Education and Experience
2015 – present: Project Scientist, Terrestrial Sciences Section, Climate & Global Dynamics Division, NCAR
2012 – 2015: Postdoctoral Scientist, Terrestrial Sciences, Climate & Global Dynamics Division, NCAR
2012: Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
2004: B.A. in Environmental Sciences, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
My work investigates carbon, water, and energy fluxes between Earth’s surface and the atmosphere, focusing primarily on plant responses to air pollution and climate. My work combines field measurements and data syntheses with global-scale modeling to understand the mechanisms governing these processes at different spatial and temporal scales. I never thought that I’d spend time at a computer using climate models, but now I do because I realize how useful they are to understanding our Earth in the future! In addition to work, I love exploring Colorado’s mountains via foot, bike, ski, or climbing harness. I also love to cook & bake, play music, and play with my dog!
How I became a scientist
I’ve always loved exploring and being outside, though I didn’t always know I wanted to be a scientist. In high school, my teachers discouraged me from taking advanced science classes (ha! if only they could see me now!), so I focused on English, History and Music. In college, however, the sciences classes — I was required to take at least 3 — got me outside & thinking about the world we live in. I fell in love with getting to explore nature and ask fundamental questions — the what and why and how — about patterns I saw in nature. Then I got involved in research projects in Hawaii and Tanzania, and I was completely hooked! I majored in Environmental Science and minored in Music. After graduating college, I spent 2 years teaching science to elementary & middle school students before starting my PhD.
How my work benefits society
My research helps us understand how air pollution and climate alter our ecosystems. This is important because, for example, carbon storage is an ecosystem service that buffers the impact of climate change and absorbs some of the CO2 released into our atmosphere by human activities. My work highlights how ground-level ozone (a toxic air pollutant) decreases carbon storage in our ecosystems, predicts how food availability will change in the future in response to climate change, and tests what agricultural practices we can use to minimize climate change while maintaining our ability to produce food.
I also planted 4 Ozone Gardens in Boulder where plant leaves visibly show ozone damage. Click here to check out the first of many blog posts about the garden & this topic.