Fred C. Davison Early Career Scholar Award 2016
Nina Wurzburger, assistant professor of ecology, has an established track record of excellent scholarship focused on the biogeochemical processes of land ecosystems. Some of her most important and novel achievements come from research in tropical forests, which play a fundamental role in the regulation of Earth’s climate. The ability of tropical forests to fulfill this role depends on nutrients like nitrogen, and Wurzburger discovered a number of processes that limit nutrient availability and forest growth. More recently, she has turned her attention to one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America—longleaf pine savannas. As part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, she is examining how nitrogen fixation facilitates the ecosystem’s recovery from physical disturbances, including prior land use and fire. She is also part of a research team investigating how a more variable climate may affect the structure and function of forest ecosystems in the southern Appalachians.