‘A Constant Struggle to Survive’: Learning from the Structure of Plants

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© Sarah Gordon
Craig Brodersen was a college sophomore at Wake Forest University when a biology professor mentioned to the class that he was looking for a summer assistant to help with a field project in the mountains of Wyoming.
Brodersen decided to give it a try, joining a research team that was characterizing the carbon budget of an entire ecosystem. During that summer, he measured gas exchange capacity of sagebrush communities, and deepened his understanding of the integrated nature of ecosystems.
For Brodersen, who joins F&ES as an Assistant Professor of Plant Physiological Ecology, the experience also changed his life.

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Sifting Through the ‘Noise’ To Assess Health of Tropical Forests

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© Sarah Gordon
Some of the things that made Liza Comita want to study tropical forests in the first place are the same things that can make it a rather daunting field of research.
The array of species, hundreds or more at most sites, almost dizzying in their abundance. Trees and plants so rare that learning even their basic biology is a challenge, let alone understanding how they are faring in the face of human intrusion.
But for Comita, who joins F&ES this semester as Assistant Professor of Tropical Forest Management, they were the types of challenges that lured her into the field.

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Getting to the Roots of Humankind’s Relationship With the Natural World

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© Sarah Gordon
In a sense, Justin Farrell had already started thinking about his doctoral dissertation when he was a kid growing up in Wyoming and Nebraska. From an early age, he recognized what he saw as Wyoming’s contradictory relationship with nature.
This seemingly intractable conflict was perhaps most evident in the Greater Yellowstone region, where debates over land use, wolf protection, and bison management resonated for Farrell, whose own family members lived and owned land in the region.
While many framed the debate in terms of economics or natural science, Farrell, who joins F&ES as an Assistant Professor of Sociology, believed that the conflict reflected much deeper cultural, moral, and spiritual concerns.

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An Allegiance to the Tropics: New Mentor, Researcher Takes Lead at TRI

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© Sarah Gordon
This summer, Simon Queenborough took over leadership as Musser Director of the Tropical Resources Institute (TRI), where he will manage one of the School’s most far-reaching and accomplished programs, and mentor the master’s and doctoral students in the Institute’s successful Fellowship program. He will also serve as a lecturer and research scientist at F&ES.
In an interview, he describes what drew him into the field of tropical forestry, the greatest challenges facing the planet’s tropical areas, and how TRI can make a difference.
“The role of a multi-disciplinary institute such as TRI, and F&ES more generally, is key in not only answering the questions of how the biology works, but also the knotty problem of how the biology interacts and can coexist with humans over the long-term, because many of the solutions to biological problems are social and political,” he says.

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PUBLISHED: September 3, 2014

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