I came to microbial ecology through chemistry, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem ecology. I trained in these fields, in addition to the fields of mycology and fungal genomics, before moving into my position at Boston University. I completed my Ph.D. in 2011 at UC Irvine, where I worked with Professor Kathleen Treseder. Originally from Chelmsford, MA, I received my Bachelors of Arts in chemistry from Boston University in 2004. I first became interested in ecology during my undergraduate research in Dr. Adrien Finzi’s biogeochemistry laboratory. During this time, I read Schimel and Bennett’s “Nitrogen cycling: challenges of a changing paradigm” and learned that decomposition is the most rate-limiting, and most poorly understood, step in terrestrial biogeochemical cycles. For my Ph.D., I studied the chemical and microbial mechanisms by which resource availability controls rates of litter decay and carbon and nitrogen cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. Another book that has influenced my life is W. H. Schlesinger’s “Biogeochemistry: an analysis of global change“; it was through reading this book that I became interested in the influence of human activity on biogeochemical cycles.
Today, my research focuses on understanding relationships between organic matter chemistry, microbial activity and diversity, decomposition rate, carbon and nitrogen cycling, and global change. My research has taken me to many different ecosystems in the U.S. and abroad, including the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Reims, France and the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU) in Umea, Sweden. Most of my work has been done in the boreal, temperate, and coastal forest biomes of North America. My favorite mushrooms are white jelly mushrooms, turkey tails, and mushrooms formed by fungi in the genus Marasmius.