The expanding human population has placed enormous pressure on the global environment. Despite significant technological advances our demand for natural resources has increased and so has the amount of pollutants we release to the air, water, and land. Improved scientific understanding is needed to sustain human development as well as the ecosystems upon which we depend. To gain basic knowledge and optimize the use 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 use an interdisciplinary approach to study how soil-plant-atmosphere interactions influence the composition, distribution, and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Our projects address emerging challenges for environmental sustainability and our students conduct data-intensive research, blending laboratory experiments, field observations, and modeling tools to investigate causes and consequences of environmental change. Our mission is to understand connections between natural and human systems to better predict and mitigate the impact of environmental transformations.