Prospective Students

Summer/Fall 2016

Dear Prospective Student,

Thank you for your interest in the graduate program in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and specifically in my research program. The general focus of research in my lab is on plant-resource interactions, broadly defined from physiological adaptations to environmental constraints on function (e.g. low water or nutrients), to plant influences on ecosystem function. We have also studied biotic interactions that shape communities and ecosystem function, including competition and facilitation (e.g. N2-fixation). More specifically my research has focused on alpine plants and their interaction with soil fertility, as well as biotic interactions that influence diversity. I have also had an active program investigating the effects of atmospheric nitrogen deposition (a form of acid rain) on alpine ecosystem function. Examples of some of the ongoing research my students and I are doing include determining the influence of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on ecosystem function and biodiversity, landscape control over nutrient cycling and the identification of "hot spots," the influence of these hot spots on invasibility by non-native plants, and the use of different chemical forms of N (NO3-, NH4+, and small amino acids) by plants as a means of meeting growth requirements and avoiding competition. Please see accompanying information on research interests on this web site. I have had long-term funding from NSF to support these projects, principally from the Niwot Ridge LTER program. I have an ongoing National Park Service funded project in Rocky Mountain National Park, examining critical N loads for alpine vegetation change. Future work in this area will examine how changes in plant-soil interactions will accelerate ecosystem response to N deposition. I am also hoping to pursue how future climate change will interact with N deposition to influence alpine ecosystem function.

My philosophy in advising graduate students depends on the degree being pursued. Masters students generally get more help deciding on a research topic and the research plan. PhD students do the majority of the work designing their thesis project, since this is part of their training. They are expected to learn the current literature and research strategies for addressing hypotheses of their own design. Most masters students doing field research complete their projects in 3 years, while PhD students take around 4-5 years on average.

I currently have three graduate students, but with two finishing this year, may be recruiting an additional student to start the Fall of 2017.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions. email

Bill Bowman

Niwot Ridge sunset