I obtained a MS degree in marine ecology before opting for dry land for my PhD. This I obtained at UCSB, studying context dependent invasion of coastal plant communities by a South African plant. Simultaneously, I worked as a botanist for Channel Islands National Park helping to initiate their ecosystem restoration program. I then postdoc’d at Stanford where I launched what became an 8 year study of invasion and ecosystem change in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. After 13 years on the faculty in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley, and three years with the USDA-ARS Exotic and Invasive Weeds Program in Reno, I moved to UCSB where I hold a joint position with Environmental Studies and EEMB.
My research lies at the interface of plant community and ecosystem ecology. The goals of my research program are, to understand controls over variation in plant community change across landscapes and how the invasion of species affects ecosystem composition, structure and functioning. Specific foci include processes that control invasions by non-indigenous plant species and mechanisms through which plants affect ecosystem functioning over short versus long time scales. While I have not limited the lab’s research to introduced species, studying them aids in the search for generality in ecology while providing context specific information regarding invasion, and the potential for long term soil or vegetation change to land managers and restoration practitioners. In the past five years my research contributions have largely been in the following areas: (1) Species traits, invasion success and impact, (2) Short and long-term species effects on ecosystem structure and function, (3) Exotic grasses, the grass fire cycle and vegetation change