Welcome to the Houlton lab! Please explore the links for information about our research activities and achievements. Please feel free to contact Ben at bzhoulton ‘at’ ucdavis ‘dot’ edu with any queries.
Houlton group, 2014-2015. Left to right: Joy Cookingham, Scott Mitchell, Katy Dynarski, Sara Enders, Scott Morford, Benjamin Houlton
- 1/15, Ben has co-authored with his Chinese and Japanese colleagues a new article that has been published in PNAS. The paper uses a novel approach to fingerprint and estimate the amount of gaseous nitrogen that escapes forest ecosystems annually. The new approach uses a simple model and isotopes of nitrogen and oxygen to demonstrate that bacteria release more nitrogen to the atmosphere than previuosly thought, suggesting a more prominant role for denitrification in forest nutrient availaiblity.
- 12/14, Ben particpated in a Science Europe think-tank on model development and application to problems in the life and physical sciences. The meeting took place in Brussels in the famous Solvay Conference room, and included around 15 scientists from different disciplines - cancer research, RNA folding, public safety, the galaxy, etc. It was a very rewarding experience to meet such a broad group of thinkers and have the chance to discuss how the Houlton lab has been applying models to problems related to global nutrient cycles.
- 11/14, Ben just returned from a week-long trip to the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, where he delivered a short course of lectures to the Global Informations program on nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon cycles. The visit was facilitated by Dr. Keisuke Koba, and also involved a research symposium and a visit to JAMSTEC's department of biogeochemisty, which is led by our colleague Dr. Nao Ohkouchi. The trip was extremely auspiscious and will lead to even greater collaborations between the Houlton, Koba and Ohkouchi labs in the future. We are especially interested in using very precise measures of isotopes in ancient plant compounds to examine how biogeochemical cycles responded to climate change in the past, which can provide a unique perspective on the future.
- 10/14, Ben has been named to the editorial board (Associate Editor) of the scientific journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles.
- 10/14, Joy's description of our ongoing research in Belizian lowland tropical rainforest has appeared in the "Bladen Review".
- 9/14, Scott Mitchell has joined the Houlton and Dahlgren lab groups to work on our new rock nitrogen weathering project. Welcome aboard - we're excited to have Scott in our groups.
- 8/14, Ben, Joy, Alison, Meagan, Erin and Sara all presented research findings at the Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America.
- 6/14, A huge congratulations to Alison, Scott, Meagan and Erin on completing their graduate theses. I feel truly privelaged to have served as the primary advisor to these wonderful, budding scientists.
- 5/14, Our proposal has been selected for funding (~$3 million over three years) by the NSF's Integrated Earth Systems program. Ben is lead PI on the project which seeks to examine molecular to global scale controls on the availability of rock nitrogen to land-ecosystems worldwide. This project aims to improve our understanding of the terrestrial CO2 sink and climate change via measurments, experiments and global modeling activities. The co-PIs of this highly interdisciplinary team include Randy Dahlgren, Oliver Chadwick, Bodo Bookhagen, Kathleen Treseder, Ying-Ping Wang and Scott Morford.
- 3/14, Congratulations to Katy for receiving the prestigious NSF graduate research fellowship.
- 12/13, Congratulations to Scott for winning the "best student paper award" at the American Geophyscial Union Fall Meeting. Scott explained how rock nitrogen weathering affects the global system, using models and experiments in tandem.
- 12/13, Congratulations to Ben on being named "Chancellor's Fellow" in recognition of research and teaching accomplishments at UC Davis. According to Chancellor Katehi: “The chancellor’s fellows have distinguished themselves in their early careers even beyond the high standards set by our faculty. We are indeed proud of their achievements in the sciences, social sciences and humanities, and the excellent work they are doing in our classrooms and labs with our students.” The 5 year title comes with a 25K prize for investment in scholarly activities.
- 12/13, Scott and Katy presented at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco.
- 11/13, Ben, Alison and Joy presented at N2013 - the International Nitrogen Initiative meeting - held in Kampala, Uganda. The meeting touched on issues related to global N distributions, local management strategies, and implications of people's imprint on the N cycle - which has grown massively since 1950. Uganda is beautiful, the people are amazing, and seing elephants, zebras, lions etc was a highlight.
- 06/13, Ben and Alison co-authored a paper due out in PNAS on plant CO2 capture in the global biosphere. Our findings - which centered on space-borne satellite observations - indicate that tropical trees have high capacity to soak up human CO2 emissions, and thus should be conserved for this key ecosystem service.