Dottie Stearns to Present at The Ecological Society of America

We are thrilled to announce that ENVS student, Dottie Stearns, has been selected to present her research at the Ecological Society of America's (ESA) National Conference in Baltimore, MD this August. Her presentation titled "Effects of Drought Exposure on Belowground Productivity in a Desert Grassland" is a culmination of her REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) last summer at the Sevilleta Long-term Ecological Research site in central New Mexico. As part of the NSF-funded program, Dottie worked with The University of New Mexico faculty during the summer of 2014 on research related to arid-land ecology. Dottie explained the importance of her research in her application to present at ESA:

"My research on belowground production on dominate grassland species will provide meaningful and relevant evidence to support climate change impact on the desert prairies in New Mexico and other desert ecosystems. There is little attention on belowground production by most ecologists and providing more knowledge in this subdiscipline is critical to the field of ecology. Belowground ecology is incredibly important for an operating ecosystem and for all organisms. Therefore, my research is critical for investigating ecological patterns associated with drought and subsequently climate change implications. My research sites at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge LTER are part of a much larger multi-scale long term experiment that examines rainfall seasonality, reduction in ambient rainfall, and desertification in the western part of the United States. Reduced belowground production not only affects plant physiology and function; animals and humans are also impacted by reduction of grassland productivity. From this research experience, it is clear that water resource management, as well as altered rainfall patterns, have negatively impacted New Mexico's infrastructure and economy. This research, once again, will provide evidence to suggest that delayed water absorption and slight reduction of water drastically reduces productivity and physiological functions of even xeric plants that are used to the ecosystem."

Dottie begins her senior year in the College this fall 2015 and is a student in the ENVS 4+1 BS/MPH program with the Rollins School of Public Health. She is considering further graduate study in either Ecology and Evolutionary Biology or Infectious Disease Ecology and Epidemiology. It is impossible to miss Dottie on campus! As an Orientation Captain, member of the Student Alumni Board, volunteer at the Emory Herbarium and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Dottie is embracing her Emory experience in a many meaningful ways.

We look forward to catching up with Dottie in early fall to learn more about her experience at ESA.

Congratulations, Dottie!