Lab Members

Principal Investigator
scollins Scott L. Collins

Scott is currently Distinguished Professor of Biology. Loren Potter Chair of Plant Ecology, and former Director of the Sevilleta LTER Program. His research interests include plant community dynamics; gradient models and structure; the role of disturbance in communities; fire ecology; patch dynamics; landscape ecology; grassland ecology; analysis of species distribution and abundance; pulse dynamics in aridland ecosystems.
Graduate Students
Renee Brown Renée F. Brown

Renée's research focuses on the temporal dynamics of plant, biogeochemical, and microbial responses to increased monsoon rainfall variability in semi-arid grasslands.
Liz Liz Fain

Liz is studying how drought affects carbon isotope discrimination in desert plants at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge and Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site. Her research currently focuses on how duration and severity of drought affect carbon isotope values in desert plants.
Alesia Hallmark Alesia Hallmark

Alesia is fascinated by the phenology and life histories of aridland species. These species have evolved to survive in some of the hottest, driest, and most unpredictable conditions. Using eddy covariance, remote sensing, long-term ecological data, and phenocams, Alesia studies how aridland species, communities, and ecosystems survive and reproduce in these challenging conditions across an elevation gradient in the Rio Grande valley of New Mexico, with a focus on ecosystems within the Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research site.
Andrea Lopez Andrea Lopez

Andrea is interested in plant-soil interactions and the biogeochemistry of semi-arid ecosystems. Current research looks at the sensitivities in the decomposition rate of six Noth American grasslands under simulated drought conditions in the Extreme Drought in Grasslands (EDGE) platform. Previous research at the University of Texas at El Paso looked at the impact of flood irrigation, which utilizes water from the Rio Grande, on the texture and chemical properties of soils in a pecan orchard in Socorro, TX.
Timothy Ohlert Tim Ohlert

Tim is studying how climate change affects plant communities. His current research explores how drought impacts community composition in North American deserts and how aridity alters trait diversity. Tim is involved in the Nutrient Network and the Drought Network.
Brooke Brooke Wainwright

Brooke is currently using in-situ germination trials to investigate shifts in foundation plants at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge under climate change manipulation experiments. Brooke is in her second year as a masters student and this fall will also examine the status of seed banks in these long term experiments.

Former Lab Members

scollins Selene Baez
Selene is a former graduate student of Dr. Collins. She received her Ph.D. from UNM in 2006. After a postdoc with Emilio M. Bruna at the University of Florida Selene moved to her home country of Ecuador where she works in Quito for Consorcio para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Ecoregion Andina. She is Coordinator of the Network ´Red de Bosques Andinos, Principal Researcher Long-Term Ecological Research Site at Volcán Pichincha, Ecuador, and Associate Researcher: Consortium for the Sustainable Development of the Andean Ecoregion (CONDESAN). She was recently awarded a prestigious PROGRAMA PROMETEO Fellowship!
laura Laura B. Calabrese
Laura is interested in looking at the effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances (fire, grazing, atmospheric deposition) on plant community structure and dynamics in grasslands. Most of her research is going on at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge as part of the Sevilleta LTER program, though she was also involved in a post-wildfire monitoring program in the Manzano Mountains.
scollins Alec Carrigy
Alec studies the effects of global change on semi-arid grasslands. In particular, his research focuses on how extreme drought and nutrient additions impact grassland community structure and dynamics. He is also interested in how plant-soil interactions are affected by multiple global change drivers including drought, rainfall timing, disturbance of biological soil crust and nutrient additions.
scollins Alejandra Carvajal
Alejandra is interested in seed dispersal and predation and how these two factors influence the composition and structure of the plant community. She is interested in three groups of granivores: ants, birds, and rodents, and their relative importance to seed dispersal and predation in the arid grassland of the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.
Joe Fargione
Joe received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 2004 and then came to UNM as a postdoc to work with Dr. Collins. He is currently working as the Regional Science Director for the central U.S. region of The Nature Conservancy.
scollins Sydney Jones
Syd enjoys finding out how systems work! Plants are awesome because they are a system within themselves constantly making moment by moment elemental trade-offs to maintain optimal balance for a particular inherited ancient strategy for survival, and they are a fascinating link between other systems above-ground and below, making an influence and being influenced. Syd is interested in using elevation gradients and warming chambers as a means to passively impose climate change on plant communities and soil! Syd is also interested in creating plant-soil mini-systems that can be moved about to simulate the potential doom of shrub encroachment.
skoerne Sally Koerner
Sally is a Post Doc at Colorado State University in Dr. Melinda Smith's Lab. For her dissertation she investigated how climate change, loss of grazing, and altered disturbance regimes interact to affect plant community composition, structure, and dynamics in savanna grasslands. She uses two study sites: Kruger National Park, South Africa and Konza Prairie LTER, Kansas.
scollins Laura Ladwig
Laura is now a Postdoc at the University of Wisconsin! Laura is interested in the influence of human mediated disturbances on plant community dynamics and ecosystem processes. The main community drivers she investigates include nitrogen deposition, fire, and altered precipitation regimes and her dissertation research is focused in semiarid grass and shrublands of the Sevilleta NWR in central New Mexico. Laura is also interested in how plant-microbe interactions change with regards to altered disturbance regimes.
scollins Kina Murphy
Kina Murphy is interested in plant and large herbivore community interactions, wildlife movement and assemblage patterns, how large herbivores impact net primary productivity and carbon cycles, body size, scaling and energy exchange between trophic levels. Her research focuses on how the movement patterns and metabolic rates of large herbivores impact net primary productivity and carbon sequestration along the Chobe-Linyanti-Zambezi Wetland in Botswana, and comparatively on the Pritzlaff Ranch and Villas Caldera in New Mexico.
administrator Etsuko Nonaka
Etsuko’s research interest is mainly in theoretical ecology and ecological modeling, and her projects cover various topics that are both theoretical and applied. She is a Ph.D student in Ecology and a master’s student in applied mathematics at UNM. Also, she starts her study abroad program at Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden, from 2009. Currently, she is working on a population dynamics model of ticks and tick-borne viruses and spatial modeling of grass patch size distributions in semi-arid landscapes.
scollins Matt Petrie
Matt likes projects that synthesize the better parts of ecology, hydrology, and earth systems science to explore the interaction of abiotic and biotic ecosystem processes. He believes there is much opportunity to strengthen scientific analysis through a multidisciplinary approach. Matt's current research includes the statistical analysis of climate variability, ecosystem productivity, water use and carbon sink-source dynamics, energy partitioning, and experimental climate manipulation. Matt is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
scollins Martina Suazo
Martina is interested in plant physiology, species distribution and community assemblages, plant community dynamics, and ecological succession. It is fascinating to learn how biotic and abiotic factors including disturbances such as grazing, wildfire, climate change and other anthropogenic influences drive these properties and processes. Martina’s research will focus on the effects of wildfire on fire adapted montane valley grasslands, how these plant communities may change and what factors are most influential in stabilizing and/or driving change in the years following fire.
mlthomey Michell L. Thomey
Michell will be starting a new Postdoctoral Research Associate position (October 2014) with Dr. Donald Ort, USDA-ARS Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit; Institute for Genomic Biology at The University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Her research is focused on understanding the linkages between global environmental change and plant-plant interactions and feed-backs to plant community structure and energy and carbon fluxes.