Jed Sparks  (he/him/his)


Dan Petticord (he/him/his)

First year PhD Student

Research Interests: I am interested in the interplay between biotic organisms and their abiotic environment. Mainly, I’m focused on how environmental conditions (temperature and precipitation, for example) dictate changes in living beings – from the scale of individual morphology to community assembly. I approach this question both as a theoretician and an experimental field biologist. My most recent research examines how microsite fungal community make-up dictates reproductive success of seedlings in the tropical forests of Panama.

Sudan Kariuki  (she/her/hers)  

Third year PhD Candidate

Research Interests: I am interested in how human activities influence biogeochemical processes which link plant and soil ecosystems. For example, my MS research focused on how recreational camping influences mesquite-mediated soil microbial metabolism of C and N. To answer questions like these, I have used a combination of field based plant monitoring methods and lab based soil microbiological methods. I look forward to exploring how isotopic techniques can be used to approach similar questions in my PhD research. Website

Kelsey Jensen (she/her/hers)

Fifth year PhD candidate

Research Interest: Biogeochemistry, terrestrial nutrient cycling, trace-gas emissions, soil carbon stability and stable isotope applications. Website

Ben Johnson Email

PhD Candidate

Research Interest: I am broadly interested in how functional organismal traits drive patterns of biological diversity across evolutionary and geographic scales. How do genomes and phenotypes interact with their biotic and abiotic environments to pattern trait evolution among populations, species, and clades? I approach these broad questions using techniques in evolutionary genetics and physiological ecology. My current research examines the evolution of thermal and respiratory physiology of ambystomatid and plethodontid salamanders.

Amelia Weiss (she/her/hers)

PhD  Candidate

I’m a community ecologist interested in how environmental variability impacts community organization. In particular, my dissertation examines how fluctuations in resource supply through time impact community structure. I use a combination of observational and experimental approaches to study organisms ranging from protists that inhabit pitchers of carnivorous plants to crustaceans that live in underwater caves.

Friends of the Lab

Dave Frey (he/him/his)
PhD Student
I am broadly interested in terrestrial carbon and nutrient cycling, particularly as they relate to plant-soil interactions. My current research is focused on how soil conditions and resources influence aboveground and belowground carbon allocation in temperate deciduous forests.

Elizabeth M. Lombardi (She/her/hers)
PhD Candidate
Primary advisor: Dr. Alison Power

Lab Technicians

Kim SparksKim
Kim is manager of the Cornell Stable Isotope Laboratory and is interested in a variety of topics including plant physiology, ecophysiology, biogeography and biogeochemistry. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Ecology and Evolution and Washington State University with a M.S. in Botany. She currently focuses on the use of stable isotopes to address ecological and biogeochemical questions.

John Pollak
John D. Pollak graduated from Cornell University in 2008 with a B.S. focusing in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His primary areas of interest are Plant Taxonomy, Plant Ecophysiology and Stable Isotope technology. John is a Research Support Specialist in the Sparks Lab and Cornell’s Stable Isotope Lab.

Sparks lab members collecting pumpkins for the annual Halloween party at an “all you can carry” pumpkin patch.

Past Lab Members

Graduate Students

Ellie Goud (Post-doc, University of Waterloo)

Fiona Soper (Assistant Professor, McGill University, starting Jan 2019)

Sam Chamberlain (Postdoctoral associate, University of California, Berkeley)

Danica Lombardozzi (Postdoctoral associate, National Center of Atmospheric Research)

Kirsten Deane-Coe (Assistant Professor, Middlebury College)

Carrie McCalley (Assistant Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology)

Elizabeth Craig (University of New Hampshire, Shoals Marine Lab)

David Baker (Assistant Professor, University of Hong Kong)

Allyson Eller (Physician’s Assistant)

Dena Vallano (EPA)

Brian Strahm (Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech)
Rasa Zalakeviciute (Universidad Tecnologica Indoamerica)
Jasmine Crumsey

Shauntle Barley, Sonia Gregor, Hiroshi Hikida, John Pollak, Subasish Bhowmick, Alicia Zhao, Jocelyn Lavallee, Julia Darcey, Geoff Gailey, Elizabeth Jordan, Katherine Crocker, Amy Freitag