Dr. Erika Marín-Spiotta (she/her) is Professor of Geography and an affiliate of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Departments of Soil Science and Forest and Wildlife Ecology, and the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies program at UW-Madison. The Biogeochemistry and Biogeography Lab studies how landscape disturbance and changes in vegetation due to climate and land use alter terrestrial ecosystem processes, such as nutrient and carbon cycling, with a focus on soils. Dr. Marín-Spiotta is a recipient of a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring and an Ambassador Award from the American Geophysical Union, and the President’s Award from the Association for Women Geoscientists. Marín-Spiotta is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Ecological Society of America. She is currently leading an NSF ADVANCE Partnership award to develop bystander intervention and ethics training to improve workplace climate in the geosciences and is also part of an interdisciplinary team applying humanities education for anti-racism literacy funded by the Mellon Foundation. At UW-Madison, she serves as the inaugural Faculty Director of the Community of Graduate Research Scholars and is Faculty co-Director of WISELI. Download CV.



  • dr. prabhdeep singh kehal, HEAL postdoctoral fellow
  • Emily Diaz Vallejo, PhD student Geography
  • Chase Kasmerchak, PhD student Geography
  • Shannon Dillard, PhD student Geography (co-advised)
  • Stacy Nuryadi, MS student Agroecology
  • Mauricio De La Parra Gurr, MS student Agroecology
  • Ian Bohachek, undergraduate research assistant


Mellon HEAL STEMM Working Group

  • Kela Caldwell, PhD student Geography 39A0A1B4-6A6D-451F-B941-22578243E274_1_105_c
  • Alexandra Villa, PhD student Geosciences
  • Dorothy Lsoto, PhD student Environment & Resources
  • AnnaBeth Thomas, PhD student Environmental Chemistry and Technology


Laura Szymanski, Ph.D. 2021. Geography. Spatial distribution and long-term persistence of ancient carbon in buried soils and its vulnerability to landscape disturbance.

Elliot Vaughan, Ph.D. 2020. Geography. The influence of human activities and soil properties on soil carbon dynamics in diverse soils. Elliot is an Assistant Professor in Environmental Science at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Emily Diaz Vallejo, M.S. 2020. Geography. Linking belowground biotic components and soil organic carbon across tropical forest succession.

Ricardo Rivera, PhD Forestry. Understanding the patterns of change in the abiotic and biotic components of successional tropical forest communities

Ann Olsson, Lab manager (2016-2018). Ann has a MSc in Agricultural Science and a MSc in Land Management.

Adam von Haden, Ph.D. 2017 Environment and Resources. Mechanisms of ecosystem carbon storage and stability in temperate bioenergy cropping systems. Adam is a postdoctoral research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Tim Whitby, Lab Manager (2014-2016). Tim has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Virginia, with a concentration in Environmental and Biological Conservation and a M.S. in Biology from Appalachian State University with a graduate certificate in GIS. Before joining our lab, Tim worked for Prof. Monica Turner over in Zoology, where he gained great field experience in Yellowstone and developed new lab protocols.

Elliot Vaughan, M.S. 2016. Geography. Factors controlling soil carbon and nitrogen storage in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Laura Szymanski, M.S. 2015 Geography. Soil microbial respiration and carbon turnover under perennial and annual biofuel crops in two agricultural soils.

Emily Atkinson, Ph.D. 2014 Geography. Land use legacies in tropical dry forests: Linking above- and belowground dynamics.

John Souther, M.S. 2014. Geography. Investigating successional dynamics in naturally-regenerated tropical forests of Puerto Rico: Testing and learning from a chronosequence approach. John works for the U.S. Forest Service.

A. Peyton Smith, Ph.D. 2013. Soil Science. Linking microbial community structure and function with tropical forest recovery. Peyton completed a postdoc at Pacific Northwest National Lab and is now an Assistant Professor of Soil Carbon Dynamics in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M.

Nina T. Chaopricha, Ph.D. 2013. Environment and Resources. The Importance, origin, composition and stability of deeply buried soil organic matter. Nina is now a program coordinator at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

Emily Eggleston, M.S. 2012. Geography. How Japanese American gardeners shaped internment camp landscapes: A soil chemistry and archival analysis.

Marc Mayes, M.S. 2011. Environment and Resources. A landscape-scale study of relationships between agricultural land cover/use, soil parent materials and soil biogeochemistry in the Konya Basin, Turkey. Marc received his PhD from Brown University and is now a postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Barbara.





  • Sunita Nandihalli (Counseling Psychology)
  • Haley Burkhardt (Anthropology)
  • Megan Murphy


  • Milan Stolpman
  • Alex Roman
  • Chastin Harlow
  • Clarissa Perez Gomez
  • Lily Weglarek
  • Olivia Lopez
  • Sanober Mirza
  • Liam Patton
  • Craig Kunkel
  • Diana Tapia
  • Megan Seeley
  • Chris Morgan
  • Lea Daly
  • Sandra Kinzer
  • Nawaf Alghamdi
  • Kelsi Wallander
  • Zachary Stewart 
  • Diana Macias
  • Sam Jensen
  • Jessica Rippe-Martinez
  • Ross Edel
  • Breana Nehls
  • Jack Travis
  • Amanda Janczak
  • Jenny Renzas
  • Tommy Gorak
  • Dylan S. Hill
  • Erin Mellenthin
  • Grace Moran
  • Ravin Raatz
  • Gabrielle Hinahara

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  • Chelsie Rodriguez Hernandez, University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, Summer 2019
  • Lays Fernanda de Oliveira, Universidade Federal de Lavras, Brazil, Summer 2015
  • Ashley Avilés, Universidad del Este, Puerto Rico, Summer 2015
  • Doreen Cabrera, California State University Long Beach, Summer 2014
  • Ada Vilches Ortega, University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, Summer 2013
  • Adriana Muñiz, Universidad de Puerto Rico-Arecibo, Summer 2012
  • Edison Caraballo, Universidad de Turabo, Summer 2012
  • IMG_0460b


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