Master's Thesis - 2015 to August 2017
Microbe-managing: Grassland soil microbial community turnover in response to management driving N availability.

Soil microbes control critical ecosystem functions in tallgrass prairies, but they are also potentially sensitive to ecosystem change. We investigated how microbial communities change on multiple time scales in response to long-term management of prescribed fire (decreases nitrogen availability) and fertilization (increases nitrogen availability), to infer how these changes may impact grassland ecosystems as a whole.

 

Teapa, Tobasco, Mexico -  May 2017

Some small stream fishes living in Southern Mexico face unusual survival challenges - They live in water with high levels of toxic hydrogen sulfide. I traveled to Mexico as a volunteer field assistant for KSU's Poeciliid speciation lab to investigate how populations of the Atlantic Molly differ in their tolerance to sulfide. During this trip, I worked in beautiful Teapa, Tobasco to catch fish, measure water chemistry parameters, and perform sulfide tolerance trials in the lab to better understand the speciation of this unique species. 

Kasatochi Island, Alaska -  August 2016

In 2008, Kasatochi Island in the Aleutian arc erupted, covering the entire island in volcanic ash. Since this eruption, the island ecosystem has begun to recover. Plants are beginning to anchor their roots in the soil, and fungal fruiting bodies are popping up through the ash deposits. Eight years after this eruption, I journeyed to Kasatochi with Kansas State's microbial ecology lab to explore how soil microbes were recolonizing the island, and how these communities differed across spatial scales. We lived on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife research boat for three days as we hopped from island to island, collecting soils and sediments to learn how ecosystems recover from volcanic eruptions.

Pennsylvania Mtn., Alma, CO -  Summer 2015

In the summer between finishing my bachelor's degree and beginning graduate school, I worked as a research technician and alpine tour guide on Pennsylvania Mountain. I helped with projects focusing on alpine pollinators, dandelion hybridization, estimating the ages of bristlecone pines with tree cores, and long-term accounts of plant phenology. During this time, I became familiar with the taxonomy and ecology of the numerous wildflower species, listened to the calls of pika, and had the incredible opportunity to hike and enjoy the Rocky Mountain alpine.

Prairie Fork Conservation Area, Columbia, MO - 2014 to 2015

Tallgrass prairie once stretched across the Great Plains, but today only three percent of this once-vast ecosystem remains due to land conversions and urban sprawl . Prairie Fork Conservation Area in Columbia, MO has spent the last ten years reconstructing prairie ecosystems, piece by piece, from old agricultural land. I wrote two grants as an undergraduate to study how plant-fungal symbionts changed as these prairies aged. I grew common prairie grasses in pots containing soils of varying reconstruction ages to understand how symbiotic soil fungi in reconstructed prairie soils may change throughout time.

Urban Forests, Columbia, MO - 2013 to 2014

During my first research experience, I worked as a technician for a project investigating the relationship between urban forests, soil carbon, and heat islands for the University of Missouri Interdisciplinary Hydrology Laboratory. I cleaned and maintained five weather stations throughout Columbia, MO, collected 1,000 soil cores for soil water and soil carbon analyses, and measured stream chemistry parameters during hot summers and cold winters.