology.

Brandy was an REU in Puerto Rico in 2013.

Nora Dunkirk, Undergraduate researcher - (2012-14)

Nora has a lot of genomic research under her belt exploring plant-microbe interactions. Lucky for us, she is also excited about ecosystem ecology.

Nora was an REU at the SEV in 2013. Nora is a laboratory tech at Stanford.

Nick Hendershot, Undergraduate researcher- (2013-14); summer tech (2014)

Nick’s focused on what determines microbial distributions. Nick is pursing a PhD at Stanford.

Sneha Patel, Undergraduate researcher - (2012-15)

Sneha explored mycorrhizal decomposition. She was awarded a grant from UT for her summer work on mycorrhizae & was EEBs undergrad of the year.

Sneha is in Pharmacology school.

Kent Connell, Undergraduate researcher- (2012-14)

Kent explored how ants, via their impacts on soils, might alter seedling establishment.

Kent was an REU student at KBS in 2014; Kent is pursing a PhD

Sara La Haie, Undergraduate researcher - (2014)

Sara is exploring roots and mycorrhizae along elevational gradients. She majored in Animal Science

Magnus Heide Andreasen, Undergraduate, KU, lab/research assistant, (2014-15)

Interested in terrestrial and marine ecology and biodiversity

Peter Meidl, REU student from University of Tennessee (2015 @ RMBL)

Peter’s project explores how net ecosystem carbon exchange (NEE) is related to plant traits along an elevational gradient.

Monique Garett, Summer researcher (from Humboldt State), (2015 @RMBL)

Monique’s project explores how warming, changes in soil moisture content, and changes in nutrients alter mycorrhizal fungi along elevational gradients.

Jiang Jiang, NIMBioS Post-doctoral fellow & EEB post-doc

Jiang developed models that coupled ecological processes to understand shifts associated with climate change.

Jing is a post-doc the University of Oklahoma

Qiong Zhao, Visiting Associate Professor (2015)

Qiong is visiting with us from the Institute of Applied Ecology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She is a forest ecologist and an expert in P-cycling.

Aurelija Staniute, MS 2015

EnvEuro (Environmental Science in Europe) International Master’s student, 2014-2015

Worked on a project exploring how long and short term warming alters carbon dynamics.