Professor of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology
"We investigate how the plants, animals, and soils of ecosystems interact with each other and with their physical environment."
Research: I am particularly interested in understanding the inter-relationships between biology and the flows of energy and nutrients in terrestrial habitats. Accordingly, the research in my lab tends to centre on evaluating the physical, chemical and biological controls that govern plant-soil interactions and therefore that significantly influence terrestrial ecosystem biogeochemistry. In essence, we study these controls so as to contribute to better assessments of the impacts of perturbations such as changing climate, shifting land management practices, and increasing atmospheric nitrogen deposition on ecosystem structure and functioning.
Teaching: My goal as a teacher is to facilitate active, engaged, critical thinking that helps undergraduate students in their developmental transition from being dependent to independent learners. I use a wide variety of techniques including lectures focussed on concepts (rather than content), question and answer tutorial sessions, problem-solving exercises, interactive group learning, student-led seminar discussions, and active field experiences. I regularly take teacher training workshops to improve my practices as an educator. I approach graduate student training as a mentor intent on facilitating mutual learning.
Course Topics: Community and ecosystem ecology, plant-soil interactions, soil microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, global change, evolution of biological diversity across the ‘tree of life’