The expanding human population has placed enormous pressure on the global environment. It has increasingly demanded natural resources while generating pollutants to the air, water, and land. Scientific understanding of interdependent natural and human systems is needed to mitigate these impacts and help sustain the biosphere. To gain basic knowledge and improve management of natural resources, the SPA LAB bridges core research areas within the Environmental Studies Program, Department of Geography, and Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon. We rely on methods from multiple disciplines to study how soil-plant-atmosphere interactions influence the composition, distribution, and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Our projects address emerging challenges for environmental sustainability. Our students conduct data-intensive research in natural and managed lands, blending laboratory experiments, field observations, and environmental reconstructions. Our goal is to understand fundamental processes that connect natural and human systems to better predict and mitigate the impact of global environmental change.