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Science Committee


Nicole BargerDr. Nichole Barger  is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Barger works as an ecologist to support sustainable land management and restoration of a broad variety of ecosystems throughout the world. Barger was a coordinating lead author on the IPBES global land degradation and restoration assessment. She is also the Research Director of Canyonlands Research Center in southeastern Utah.  In her research program, Barger works in partnership with diverse governmental entities in the U.S. on land degradation and restoration issues such as the ecological risks of fire mitigation treatments, historical drivers and biogeochemical responses to woody plant encroachment, forest decline and regeneration, and more recently restoration of degraded dryland ecosystems with a specific focus on soil ecology. Barger also has extensive research experience working on conservation and management issues in dryland ecosystems across the globe. She has worked with international research teams in the semi-arid grasslands of Inner Mongolia and anthropogenic grassland ecosystems of Venezuela, in addition to work in southern Africa on plant invasions in the biodiversity hot spot of the Cape Floristic region of South Africa and vegetation dynamics of the Namib Desert of Namibia. 

Jayne BelnapDr. Jayne Belnap has been a Research Ecologist with the Department of Interior since 1987 in Moab, UT. She received her PhD from the Botany and Range Department at Brigham Young University, and was the class valedictorian. Since then, her work has focused on how different types of land uses can affect the stability and fertility of ecosystems in dryland regions, and in finding ways to use these lands in a sustainable fashion. She also studies the linkages between soils and plants, including what factors make plant communities susceptible to invasion by exotic plants. She travels extensively throughout the United States, training federal, state, and private land managers on best management practices for rangeland ecosystems. The results of her research have led to major changes in management of large tracts of these lands. Dr. Belnap's expertise on rangeland management is sought from countries around the world, including South America, Mexico, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, China, Siberia, Australia, and Iceland. 

Matthew BowkerDr. Matthew Bowker Is a soil ecologist largely focused on ecosystem and community ecology of drylands. His research topics vary from empirical work focused on the advancement of theory in the areas of biodiversity effects on ecosystem function, and species interactions, to applied work focused on restoration of biological soil crusts, and roles for soil organisms in assisted plant migration. He is also a plant ecologist and mycorrhizal ecologist, but is best known forhis work on biological soil crusts having authored over 40 papers on this topic, including several specifically on restoration.

Mark BrunsonDr. Mark Brunson  is a Professor in the Department of Environment and Society at Utah State University. His research combines methods of the social and ecological sciences to understand questions about how human behaviors interact with ecological processes and patterns to affect environmental and human conditions. Lately he's been studying how drought is affecting ranching in the Southwest and the factors that affect ranchers' ability to adapt to climate change, as well as restoration decision-making in desert and urban environments.

Mike DuniwayDr. Mike Duniway is a Research Ecologist with the USGS in Moab, Utah. He received a PhD in Soil Science from New Mexico State University and worked as a Research Soil Scientist with the USDS-ARS Jornada prior to coming to the USGS. His primary interests are in soils and soil processes in arid and semi-arid ecosystems, and the interactions between environmental and land-use drivers, vegetation, soils and geomorphology. Much of Dr. Duniway's research efforts have centered around properties and processes that moderate plant available water, including plant-soil feedbacks, soil quality, and soil morphology. He seeks to provide information for land managers and owners to facilitate sustainable land-use activities, and works closely with BLM, NPS, NRCS, and DOD land managers.

Sasha ReedDr. Sasha Reed is a Research Ecologist with the USGS in Moab, Utah. Sasha’s research interests are centered within the fields of biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology and her science explores how terrestrial ecosystems work and respond to a host of global changes. Currently, Sasha has research sites in Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, California, Hawai’i, Switzerland, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. Sasha is passionate about finding new knowledge and innovative solutions to help meet societal needs and she collaborates closely with TNC, BLM, NPS, BIA, USFS, and DoD resource managers, as well as a range scientists around the world.

Geno SchuppDr. Eugene W. Schupp is a Professor at Utah State University, Logan, UT. He is affiliated with the Department of Wildland Resources, the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Ecology Center. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1987 with an emphasis in evolutionary ecology of plant reproduction in tropical forests. Presently, his primary focuses are on: (1) limits to plant recruitment in Mediterranean shrublands, Piñon-Juniper woodlands, and Sagebrush Steppe communities, especially on the early life history stages from pollination and seed set to successful seedling establishment, and (2) restoration ecology of degraded shrublands-grasslands.

Kari VeblenDr. Kari Veblen  is an Associate Professor in the Department of Wildland Resources and Ecology Center at Utah State University. Her research focuses on the ecology of grassland, shrubland, and savanna rangeland systems in the western US and eastern Africa. Research emphases include restoration, livestock-wildlife-plant interactions, and grazing ecology. She works closely with land managers and conducts her research predominantly on multi-use landscapes that are managed for wildlife conservation and sustainable livestock production. Much of her work has focused on the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau and Mojave Desert, USA, and Laikipia, Kenya.