Terrestrial Biology, Biodiversity, Ecology & Earth Science Research

Research Groups

Cheadle Center for Biodiversity & Ecological Research (CCBER) — UCSB: CCBER promotes the teaching of diverse undergraduate courses in EEMB, Environmental Studies, and Geology. It also supports faculty, staff, and student research interests by providing field and lab-based resources. In addition, CCBER houses regionally focused collections of terrestrial plants, algae, and vertebrates, as well as an extensive plant anatomy collection. The Center satisfies the University’s obligation to provide stewardship of campus lands, rich in biodiversity. Through the ecological restoration program, the Center encourages land restoration on and near campus.

Current Projects and Collaborations

CCBER — Ecosystem Management Research: The CCBER focuses on four main areas of ecosystem management research: Ecological Research, Restoration Monitoring, Wildlife Surveys, Water Quality Research.

Individuals

Doug Burbank
Earth Science

Professor Burbank studies tectonic geomorphology and surface processes. Working with the Earth Research Institute, Burbank’s research areas include earth evolution, earth systems science, and natural hazards. His current research projects include analyzing the climate and tectonic controls on growth of the Puna Plateau, NW Argentina, and the interactions of tectonics, erosion, and climate in shaping the Himalayas.

Carla D’Antonio
Ecology Evolution & Marine Biology

Dr. D’Antonio’s research is primarily focused on factors driving changes in ecosystem structure and functioning. She evaluates how species, communities, and ecosystem processes are responding to human-altered fire regimes, species invasions, nitrogen deposition, and climatic fluctuations, including drought. Through her research, she seeks to provide a scientific basis for the management and restoration of ecosystems and for predicting how species composition will change under current and future stressors.

Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration

Frank Davis
Bren

Dr. Davis brings conservation science and geographical analysis to bear in land use planning and the conservation of wild species. His research focuses on the landscape ecology of California plant communities, the design of protected-area networks, rangeland and farmland conservation, and the biological implications of regional climate change.

Director, Biogeography Lab
Member, National Research Council Committee on Science for EPA’s Future
Member, National Research Council Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology
Chair, National Research Council Committee for the Independent Scientific Review of the Everglades Restoration Program

Patricia Holden
Bren

Dr. Holden’s research blends environmental engineering with soil microbiology. Her current research projects deal with the interactive effects of soil, water, and nutrients on bacterial processes, as well as coastal water quality in urban environments. She focuses on bacteria as both an agent of environmental restoration and of environmental degradation.

Jacob Israelachvili
Chemical Engineering

Dr. Israelachvili researches intermolecular and intersurface forces in systems. He has also worked to develop new experimental techniques for studying different materials and surfaces. This research has technological applications, such as the development of biocompatible surfaces, and can also be used to diagnose and treat patients. Recently, Dr. Israelachvili has researched the adhesion potential in the mussel foot protein which helps advance the development of artificial wet adhesives. He has also recently worked to understand the energetics of ionic liquids which could lead to the creation of cleaner, more sustainable batteries and energy storage devices.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Materials Research Laboratory
California NanoSystems Institute

Bruce Kendall
Bren

Dr. Kendall applies the science of population ecology to the conservation of rare species and to the management of harvested populations. His research focuses on the causes of population fluctuation, the prediction of the extinction of rare species, and the effects of current-driven dispersal on marine fish species. He also studies the design of protected areas for biodiversity conservation and fisheries management and how to manage tradeoffs among multiple ecosystem services.

Marine Science Institute
Institute for Computational Earth Systems Science

Jennifer King
Geography

Dr. King studies the interactions between soils, plants, and the atmosphere. Her research focuses on biogeochemical processes, which are those processes that cycle elements on Earth, and examines how these processes are influenced by natural and human-induced environmental changes. She recently investigated biogeochemical cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in urban households and how human decisions impact the fluxes of these elements. Current projects include examination of biotic and abiotic factors affecting the carbon cycle in California grasslands.

Bruce Lipschutz
Chemistry: Recyclable reagent alternatives

The Lipshutz Research Group at UCSB is committed to developing new green technologies that will transform the way in which organic synthesis is traditionally performed. Their use of chemistry provides an alternative to the use of toxic and flammable organic solvents that constitute the vast majority of the organic waste created by the chemical enterprise today. Through the use of newly engineered “designer” surfactants, which are environmentally benign, many of the most commonly used organic reactions can now be run in water at room temperature.

Joe McFadden
Geography: Land-use/ land-cover change, biosphere and atmosphere interactions, Earth system science, sustainability science, urban ecology.

Professor McFadden studies how changes in land cover and land use modify the two-way flows of water, energy, and carbon between ecosystems and the atmosphere. His current work is focused on understanding and modeling these processes in cities and suburbs, with the aim of using that knowledge to inform sustainable urban design and planning.

Daniel Morse
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: Environmentally benign new routes to synthesis of high-performance materials.

Professor Morse does research involving nanofabrication of semiconductors to improve solar energy, lightweight batteries, infrared detectors, and information storage. The method used to accomplish this is bio-inspired, based on advantageous mechanisms he and his team discover in biological systems and translate into practical new materials and engineering.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Center for Nanomedicine
California NanoSystems Institute

Josh Schimel
Environmental Studies/ Ecology Evolution & Marine Biology

Dr. Schimel’s research focuses on ecosystem and microbial ecology and their feedback on global climate. Specifically, his research looks at the role of soil microbes in controlling ecosystem scale processes through the linkages between plant and soil processes. Schimel’s research is particularly important when analyzing the effects of increased temperature and altered rainfall patterns and CO2 emissions on global climate. A major focus of Schimel’s research is on Arctic ecosystems, which store huge pools of organic carbon and which are warming rapidly.

UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology

Susan Mazer
Ecology Evolution & Marine Biology

Dr. Mazer’s research involves detecting the mechanisms by which plants adapt to the ecological risks and opportunities that they encounter and exploring the genetic constraints that may limit the rate or degree of adaptation. Her central research goals are to determine genetic and environmental sources of variation in traits that affect individual fitness. Since 2011, as field director of the California Phenology Project (www.usanpn.org/cpp), she has designed and implemented phenological monitoring programs throughout the state, engaging students, national park staff, UC Natural Reserves, and citizen scientists in the study of how climate change is affecting the seasonal cycles of 30 California native plant species.

Member, Advisory Committee, National Phenology Network
Field Director, California Phenology Project

Chris Still
Geography

Dr. Still’s current research projects include studies of global biogeography and biogeochemistry of carbon-4 vegetation and climate change and the hydrological cycle in the Colorado Rockies. His study of carbon-4 photosynthesis in the global carbon cycle will lead to better understanding of inversion studies that solve for surface carbon fluxes from atmospheric measurements of 13CO2 and CO2. Dr. Still’s study of climate change and the hydrological cycle in the Colorado Rockies aims to understand how vegetation in the East River Valley relies on summer precipitation during the growing season.

Michael Stohl
Communications/ Statistics

Professor Stohl is current involved in a project entitled: Sustainability at the Crossroads: Examining the Vulnerability of New Zealand’s Global Environmental Positioning. The research project aims to understand how interested parties, including NZ policy makers, media, and business leaders think about, frame, and prioritise environmental, social and economic sustainability issues and with what consequences.

Samuel Sweet
Ecology Evolution & Marine Biology

Dr. Sweet’s current research is based on conservation biology, distributional ecology, and systematics of western North American and Australasian amphibians and reptiles; the ecology and systematics of monitor lizards; functional and evolutionary morphology; and ethnozoology.

Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration

Dave Valentine
Earth Science:

Professor Valentine’s current research projects include the study of the microbial weathering of aromatic compounds released into marine environments. His research aims to achieve a better understanding of the distribution of relevant microbial communities, rates of oxidation, and the extent to which various hydrocarbons are broken down or consumed.

Laura Hess
Earth Research Institute

Dr. Hess’ research focuses on remote sensing, field, and modeling studies in order to quantify key drivers of land cover and land use change on the lower Amazon floodplain.

Daniel Lavallee
Earth Research Institute

Daniel Lavalee’s research has been focused on the study of nonlinear effects in seismology: first in the study of nonlinear soil dynamics and earthquake strong ground motion and second in the study of spatial complexity of earthquake slip or pre-stress distribution over the fault surface. A better understanding of earthquakes and tsunamis will help mitigating damage to the environment. A recent example is the situation in Japan after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, especially regarding nuclear accidents.