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Faculty

Adeyemi Adebiyi

Assistant Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

aaadebiyi@ucmerced.edu

Understanding the interactions of aerosols (such as dust aerosols, smoke aerosols, and other carbonaceous aerosols) and their unique impacts on the regional and global climate

Aerosol-climate interactions, aerosol-meteorology interactions, atmospheric physics, air-quality, and aerosol-health impacts.

J. Michael Beman

J. Michael Beman

Associate Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

mbeman@ucmerced.edu

  • Biogeochemistry
  • Microbial ecology
  • Oceanography
  • Global environmental change

Gordon Bennett

Gordon Bennett

Associate Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

gbennett2@ucmerced.edu

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe

Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

aaberhe@ucmerced.edu

Professor Berhe's research is broadly focused on soil science and global change science. The main goal of her research is to understand the effect of changing environmental conditions on vital soil processes, most importantly the cycling and fate of essential elements in the critical zone. She studies soil processes in systems experiencing natural and/or anthropogenic perturbation in order to understand fundamental principles governed by geomorphology, and contemporary modifications introduced by changes in land use and climate.

Professor Berhe's general research themes are:

  • Effect of climate changes (specifically rainfall and temperature) on storage and stabilization of soil organic matter and cation nutrient budgets
  • Nano-scale biogeochemistry of iron oxides, especially how the size and concentration of oxides in soil control stabilization and destabilization of organic matter
  • Erosion and terrestrial carbon sequestration, specifically temporal evolution of the erosion-induced terrestrial carbon sink and reconstruction of environmental history from sediments
  • Political ecology of land degradation and ownership, particularly the contribution of armed conflicts to land degradation and ways people relate to their environment
     

Jessica Blois

Jessica Blois

Associate Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

jblois@ucmerced.edu

Ecological and evolutionary responses to past, recent and future environmental change, using approaches such as:

-paleoecology

-niche/community modeling

-phylogenetics/phylochronology

Michael N. Dawson

Michael N. Dawson

Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

mdawson@ucmerced.edu

Millions of species demonstrate that evolution happens, but few illuminate the process. Professor Dawson's lab focuses on elucidating the origins, maintenance, and loss of marine biodiversity, from molecular to ecosystem levels. His specific interests are:

 

  • How molecular variation explains and causes differences between individuals, populations, species, and higher taxa
  • How the environment shapes and is shaped by genetic, organismal, population, and community variation

His lab's work scales from micro- to macro-evolution and integrates biological and physical sciences. Topic areas include:

  • Adaptation, ecological genetics and evolutionary ecology
  • Population genetics, phylogeography, biogeography and phylogenetics
  • Speciation, systematics and taxonomy
  • Behavior and morphology
  • Climate change, invasive species and marine protected areas

Danielle Edwards

Danielle Edwards

Assistant Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

dedwards5@ucmerced.edu

Professor Edwards' research focuses on understanding how the environment affects the evolution of phenotype and behavior in reptiles. To do this, she incorporates ecological, genomic, behavioral and phenotypic information to look at:

  1. how the landscape affects evolutionary history;
  2. how shifts in ecological niche drive phenotypic evolution; and
  3. how ecological and sexual selection combine during speciation.

She is also interested in using integrative studies to inform conservation management strategies for endangered and vulnerable reptiles and amphibians.

Melinda Findlater

Assistant Teaching Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

mindyfindlater@ucmerced.edu

A. Carolin Frank

A. Carolin Frank

Associate Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

cfrank3@ucmerced.edu

The Plant Microbiome, including:

  • Function, diversity, and dispersal 
  • Forest tree microbiomes
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Bacteria and fungi
  • Genomics and metagenomics
  • Ecosystem implications

Teamrat A. Ghezzehei

Teamrat A. Ghezzehei

Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

taghezzehei@ucmerced.edu

Professor Ghezzehei's research interest is in the movement and transformation of mass and energy in porous media at a fundamental level, as well as their application to environmental- and energy-related problems. The scale of his interest ranges from sub-pore scale dynamics of water-gas interfaces to water flow and solute transport at scales of tens of meters. The scope of his research includes laboratory and field experiments, theory, and computational modeling.

Stephen Hart

Stephen C. Hart

Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

shart4@ucmerced.edu

Professor Hart's research explores the controls of biogeochemical processes and productivity in managed and wildland terrestrial ecosystems using methods such as:

  • Ecological genetics to isotopic analyses
  • Computer simulation modeling
  • Elucidate the biotic and abiotic factors that regulate terrestrial ecosystem structure and function

His research group is currently investigating:

  • Biological and geochemical controls on ecosystem development along a three million year, semi-arid soil chronosequence
  • Influence of the genetics of dominant plants on ecosystem processes
  • Effects of forest restoration treatments (e.g., thinning with or without prescribed fire) and wildfire on ecosystem carbon and water balance, soil microbial communities, and belowground processes
  • Efficacy of insect communities as indicators of forest ecosystem health
  • Utility of the 15N natural abundance signature of soil microbes as an integrator of nitrogen cycling processes
  • Impact of climatic change on soil-plant-atmosphere interactions; and the effects of water diversion on riparian forest

Sora Kim

Sora Kim

Assistant Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

skim380@ucmerced.edu

Emily Jane McTavish

Emily Jane McTavish

Assistant Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

ejmctavish@ucmerced.edu

Evolution, phylogenetics, genomics, computational biology

Emily Moran

Emily Moran

Associate Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

emoran5@ucmerced.edu

Dispersal, local adaptation and the interplay between ecological and evolutionary responses to environmental change in plants.
 

Peggy O'Day

Peggy O'Day

Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

poday@ucmerced.edu

Peggy O'Day is environmental geochemist who studies the chemistry, reaction, and transport of inorganic contaminants and species, primarily metal and metalloid elements, in surface and subsurface systems.  She specializes in the use of spectroscopic and microscopic methods, especially synchrotron X-ray techniques, to determine element speciation and molecular-scale mechanisms of biogeochemical reactions in natural systems and laboratory analogs.  She develops and applies thermodynamic, kinetic and reactive transport models for synthesis and quantitative description of biogeochemical cycling, reactivity, transport, and bioavailability.

Current research projects include:

  • Characterization of element speciation and solid phases in natural and engineered airborne particulates, and their impacts on human health through cellular response.
  • Surface reactivity of mineral phases with respect to metal ion adsorption using molecular computational methods, spectroscopic characterizations, and geochemical modeling.
  • Environmental influences on mercury speciation and methylation.
  • Novel methods for remediation of soils and sediments through application of reactive amendments.
  • Mechanisms and rates of abiotic and biotic uranium oxidation linked to nitrogen and iron cycling, and dissolution mechanisms and rates of uranyl oxide, silicate, and phosphate phases.

Rebecca Ryals

Rebecca Ryals

Assistant Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

rryals@ucmerced.edu

Jason Sexton

Jason Sexton

Associate Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

jsexton2@ucmerced.edu

  • Plant adaptation
  • Species range limits
  • Biological invasions
  • Biological responses to global change
  • Evolutionary conservation science
  • Human cultural adaptive capacity

Mark Sistrom

Mark Sistrom

Assistant Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

msistrom@ucmerced.edu

Professor Sistrom works broadly across a number of bacterial and viral systems to explore evolutionary  hypotheses using high throughput sequencing and bioinformatics methods. In particular,  he is interested in:

  • How microbial populations change over space and time.
  • What selective pressures lead to emergent disease.
  • How the evolutionary properties of microbes can be exploited to manage or eliminate disease.

He is interested in collaborative projects that look at pertinent evolutionary questions in a range of biological systems using big data approaches.

Samuel J. Traina

Samuel J. Traina

Professor and Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development

straina@ucmerced.edu

Using a wide range of analytical methods (infra-red spectroscopy, electron microsocpy, x-ray absorption spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy), Professor Traina's group studies:

  • Chemical transformations of pollutants in soils, surface and ground water
  • Linkages between chemical form or speciation of particular pollutants and their relative toxicities in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
  • Roles of geoparticle surfaces and bacteria in pollutant fate

Current projects include the study of:

  • Contaminants at Department of Energy waste sites (Cr, Pu and U)
  • Role of Fe(II) and HSe- in transformations of nitroaromatic pesticides in wetlands
  • Fate of pharmaceuticals in the surface waters of National Parks

Susannah Tringe

Susannah Tringe

Adjunct Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

sgtringe@lbl.gov

Tanja Woyke

Tanja Woyke

Adjunct Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

twoyke@ucmerced.edu

Justin Yeakel

Justin Yeakel

Associate Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

jyeakel@ucmerced.edu

Xuan Zhang

Xuan Zhang

Assistant Professor, Life and Environmental Sciences

xzhang87@ucmerced.edu