Assistant Professor – University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
I am a broadly trained ecologist, with extensive experience in tropical forests and soon the thornscrub ecosystems of the Rio Grande Valley. My research focuses on plant physiological ecology, ecosystem ecology, and models which scale up processes from plant tissues to whole ecosystems.
I am interested in how plants use diverse ecological strategies to maximize growth, survival, and reproduction under conditions of water scarcity, and the impacts of such ‘functional diversity’ on the resilience and vulnerability of ecosystems to environmental change. Historically I have pursued these questions in tropical forests, but will be expanding my focus into native and disturbed ecosystems of the Rio Grande Valley. I will use diverse approaches including minirhizotrons to study fine root growth and turnover in response to varying hydrological regimes; micrometeorological techniques (eddy covariance) to study the net exchange of carbon, water, and energy between the land and atmosphere, lab-based investigations into the impact of tree allometry, architecture, and phenology on the diversity in stem and leaf hydraulic traits of native thornscrub species, and model-data fusion techniques for high-frequency environmental data on plant-water relations, such as continuous sap flow (stem water use) and water potential measurements from in situ plant sensors.