I am a Professor of Agronomy and Environmental Studies. My faculty position is part of the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI) and I have affiliate appointments with the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS), Agroecology, and Freshwater and Marine Science (FMS). I am a member of the Science Council for the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI), and am part of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) – focusing on sustainability issues related to bioenergy production.
I grew up in the cities of West Allis and Slinger, Wisconsin, and received my B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997 with a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences (minor soil science). During my graduate studies, I participated in the BOReal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study (BOREAS), an international field experiment that took place in the Canadian boreal forest. I helped design a high-resolution, two-band, ground-based remote-sensing instrument, called a Multiband Vegetation Imager (MVI) – which allowed for advanced studies of forest canopy architecture and non-random distributions of vegetation, which has enabled for more accurate predictions of carbon cycling in high latitude forest ecosystems.
My research program is largely interdisciplinary, incorporating field work on cropping systems ecology and ecosystem modeling in a framework that is geared towards understanding the impacts of climate change and land management on the provisioning of ecosystem goods and services – more specifically crop production, water quantity and quality, carbon sequestration, and climate regulation. This work has been supported by NASA, through the U.S. Department of Energy National Institute for Climate Change Research (NICCR), The National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), Madison Gas and Electric, and the Wisconsin Focus on Energy Environmental Research Program.
My teaching program currently consists of two key courses: “Environmental Biophysics” – Soils/AOS/Agronomy 532, and “Agroecosystems and Global Change” – Agronomy/Agroecology/Environmental Studies 724, which I teach in alternate Fall semesters. I use a “systems” perspective in teaching, and emphasize how individual systems interact with one other, often leading to unpredictable and unintended consequences. This is particularly evident in environmental sciences when meteorology, ecology, biology, and soil science and the economy impact agriculture and vice-versa.