I have been obsessed by ecology and natural history since the summer of my seventh year, which I spent collecting aquatic macroinvertebrates in Minnesota lakes and wetlands. I grew up in northwest Ohio farm country, and while acquiring a B.A. in biology at Wittenberg University, I fell in love with the prairie plants that persist along ditches and railroad rights-of-way in that region. I applied that interest to a season of fieldwork on the Ohio tallgrass before following my doctoral advisor north to the Tip of the Mitt in 2003. I’ve been here pretty much ever since, and my Ohio State Ph.D. arrived in the mail in 2007. Ecology and natural history are inseparably pleasure and profession to me, and practically every topic I enjoy is best done outdoors: field botany, mycology, ornithology and more. Even when hunting, skiing, hiking, or biking, I am at constant risk of distraction by the organisms that surround me.
My research is focused on carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling in forests. Through various doctoral and post-doctoral projects, I have studied processes occurring in soils, fungi, plants, and the atmosphere. These processes include soil C and N transformations, mycorrhizal and plant N uptake, growth, and detritus production, and atmospheric N deposition. To study these processes, I use a combination of the most basic methods imaginable (e.g., digging up soil samples, shooting down leaves from the tops of trees) and more complex approaches, such as stable isotope mass spectrometry and meta-analysis. I have been interested in forest succession since I could tell a beech from a maple, and all of my current projects are nested within the context of that process.