Welcome to the Houlton lab webpage. Please explore the links for news on our research activities and achievements. Please feel free to contact Ben at bzhoulton ‘at’ ucdavis ‘dot’ edu with any queries.
Houlton group, 2015-2016. Left to right: Pawlok Dass, Scott Mitchell, Katy Dynarski, Rebecca Walker, Benjamin Houlton, Eriko Murata, Rafaela Lins
***Media and videos:
NPR's "Morning Edition";
BBC's "The Naked Scientist";
- 11/16, The Houlton lab and collaborators in China have published new approaches to visualizing changes in the global nitrogen cycle from pre-industrial to modern times here. This research shows how nitrogen fertilizers to grow food are polluting the air and water systems and causing global climate change in industrialized nations; whereas large areas of the planet - particularly much of Africa and S. America - continue to suffer from inadequate access to nitrogen fertilizers for food production.
- 10/16, Ben spent two weeks at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and Princeton University (New Jersey, USA), deliving a set of lectures on the importance of rock nitrogen weathering in the Earth system, and discussing broader opportunities for joint university partnerships with the UC Davis John Muir Insitute of the Environment.
- 09/16, We welcome three new members to the Houlton Lab: Dr. Maya Almaraz (postdoc), Erin Manaigo (graduate student) and Erin Oliver (joint-doctoral student with San Diego State University). Each will be working on aspects of nitrogen pollution in the global environment; linking the soil microbiome to patterns of carbon sequestration in land ecosystems; and the ability of carbon makets and offset policies to help solve climate change. Stay tuned!
- 08/16, Read about how UC Davis is leading the charge on climate change, including an introduction by Ben and research highlights from the Houlton Lab.
- 07/16, Ben has been named the new Director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment, which includes over 250 faculty and staff who work at the nexus of human health, the economy and the environment. Ben will be leading the institute into a more global domain and spearheading efforts to pull together the research community to understand and mitigate climate change and other growing threats to people and the planet.
- 06/16, Ben has been promoted to full professor. Thank you to all of my students, colleagues, funders, family and friends who have made the journey such a rewarding and creative experience.
- 05/16, Ben and Pawlok partcipated in a think-tank meeting on how to represent the phosphorus cycle into global carbon and climate forecasts held at the Oak Ridge National Lab. Pawlok presented new results on a global rock weathering model, which is essential to understanding phosphorus availability in different ecosystems. Ben gave a talk on global nutrient cycling models and concepts based on new research findings in the Houlton lab group.
- 04/16, Ben spent two weeks at Kyoto University and the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto. The visit centered on developing collaborations between the John Muir Insitute at UC Davis and Kyoto, in addition to engaging in research collaborations with PIs in Japan. Ben gave two talks during his visit, one on the global carbon sink and another on interactions between carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles across Earth's ecosystems.
- 03/16, Ben was an invited participant of a 5-member discussion panel, which included Governor Jerry Brown, on California climate mitigation and adaptation, co-sponsored by the UC Davis Policy Institute and the Nature Conservancy. The panel discussion will air on UC TV in the future. It was an honor to be able to participate in this outreach effort.
- 03/16, Congratulations to Dr. Sara Enders for successfully defending her doctoral dissertation. Sara developed a new technique to examine how the terrestrial biosphere responded to past variations in climate and CO2, thus providing a window into the future. By examining ancient plant compounds buried in Siberian permafrost, Sara discovered that terrestrial ecosystems are poised to adapt to climate change; however, such adaptation seems to take longer (~1000 years) than contemporary climate change allows (decades).
- 02/16, Ben and Pawlok visited Dr. Ying-Ping Wang at CSIRO (Australia) to work on a collaborative project that seeks to represent nutrients in global climate forecasts.
- 01/16, Ben's research on the global distribution of symbiotic nitrogen fixation (published in Nature in 2008 and Nature Plants in 2015) has been highlighted in an popular science article that appeared in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences".