Alison M. Grantham
- BA, summa cum laude, Biological Sciences and Environmental Studies, Mount Holyoke College (2008)
I am a Ecology and Biogeochemistry dual-title PhD candidate interested in how to improve nitrogen (N) retention in agroecosystems. I am researching how ecosystem structure drives the coupling or decoupling of N cycling, impacts N retention and loss, and the importance of plant organic N use in explaining these patterns. Ecosystem structure, as defined by the degree of spatial and temporal connectivity between trophic levels and exemplified by a gradient of farm systems from pasture-based organic dairies to decoupled feed grain farms and confinement dairy operations, directly influences other N cycling factors including external N input demand, form and frequency of N inputs (organic or inorganic), internal N cycling, and quantity and fates of N waste. Ecosystem structure and function principles from studies in natural ecosystems provide robust options for improving agricultural N cycling in terms of production efficiencies and retention in the context of a changing climate. I am utilizing field experiments, greenhouse studies and simulation modeling approaches to explore my research questions.
Before starting at Penn State, I coordinated the Start Farming program for Penn State Extension from 2010-2011, managed the Rodale Institute's Research Program from 2009-2010 and served as the Research and Policy Associate for the Rodale Institute from 2008-2009.