Jennifer Funk received her B.A. in Integrative Biology and Environmental Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1996. She then earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University in 2004. Her research interests include how environmental factors influence plant physiological processes and, conversely, how plant ecophysiology influences ecosystem processes and biogeochemical cycles. Her dissertation work with Dr. Manuel Lerdau examined the physiological and environmental controls over isoprene emission from plants. In collaboration with Dr. Peter Vitousek of Stanford University, Dr. Funk’s NPER fellowship research examined nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) as a mechanism for the success of exotic species in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The project will focus on two types of NUE: photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency and nitrogen retention, which includes species-specific patterns of leaf chemistry and compound resorption. Native and invasive species will also be studied along substrate and precipitation gradients to assess the degree of physiological plasticity in resource use.
Matthew Kauffman received his B.A. in Biology from the University of Oregon in 1992 and his Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2003. Matt is a conservation biologist with a broad organismal background. In his doctoral research with Dr. Dan Doak, Matt studied the effects of host and spatial heterogeneity on the spread of a nonnative forest pathogen, as well as the influence of spatial structure on the management and recovery of peregrine falcons. As a NPER Fellow, Matt worked with Drs. John Maron and Scott Mills at the University of Montana. His research evaluated whether the recolonization of gray wolves has cascading indirect effects on aspen regeneration by altering either the number or foraging behavior of elk that heavily browse young aspen. This project aimed to understand where wolves kill elk on the landscape, how elk browsing differs spatially in response to predation risk, and whether these interactions between predator and prey translate to meaningful differences in the growth and survival of young aspen. Matt conducted his research across several elk winter ranges in the Northern Rockies, including Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, Gallatin National Forest (SW Montana), and Banff National Park.
Kathleen Kay received her B.S. in Environmental Biology and Management in 1995 from the University of California at Davis. She then earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2004 as a dual degree in Plant Biology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior. Her dissertation research, under the direction of Doug Schemske, focused on speciation mechanisms in a diverse genus of tropical gingers. She has been particularly interested in the role of natural selection and plant-pollinator interactions in the formation of new plant species. As an NPER Postdoctoral Fellow, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Scott Hodges in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she continued to focus on the evolutionary mechanisms underlying plant diversity. She investigated the ecological factors affecting gene flow and reproductive isolation in the columbines in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, with field work spanning Yosemite , Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks .