Profile of Dr. Josh Schimel

Dept. Ecology, Evolution, & Marine Biology
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9620
Phone: (805) 893-7688
Fax: (805) 893-4724

Current position: Professor, Environmental Studies and Ecology, Evolution, & Marine Biology; Chair, Environmental Studies Program

Education: Ph.D. Soil Science, University of California, Berkeley, 1987

Dr. Schimel’s research lies at the intersection of microbial and ecosystem ecology. His work focuses on how the environment controls the composition of microbial communities in soil and how, in turn, those microbes regulate whole ecosystem processes such as greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient cycling, and plant productivity. Much of Dr. Schimel’s work has been in the Arctic, where there are large pools of decomposable carbon in the soils and the climate is warming rapidly. His work is focused on understanding how climate change will alter the release of carbon dioxide, methane, and nutrients from Arctic peat soils and how that in turn will alter the composition and size of plant communities. One important aspect of this work as been investigating soil processes in winter, when they remain active and important to Arctic biogeochemistry. Other aspects of Dr. Schimel’s research are focused on California ecosystems, trying to understand how the stress of the long summer drought regulates soil microbes, and how the replacement of native plants with invasive Mediterranean annual grasses has altered biogeochemical cycles, such as the availability of nutrients in the soils.

Dr. Schimel is active in U.S. science planning, particularly in the Arctic, having served on planning committees for the Land-Atmosphere Ice Interactions and the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) programs. He has served on the NSF Office of Polar Programs Advisory Committee, including as chair. Dr. Schimel also has served on the NSF Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education, working on plans for future interdisciplinary environmental initiatives.

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