Current Research

Courtesy of Debbi Brym

My dissertation research explores the implications of domestication and management on branching architecture and canopy shape of orchard fruit. My work compares the highly manipulated branching structures of tart cherry and apple to theoretical allometries from ecology that describe idealized growth forms shared among all plants. Using these allometries, I evaluate orchard systems for the impact tree size and shape has on physiological and production efficiency. I work closely with the NC-140 Rootstock Trial to evaluate production efficiency among rootstocks for selection and orchard system development. My research includes direct evaluation of the Utah County commercial tart cherry industry. I work with growers to understand how tree size and canopy shape impact light penetration and fruit quality. Philosophically, I work broadly in the field of agroecology to develop potential applications of theory from ecology for food production.


Courtesy of Sarah Supp
Plant Community Ecology & Plant-Animal Interactions

While I have not been directly active with the Portal Project, I have participated in some of the plant and rodent sampling and constructed qualitative models of the change in plant community structure over a 30+ year period. I remain very much interested in community ecology and long-term experimental research programs.

Scientific Inquiries of a Nationwide BioBlitz

With the Ecological Society of America's student outreach program SEEDS, I coordinated a collaborative species inventory among Chapters within the SEEDS network. The SEEDS program has taken charge of this effort where college campuses across the country run a day-long rapid biodiversity assessment, in which they attract local citizen scientists to help expert taxonomists find as many species as possible. The National Coordinated Chapter BioBlitz is primarily an outreach tool to engage the public in environmental stewardship efforts and ownership of local biodiversity. Though, with multiple bioblitz efforts taking place throughout the country each year, perhaps this data may become more useful for biodiversity and conservation science.