We are in an unprecedented era of rapidly changing climate that is altering the world in which we live. I am interested in how our incredibly diverse natural forests will fare in this new world. My work asks the fundamental question: how will individual plants and forests react and respond to novel harsh climates?
By training, I am ‘physiological ecologist’ which means that I consider how plants use, move, and store basic resources (carbon, water, nutrients) needed to survive and how that alters their ability to live in current and future environments. I have conducted work in diverse ecosystems including mountain conifer forests in the Appalachian Mountains, tropical forests in Mexico, and dry woodlands in Texas. Working at Chapman, I hope to further explore how plants utilize various water sources in response to a dryer and hotter world. We plan to explore the importance of leaf wetness in maintaining plant functioning with global implications for predicting species functioning and improving carbon budgets.
As an educator, I will contribute an environmental perspective to the Grand Challenges Initiative courses. Many of today’s most pressing questions involve consideration for how to mitigate the effects of human activity on the environment and how to manage natural landscapes in this modern framework. I also am interested in engaging and developing other extracurricular opportunities for students to interact and enjoy the environment.
The Schmid College Grand Challenges Initiative is a powerful program because it (1) has the students seek the large issues that are most pressing to them and (2) requires them to seek solutions that are interdisciplinary and comprehensive. This unique approach instills a sense of empowerment in students to strive for greatness while pushing the boundaries of their own interests and perspectives. I am honored and humbled to be a part of this respected community of scholars as we seek creative ways to inspire students to take steps towards impacting the world. I am excited to contribute my own passions and perspectives to enhance learning experiences and ongoing open dialogue.