My research focuses primarily on understanding the effects of global environmental change (a.k.a. “climate change”) on the functioning and structure of terrestrial ecosystems, and deciphering the underlying ecological mechanisms driving the responses. This includes the study of how rising atmospheric CO2, changes in ambient temperature, interannual climate variability (e.g. anomalously warm years or heat waves), reductions in biological diversity, and large periodic disturbances (e.g. wildfire) affect plant physiological processes, plant growth and survival, plant populations and plant communities, as well as ecosystem processes and feedbacks. Although my interests in ecology are broad, I am particularly keen on understanding how belowground processes are impacted by changing ambient environmental conditions (e.g. fine root dynamics, activity of soil fauna, soil hydrology and root biology). I attempt to bridge traditional ecological disciplines and seek out collaboration with scientists from other disciplines to address these wider-ranging ecological questions.
My research group and I also apply our expertise to directly address real-world environmental questions and challenges for clients such as the U.S. Department of the Interior, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Sempra Energy, American Vanadium, Washoe County Air Quality Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Gas Technology Institute.