microCT of fir needle with the mesophyll exposed in longitudinal section

Still image from an interactive 3D model of a single fir needle as captured through high-resolution X-ray micro-computed tomography (microCT) by Craig Brodersen, professor of plant physiological ecology. To explore the models, visit the Brodersen Lab's 3D data portal.

Research & Impact

Learned in the classroom, practiced in the field, impacting our world.

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    Our faculty, students, and alumni are conducting innovative research that is changing how we understand and approach the environment, conservation, and sustainability. We’re turning wood into biodegradable plastics, re-imagining the urban tree lifecycle, and engineering plants to fight climate change — creating critical knowledge and new perspectives to solve environmental challenges across multiple disciplines and scales.

    Paper in a Page

    There has been significant economic, social, and political investment aimed at increasing soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks in agricultural soils through the adoption of regenerative cropland management practices. Yet, there is disagreement over the potential of these management practices to sequester sufficient SOC to meaningfully mitigate climate change. Measuring changes in SOC stocks within the extent of regional agriculture could help resolve this disagreement but sampling demands to quantify change are not considered feasible primarily because within-field variation in stock sizes is thought to obscure accurate quantification of management effects on incremental SOC accrual. The research team evaluated this infeasibility assumption. High-density within-field sampling data from 45 cropland fields were analyzed to evaluate the feasibility of accurately quantifying SOC stock changes due to management practices. 

    The findings revealed that individual field estimates of SOC stock changes were often inaccurate and variable, even with increased sampling density. However, at the project level involving multiple fields, higher sampling densities and field numbers led to robust and accurate estimates of carbon accrual. Specifically, with increased sampling densities and field numbers, the study found it was feasible to accurately detect rates of SOC accrual meaningful for climate mitigation. With multiple fields, the results suggest it is feasible to make relatively robust and accurate, population-level, mean estimates of SOC accrual at the scale of agricultural projects and monitoring programs. The research underscores the importance of empirical evidence at the scale of agricultural landscapes for advancing the debate on the efficacy of regenerative practices in sequestering SOC.

    Data plots

    Figure 1. The surest way to estimate whether soil carbon accrual is the result of a management intervention is to use a dynamic baseline which accounts for differences in SOC under both regenerative and conventional fields. Shown are these difference-in-difference means (with 95% confidence intervals), for 100 test iterations, in soil carbon change at a population level that includes 30 pairs of conventional and regenerative fields sampled at within-field densities of 1.2 ha sample-1.

    Marlyse Duguid conducting a forest ecology talk for new students

    Faculty

    Yale School of the Environment faculty are a diverse group of field-defining scholars who continue to break new ground in the areas of biodiversity, climate change, energy, policy, business, industrial ecology and green chemistry, urban systems, and environmental justice, among other disciplines.

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    Research in the News

    Impact through Centers, Programs, and Initiatives

    Students, faculty, and staff come together within more than 20 YSE-affiliated centers and programs, which provide collaborative research opportunities, relevant professional experience, and engaging conferences and outreach programs.

    County-level map of climate opinions
    Centers & Programs

    Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC)

    YPCCC is a leader in climate change communication, tracking Americans’ perception of climate change at all scales and building public and political will for climate action.

    Map of every street tree in New Haven
    Centers & Programs

    Urban Resources Initiative (URI)

    Making New Haven more resilient, URI works with local partners to plant trees, restore community green spaces, and build bioswales to filter stormwater runoff.

    Fmers learning techniques to use silvopastoral systems
    Centers & Programs

    Environmental Leadership Training Initiative (ELTI)

    In critical natural landscapes rich in biodiversity, ELTI empowers local leaders to design and implement land use practices and initiatives that protect tropical forests and the livelihoods of local landowners and their communities.

    Marlyse Duguid teaching in the Yale-Myers Forest
    Centers & Programs

    Yale Forests

    Yale Forests manage 10,777 acres of forestland that provide educational, research, and professional opportunities to the Yale community and beyond.

    Four people wearing safety vests walking down a gravel road
    Centers & Programs

    The Forests Dialogue (TFD)

    The Forests Dialogue provides a platform for ongoing, multi-stakeholder conversations focused on collaborative solutions to challenges in achieving sustainable forest management and forest conservation.

    Tropical Resources Institute
    Centers & Programs

    Tropical Resources Institute (TRI)

    The Tropical Resources Institute supports student research and on-campus programming aimed at solutions to complex challenges within the conservation and management of tropical environments.

     
    Centers & Programs

    Affiliated: Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture

    Finding solutions to climate change through advances in natural carbon sequestration.

    Workers disassembling eltrical equipment
    Centers & Programs

    Center for Industrial Ecology (CIE)

    Leading the way in an emerging field, the Center for Industrial Ecology focuses research, teaching, and outreach on how resources are converted to products, the pollution that comes from these processes, and opportunities to reduce resource use and pollution.

    Satellite image of the New Haven area

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    Subscribe to YSE 3 for bi-weekly news and research updates.

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    An ELM participant presenting his research

    ELM Certificate for Postdocs

    The Environmental Leadership and Mentoring (ELM) Certificate is a nine-month transformative program that aims to empower environmentally focused postdoctoral scholars at Yale University with the vital skills and knowledge needed to excel as leaders and mentors in their respective fields.

    More About ELM