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Previous speakers

Fall 2018

August 29, 2018: Dr. Alex Hall, UCLA. Projections of climate change in California's Sierra Nevada (read Abstract and Bio). Host: Asmeret Berhe

September 5, 2018: Dr. Leopoldo Mendoza-Espinosa, UABC-Ensenada. Achieving reclaimed water reuse in a drought-prone city in northern Mexico (read Abstract and Bio). Host: Josue Medellín-Azuara.

September 12, 2018: UC Merced Postdoc Showcase: Dr. Bennett Widyolar, Dr. Lauren Schiebehut and Dr. Fernanda Santos (read Abstract and Bio). Host: ES Lead Group

September 19, 2018: Dr. Richard Luthy, Stanford. Sustainable Urban Water Supply for Semi-arid Cities (read Abstract and Bio). Host: Tom Harmon

September 26, 2018: Dr. Maya Almaraz. Nitrogen and sustainable food systems (read Abstract and Bio). Host: Rebecca Ryals

October 3, 2018: No seminar. 

October 10, 2018: Dr. Natasha Stavros. Host: Erin Hestir.

October 17, 2018: Dr. Akula Venkatram. Methane emissions from California agriculture. Host: Mark Matsumoto.

October 24, 2018: Dr. Sarah Kurtz. Innovations in solar research. Host: ES Lead Group.

October 31, 2018: Dr. Aric Mine. The role of microbes in Earth’s biogeochemical cycles. Host: Sora Kim. 

November 7, 2018: Dr. LeRoy Westerling. Wildfire in California. Host: ES Lead Group

November 14, 2018: Dr. Van Butsic. Environmental impacts of illegal cannabis. Host: Sam Traina.

November 21, 2018: No seminar. 

November 28, 2018: Dr. Nigel Quinn. Cyberinfrastructure for real-time water quality decision support in the San Joaquin River Basin.

Spring 2018

The seminar organizer during this semester was Josué Medellín-Azuara (

January 24: Kevin Simonin (SFSU) Genome downsizing drove physiological novelty and the rise of the flowering plants (Host: Stephen Hart)

January 31: Jeremy Wimpey (Applied Trails Research) Outdoor recreation management on Public Lands, balancing resource protection with recreation access (Host: Jeffrey Jenkins)

February 7: Susan Harrison (UC Davis) Winter Drought and Community Change in Californian Grasslands (Host: Jason Sexton)

February 14: Park Williams (Columbia University) The impact of human-caused warming on drought and forest fire in the western US (Host: Leroy Westerling)

February 21: Arnold Dekker (Australian National University) Design Considerations for An Aquatic Ecosystem Earth Observing System (Host: Erin Hestir)

February 28: Barbara Cade-Menun (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) Phosphorus Forms and Cycling in Soils and Other Environmental Samples (Host: Student Nomination/Stephen Hart)

March 7: Erin Hestir (UC Merced) Remote Sensing for Aquatic Ecosystem Sustainability (Host: ES Seminar Lead Group)

March 14: Jennifer Martiny (UC Irvine) The role of microbial communities in mediating ecosystem to environmental change (Host: Student Nomination/Mike Dawson)

March 21: Mark Rains (USF) Connecting the Dots: Hydrological Connectivity between Vernal Pools and Downgradient Waters (Host: Joshua Viers) – NOTICE: Held in Student Services Building (SSB) 170

March 28: No Seminar (Spring Break)

April 4: Jeffrey Mount (Public Policy Institute of California) Consequences of Groundwater Sustainability in California (Host: Joshua Viers) – NOTICE: Held in Student Services Building (SSB) 170

April 11: Nicola Ulibarri (UC Irvine) Collaborative Governance and Modeling for Managing Water Infrastructure (Host: Marc Beutel)

April 18: David Sandino (CA Department of Water Resources) Understanding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta:  Ecosystem and Water Supply. (Host Marc Beutel)

April 25: John Harte (UC Berkeley) Predicting the Fate of Ecosystems in the Anthropocene (Host: Asmeret Berhe)

May 2: Kurt Schwabe (UC Irvine) (Host: Roger Bales)


Fall 2017

The ES/ESS Seminar Series occurs weekly each semester during the academic year. Unless otherwise noted, all talks are from 12:30 to 2:00 pm in SSB 120. For questions about the seminar series, please contact Josué Medellín-Azuara (

September 6: Katie Ferris (UC Davis) Of Mice and Mimulus: the genetic and phenotypic basis of adaptation to harsh environments (Host: Jay Sexton)

September 13:  Fernanda Santos (UC Merced) Impacts of fire on soils and rivers (Host Asmeret Berhe); Dannise Ruiz-Ramos, and Lauren Schiebelhut (UC Merced) Tracking a mass mortality event along the California coast: tracing the genetic consequences of sea star wasting disease. (Host: Michael Dawson).

September 20: William Cooper (UC Irvine) Recent studies of NOM excited states in the photochemical (sunlight) fate of organic compounds and application in the design and optimization of constructed wetlands (Host: Thomas Harmon).

September 27: Ate Visser (Lawrence Livermore National Lab) Tracking Water through the Critical Zone using Isotopic Tracers (Host: Martha Conklin)

October 4: Alvar Escriva-Bou (Public Policy Institute California) Policy Priorities for California's Water Management (Host: Josué Medellín).

October 11: Benjamin Sullivan (University of Nevada, Reno) Biogeochemistry of Tropical Forests (Host: Steve Hart)

October 18: John Battles (UC Berkeley) Consequences of 100+ million dead trees: Has the Sierran conifer forest reached a tipping point? (Host: Emily Moran)

October 25: Shazeen Attari (Indiana University) Misperceptions of water use and water systems  (Host: Jessica Blois)

November 1: Neslihan Taş (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab) Deep look into deep permafrost: Impact of warming on microbial functions. (Host: Teamraat Ghezzahei)

November 8: Anne Hansen (Instituto Mexicano de Tecnología del Agua) Development of strategies to evaluate methods of controlling eutrophication in water bodies (Host: Marc Beutel)

November 15: Fernando Rosario-Ortiz (University of Colorado Boulder) Assessing the Impact of Wildfires on Water Quality (Host: Asmeret Asefaw Berhe)

November 22: No seminar (Thanksgiving break)

November 29: Mark Marvin-DiPasquale (USGS) Mercury Cycling in a West Coast Watershed: Historic and Contemporary Tales from the San Francisco Bay-Delta (Host: Student nomination/Peggy O’Day)


Spring 2017

January 25: Mengqiang (Mike) Zhu (University of Wyoming) Phosphorus Biogeochemical Transformation and Effects of Aeolian Dust Deposition during Long-term Soil Development in Semi-arid Ecosystems (Host: Stephen Hart)

February 1:  Benjamin Sullivan (University of Nevada, Reno) Biogeochemistry of Tropical Forests (Host: Stephen Hart)

February 8: Jeremy Wimpey (Penn State University and Applied Trails Research) Outdoor recreation management on Public Lands, balancing resource protection with recreation access (Host: Jeffrey Jenkins).

February 15: Binayak Mohanty (Texas A&M) Soil Moisture Remote Sensing Across Space and Time – Scale Up and Scale Down (Host: Teamrat Ghezzehei)

February 22: Steven Sadro (UC Davis) Title: Exploring the climate sensitivity of Sierra Nevada lakes and the consequences of warming for ecosystem function (Host: Marc Beutel).

March 1: Jon Keeley (U.S. Geological Survey) Different future fire regimes in climate-limited vs. ignition-limited ecosystems (Host: Emily Moran)

March 8: Javier Ceja-Navarro (Lawrence Berkeley Lab) Arthropod-Microbiome Interactions and their Role in the Host's Success to Environmental Adaptation (Host: LeRoy Westerling)

March 15: Hoori Ajami (UC Riverside) Towards Improved Hydrologic Prediction using Integrated Land Surface-Groundwater Models (Host: UC Water)

March 22: Joe Wagenbrenner (U.S. Forest Service) Watershed impacts of wildfire and post-fire management (Host: Roger Bales)

April 5: Gara Villalba (UC Merced) Simulation of Carbonyl Sulfide (COS) to better understand the urban biosphere signal (Host: Elliott Campbell)

April 12: Scott Anderson (Northern Arizona University) Vegetation transitions along coastal California, from the last glaciation to the Euro-American period (Host: Stephen Hart)

April 19: Seema Sheth (UC Berkeley) Title TBD (Host: Jason Sexton)

April 26: Kurt Schwabe (UC Riverside) Title TBD (Host: UC Water)

Fall 2016

August 31: Rosemary Gillespie (UC Berkeley) Evolution of ecological communities through the lens of an island chronosequence. (Host: Dan Edwards/Jessica Blois)
September 7: Anne Kelly (UC Merced) Ecohydrological drivers of western US ecosystems. (Host: Martha Conklin)
September 14: Adrian Harpold (University of Nevada, Reno) Variable and unexpected hydrological response to changing snowpack dynamics: determining future winners and losers. (Host: UC Water and Roger Bales)
September 21: Josh Schimel (UC Santa Barbara) The biogeochemistry of drought. (Host: ES Graduate Students)
September 28: Cascade Sorte (UC Irvine) Will climate change increase the success and impacts of invasive species? (Host: Jessica Blois)
October 5: Open seminar slot
October 12: Amanda Zellmer (Occidental College) Applications of species distribution modeling to problems in conservation biology. (Host: Dan Edwards)
October 19: Satish Myneni (Princeton) Title TBD. (Host: Asmeret Asefaw Berhe)
October 26: Markus Kleber (Oregon State University) Beyond recalcitrance. (Host: Asemeret Asefaw Berhe)
November 2: Harry Beller (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) Title TBD. (Host: Peggy O’Day)
November 9: Kathleen Kay (UC Santa Cruz) Title TBD. (Host: Jay Sexton)
November 16: Jennifer Pett-Ridge (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) Title TBD. (Host: Carolin Frank)
November 30: Wil Burns (Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment) Into the great wide open: The promise, and potential perils, of climate geoengineering.  (Host: LeRoy Westerling)
December 7: Jenni Dungait (Rothamsted Research North Wyke) Title TBD. (Host: Asmeret Asefaw Berhe)

Spring 2016

January 20: Sam Traina (UC Merced) Fracking in California: what do we know and what do we not know
. (Host: Environmental Systems)
January 27: John Perlin (UC Santa Barbara) Let It Shine: the 6000-Year Story of Solar Energy
  (Host: UC Water and Roland Winston)
February 3: Carol Kendall (U.S. Geological Survey) Goldilocks and the Three Blooms: Using isotopes to quantify nutrient sources to algae in ecosystems experiencing HABs, hypoxia, or foodweb collapse
  (Host: Marilyn Fogel)
February 10: Cliff Dahm (University of New Mexico) Catastrophic forest fires and degraded water quality: using continuous sensors to assess impacts
  (Host: Martha Conklin)
February 17: George Salvaggio (WRA Consultants) Vernal pool restoration
  (Host: Marc Beutel)
February 24: Amelia Wolf (Columbia University) Species interactions and global change: how interactions affect plant trait plasticity, community dynamics, and ecosystem function
  (Host: Jessica Blois)
March 2: Dimitri Vlassopoulos (Anchor QEA) Biogeochemical Controls on Mercury Methylation and In Situ Management Strategies in Estuarine Sediments (Host: Peggy O’Day)
March 9: Jay Famiglietti (UC Irvine) Towards A High-Resolution Hydrological Modeling and Data Integration Platform for the Western United States
  (Host: SNRI)
March 16: David Sandino (California Department of Water Resources) Restoring the San Joaquin River - Understanding the legal framework 
  (Host: UC Solar)
March 30: Ryoko Oono (UC Santa Barbara) Community patterns in foliar fungal endophytes -from landscapes to individual leaves
  (Host: Carolin Frank)
April 8 (Friday): Sudeep Chandra (University of Nevada, Reno) Limnology and aquatic ecology (Time and location TBA) (Host: CITRIS)
April 13: Suzanne Alonzo (UC Santa Cruz) Sexual selection and social plasticity: theory and data
  (Host: Dan Edwards)
April 20: Jirka Simunek (UC Riverside) Modeling Water Flow and Solute Transport in Soils Using the HYDRUS Software Packages (Host: Tom Harmon)
April 27: Hugh Stafford (UC Davis) Past, present, and future in the forests of the Sierra Nevada: elevational variability in forest response to environmental change, and management strategies to promote ecosystem resilience
 (Host: Stephen Hart)

Fall 2015

  • August 26: Introduction; Environmental Systems Faculty Research Summaries, Part 1
  • September 2: Environmental Systems Faculty Research Summaries, Part 2
  • September 9: Dr. Susan Mazer (UC Santa Barbara) Plant Adaptation - Host: Jay Sexton The evolution of mating system, life history, and physiological performance in annual wildflowers: genetic correlations and the evolution of risky mating behavior in a changing climate.
  • September 16: Dr. Mike Beman (UC Merced) Aquatic Microbial Ecology 'Oceans of Ocean Data'
  • September 23: Dr. Sarah Bisbing (California Polytechic State University) Forest Ecology and Genetics - Host: Steve Hart Shaping a species: landscape influence on range-wide patterns of genetic structure
  • September 30: Dr. Calla Schmidt (University of San Francisco) Hydrology, N-cycling, Groundwater - Host: Nate Bogie Isotopes to the rescue: understanding nitrogen cycling in surface water and groundwater
  • October 7: Dr. Robert Graham (UC Riverside) Soil Weathering and Origins - Host: Roger Bales A soil climosequence in the White Mountains, eastern California
  • October 14: Dr. William Walton (UC Riverside) Wetlands and Mosquito Biology - Host: Andrea Joyce Do Top-Down Effects Bottom-Out in Constructed Wetlands?
  • October 21: Dr. Michael Dettinger (UC San Diego/US Geological Survey) Hydroclimatology - Host: Leroy Westerling Large Storms, Drought, and the Sierra Nevada Environment
  • October 28: Emilio Camacho (CA Energy Commission) - Host: Robyn Lukens Climate, Energy, Innovation and the Future of California
  • November 4: Dr. Susan Hubbard (Director of Earth Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab) Geophysics - Host: Teamrat Ghezzehei Identification and quantification of ecosystem functional zones using geophysical methods.
  • November 11: Veterans Day – no seminar           
  • November 18: Dr. Carolin Frank (UC Merced) Endosymbiotic Bacteria From cells to ecosystems: above ground bacterial endophytes in conifers
  • November 25: Day before Thanksgiving – no seminar    
  • December 2: Dr. Andrew Latimer (UC Davis) Plant Ecology and Evolution - Host: Erin Babich "Responses of plant populations to climate gradients in Mediteranean-climate regions"
  • December 9: Dr. Alex Sessions (California Institute of Technology) Stable Isotopes - Host: Marilyn Fogel Isotope 'clumps' help unravel the sources of arctic methane


Spring 2015

  • January 21: UC Merced Faculty Seminars
  • January 28: UC Merced Faculty Seminars: Dr. Jason Sexton, Dr. Emily Moran, Dr. Mike Behman, Dr. Jessicca Blois
  • February 4: Dr. Stephen Kaffka (UC Davis) Bio-Energy in California, with an emphasis on Ag-derived bio-mass
  • February 11 : Rebecca Milczarek, PhD (USDA) Microwave Research in Food Processing:  Commodities, Co-Products, and Consumer Products
  • February 18: Sarah Brown, PhD. (UC Merced) Reconstructing the evolutionary history of the domestic dog: From village dogs to ancient DNA - Faculty Host: Jessica Blois

  • February 25: Frank Davis (UC Santa Barbara)  Changing windows of opportunity for tree seedling establishment under 21st Century climate change - Faculty Host: Emily Moran

  • March 4: Steve Shackleton (UC Merced Parks and Protected Area Management) - Parks and universities: A global community of practice for a flourishing and peaceful planet Faculty Host: Roland Winston

  • March 11: Dr. Michael Isaacson (UC Santa Cruz) The US-Denmark Program on Renewable Energy: In Practice - Faculty Host: Roland Winston

  • March 18: Steve Horne, Consultant - Concentrating Photovoltaics Faculty Host: Roland Winston

  • March 25: SPRING BREAK

  • April 1: David Sandino (CA. Dept. of Water Resources) Understanding California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014: Will It Keep the Well from Running Dry?  Faculty Host: Jessica Blois
  • April 8: Joe Hereford, PhD (UC Davis)  Climatic adaptation among California populations of the C3-C4 intermediate Mollugo verticillata.  Faculty Host: Jason Sexton
  • April 15: Heather Poiry, Kim McFarlane, P.E., Helen Tan (Gallo) Water Reduction Efforts at E. & J. Gallo Winery - Faculty Host: Roland Winston
  • April 22: Jacob Fleck, (US Geological Survey) Mercury in California: A look at the past and hope for the future
    Faculty Host: Peggy O'Day
  • April 29: Caroline Masiello, Ph.D. (Rice University) Biochar, water, and microbes: Tracking the mechanisms behind biochar's environmental effects - Faculty Host: Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
  • May 6: Adam Moule (UC Davis) Probing the morphology of bulk heterojunction films using electron microscopy Faculty Host: Roland Winston