Who's in the lab
Elizabeth M Wolkovich
Assistant Professor of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology
I am interested in how communities assemble and dis-assemble with global change. I draw on theory from temporal community ecology with perspectives from population and ecosystem ecology, evolutionary biology, and climatology. Though I tend to address fundamental questions with hypotheses informed by theory and models my research generally has strong applied angles. In particular much of my work to date has examined the causes and consequences of plant invasions and the effects of climate change on the temporal assembly of plant communities. .
As a plant ecologist and conservation biologist, I am fascinated with the vast diversity of plants on Earth and how they interact with their environment and other organisms. I am particularly interested in how climate change, urbanization, and other anthropogenic factors affect plant communities. Understanding anthropogenic impacts to plants is compelling to me for two main reasons: 1) humans exert a large and growing influence on Earth’s biota, and 2) we can simultaneously learn about their basic ecology and address applied problems in conservation biology and restoration.
Why biodiversity is distributed on Earth as it does? What is the signature of historical and evolutionary processes on current diversity patterns? Can we predict the future of biodiversity in a changing world? These are among the central questions in which my research program focuses. Specifically, it aims to: (1) disentangle the relative roles of evolution and ecology as drivers of community structure, (2) understanding how different aspects of the species' niches are evolutionarily conserved, (3) enhancing models of biotic interactions and/or species distributions by incorporating phylogenetic, functional and geographic information.
I am a plant ecologist interested in understanding how anthropogenic climate change impacts plant communities. In November 2015, I graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a Master’s degree in Biodiversity and Conservation. For my dissertation, I investigated the vegetation composition of grazing lawns along an anthropogenic impact and grazing pressure gradient at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. I would like to continue focusing my research efforts on plant community composition and how temperature, precipitation, and photoperiod affect plant phenology.
I am interested in how plant communities are responding to global change, and how these responses are affecting the composition and function of North American ecosystems. In the summer of 2016, I completed my master’s degree at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment where my thesis work examined the reproductive ecology of the woodland sedge, Carex pensylvanica, as applied to native plant production and ecology restoration. My current research interest is in plant phenology, with a particular focus on expanding phenology research to include a greater diversity of plant taxa, and investigating how phenological characteristics covary with other life history traits.
I am an undergrad at Northeastern University studying Environmental Science with an interest in ecology. I'm doing a six-month co-op at the lab from June through November. I look forward to learning more about how plants and their phenology are affected by climate change while also getting exposure to R and helping with all of the fascinating research going on in the lab. Other interests of mine include wetlands habitats and their varied relationships with humans as well as conservation and restoration.
Honors thesis student
I am going to be a senior at Harvard this year, finishing an undergraduate degree in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB). My interest in plant ecology and climate change drew me to the Wolkovich lab, which I joined in January 2016. Currently, I am based at Harvard Forest for the REU summer program, where I work with Dan Flynn on community composition of deciduous trees at their range limits. Through my work with the lab, I’ve realized a fondness for plant species identification across New England—from the forests of Massachusetts to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Johan earned his bachelor’s degree in Agroindustrial Engineering. He is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Sustainability and joined the Wolkovich lab in the Fall of 2016. He was drawn to the lab because he is very interested in the effect that climate variation has on plants. He is very interested in societies' reliance on plants and how a growing global population along with expanding markets will pose challenges and opportunities to achieve sustainability, especially in food systems.
I'm a senior at Harvard University studying Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. I'm primarily interested in climate change and its ecological effects -- everything from plant communities to marine ecosystems. I joined the Wolkovich Lab in September 2016 and have loved getting to do hands-on work at the Arboretum. I am really enjoying my first experience in a lab and hope to one day apply it out in the conservation world.
I graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 2016 with an MSc in biodiversity and conservation. I completed a study on geoxylic suffrutices, and a dissertation on salt marsh ecology and plant community compositions. From there began an earnest fascination with plant ecology. I am looking forward to immersing myself in the work at the lab and learning more about the time effects and pressures on plants and plant phenology from various environmental factors and anthropogenic activities.