Investigator - Janneke Hille Ris Lambers
received my Ph.D. from Duke University in 2001 (working with James S.
Clark). While at Duke, my field work took
me to the Coweeta
Hydrologic Laboratory in western North Carolina (an LTER
site), where I studied differences among temperate tree species in seed
dispersal, seed banking and
mortality, and how those differences contribute to
then worked with David Tilman at the Cedar
Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
(another LTER site associated with University of
Minnesota). There, I studied how declining diversity and species
identity influences productivity and the impacts of
global change on seed production. In a subsequent postdoc
University of California, Santa Barbara (working with Jonathan Levine),
I focused on the factors
that allowed Mediterranean annual grasses to dominate over the diverse
California annual grasses and forbs as well as the contributions of
niche and neutral processes to the coexistence of Serpentine
annuals. I arrived at University
of Washington in 2006.
I am a plant community ecologist broadly interested in: 1) the
maintenance of species diversity and 2) how global change (climate
change, invasive species, nitrogen deposition,
etc) alters the structure and function of plant communities. I
approach questions of interest with
observational studies, manipulative experiments, and statistical
modeling, and have worked in a variety of habitats (temperate forests,
tall grass prairies, annual grasslands), although these days my field
research primarily occurs in the temperate coniferous rainforests of
Washington State. Check out the Research
page on this website for more information on current projects, and the Publications page for information on
current and past work.
Graduate Student - Kimmy Ertel
I am currently pursuing my M.S. at
University of Washington in the School for Environmental and Forest Sciences,
with a focus on plant ecology, and am fortunate enough to explore my research
questions in the Hille Ris Lambers lab! My research examines plant physiological traits and
trade-offs within genera and communities in order to better understand plant
species ranges. Specifically, I am conducting greenhouse experiments to test whether mountain plant species in
the Cascades exhibit a trade-off between stress tolerance and competitive
ability (in seedling stages), and if so, if this trade-off is consistent with
current species distributions. The results from this will help us to better
understand how these species behave, how they are distributed, and how they
might respond to changing climate.
I am originally from Utah but came
to the Pacific Northwest for my undergraduate studies and fell in love with it.
I received my B.S. from University of Oregon with a dual degree in
Environmental Science and Mathematics in 2010 and have worked in several fields
since including ecological restoration, nursery management, research,
environmental education and non-profit management. I also worked as a crew
leader for the lab's field projects during the summer of 2017 leading
vegetation surveys at Mt. Rainier and in the North Cascades. I came to UW in
2016 and aim to graduate this coming winter. Upon graduation, I plan to work as
an ecologist or land manager with a focus on ecological restoration and
Graduate Student - Stuart Graham
to climate warming, many species are expected to
expand their ranges towards the poles or higher altitudes. Although
shifts are widely documented, the range limits of some species have not
changed. This interspecies variation arises because range limits are
by factors other than environmental conditions, such as weak dispersal
and/or interactions with others species. Species interactions are
likely to be
particularly important for the range shifts of plant species, the
survival of which are strongly influenced by both mutualistic fungi and
soil-borne pathogens. Specifically, the absence of appropriate
fungi beyond range limits may prevent range shifts but the absence of
soil-borne pathogens may enhance range shifts. To understand how plant
will shift in a changing climate, we need to investigate how these
negative effects of soil biota combine to influence plant growth and
I am looking forward to combining growth chamber experiments and
field experiments to investigate how plant-soil feedbacks may influence
range expansion to higher altitudes in the Cascade Range of Washington.
As a native of
rural Northern England, I completed my
undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol in the UK. I received
master’s degrees from Uppsala University (Sweden) and University of
II (France) through my participation in the Erasmus Mundus Master
Evolutionary Biology (MEME). After completing the final semester of my
program at Harvard University, I moved to the west coast where I worked
research assistant at UC Santa Barbara. I joined the lab as a graduate
Graduate Student - Kavya Pradhan
Why are organisms where they are and, in the face of global changes (like changes in climatic conditions and land-use patterns), where will they go? In other words, what are the current patterns of biodiversity, how will global changes affect them, and how can we better predict and project these changes? These are the central questions that have motivated me to pursue ecological research and join the HilleRisLambers lab as a graduate student in 2017.
I’m excited to explore the ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest and find interesting questions to delve into. Born and raised in Nepal where the hills, mountains, and rain were my constant companion, I arrived stateside in 2010 and started working on my undergraduate degree at Randolph (Macon Woman’s) College in VA. I then pursued my Master's in Ecology in the Fitzpatrick Lab at the Appalachian Lab (University of Maryland Center of Environmental Sciences, MD).
Graduate Student - Meera Sethi
If no man is an island, neither is any plant, insect, bird, bacterium, or other form of life on earth. From birth to death, all organisms are caught up in a complex network of interactions—both positive and negative—with other living things. For some, these relationships are important enough to play a role in determining vital outcomes like survival, reproductive success, and distribution range limits. What will happen to individual species and to communities if a warming planet induces significant shifts in biotic interactions? I joined the Hille Ris Lambers lab with a broad interest in this question, and today my research focuses on the impacts of climate change on the relationships between subalpine meadow plants and their insect herbivores. I am also curious about the indirect effects herbivory may have on insect pollinators, and use a combination of observational methods in the field and experimental approaches in the lab to quantify these phenomena.I was born and raised in Singapore, and made my way to Seattle by way of Boston, Chicago, and Berkeley. In that time I earned a B.A. in Comparative Literature and an M.A. in Children’s Literature and Teaching, and worked as a middle school humanities teacher and a textbook editor before finally giving in to my late-blooming love of science. Before joining the HRL lab in 2015, I was a freelance science writer and a serial field technician on ecological research projects in Sweden, Alaska, and California.
My blog is here; I also tweet about science, grad school, and life in general as @gruntleme.
Undergraduate Researcher - Lauren Dorsch
My curiosity of how ecosystems function has been a large part of my education leading up to my time at UW. I have done field studies on eutrophication in my hometown and a local forestry project about the process of succession on Blanchard Mountain. Every research paper I wrote I looked at a specific ecosystem and the impacts we have on that ecosystem. Yet, much of my work has been limited to the facilities that I have been a part of. UW has expanded my opportunities to look at ecosystem services and understand how we manipulate them. I am majoring in Environmental Science and Resource Management, with a growing interest in fungal ecology. I joined the Hilles Ris Lambers lab this fall of 2018, and I am excited for the chance to learn how climate change is affecting the species composition -both above ground and in soils- of the Pacific Northwest.
Undergraduate Researcher - Kyra Kaiser
My interest in plants started at an early age, fueled by a
love of gardening and the outdoors. When I came to the University of Washington, I was immediately drawn to the natural beauty of the nearby Washington Park Arboretum. Soon after starting college, I became a volunteer tour guide at the Arboretum, leading public walks that I designed and developed
based on monthly themes. One thing led to another, and now I am in my last year of college, finishing a major in plant biology and a minor in environmental science. After graduation, I envision myself combining my strengths in analytical thinking and writing with my knowledge of plants to help solve environmental problems.
I joined the lab in fall of 2016, looking for a challenging
experience that complemented my coursework and exposed me to the intricacies of research. I began as a research assistant, and then delved into a phenological study of herbarium specimens. After a summer of fieldwork, I found out that the lab needed a seedling identification guide and was inspired to create one. I
had a wonderful time working with master’s student Kimberly Ertel to grow native plants from seed. Currently, I am compiling my notes and photographs of the seedlings that we grew into a guide. Being in the lab has been one of the
most memorable aspects of my time in college because it has encouraged me to pursue and develop my academic interests.
Undergraduate Researcher - Luke Schefke
I grew up with a love of science and spent my childhood going to museums and nature preserves. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, this passion for understanding how the world works lead me to move to Seattle for college. It is currently my second year as an undergraduate student at UW, and I am majoring in Earth & space science, with an intent to double major in biology. My current plans include attending graduate school to further my education and eventually lead to a career as a researcher in Earth systems science, incorporating a biological/ecological focus.
I joined the
Hille Ris Lambers lab so I could gain experience working in a lab whose
interests align with mine. Volunteering in the lab also allows me to further my
own knowledge in areas of study and analysis techniques I was not previously
aware of. In addition, I want to contribute to the broader understanding of how
humans are influencing the ecology of certain areas and add to the growing collection
of scientific information.
Undergraduate Researcher - Ammara Touch
As someone who is interested in understanding the web of complex interactions between all organisms--as well as the interactions between the environment and
humans--and calls the mountains home, I found the HilleRisLambers lab to be a great place to continue nurturing my passion for that area of study. My love for
mountains, having grown up in the PNW my whole life, taught me much about how dynamic the landscapes can be along an altitudinal gradient and in this place I
could constantly question about how and why things worked in nature the way they did. The research of this lab aligns with many of the questions I had contemplated growing up as I learned about the far-reaching anthropogenic impacts on the planet: how does a warming climate change the relationships between organisms and ultimately its functionality? How does lifetime phenology and availability of resources alter with climate change, and what does that mean for the ecological community structure as a whole? It's like thinking about the ways pieces of a puzzle fit together. With my recently developed affinity for plants and plant ID, I'm excited to see what new discoveries and revelations my time working here will bring.
I'm currently a
second-year student intending to major in biology (ecology, evolution,
conservation) and American Ethnic Studies, and minor in diversity. Career-wise,
I'm still thinking about what I want to do, but I know I would like to somehow
combine education, ecological research and social justice into my endeavors. I
hope later in my studies to potentially apply future research I participate in
to see how the effects of climate change may influence frontline
communities--namely indigenous communities and other racially marginalized groups.
Research Assistant - Adrienne Hampton
Adrienne has been part of the Hille Ris Lambers lab since the summer of 2015, when she worked as a summer research intern! Currently, Adrienne is getting an MPA at the Evans School (University of Washington), but also spends time sorting seeds in the Hille Ris Lambers lab.
Research Assistant (MeadoWatch) - Joshua Jenkins
Joshua Jenkins has been the MeadoWatch volunteer coordinator since June of 2018! He is working towards an MPA at the Evans School. For more information on what Joshua has been up to, please check our MeadoWatch website!
Research Assistant - Cole Lysgaard
I am fascinated by the coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest. The motivation behind my education and research comes from a desire to understand these ecosystems and the organisms that define them. The interactions between forest species and their environment, and how these come to shape ecosystems are a particular focus. I hope to develop an in-depth understanding of these processes, and to use them in protecting these ecosystems in the future, whether this be through forest management or predicting the impacts of climate change.
I am currently working on a project that examines germination in local conifer species. The goal is to determine factors, whether they be environmental or biotic, that play a role in germination success. For example – does the presence of other plants suppress tree seeds and prevent them from germinating? On the other hand, perhaps the role of sunlight is crucial at this delicate stage, and only seeds with ample access to it successfully germinate. Results may indicate how forests will respond to changes in environmental variables that will come with climate change. Precipitation levels and snowfall are of special interest, as these are expected to vary significantly as climates shift in the Pacific Northwest.
Research Assistant - Juana Rivera-Ordonez
I am interested in how species and communities respond to climate change and land use change. With most of my experience laying in the field of herpetology, I joined the lab in the summer of 2018 looking to learn about ecological research on other study systems. During the summer, I was part of the crew collecting data for a couple of different projects, mainly focused on a seed addition experiment in the Cascades.
Alumni (grads and postdocs)
Leander Anderegg (grad: 2012-2017). Leander worked on a variety of projects while in the HilleRisLambers lab, including the physiological processes influencing range limits, the influence of macroclimate and competition on tree sensitivity to climate, the sources and consequences of trait based variation on the Leaf Economics Spectrum. Leander is currently an NSF funded postdoctoral research fellow at UC Berkeley.
Ian Breckheimer (grad: 2012-2017). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Ian worked on a diversity of projects related to wildflower phenology and climate change, spatial patterns in microclimate variability, and eco-evolutionary constraints on populatoin growth at range limits. Ian is currently an NSF funded postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University.
Cynthia Chang (postdoc: 2012-2014). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Cynthia applied trait-based and phylogenetic based approaches to a plant community assembly data set from Mt. St. Helens. Cynthia is currently an assistant professor at
University of Washington, the Bothell campus (Bothell, WA).
Ailene Ettinger (grad: 2007-2013). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Ailene studied the relative importance of climatic constraints and competitive interactions for the performance of six conifer trees at their altitudinal range limits within Mt. Rainier National Park, using dendroecological techniques and a manipulative transplant experiment to answer her questions. Ailene is currently an NSF Math-Bio Fellow at Tufts University University (Medford, MA).
Elli Theobald (grad: 2010-2016). Elli focused on the relative importance of plant-pollinator interactions for range limits and the role of climate in driving wildlflower phenology while in the lab. Additionally, Elli spent time thinking about how to best teach climate change impacts to undergraduates, and was instrumental in helping establish MeadoWatch, our lab citizen science program. Elli is currently a postdoctoral research fellow working with BERG (the Biology Education Research
Group) in the Biology Department at University of Washington.
Kevin Ford (grad: 2008-2014). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Kevin worked on a number of projects, including the relevant scale of microclimate variability for subalpine vegetation distributions; the relationship between tree growth across range limits, and the relative importance of climate and edaphic conditions for range expansions of treeline and subalpine plants. Kevin is currently a biometrician with the BLM (in Portland, OR).
Melanie Harsch (postdoc: 2012-2015). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Melanie worked on range shifts of western plant species, using large databases. Melanie is currently a data analyst for NOAA.
Steve Kroiss (postdoc: 2012-2015). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Steve worked on recruitment limitation of conifers as well as creating IPM models for Pacific silver fir. Steve is currently a data analyst for Intellectual Ventures.
Haldre Rogers (grad: 2006-2011). Haldre Rogers was co-located in the Tewksbury and HilleRisLambers labs while at the University of Washington. Haldre studied the impacts of complete bird loss on Guam on the dispersal of tree seeds (with the majority of species in Guams forests dispersed by birds) and the insect herbivory of tree seedlings (potentially controlled by bird predation). Haldre continues to work in this amazing system (see her project website), and is currently an Assistant Professor at Iowa State University.
Susan Waters (grad: 2007-2013). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Susan studied the role of indirect, pollinator-mediated interactions between native and exotic plants in a rare and heavily invaded habitat - south Puget Sound Prairies. Susan is also the co-founder of the awesome Urban Pollination Project (a citizen science project documenting urban pollination services in Seattle). Susan is currently a rare species ecologist working with the Center of Land Management (CNLM) in Olympia, Washington.
Anna Wilson (lab manager, MeadoWatch Volunteer coordinator: 2012-2015). While in the lab, Anna coordinated our MeadoWatch program, kept the lab running, and participated in many aspects of research (including a study on frost tolerance of conifer seedlings). Anna is currently a lab technician at Cornell University.
Sylvia Yang (grad: 2006-2011). Sylvia was co-located in the Ruesink and HilleRisLambers labs while at the University of Washington. Sylvia worked on the ecosystem engineering abilities of eelgrass (Zostera marina), using observations, experimental manipulations, and modeling. Sylvia is currently a Marine Scientist at the Shannon Point Marine Center (Anacortes, WA), which is affiliated with Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA).
Undergraduate and Postgrad Alumni
Kianna Dieudonne (Postgrad researcher, 2018)
Katie Nielsen (Undergraduate researcher, field intern - 2017 - 2018)
Ben Simpson (Undergraduate research, 2018)
Josh Fowler (Field Ecology Intern 2017, Field Crew leader 2018)
Alec Baird (Undergraduate researcher, field intern, postgraduate researcher - 2014-2017)
Jose Esparza (Doris Duke Conservation Scholar Intern 2017)
Kyle Gibbs (Field Ecology Intern 2017)
Max Haenel (Field Ecology Intern 2017)
Jessie Hild (Undergraduate researcher, field intern - 2016-2017)
Bailey Hussung (Doris Duke Conservation Scholar Intern 2017)
Myesa Legendre-Fixx (Undergraduate researcher, field intern - 2015-2017)
Emmi Lia (field intern, crew leader, lab manager - 2015 - 2017)
Tristan O'Mara (Undergraduate researcher, field intern - 2015-2017)
Elise Pletcher (Undergraduate researcher, field intern - 2015-2017)
Teodora Rautu (Undergraduate researcher, field intern - 2015-2017)
Leila Ayad (Doris Duke Conservation Scholar Intern 2016)
Aden Kinne (Field Ecology Intern 2016)
James Martin (Doris Duke Conservation Scholar Intern 2016)
Soline Martine-Blangy (Visiting Student 2016)
Tatsu Ota (Field Ecology Intern 2016)
Alex Wall (Field Ecology Intern 2016)
Rachel Brunner (2015 Cascade Legacy Field Crew Leader)
Kaitlyn Engel (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2015)
Colin Fagan (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2015)
David Grow (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2015)
Adrienne Hampton (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2015)
Laurel Sebastian (REU 2015)
Hannah Besso (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2014)
Emily Chan (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2014)
Drew Lyons (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2014)
Lane Felker (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013, undergraduate researcher 2013-2014)
James Lucas (2014 Mt. Rainier REU)
Gregor Siegmund (2014 Field Crew Leader, Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013)
Hannah Wiesner (2015 Field Crew Leader, Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2014)
Cherry Chen (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013, undergraduate researcher 2011-2013)
June Landenburger (Mt. Rainier Research Intern, undergraduate researcher 2013-2014)
Jacqui Levy (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013)
Katy Olsen (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013)
Sam Reed (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013, postgrad researcher 2013-2014)
Caitlin Budd (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2012)
Kathleen Burns (summer REU: 2012)
Liam Fitzgerald (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2012)
Natasha Lozanoff (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2012)
Anna O'Brien (undergraduate researcher, lab manager: 2007-2011): currently a graduate student at UC Davis
Sara Eshe (undergraduate researcher: 2010-2011)
Melissa Winstanley (undergraduate researcher: 2009 - 2010)
Irene Weber (undergraduate researcher: 2009 - 2010): currently a graduate student at Southern Illinois University
Courtenay Ray (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2011): currently a graduate student at Arizona State University
Jennifer Rickwalt (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2011)
Mitch Piper (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2010, Crew Leader 2011-2012)
Courtney Wenneborg (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2010)
Jonathan Deschamps (undergraduate researcher, Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2007 - 2009)
Gerald Lisi (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2008, 2009)
Alan Wright (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2009)
Rachel Konrady (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2009)
Tony Krueger (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2009)
Amado Fuentes (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2008)