SPA Lab Team (Fall 2019) missing a few members due to filed work. Left to right: Mike Farinacci, Toby Maxwell, Weicheng Wang, Bryce Izlar, Jamie Wright, Adriana Uscanga, Hilary Dawson, Barbara Bomfim, Ori Chafe, Sydney Katz, Alison Deak, and Lucas Silva.
Current Lab Members


Lucas Silva – Principal Investigator – silva-cv-Jan-2022

Adriana Uscanga. PhD candidate specializing in landscape ecology with focus on human-environment interactions and sustainability of agroecosystems.


Schyler Reis. PhD candidate investigating the effects of disturbance and climate on vegetation shifts across drylands of the Pacific Northwest.


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Jamie Wright. PhD candidate investigating climatic and biogeochemical processes that influence the stability of forest-savanna boundaries.



Ori Chafe. NSF Graduate Research Fellow PhD student studying interactions of climate and fire disturbance with in the Pacific Northwest.


Hilary Rose Dawson. PhD student interested in plant-environment interactions under disturbances like drought and wildfire. Website


Alison Deak. MS student interested in fire ecology and studying the degradation and subsequent recovery of forest landscapes to inform land management decisions.
Sydney Katz. MS student. Interested in forestry practices and studying the differences in soil characteristics between managed and old-growth forests.



Delaney Kleiner. Honors College student. Research Assistant (NSF-funded ESPRIT fellow). Interested in climate change, conservation, and sustainability with an ecological emphasis. Studying effects of tundra fire disturbance on arctic soils.



Noah Savage. Honors College Student interested in the potential
sustainability of controlled-environment agriculture and hydroponics.



Jerod Aguilar. NSF – GRFP fellow interested in the origins of life and search for extraterrestrial life. Examining how volcanic burial affects the preservation of organic carbon in ancient soils.


Adrian Broz. PhD Candidate. Co-advised with Greg Retallack. Investigating the factors that control organic matter preservation in ancient soils of Earth and Mars.
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Brooke Hunter. Phd Candidate. Honorary SPA Lab member Advised by Josh Roering. Interested in wildfire effects on hillslope erosion and how geomorphic processes influence soil properties and carbon storage.
Previous Lab Members
Dr. Barbara Bomfim. Former PhD candidate and Postdoctoral Fellow studying interactions between land-use change and biogeochemical cycles in tropical systems.Now research scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.


Dr. Toby Maxwell. Former PhD candidate and Postdoctoral Fellow studying climate-induced alterations of carbon and water cycles in montane forests. Now research scientist at USGS Idaho.
Dr. Paulo Quadri. Former PhD candidate now postdoctoral fellow working with SPA Lab members and UCSC Zavaleta‘s lab to assess the impacts of rising CO2 and climate on alpine forests and how topography modulates these impacts.
Mike Farinacci. MS student interested in the influence of climate and disturbance on forest ecohydrology in the Pacific Northwest.


Bryce Izlar. Research Assistant. Interested in habitat fragmentation to apply and integrate SPA interactions into current ecological restoration science.



Lenora Davis. Research Assistant (NSF-funded ESPRIT fellow). Interested in incorporating climate change and local ecological research into environmental science curriculum as a high school teacher.


Weicheng Wang. MS student interested in GIS and its applications in biogeography and ecology.


Alexia Gee (SPUR student) now graduate student at Washington State University.


Aaron LeFore (Honors College student) technician at PBS Environmental Engineering INC
Tara Seely (MS student) now PhD candidate and UC Berkeley
Laura Emberson (MS student) now research analyst at NRCS
Braden Prillwitz (Honors College student)
Hunter Mackin (Research Assistant Env Sci Major)
Elizabeth Baach (Research Assistant Env Sci Major)

Recent Adventures:


Carbon and nutrient stock quantification at HJ Andrews

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Soil Science crew at Jory site in central Oregon


Experimental Analysis of Plant-Microbe “Communication”


SPA “lab meeting” American river



Tree ring sampling in Tibet


NSF Co-PI Corinne Wong sampling speleothems in Brazil