The symposium will begin with two keynote speakers, one to develop a global perspective of grasslands with a second presentation to place Konza Prairie and its unique research plan into this framework. A series of topics in grassland ecology will be explored by experts from around the world, each paired with one focused on research from Konza Prairie; a short synthesis discussion will follow each section. At the end of the symposium, a panel will be convened to integrate and synthesize the collective views of grasslands in a global context.
- Dr. Osvaldo Sala
Osvaldo Sala is the Foundation Professor and Julie A. Wrigley Chair at Arizona State University. As president of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment and a coordinating lead author of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Sala is an international leader in ecological science and global environmental policy.
Sala has explored several topics throughout his career from water controls on carbon and nitrogen dynamics in arid and semi-arid ecosystems to the consequences of changes in biodiversity on the functioning of ecosystems, including the development of biodiversity scenarios for the next 50 years. He is particularly interested in working with scenarios as a way of simplifying, understanding, and communicating the complex relationships that emerge from the study of social-ecological systems. He employs a wide variety of tools; especially direct observations, manipulative field experiments, and simulation modeling. He has worked in the Patagonian steppe, annual grasslands of California, steppes of Colorado and deserts of Southern Africa and currently he has experiments in the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico. His work is reflected in more than 160 peer-reviewed publications and several co-authored books.
Sala has served as member of the Advisory Board to the Director of the National Science Foundation in issues of environmental research and education, editor of Global Change Biology, the president of the Argentinean Society of Ecology, and a member of the governing board of the Ecological Society of America. Osvaldo Sala is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Argentinean National Academy of Sciences, and the Argentinean National Academy of Physical and Natural Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Arizona State University, and an international leader in ecological science and global environmental policy.
Other International Grassland Experts and Konza Researchers Presenting
- Dr. Peter Adler
Peter Adler, a plant community ecologist, is an Assistant Professor at Utah State University. He graduated from Harvard College in 1994, then earned a PhD at Colorado State University in 2003 before conducting post-doctoral research at UC Santa Barbara and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. Adler has four primary research areas: 1) species coexistence, 2) broad scale patterns of species diversity, 3) forecasting the ecological impacts of climate change, and 4) plant-animal interactions. Much of his current research, funded by the National Science Foundation, uses a combination of historical data sets, models, and experiments to understand how climate drives plant community dynamics. Adler is a member of the Ecological Society of America and the Society for Range Management and is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Vegetation Science.
- Dr. Sally Archibald
Dr. Sally Archibald, South African expert in fire ecology, biogeochemistry, and savannah structure and function, is currently a Senior Research Scientist at CSIR, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa. Dr. Archibald offers a key strength in international collaborative research, and is currently involved in several projects that span international perspectives about savannah function and distribution, continental comparisons of tropical savannah systems, and grazer responses to fire in savannah ecosystems and the management implications thereof.
These projects, along with her PhD research (University of Witwatersrand, 2010) into fire regimes in Africa interrogated how humans interact with the climate-vegetation-fire system, have contributed towards the development of a global theory of fire.
At the CSIR, her research is progressive in its integration of field data, eddy-covariance data, and remote-sensing technology to improve our understanding of savannah ecology. This research not only helps to ensure that southern African systems are correctly represented in global biogeochemical models, but also has implications for the management of savannah parks and rangelands. In this context, she has developed strong links with the SA National Biodiversity Institute and SA National Parks, as well as with the global community of earth system scientists and modellers.
She is also involved in a range of projects on stress indicators for ecosystems, risk analysis, use of remote sensing in vegetation monitoring, carbon and water relations in semi-arid systems, and a structural determination of savannah systems using advanced high-resolution hyper-spectral and LIDAR data from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory.
- Dr. Sara Baer
Dr. Sara Baer is an expert on Ecosystem, Soil, and Restoration Ecology at Southern Illinois University. She earned an M.S. in Entomology from the University of Georgia in 1995, and a Ph. D. in Biology at Kansas State University in 2001.
Current research interests include Ecosystem, Soil, and Restoration Ecology: Changes in carbon and nitrogen cycling during restoration; diversity-productivity relationships; the role of soil heterogeneity and resource availability in restoring plant diversity; consequences of intra- and interspecific variation for community assembly and ecosystem processes; application of ecological theory to restored systems.
In addition to conducting research, Baer teaches courses that include Ecosystem Ecology, Restoration Ecology, and Environmental Issues in the Contemporary World, while actively participating in several panels and societies and serving as Coordinating Editor of restoration Ecology.
Her most recent publications focus on Nitrogen cycling, shrub encroachment, and Soil heterogeneity effects on tallgrass prairie community heterogeneity.
Baer continues her association with Konza Prairie and the LTER through her various research projects, which currently include titles such as Plant and environmental drivers of C4 grassland development. S.G. Baer and J. W. Six. Mellon Foundation, Evaluation of soils and associated belowground resources in central Platte River sloughs. M.R. Whiles, S. G. Baer, C. Meyer. Nebraska Game and Parks and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hierarchical consequences of intraspecific variation on community and ecosystem re-assembly. S. G. Baer and D. J. Gibson. National Science Foundation, Ecological Biology Program, Filters on community and ecosystem reassembly: source population and dominance selection during tallgrass prairie restoration. S. G. Baer. NSF-LTER Subcontract, Kansas State University, Monitoring the effect of disturbance on the growth and development of planted giant cane to improve success of canebrake restoration. J. Zaczek, S. G. Baer, K. W. J. Williard, and J. Groninger. IL Department of Natural Resources, and Biological evaluation of central Platte River slough wetland restorations. M. R. Whiles, S. G. Baer, and C. K. Meyer, United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Dr. John Blair
Dr. John Blair is a University Distinguished Professor and a terrestrial ecosystem ecologist at Kansas State University. He has broad interests that include studies of nutrient cycling and plant productivity in grasslands, the ecological consequences of changes in land-use and climate, grassland restoration ecology, and the ecology of soil invertebrates. A major focus of his research is the Konza Prairie, where he leads the National Science Foundation-funded long-term ecological research program, aimed at understanding the biological and physical factors controlling ecological communities and processes in grasslands, and how grasslands respond to global change.
Blair's research has been supported by more than $20 million in grants from the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture and others. He is author of 77 journal articles and book chapters. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in ecology, and has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students.
Blair has served on numerous working groups and committees charged with developing national research priorities in the U.S. He has served on the editorial board of Ecology, the flagship journal of the Ecological Society of America, and other international journals in the field of soil ecology.
He is a member of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the Ecological Society of America, the International Soil Science Society and the Soil Ecology Society. He joined the K-State faculty in 1992 as assistant professor in the Division of Biology. He was promoted to associate professor in 1997, and to professor in 2001. He was named a University Distinguished Professor in spring 2006.
He was recognized for outstanding undergraduate teaching in 1998 by K-State's College of Arts and Sciences. Before coming to K-State, Blair was a research scientist at Ohio State University. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1980 and a master's degree in 1983, both in biology, from Kent State University, Ohio; and a doctorate in entomology from the University of Georgia in 1987.
- Dr. William Bond
Dr. William Bond, professor of Botany at the University of Cape Town received his M.Sc. in 1980 from UCT, and his Ph.D. in 1987 from the University of California, Los Angeles. His current research involves processes most strongly influencing vegetation change in the past and present, including fire, vertebrate herbivory, climate extremes, atmospheric [CO2] and habitat fragmentation. His research also focuses on plant-animal mutualisms, and plant form and function. Systems studied include sub-tropical grasslands, savannas and winter rainfall shrublands.
Bond is currently overseeing a major research project (funded by the Mellon Foundation and the NRF) on savannas in Zululand with additional work in Kruger National Park.
His past accomplishments include active membership on multiple national and international boards and committees and he is currently serving on the Editorial Board for Global Ecology and Biogeography, Global Change Biology, and Koedoe.
In addition to his broad research and teaching accomplishments, Bond's research publications have been widely cited. Most notably, are his recent publications: 1. Schutz AEN, Bond WJ, Cramer MD. 2009. "Juggling carbon: allocation patterns of a dominant tree in a fire-prone savanna". Oecologia 160:235–246, and 2. Wigley BJ, Cramer MD, Bond WJ. 2009. "Sapling survival in a frequently burnt savanna: mobilisation of carbon reserves in Acacia karroo." Plant Ecology 2003:1-11
He is also the co-author of the book, Fire and Plants. Chapman and Hall, London . (Volume 14 in the Population and Community biology series).
- Dr. John Briggs
Dr. John Briggs is a Professor and the Director of the Konza Prairie Biological Station at Kansas State University. He received his Ph.D. in 1985, from the University of Arkansas and has spent his career at Arkansas, Arizona State, Kansas State, and at grasslands in a variety of geographical settings, studying ecosystems like the Konza Prairie and other ecosystems in transition.
His current research interests include: plant ecology, especially the role of fire and grazing in grasslands; the expansion of woody vegetation into grasslands; landscape ecology; the influence of humans on ecosystems; the use of remote sensing and Geographical Information Systems in ecosystem research; and ecological data management.
Briggs is the author of more than 60 publications, 12 book chapters, and one book on grassland research. His professional memberships include the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the American Society for the Advancement of Science, and the Ecological Society of America. His research has been supported by over $22,000,000.00 from EPA, NASA, and NSF with most of his funding coming from NSF.
In 2008, Briggs was hired as the first nationally recruited director of the Konza Prairie Biological Station. He first began his career at K-State as the data manager for the Long-Term Ecological Research program on Konza in 1984, later gaining promotion to research professor in the Division of Biology. He also served as program officer for ecology at the National Science Foundation. Even though he accepted a professorship at Arizona State University in 1999, he was periodically drawn back to the Konza through his research in ecology. Now, in addition to balancing research and conservation, Briggs is interested in maintaining a strong educational component at Konza. His public education focus has been an invaluable asset to the Manhattan community and serves to translate scientific data into information that is easier for teachers and the public to understand.
- Dr. David Briske
Dr. David Briske, a professor of Ecology at Texas A&M, and Editor of Rangeland Ecology and Management, also serves as Academic Coordinator for the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Program.
Dr Briske's research has significantly contributed to important advances in both rangeland ecology and rangeland management for approximately 30 years. Dr Briske has organized his research program to serve as a bridge between plant ecology and rangeland management. His work has contributed to several rangeland principles that support effective rangeland conservation and management, such as grass and grassland responses to herbivory, population ecology of bunchgrasses, and, most currently, contributions to state-and-transition models and thresholds. His current research focuses on the four broad umbrellas of Rangeland Ecology, Ecosystem Assessment, Social-ecological Systems, and Global Change Biology.
- Dr. Scott Collins
Dr. Scott Collin received a PhD from the University of Oklahoma in 1981, completed a postdoc with Dr. Ralph Good at Rutgers University, and returned to the University of Oklahoma as an Assistant and then Associate Professor of Botany. In 1992, Collins moved to the National Science Foundation, serving as a Program Director in various programs including Ecology, LTER, Conservation and Restoration Biology, TECO, and Integrated Research Challenges. As the original NSF Program Director for NEON, Collins helped to organize six NEON planning workshops from 2000 through 2002. In 2003 he moved to the University of New Mexico, to his current position as a Professor of Biology and the PI on the Sevilleta Long-term Ecological Research Program (LTER). The overarching goal of the Sevilleta LTER, established in 1988, is to understand how abiotic drivers and constraints affect dynamics and stability in arid land populations, communities, and ecosystems. Using both long term measurements and experimental manipulations, he is particularly interested in determining how disturbances, such as fire, will interact with global environmental change to affect moisture inputs and losses, and soil nutrient dynamics, and how those drivers will affect plant community composition and structure. He has also worked extensively in tallgrass prairie as part of the Konza Prairie Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) Program since 1988 where his continual involvement boasts a multi-institution (UNM, Yale, Colorado State and Kansas State) Ecosystem Convergence research project comparing fire, climate and herbivore effects on tallgrass prairie in North America and mesic Savanna grassland in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Collins served as Chair of the Vegetation and Long-term Studies sections of ESA, and Chair of the ESA Publications Committee. He served on the Editorial Boards of Community Ecology, Journal of Vegetation Science and Journal of Ecology. Currently, he serves on the Editorial Boards of BioScience and Oecologia. After coming to UNM in 2003, he helped to establish a SEEDS Chapter in the Biology Department in association with the Sevilleta LTER, and became the lead PI on the Sevilleta LTER Summer REU Program.
Current Research interests include Plant community dynamics, gradient models and gradient structure, the role of disturbance in communities, fire ecology, patch dynamics, grassland ecology, analysis of species distribution and abundance, local-regional interactions, productivity-diversity relationships, dynamics of arid land ecosystems.
- Dr. Harmony Dalgleish
Dr. Harmony Dalgleish is a plant population ecologist at Purdue University. She received her Ph. D. from Kansas State University in 2007 and will join the faculty at the College of William and Mary as an Assistant Professor of Ecology in 2012.
Her research in plant population ecology centers around two broad questions: 1) What drives plant population dynamics? and 2) How do plant population dynamics affect community and ecosystem processes? Her Ph. D. research uncovered linkages between bud bank (belowground meristem) demography and grassland community and ecosystem processes at Konza Prairie and was among the first to understand the ecological consequences of the bud bank. With colleagues at KSU and the University of Botswana, her research explores the consequences of grass reproductive strategies in North American and southern African grasslands. Her postdoctoral work at Utah State University focused on understanding how climate drives both population and community dynamics using historical datasets from Kansas and Idaho combined with matrix and integral projection models. Her recent research examines the biological interactions critical to American chestnut reintroduction and the potential consequences of successful establishment of blight-resistant chestnut for the ecology of eastern forests.
- Dr. Walter Dodds
Walter Dodds, University Distinguished Professor of Biology at Kansas State University, is an expert on the effects of nitrogen contamination in stream waters and the effects stream drying and flooding have on the habitat and the species that live there. In 2008, his study of nitrogen runoff in small streams was published in Nature. He also is author of "Humanity's Footprint: Momentum, Impact and Our Global Environment." He is coordinator of aquatic and hydrological research at the Konza Prairie Biological Station, and a co-principal investigator on the Long Term Ecological Research Grant, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal is to describe how fire, grazing and climatic variables are essential factors in a functioning prairie ecosystem. Dodds received a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from the University of Denver in 1980 and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Oregon in 1986.
- Dr. Doug Frank
Dr. Doug Frank is a Professor of Ecology at Syracuse University and advisor for the Syracuse Environmental Science Program. He received his M.S., University of Washington in 1983, and his Ph.D. from Syracuse University in 1990, and completed a Postdoctoral fellowship at Idaho State University in 1993.
Current research interests include plant/ecosystem ecology with emphasis on plant-herbivore interactions, the effects of climate and grazing mammals on energy and nutrient processes in grasslands, rhizospheric processes, the structure of grassland root communities, effects of climate change on ecosystem carbon storage, and top-down vs bottom control of ecosystem dynamics.
- Dr. Sam Fuhlendorf
Dr. Sam Fuhlendorf, an expert in grassland ecology and invasive species, is a Distinguished Professor at Oklahoma State University. He earned his PhD in Rangeland Ecology and Management from Texas A&M in 1996, and has continued research in the primary areas of landscape ecology, plant-animal interactions, wildlife habitat ecology, community ecology, rangeland monitoring, landscape management, ecological succession, grassland ecology, and woody-herbaceous interactions.
He currently serves as the project leader to facilitate long-term multidisciplinary research on the Marvin Klemme Range Research Station. Additionally, his research projects extend to multiple locations throughout the Southern Great Plains. His current projects include a USDA-AFRI project on the Stillwater Research Range and Tallgrass Prairie Preserve that studies the role of rangeland heterogeneity in biodiversity, riparian stability, livestock production, and landowner landscape preference as well as a comparison study, supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society, of bison and cattle effects on ecosystems from a conservation perspective.
- Dr. Nancy Grimm
Dr. Nancy Grimm is an ecosystem ecologist/biogeochemist at Arizona State University. She earned her BA (1978) from Hampshire College in Massachusetts and M.S. (1980) and Ph.D. (1985) from ASU. Grimm's research concerns the structure and function of stream, riparian, terrestrial, and urban ecosystems in arid lands. A specific focus is cycling and retention of the element nitrogen, considered in the context of patch dynamics and landscape heterogeneity. Nitrogen is an important element because it limits productivity of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the Southwest, it is a potential groundwater pollutant, some gaseous forms of nitrogen are potent greenhouse gases, and nitrogen inputs to the earth from the atmosphere have increased dramatically.
Current projects in Dr. Grimm's research group are 1) CAP LTER, a comprehensive investigation of an urban socio-ecological system; 2) studies of the sources, fates, and retention of nutrients in urban stormwater flowpaths and the hot spots of nutrient retention in the urban landscape; 3) long-term research on the effects of climate variability and change on stream processes and the formation and resilience of ciénegas (desert wetlands); and 4) effects of urban atmospheric deposition on biogeochemical cycling and productivity in deserts.
- Dr. David Hartnett
Dr. David Hartnett, university distinguished professor of biology at Kansas State University, researches North American and African grasslands, with an emphasis on plant population biology, plant-herbivore interactions, and important symbiotic relationships between plants and fungi in natural and agricultural ecosystems.
Hartnett is a member of the Ecological Society of America, the Botanical Society of America and the Society for Conservation Biology. He also serves as an elected member of the International Society of Plant Population Biologists and the British Ecological Society.
After obtaining his B.S. and M.Sc. degrees in biology from Bucknell University in 1977 and 1978, Hartnett earned his Ph.D. in plant biology from the University of Illinois in 1983. He joined the K-State faculty in 1986.
Hartnett serves on a National Science Foundation committee for international ecological research. As a Senior Fulbright Scholar, he was visiting professor of biology at the University of Botswana in 2002. He also is a former director of the Konza Prairie Biological Station.
- Dr. Richard Hobbs
Richard Hobbs is currently Professor of Restoration Ecology in the School of Plant Biology at the University of Western Australia, where he holds an ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship and leads the Ecosystem Restoration Group. Originally from Scotland, he spent 3 years in California and has been in Western Australia since 1984 working with CSIRO and at Murdoch University before joining UWA in 2009. His particular interests are in vegetation dynamics and management, invasive species, ecosystem restoration, conservation biology, and landscape ecology.
He is the author of over 300 scientific publications, many magazine articles and other publications, and author/editor of 18 books. He serves or has served in executive positions in a number of learned societies and on numerous editorial boards and is currently Editor in Chief of the journal Restoration Ecology. He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2004 and is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher. His current research focuses on "Intervention ecology: managing ecosystems in the 21st century". He is married to Gillian, and has two children Katie (21) and Hamish (18).
- Dr. Tony Joern
Dr. Tony Joern is a University Distinguished Professor, and evolutionary ecologist in the Division of Biology, Kansas State University. He holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (BS) and the University of Texas at Austin (PhD). Before coming to Kansas, Dr. Joern was Professor, School of Biological Sciences, and Director of the Cedar Point Biological Station, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has held several adjunct appointments, served as a member of the editorial board with The Ecological Society of America, and the grants panel of the National Science Foundation. He has received teaching and research awards. Dr. Joern is interested in ecological and evolutionary mechanisms responsible for directing observed patterns of species coexistence and resource use), the mechanisms promoting/ deterring feeding by insects and the ecological and evolutionary responses by plants, and the mechanisms responsible for maintaining species diversity in grasslands).
- Dr. Alan Knapp
Alan Knapp is a Plant Ecologist at Colorado State University. He received his PhD from the University of Wyoming, and currently conducts research that is highly reflective of his initial training as a Plant Physiological Ecologist and by a two-decade association with large-scale ecosystem research through the NSF Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. Thus, traditional leaf-level gas exchange, plant water relations and energy balance studies have been a staple of his research for many years, with a focus on the elucidation of ecophysiological mechanisms that drive ecological processes and reflect evolutionary change. This approach has been broadened by involvement with the Konza Prairie LTER program. These interactions have provided a strong appreciation for collaborative, interdisciplinary research across broad spatial and temporal scales. Knapp states that “Indeed, we now prefer to label ourselves as Plant Ecologists that are comfortable working at scales varying from the leaf to the landscape.”
- Dr. Jesse Nippert
Dr. Jesse Nippert is an Ecologist with an emphasis on Ecophysiology at Kansas State University. He received a Ph. D. in Ecology in 2006 from Colorado State University, and returned to Kansas State, where he completed his undergraduate degree. His current research interests include eco-physiology, grassland ecology, paleo-ecology, stable isotope ecology, climate change (changing precipitation patterns, elevated temperatures & CO2, & altered biogeochemistry), invasive species ecology, wireless sensor networks.
Among his current research projects are several with extensive value and relation to the Konza Prairie. For example, he is working to link environmental changes (heterogeneity and resource availability) at the Konza Prairie to the physiological and whole-plant responses of the dominant C4 grasses and subdominant C3 plant community to better characterize spatial and temporal ecological patterns in this ecosystem. He also uses experimental mesocosm facility at the Konza Prairie, to examine the physiological and genomic responses of native Panicum virgaum (switchgrass) populations from the central Plains to simulated variability in future precipitation patterns.
- Dr. Herbert Prins
Dr. Herbert Prins is a professor in Resource Ecology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, since 1991. He also is the Chairman of the Graduate School "Production Ecology & Resource Conservation".
He has represented The Netherlands and the European Union at meetings of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Additionally he has held board memberships on the (European) Tropical Biology Association, (Executive) Netherlands Nature Conservancy ("Natuurmonumenten", 960,000 members), Van Tienhoven Foundation, Netherlands Committee for International Nature Conservation, and others. He is on the editorial boards of two scientific journals. He is and has been member of a number of scientific juries. His previous positions were research fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences while conducting research in Tanzania, parks research management specialist for the World Bank in Indonesia, and research fellow for the Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical research (WOTRO) in Tanzania.
He is member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, Netherlands Committee IUCN, Member IUCN Committee on Ecosystem Management, IUCN Asian Cattle specialist group, and the Machakos Wildlife Forum, Kenya. He has conducted consultancies in Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, and Canada. He is Officer in the Order of the Golden Ark (bestowed by HRH Prince Bernhard) and Officer in the Order of Oranje Nassau (bestowed by HM the Queen).
He is author or co-author of 190 scientific publications, 30 popular scientific publications, and 30 reports. He has co-edited 5 books and written 1 book. He tutors twenty-five PhD students, most of them working in tropical countries. Sixty-two students already received their doctorate under his supervision.
Furthermore 4 BBC films and 1 National Geographic film are based on Prins' fieldwork.
- Dr. Brett Sandercock
Dr. Brett Sandercock, Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Kansas State University, earned his Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia in 1997. He serves as the research director for the Global Flyway Network, and has received the University Distinguished Faculty Award for Mentoring of Undergraduate Students in Research in 2009. His research focuses on population biology, primarily the behavioral ecology and evolutionary ecology of terrestrial vertebrates. These interests in behavioral ecology have included studies of sexual selection, mating systems, and parental care. In evolutionary ecology, he is well published on life history evolution in birds, and the demography of animals and plants. His field programs have addressed various species of shorebirds and grouse and have used a mixture of manipulative experiments and observational approaches as part of field studies of marked individuals in wild populations. Studies include species that have been selected to be model systems for organisms where management and conservation issues are relevant. He is an expert in estimation of demographic parameters with mark-recapture methods, and modeling population dynamics with projection matrices. Application of these techniques has often led to fruitful collaborations with colleagues at K-State and other institutions.
- Dr. Bob Scholes
Dr. Bob Scholes is a systems ecologist, employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa since 1992. Before that, he was manager of the South African Savanna Biome Programme, and did his PhD, through the University of the Witwatersrand, on tree-grass interactions in savannas. He studies the effects of human activities on the global ecosystem, and in particular on woodlands and savannas in Africa. He has over twenty years of field experience in many parts of Africa, and has published widely in the fields of savanna ecology and global change, including popular and scientific books. He has been involved in several high-profile environmental assessments and contributes to the formulation of national environmental policy. He is or has been a member of several steering committees of international research programs, such as the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and the Global Climate Observing System, and serves as a convening lead author for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He was Chairman of the Global Terrestrial Observing System 2001/4 and is a Board Member of International Centre for Research in Agroforestry. He was a co-chair of the Conditions Working Group of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and also a principal investigator in the Southern African Millennium Assessment at regional scale. As a CSIR Fellow, his role is to help the CSIR maintain its technical excellence. He is a Fellow of the South African Academy and the Royal Society of South Africa, and a member of the South African Institute of Ecologists and several other professional societies, and serves on the editorial board of several journals.
- Dr. Melinda D. Smith
Dr. Melinda D. Smith, of Yale University, is received her M.Sc. in 1998 and Ph.D. in 2002 from Kansas State University, where she conducted research at the Konza Prairie and received the Environmental Protection Agency STAR Fellowship. She continued on as Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, and as Adjunct Graduate Faculty at KSU and the School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University. She was also a postdoctoral Fellow, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, CA, from 2002-2004
Her current research interests include Community ecology; Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning; Causes and consequences of invasion; Climate change; Dominance and the functioning of ecosystems; Ecological genomics; Global environmental change; Grassland dynamics; and Patterns and drivers of productivity.
- Dr. David Tilman
Dr. David Tilman is a Regents' Professor, McKnight Presidential Chair in Ecology, and Resident Fellow at the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota. He is also Director of Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Earning his PhD from the University of Michigan in 1976, he now focuses his research primarily on the ecological effects of human domination of the earth, including effects on ecosystem services of value to society; the ecological mechanisms controlling speciation, community assembly, species invasions, and the evolution and maintenance of biodiversity; population ecology and theory of community dynamics and biodiversity; role of resource competition; biodiversity and ecosystem functioning; and the effects of habitat destruction.
- Dr. Shiqiang Wan
Dr. Shiqiang Wan, at the Henan University received his B.S in Biology in 1989 from Henan Normal University, China, and completed his Ph. D. in Botany 2002 at the University of Oklahoma, USA.
His current research focuses on five primary areas; Biogeochemical Cycling, Ecosystem Ecology, Global Change, Grasslands, and Plant Ecology. He currently demonstrates a high caliber of research projects though The National Natural Science Foundation of China (National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars): Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems, the Chinese Academy of Sciences: “Grassland carbon sequestration potential in China”, the The National Natural Science Foundation of China: “Impacts of changing C input on soil C pool and cycling in temperate steppe”, and through The Ministry of Science and Technology of China: “Biogeochemical Cycles and Regional Responses”.
He has been widely published in scholarly journals, and currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Plant Ecology.
- Dr. Gail Wilson
Dr. Gail Wilson is an associate professor of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University. She received her Ph.D. in Agronomy in 2003 at Kansas State University, and continues to collaborate with other Konza researchers.
Her research interests are in plant community ecology, plant-soil microbe interactions, and plant-animal interactions, utilizing a combination of experimental field and greenhouse studies. The majority of her research focuses on rangeland ecology and management, fire ecology, nutrient dynamics, and grassland restoration, with an emphasis on belowground mechanisms such as mycorrhizal symbiosis and belowground populations of meristems. Dynamics within the soil community can be a major driver of the plant community. For example, Wilson’s research indicates that mycorrhizal fungi contribute to community processes and functions through their establishment of linkages and feedbacks between plants and nutrient cycles. Other research that she is currently involved with includes invasive species and woody plant expansion in grasslands, restoration of rangelands, and the importance of resource availability (specifically soil P, N, and light) as controllers of the mutualistic function of arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis.
- Dr. Samantha Wisely
Dr. Samantha Wisely, Kansas State University, received her Ph.D. in Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming, in 2001. Her research uses both ecological and molecular tools to investigate how alteration of the environment affects biological processes at multiple scales. In two core research areas, she investigates how human-induced habitat degradation alters 1) the connectivity of wild populations, 2) epidemiological processes. The third area focuses on how past habitat alterations, via climate change, have shaped the evolutionary history of species. She also maintains two laboratories, the Conservation Genetic and Molecular Ecology Lab and the Ancient DNA Lab.
She has collaborated on research with the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. air Force, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working on such species as the kangaroo rat, kit fox, fisher, and wolverine.
Currently, she is co-principal investigator of biomedical surveys of captive and reintroduced black-footed ferrets. The purpose of these surveys is to assess the threat of inbreeding and inbreeding depression on the recovery of this species.