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Global Change Biology and Sustainability

Global change biology and sustainability involves study of the profound effects of human activities on ecological systems through modifications of the physical environment, climate system, disturbance regime, and through extinctions and introductions of biota, as well as investigations on how to manage ecological systems for long-term sustainability.
Italics = secondary appointment in EEB, can serve as graduate co-chair only

Jake Allgeier

Jake Allgeier’s goal as an ecologist is to apply ecological theory to help solve real-world conservation issues. Specifically, he seeks to identify the mechanisms by which behavioral, population, and community dynamics mediate nutrient and energy pathways. The objective is to improve our ability to predict ecological outcomes and enhance conservation efficacy such as the sustainability of ecosystem services (e.g., fisheries). Much of this research takes place in tropical coastal ecosystems (mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs) where he studies gradients created by anthropogenic impacts to test theory directly within the context of environmental change and biodiversity loss.

Regina Baucom

Regina Baucom’s research broadly revolves around the central question “Why and how do some organisms persist and adapt to inhospitable environments?” She works on this topic utilizing species from the morning glory genus, many of which are agricultural weeds. There are three main projects underway in Baucom’s lab: the evolutionary genomics of plant defense and plant weediness, the influence of the mating system on the evolution of herbicide resistance, and the role of the plant metagenome on adaptation.

Aimée Classen 

Aimée Classen's lab is a diverse and international group who focus on how global changes impact terrestrial ecosystems at local and global scales. Recently, they’ve focused on three general areas: (1) Understanding and modeling connections among soil organisms, herbivores, plants and ecosystem function (2) Understanding how shifting above- and below-ground biodiversity and global change alters the composition and function of ecosystems and (3) Exploring how scale and location influence ecological patterns and processes. They work across scales from the micro (soil food webs) to the macro (regional carbon fluxes) as well as across diverse terrestrial ecosystems (forests, meadows, bogs, tropics, boreal, temperate). We use a combination of observations, experiments and models to answer ecological questions.

Vincent Denef

Vincent Denef uses metagenomic and metaproteomic approaches to gather an improved understanding of microbial population dynamics and community functioning within ecosystem context. He is particularly interested in the connection between genomic variation and altered ecological behavior, and how short- and long-term environmental change can drive both. While he has been studying these concepts in systems ranging from abandoned mines to the human gastrointestinal tract, he is currently focusing on freshwater systems such as the Laurentian Great Lakes.

Christopher Dick

Christopher Dick is interested in the ecology and evolutionary history of species-rich tropical forests. His research has focused primarily on phylogeny, phylogeography and population genetics of Neotropical trees. He is also eager to collaborate on projects involving temperate forest trees.

Deborah Goldberg

Deborah Goldberg's research focuses on the mechanisms and consequences of community dynamics, including mechanisms of invasion and coexistence, plant-soil feedbacks, ecology of clonal plants, community and ecosystem response to climate change, and ecology of the human microbiome.

Inés Ibáñez (can serve as graduate co-chair only)

Inés Ibáñez's research interests are in plant community ecology, climate change and invasive species.

John Lehman

John Lehman's research interests are in limnology, aquatic science, and nutrient and trophic dynamics.

Nate Sanders

Nate Sanders' research is at the interface of community ecology, ecosystem ecology and macroecology, with a focus on how global change drivers and interspecific interactions influence the causes and consequences of biodiversity loss. My research program takes advantage of environmental gradients and experimental manipulations arranged at multiple sites with the aim of forecasting the effects of environmental change on biodiversity. They do experiments on ants, plant-insect interactions, montane plant communities, and a whole variety of other taxa.

Tom Schmidt

Thomas Schmidt's laboratory is focused on the physiology and ecology of microbes. We routinely develop and apply nucleic acid-based methods to explore and understand patterns of diversity and function of microbial communities, and to guide cultivation efforts. Our research is currently focused on two microbial communities: those found in terrestrial environments and are involved in the flux of greenhouse gases, and microbes that constitute mammalian microbiome. As we develop a better appreciation for the relationship between the structure and function of these microbial communities, we are conducting research to uncover fundamental principles that explain distribution patterns of microbial populations.

John Vandermeer

John Vandermeer's lab engages in two related classes of research – the structure and function of tropical agroecosystems and the ecological theory of complex systems as applied to agroecosystems generally. Work in tropical agroecosystems is mainly concerned with organic coffee production, focusing on a model system of pest control in a large production facility in southern Mexico. Theoretical work focuses on spatial self-organization and its consequences for the structure of ecological networks.

Donald Zak (can serve as graduate co-chair only)

Donald Zak's work draws on ecology, microbiology, and biochemistry and is focused at several scales of understanding, ranging from the molecular to the ecosystem scale. Current research centers on understanding the link between plant and microbial activity within terrestrial ecosystems, and the influence climate change may have on these dynamics. Teaching includes courses in soil ecology and ecosystem ecology.