I am interested in how community assembly and abiotic processes shape forest ecosystems.  Specifically, my research focuses on tree communities, microbial decomposers, and nutrient cycling.  I use lightning as a model phenomenon for investigating the ramifications of disturbance in tropical forests.  After trees die, they decompose with major implications for carbon cycling.  I explore how environmental conditions, biogeochemistry, and microbial community assembly influence decomposition. Please check out this website or flip through the photo gallery for a deeper look at my research program and my passion for education.

Repairing a tower-based camera that serves as part of the Remote Electronic Lightning Monitoring System in central Panama. Photo credit: Jeff Burchfield