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Human activities affect and alter plant communities worldwide. Mechanisms underlying these changes and their consequences for ecosystems, however, are still poorly understood. Global change and urbanization are two of the most important outcomes of human activities and often alter multiple abiotic resources simultaneously, exposing plants to environmental stress. I aim to identify patterns of plant responses to global change and urbanization at multiple levels of biological organization, from individual responses to populations through whole communities. Ultimately, I link whether changes in the plant community affect ecosystem function.
For my master’s research, at Fordham University, I studied the effects of nitrogen deposition on mycorrhizal fungal gene expression and communities. For my PhD, at Yale University, I studied the adaptability of the dominant tallgrass species Andropogon gerardii to increased precipitation variability. During a postdoctoral position at the University of Utah, I investigated plant community assembly in cultivated urban ecosystems by studying both urban forests and residential yards. I am also involved with several global change ecology studies at Konza Prairie Biological Station in Kansas, a Long-Term Ecological Research site.
At SESYNC I will work to develop metrics of community change using rank abundance curves.