Research

In general, the laboratory is interested in the factors regulating productivity and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems as a means to understanding the effects of climactic and atmospheric change on the functioning of the Earth system. Research in the Finzi Lab is primarily in forested ecosystems and peatlands. Presently, the research mission includes field-based campaigns using observational and experimental approaches, meta-analysis of the primary scientific literature to answer long-standing, fundamental questions in the field of biogeochemistry, and data assimilation and modeling to test hypotheses and improve model skill. At present the lab is seeking to recruit one new student for matriculation in the fall of 2016. Details of the position can be found here.

 

Current Research

The Finzi Lab has a diverse array of ongoing and planned research projects including, but not limited to, research on:

  1.  The role of rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2 on the productivity and C-storage capacity of forest ecosystems;
  2. The effect of experimental warming and high CO2 (800-900ppm) on trace gas emissions from a boreal black-spruce peatland, MN[1];
  3. Characterizing the deuterium and δ18O isoscape of the Harvard Forest as a means to understanding water and carbon fluxes and isotopologues at an eddy-covariance site (EMS);
  4. The effects of the invasive insect, hemlock woolly adelgid, on the carbon balance of eastern US forests;
  5. Plant-microbe interactions, particularly in the rhizosphere and the role plants play in regulating soil organic matter decomposition;
  6. Developing new models of microbial physiology and exoenzyme activity with the goal of introducing a new method of modeling decomposition in ecosystem and earth-system models;
  7. Large-scale data synthesis activities to understand how soil microbes affect soil C storage and turnover at regional to global scales[2];
  8. Organic nitrogen cycling in forest soils.

Each of these research foci is amenable to additional development at the graduate and post-doctoral scales. While I don’t require that students work on existing projects, my hope is that prospective students are closely interested in the kind of work we do so that I can be a good adviser. If this list of research topics is not what you had in mind, I’m probably not the right adviser for you. Also, by working on projects more closely related to ongoing research it is far easier to obtain grant funding for your work.


[1] Very active area of research but presently filled by 2 Ph.D. students through 2019-2020.

[2] Items 4-7 are currently the most active areas for research. For 2016 I am most interested in students for these areas. A background in R or Matlab is very helpful. Successful students are expected to commit to developing robust statistical and coding skills as a part of their degree; it is the wave of the future!