I was born and raised in Green Bay, WI and received a BS in Environmental Science and a MS in Environmental Science & Policy from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. My research has primarily focused on belowground ecology and carbon dynamics in grasslands. As an undergraduate, I worked on project that investigated root production rates at varying levels of plant functional group diversity in a Texas tallgrass prairie. During my MS career, I worked as a research assistant on an interdisciplinary Wisconsin Focus on Energy study that examined the ecological and economic effects of future bioenergy grassland establishment in Northeast Wisconsin. Stemming from the Wisconsin Focus on Energy study, my thesis research involved simultaneously measuring root biomass, production, and decomposition rates throughout soil profiles of a tallgrass prairie and then modeling those root dynamics using environmental variables. Most recently, I’ve worked as a research analyst and associate lecturer at UW-Green Bay, where I helped establish field-scale bioenergy research plots and taught labs in soil science and biology.
I am currently pursuing a PhD in Environment and Resources through the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and working as part of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. My current research focuses on understanding plant and soil carbon dynamics in model bioenergy systems. Specifically, I am using several methods to partition plant-based autotrophic soil respiration from microbe-based heterotrophic soil respiration in order to better constrain ecosystem carbon balances. Additionally, I am using a soil density fractionation scheme to track changes in soil carbon pools after the first five years of biofuel crop establishment. My research seeks to improve our understanding of the plant-soil carbon continuum in bioenergy systems as well as to inform ecological modeling efforts.