My research involves the interdisciplinary field of land-atmosphere interactions. I am most interested in the part of the atmosphere in which we live—right at Earth's surface. The exchanges of energy, carbon, and water are so important for the welfare of ecosystems, yet their complexities make them difficult to quantify, and even more difficult to predict how they might change in the future. I maintain an eddy covariance flux system near campus that operates year-round over a corn-soybean rotation field. The system outputs data every 30 minutes. This allows me to track diurnal, seasonal, and annual cycles of energy, carbon, and water exchanged between the atmosphere and the crop field. I love examining a bunch of numbers that state-of-the-art technological instruments pull out of the invisible air, and seeing science appear through the data. In addition to creating a record of a number of atmospheric and surface variables, the observations are used to validate ecosystem models. I use the Agro-IBIS model to simulate the growth and functioning of natural and managed ecosystems, and the transport and storage of energy, carbon, and water from point locations to regions as large as the United States. I have examined the effects of land cover change on the water balance and hydrology of the Mississippi River basin, and I have studied the associations between the El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon and anomalies in water balance across the basin.
The interdisciplinary nature of my work has allowed me to collaborate with scientists in disciplines ranging from engineering to soil science to plant biology. I am affiliated with the Center for Water as a Complex Environmental System as well as the departments of Geography and Plant Biology. My students have the opportunity to enroll in degree programs in either of these two departments or Atmospheric Sciences. While my students gain a rigorous knowledge within their chosen degree programs, they have the opportunity to learn about a wide range of bio-geo-physical processes that work at scales ranging from meters to the entire globe. I encourage my students to gain experience with both actual field observations and with numerical modeling, and I expect my students to publish their results and present their findings at conferences. My goal is to graduate students who are ready to tackle the complex problems of Earth system science, and who are prepared with the necessary skills in performing and communicating research to succeed.
- Ph.D. Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin, 2004
- M.S. Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin, 1998
- B.S. Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University, 1994