Classes - Ecological Principles, Field Ecology, Tropical Ecology, Equatorial Biology, Conservation Biology, Evolution and Diversity, Introduction to Environmental Stuldies, Environmental Studies Senior Seminar, adviser for Field Research in Costa Rica semester program
Research -My research interests center on plant evolutionary ecology, natural habitat
restoration and sustainable agriculture. With students in my lab we conduct long-term
studies of deciduous and coniferous tree growth and mortality in forest restoration
projects. Individual trees are tagged and mapped with a GPS system. We also study
changes in soil, plant productivity and plant biodiversity in restored prairies over time.
Through this research we hope to better understand patterns of forest and prairie
succession and make recommendations for future restorations.
Studies on the effects of habitat fragmentation and small population size on
genetic variation in the tree species, balsam fir (Abies balsamea) have shown that
balsam fir has adapted to lower levels of genetic variability than most conifers. Results
suggest that isolated populations may require active management to survive periods of
rapid climate change.
We also conduct on-farm research to promote the use of more environmentally
sustainable farming methods. Our research includes comparisons of soil quality and
crop yields with different soil tillage methods and application of different amounts of
nitrogen fertilizer. We are also studying the effects of cover crops and ways to increase
the health of soil organisms. As we work with local farmers we hope to determine
practical ways to decrease nutrient runoff and maintain or improve soil quality over the
Our Student Naturalist program gives selected students the opportunity to lead
nature walks and other activities to promote education about the Natural Lands on
campus. We also have volunteer activities to help with maintenance of the Natural Lands
by removing invasive species, planting trees or cleaning up certain areas.