There are limited resources that can be harvested to meet the needs of human society. I evaluate chemical and biological efficiencies of managed ecosystems and the way we use plant-based resources. My current goals are to determine the potential for growing bioenergy feedstocks AND reducing negative environmental impacts from energy and agricultural industries.
There is not a single solution for global energy management. Instead, there are a variety of feedstocks that will be suitable in different regions of the world. A balance between energy demands and supplies will only be achieved through careful planning that considers the biogeochemical efficiencies of diverse ecosystem types.
Greenhouse gas concentrations, climate change, and energy resources are all global issues that are affected by land management choices. There are ample opportunities for improving the efficiency with which land is managed, and thereby improving both human and ecosystem health.
Energy bioscience is a new field that necessitates the integration of many scientific disciplines, including ecosystem ecology, to accurately evaluate energy feedstock production chains. Systems analysis is inherent to both energy biosciences and ecosystem science such that these research disciplines may be applied in parallel to questions about land management issues.
My approach to ecosystem ecology combines empirical measurements of physiological processes and biogeochemistry with quantitative models of interacting variables in the soil, plant canopy, and atmosphere. Most of my research thus far has described carbon and nitrogen cycling in ecosystems. I use comparative analysis of ecosystems dominated by different species and/or different environmental conditions to estimate likely plant growth dynamics and greenhouse gas emissions in the future.