Professor Benjamin Z. Houlton

Earth Systems Ecology and BiogeochemistryGrasslandTropical ForestTemperate Forest
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Principal Investigator: Benjamin Z. Houlton

Benjamin Houlton grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1998, he received his B. S. degree in Water Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. He completed an M.S. degree in Environmental Engineering Science at Syracuse University in 2000. In 2005, Ben received his doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University, after which he worked as a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Global Ecology. Currently, a Professor of the Global Environment in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, Ben also holds the distinction of Chancellor's Fellow and is Director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment. Ben's research has been covered by Scientific American , The Christian Science Monitor, Discovery News, MSNBC/Today, Nature, and BBC's "The Naked Scientists". He has appeared as a guest on NPR's "Morning Edition", MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes" and local radio.

Office: 3148 Plant and Environmental Sciences Building
Phone: 530-752-2210 Fax: 530-752-1552

Headshot of Dr. Ping Wang

Collaborator: Yingping Wang

A scientist at CSIRO, Yingping Wang collaborates with the Houlton lab on modeling interactions between carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles. His expertise lies in earth system modeling and in understanding interactions between the land biosphere and the climate system. We are currently involved in a project that seeks to add nutrient cycles to global carbon and climate change projections.

Pawlok Dass

Postdoc: Pawlok Dass

Pawlok Dass, having spent a year and a half in Massachusetts, is glad to be in sunny California, away from the notorious New England winter. He hopes to exploit his background in biology and climate change to improve the understanding of the below ground nitrogen cycle. Originally from Kolkata, India he received his BSc in biology from Presidency College and MSc in environment management from the Forest Research Institute University in northern India. PhD took him to Germany as an IMPRS-ESM scholar to MPI-Met and PIK where he studied the feasibility of bioenergy as a potential mitigation measure. Postdoctoral research at UMass-Amherst, found him developing an understanding of climatic controls of the high latitude vegetation. At UCD, he hopes to develop and understanding of how, on a global scale, climate change and organisms (primarily plants) could change and regulate the availability of below ground nitrogen and phosphorous

Office: 3146 Plant and Environmental Sciences Building
Phone: 413-801-6133
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Graduate Student: Sara Enders

Sara Enders is a recent East Coast transplant happy to be rooting around in California soils. She comes to UC Davis with a B.S. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale (2006) and an M.E.Sc. with a focus in Water Science and Management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (2009). Her past research has included using compound-specific stable isotopes (C,N,H) to study interactive changes in nutrient cycles and hydrology in Rocky Mountain National Park, and a watershed management study on the border of Honduras and Nicaragua that used citizen scientist-generated data to develop a "snapshot" of pollution sources and transboundary flows. At UC Davis Sara wants to use biogeochemistry to improve the integration of land and water management.

Office: 3149 Plant and Environmental Sciences Building
Phone: 530-752-1491
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Graduate Student: Scott Mitchell

Scott Mitchell, originally from northwestern Minnesota, received his B.S. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of Minnesota in 2012. After graduating Scott worked as a research technician for the USDA-ARS in Dr. Rodney Venterea's lab where he collaborated on research focused on N2O emissions from nitrogen fertilizer application methods. At UCD he is currently researching the weathering of nitrogen-rich bedrock at multiple sites in northern California and southern Oregon focusing on the depletion of nitrogen in bedrock and the implications it has on forest fertility.

Office: 3152 Plant and Environmental Sciences Building
Phone: 530-752-1491
Headshot of Katy Dynarski

Graduate Student: Katy Dynarski

Katy Dynarski is originally from central New Jersey and could not be happier to be exploring beautiful California. She received her B.S. in biochemistry from Villanova University in 2013. Her interest in nitrogen cycling was sparked during her undergraduate work in Dr. Melanie Vile’s ecosystem ecology lab, where she got to spend her summers living and working in Alberta’s boreal region. Her past research includes determining the role of nutrient limitation in controlling nitrogen fixation in boreal peatlands. She is excited to continue her in nitrogen fixation in new ecosystems, and hopes to study links between this process and other chemical processes in both the N and C cycles.

Headshot of Rebecca Walker

Graduate Student: Rebecca Walker

Hailing from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, Rebecca Walker received her B.S. in Environmental Sciences and Anthropology from the University of Virginia in 2015. Her past research includes an analysis of soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics in old growth forests of the Mid-Atlantic and an interdisciplinary study of how perceptions of nature shape plant community composition and biogeochemical cycling in Israel. At UCD, she is excited to explore the use of stable isotopes to study denitrification fluxes and ultimately hopes to incorporate interdisciplinary methodologies into the study of ecosystem processes.

Former Members

Dr. Edith Bai (postdoc), currently Assistant Professor/Principal Investigator, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Dr. Alison Marklein (Ph. D. 2013 and postdoc 2014), currrently postdoctoral scholar at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Dr. Tiffany van Huysen (postdoc, 2010 - 2012), currently Columbia University

Jorge Izquierdo (M.S. 2012)

Dr. Joy Winbourne (Ph.D. 2015), currently postdoc at Brown University

Meagan Mnich (M.S. 2014), currently USGS

Erin Lennon (M.S. 2014), currently Water Quality Program, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Dr. Scott Morford (Ph.D. 2014, Postdoc 2015), currently Environmental Consulting Firm, Montana