Lab News


Read about Estate Thomas Experimental Forest and our research in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, where Emily Atkinson conducted her PhD work. (8/12)

Congratulations to Elliot whose paper “Clay and climate are poor predictors of regional-scale soil carbon storage in the US Caribbean” was just published in Geoderma. (7/29)

Some exciting news: Welcome to Chelsie from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez who is spending part of the summer doing research with us, first in the field and now in the lab. Welcome (back) also to Chase who is starting his PhD this fall. (6/19)

Emily presented her work at the Soil Ecology Society meeting in Columbus in May and got to meet some friends of the lab and members of our family tree. 

It’s been a busy spring! Olivia was awarded aIMG_0624 Holstrom Environmental Research Fellowship to fund her work next year and was accepted into a summer REU program. Diana received a Conservation Biology Becker Scholarship and will be studying abroad in the fall. Lily and Alex got to present their research multiple times, including at the UW Undergraduate Research Scholars symposium. Grad and undergrads presented at the regional SACNAS meeting in Chicago, which is becoming a lab tradition. Emily and Elliot both received travel grants for their summer research in Puerto Rico and Germany.  Elliot received a fellowship from the Technical University of Munich. Emily was awarded a Society of Woman Geographers Evelyn L. Pruitt National Minority Fellowship for her research. Erika received a Romnes Faculty Fellowship and was selected as a Diversity Liaison Project Fellow. Congratulations to everybody! (5/23)

Two new papers from our collaboration with 2ndfor have been published recently. Read about biodiversity recovery in tropical secondary forests published in Science Advances and how tropical wet and dry forests show opposite trends during succession in Nature Ecology and Evolution.  

Congratulations to Adam whose paper “Litter quantity, litter chemistry, and soil texture control changes in soil organic carbon fractions under bioenergy cropping systems of the North Central U.S.” has been accepted for publication in Biogeochemistry. (4/15)

Erika has been promoted to Full! (effective 8/19) Next Fall she’ll be a Feminist Scholars Fellow at the Center for Research on Gender and Women on campus.

Welcome back to Olivia who gave a fantastic presentation on her study abroad experience. (2/7)


Erika was profiled by Michele Wolford, a student at Colorado College as part of a Women in STEM Wikipedia project

Welcome to Lily and Alex who are doing research with Elliot as part of the URS program on campus. 

Congratulations to Biogeolab alumna Emily (Eggleston) Toner who was awarded a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital storytelling fellowship to study peat bogs in Ireland. Read about her project here. (9/18)

Welcome to new Biogeolab member Emily who joined us from the University of Puerto Rico to pursue her Masters in Geography! (8/21)

Congratulations to Laura whose Masters paper was accepted in Soil Biology and Biochemistry! (8/20)

Sanober in the Nelson Institute News: Diversity and mentorship are a walk in the park! (7/25)

Farewell to Ann who leaves us for NY and to Liam who will be starting law school at CU Boulder in August. Thank you for all your contributions to the lab, we will miss you and wish you the best. Stay in touch!

Nice interview of lab alumna Dr. Nina Chaopricha and her talent for interdisciplinary work on the Nelson Institute website. (6/25)

Congratulations to lab alumna Dr. Peyton Smith who is starting a new job as Assistant Professor of Soil Carbon Dynamics in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M! (6/20)

Congratulations to Laura who accepted a position as the Geological Society of America’s (GSA) Science Policy Fellowship! In this role, Laura will contribute to GSA’s mission by attending congressional hearings and hill briefings, tracking geoscience-related legislation, leading science policy events, and writing and disseminating updates and findings to the geoscience community.  (6/18)

The ADVANCEGeo Team launched a new online community resource center on relevant research and tested strategies to respond to sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination in academia. These public resources can be used to: define and understand harassment, bullying, and discrimination; design codes of conduct, including for field research projects and courses; and identify best strategies for creating inclusive and equitable workplace climates. (6/11)


Scientific integrity needs to apply to how researchers treat people, not just to how they handle data, Nature World View piece by Erika (5/10)

Congratulations to Sanober Mirza and ADVANCEGeo project student Megan Murphy who graduate next week! (5/4)

We’ve had a busy spring semester presenting our work. Diana and Olivia did an excellent job presenting their research at the Undergraduate Research Scholars symposium and the Bio 152 Spring Symposium, respectively. Diana and Ricky each presented at the SACNAS Regional meeting in Chicago. Laura and Elliot presented at the Joint Graduate Student Recruitment Poster Session and Ricky and Elliot presented at the IGERT Novel Ecosystems Symposium. In addition, Erika presented at EGU. 

Congratulations to Olivia who won the Conservation Biology Roland H. & Maude M. Becker Scholarship! (4/17)

Diana and Sanober presented their work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium on Friday, April 13th. Nice job!

Congratulations to Sanober who won the Reid Bryson Scholarship competition at the UW Climate Change symposium! (2/23)

Welcome to Olivia Lopez who joined the lab this spring as a Bio152 researcher (2/5/18).

Check out this nice profile of Sanober on the MadGeogNews. (1/31)


We’ve been so busy we haven’t had time to update our news from AGU 2017. Elliot, Sanober, Laura and Erika presented their work and we got to catch up with lab alum Marc in New Orleans.

Listen to Elliot’s interview of Dr. Megan Raby (University of Texas, Austin) on her research on colonial roots of tropical ecology for CHE’s Edge Effects podcast. 

Congratulations to Adam who successfully defended his PhD in December! Adam is heading off to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for a postdoc.

A To the Best of Our Knowledge National Public Radio show featured our ADVANCEGeo Partnership NSF award. Read more about our project here and here and listen to the interview here.

Welcome to Diana Tapia and Craig Kunkel who joined our lab this Fall.

Erika was interviewed for a feature on Women Breaking Barriers scientific careers series for Online Education. (9/27)

Our National Science Foundation ADVANCE Partnership award to address sexual harassment was funded. Read about it here and here. Erika was interviewed by the student newspaper Badger Herald and by the Madison Cap Times. (9/8)

Congratulations to Megs and Liam who graduated in May! 

Congratulations to Sanober who received a Holstrom Environmental Scholarship and to Megs who received a University Book Store Academic Excellence Award towards their research projects in the lab. (4/21)

Erika’s sabbatical visit to the Soil Science Research Group (Lehrstuhl für Bodenkunde) at the Technische Universität München in Germany is coming to an end. (4/20)

Erika’s work on addressing sexual harassment in the geosciences was highlighted in a feature story on Women in Science in the Nelson Institute’s Spring 2017 alumni magazine.

The Earth Science Women’s Network Leadership Board, of which Erika is a member, was recognized with a Special Award from the American Meteorological Society for its inspirational commitment to broadening the participation of women in the Earth sciences, providing a supportive environment for peer mentoring, and professional development. (1/24)


slide1Another successful year at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco. On Monday, Megs presented her poster “Tropical land use conversion effects on soil microbial community structure and function: emerging patterns and knowledge gaps.” On Wednesday, Elliot gave a talk on “Factors controlling soil carbon and nitrogen storage at the landscape scale in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” On Thursday Laura presented a poster “Changes in soil carbon turnover after five years of bioenergy cropping systems from a long-term incubation experiment and radiocarbon measurements” and Sanober presenter her poster “Distribution of soil organic matter pools among land uses across a diversity of tropical soils.” On Friday, Adam presented his poster “Diurnal patterns of heterotrophic and autotrophic soil respiration in maize and switchgrass bioenergy cropping systems.” We also got to catch up with alumni Emily, Peyton, Marc and Chase. (1/14/16)

czkkdwnviae8qlr-jpg_large-copyErika was profiled by Colors of STEM. (12/7)

A collaborative paper on climate variability effects on secondary tropical forest demography led by Maria Uriarte from Columbia University was published in a special issue of Biotropica. (11/21)

Erika talked about being a geographer to high school girls in the Madison Science Museum’s first Women in STEM Symposium. (11/5)

9781610916967The 2nd edition of the book Foundations of Restoration Ecology, with a chapter by Erika and Becky Ostertag on “Recovery of Ecosystem Processes: Carbon and Energy Flows in Restored Wetlands, Grasslands and Forests” is now in print. You can request an instructor’s copy here. (11/1)

A collaborative paper modeling effects of erosion on soil C in tropical watersheds in Puerto Rico led by Yannis Dyalinas from Georgia Institute of Technology as part of the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory network was accepted in Water Resources Research. (10/25)

Congratulations to Erika who was awarded the 2016 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring from the American Geophysical Union. This award recognizes significant contributions as a mentor and role model for the next generation of biogeoscientists. Erika was also recently given the President’s Award from the Association for Women Geoscientists. (10/11)

The lab’s work on post-agricultural secondary forests in Puerto Rico was highlighted in the Nelson Institute’s magazine. (9/22)

Scientific societies speak out against sexual harassment– press release of a NSF-funded workshop convened by the American Geophysical Union and co-sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Geosciences Institute, Association for Women Geoscientists, and Earth Science Women’s Network. Erika is a co-PI on the grant for the workshop and on the steering committee that organized and led the workshop. Check out the first product of the workshop, an AGU website with resources for dealing with sexual harassment. (9/12/16) More on the workshop here. (9/20)

Erika enjoyed participating as a faculty lead in the On the Cutting Edge Preparing for an Academic Career workshop for grad students and post-docs at the Earth Educators’ Rendezvous meeting in Madison this week. (7/20) 


Soil sampling in Nebraska 8/16

Our proposal “Collaborative Research: Vulnerability of carbon in buried soils to climate change and landscape disturbance” with Joe Mason, Asmeret Berhe (UC Merced) and Marie-Anne de Graaff (Boise State) was funded by NSF! This project will fund Laura’s PhD research. (7/14/16) We had our first and very successful soil sampling trip to the Wauneta site in Nebraska in August.

Elliot presented his research in collaboration with NRCS soil scientists at the Southern Regional National Cooperative Soil Survey Conference in Rincón, Puerto Rico. (6/23)

Congratulations to Elliot who successfully defended his MS in Geography this morning! We’re thrilled Elliot will stick around for his PhD. (5/13) 

Congratulations to Chris who is graduating tomorrow with a double major in Geography and Cartography and GIS! His scholarship is recognized by an Olmsted Excellence award AND a Petchenik Award in Cartography and GIS! (5/12) 

Slide1The lab was profiled in a special College of Letters & Sciences insert in the May 8th Wisconsin State Journal. You can see a scanned copy of the newspaper version and the entire insert here (we are on page 14). Check out the great photo from the field in Puerto Rico with Megs and Ricky and our collaborators from the NRCS. (5/11/16)

Erika spent a week at the USGS Powell Center in Ft. Collins, Colorado with the inspiring soil C working group– a great way to start a sabbatical! (5/6)

Congratulations to Megs for being awarded a nationally competitive Udall Undergraduate Scholarship! (5/1) 

Erika is co-author on a paper from the NEON Terrestrial Biogeochemistry Working group that came out in the March issue of Ecosphere. (4/1)

New paper from the SecFor PARTNERS network out today in Nature. Here’s a nice write up of the paper and press herehere and in the BBC news. (2/3)

Erika’s invited opinion piece on the role of scientific societies in dealing with the problem of sexual harassment was published in EOS. (1/28)

Erika was awarded a competitive Vilas Associates Award, selected by the UW-Madison Physical Sciences Research Committee, for 2016-2018.


Congratulations to Elliot who won first prize in AGU’s Graduate Virtual Poster Showcase! His poster was titled: Effects of land use and soil order on soil carbon storage in Puerto Rico.

AGU Fall Meeting was a great opportunity to catch up with lab alumni Peyton and Marc in San Francisco. Laura presented her poster: Comparison of soil microbial respiration and carbon turnover under perennial and annual biofuel crops in two agricultural soils. (12/19/15)

Congratulations to Emily who just started a new job at Stanford and to Doreen who just started her MS at Exeter. (10/13)

Welcome back to the lab to Megs and Chris from their summer adventures!

Ricky, Laura and Erika are co-authors on an IGERT paper on ecosystem novelty just accepted at Ecological Applications.

Erika had a fun trip visiting Peyton at Pacific Northwest National Lab and learning about all the cool soil carbon and microbial ecology research going on there. Lots of new science ideas! (9/1)

Read about lab alumnus Marc’s PhD research at Brown on the PARTNERS blog.

Peyton’s publication in Global Change Biology was featured in the PARTNERS blog. (8/5)

Our Ecology Letters paper on crop rotation effects on soil organic matter led by Lisa Tiemann at Michigan State has made news in the agricultural community. Here is the press release from MSU: Crop rotation study shows positive Impact on long-term land sustainability. (7/24/15)  –update: and a press release from UNH: Crop rotation boosts soil microbes, benefits plant growth. (9/2/15)

Erika participated in a nutrient limitation lightning talk session at the 2015 ATBC in Honolulu, HI. (7/21)

Read about our paper on the benefits of tropical reforestation beyond carbon (Locatelli et al. 2015) from the PARTNERS Climate Change working group in blog posts by the World Agroforestry Center and CIFOR.

Welcome to our new summer lab students: Lays, Catherine, Liam, and welcome back to Sanober and Leah, who will also be working in the lab over the summer.

Next week Erika will help lead On the Cutting Edge’s Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences workshop, which will be held here in Madison, and Tim will be participating in the IUSS’s Digital Soil Morphometrics Global Workshop also here in Madison. (5/26)

Congratulations to Sanober who received a Welton Summer Sophomore Honors Apprenticeship and a Sophomore Research Fellowship to conduct independent research in the lab. Sanober presented her initial research at the Undergraduate Research Scholars symposium last week. (4/24)

Both Peyton and Emily received shiny proofs of their papers in Global Change Biology (Smith et al.) and Ecology Letters (Tiemann et al.) this week. Stay tuned for the final publications appearing shortly. (4/24)

Erika was quoted in a recent piece in Nature on field safety talking about a field discussion held during the Earth Science Women’s Network Board visit to UW-Madison last November. This article has some very good tips for staying safe in the field and ensuring fieldwork is a welcoming environment for everyone. (3/12)


Results from AGU Section committee elections are in and Erika is excited to serve as Secretary of AGU Biogeosciences.

The Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) becomes a nonprofit to support women in science(UW News, 10/8/14)

Our study on the Brady paleosol published in Nature Geoscience has made the news (Buried soils found to be awash in carbon (UW News, May 2014). Erika was interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio News (Study: Carbon-rich soil could contribute to climate change). Joe, Nina and her dad have special appearances in this short research highlights video by NSF Science Now episode 24The paper was also featured in a Nature News and Views piece (Carbon cycle: Sequestration in buried soilsand was picked up by news outlets around the world. Here are some:

Deep underground carbon deposits could pose a global warming threat if exposed (AFP)

Researchers find ancient carbon stored deep beneath Great Plains (ClimateWire)

Antiguos suelos fosiles enterrados podrian contribuir al cambio climático (