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The Michigan Gradient Study:


Project Personnel


Principal Investigators:Kurt S. Pregitzer (MTU), Donald R. Zak (UM), Andrew J. Burton (MTU) and Erik A. Lilleskov (USDA Forest Service)


Kurt Pregitzer, Don Zak and Andrew Burton have collaborated for more than 17 years in an attempt to better understand fundamental ecosystem processes.Erik Lilleskov, who is an expert in both mycorrhizae and ecosystem ecology, joined our team in 2003 as a full-time federal scientist stationed in the USFS Forestry Sciences lab on MTUís campus.


Other Research Personnel:Research Scientist Bill Holmes (stable isotope biogeochemist) and post doc Christopher Blackwood (molecular microbial ecologist) are a critical part of the University of Michigan Team, and Jennifer Eikenberry (stable isotope analyst) plays a crucial role at Michigan Tech University.Three outstanding Ph.D. students, Alan Talhelm (plant ecophysiology, MTU), Linda Van Diepen (AM mycorrhizae, MTU), and John Hassett (lignin degradation, UM) are also intimately involved current research on the Michigan Gradient.††


Graduate and Undergraduate Students:†† Perhaps the most important contribution we can make to science is a continued commitment to education. Since NSF first funded this long-term experiment in 1993, we have involved over 134 undergraduates (52% female and minority), including 8 REU students.  We also have emphasized graduate and post-doctoral training, with 17 graduate students (35% female and minority) and 4 post-doctoral scholars directly involved in the research (see list below).


Gradient Personnel:(click on name or photo for web page and links to CV)


Dr. Kurt S. Pregitzer, Professor and Chairperson at University of Nevada, Reno.†††††††† (775) 784-4020


Research Interests:Forest ecology, biogeochemical cycling, forest productivity, global changes and ecosystem science.



Dr. Donald R. Zak, Professor at University of Michigan†††††††††† (734) 763-4991


Research Interests:Connections between microbial community composition and function,the importance of microbial activity in regulating ecosystem-level processes, links between plant and microbial activity within terrestrial ecosystems, and the influence climate change may have on these dynamics.



Dr. Andrew J. Burton, Research Associate Professor at Michigan Technological University, Director of the Midwestern Regional Center of the National Institute for Climatic Change Research††††††††† (906) 487-2566


Research Interests:Forest responses to global change factors, belowground processes, carbon and nutrient cycling, physiological ecology of tree roots, ecosystem ecology, undergraduate research.



Dr. Erik A. Lilleskov, Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Michigan Technological University††††††† (906) 482-6303ext. 18


Research Interests:†† Using molecular genetic, physiological, stable isotopic, ecosystem analytic and statistical tools to investigate the relationship between ecosystem attributes and microbial community structure and function.



Ms. Jennifer Eikenberry, Assistant Research Scientist, Michigan Technological University


Research Interests:Stable isotopes and forest ecology, mass spectrometry††††††††† (906) 487-1774



Graduate and Postdoctoral Students


Masters Students

Daniel Goldfarb (MSU 1989)

Hua Ouyang (MTU 1990)

C. Jeff Lane (MTU 1991)

Diana Randlett (UM 1991)

Eimar Kuuseoks (MTU 1994)

Usha Govindarajulu (UM 1995)

David E. Rothstein (UM 1995)

Jeff Crawford (MTU 2002)

Kelly Saiya-Cork (2002, U Toledo)

Jennifer Eikenberry (MTU 2004)

William Eddy (UM 2005)


Doctoral Students

Ronald L. Hendrick (MSU 1992)

James McLaughlin (MTU 1992)

Hal O. Liechty (MTU 1994)

Andrew J. Burton (MTU 1997)

Gregory P. Zogg (UM 1997)

Shannon E. Brown (MTU 1999)

David E. Rothstein (UM 1999)

Eugenie Euskirchen (MTU 2003)

Jared DeForest (UM 2004)

Linda Van Diepen (MTU, in progress)

Alan Talhelm (MTU, in progress)

John Hassett (UM, in progress)


Post-Doctoral Associates

Wendy Loya (MTU)

Gregory Zogg (UM)

Kurt Smemo (UM)

Chris Blackwood (UM)