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Dr. Stephen Plont

PHD FELLOW ALUMNI    |   Global Change Center

VT Alumni May 2023,  Biological Sciences  

Advisor: Dr. Erin Hotchkiss •  CV 


Stephen Plont successfully defended his thesis in May 2023. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Alabama where he is working on the Aquatic Intermittency effects on Microbes in Streams (AIMS) project. A national-scale, interdisciplinary project to study stream drying and water quality at the ecosystem level. 

Stephen joined Virginia Tech as a PhD student with Dr. Erin Hotchkiss in the Department of Biological Sciences. He was interested in how ecosystem processes influence the transport and transformation of carbon and other nutrients throughout stream networks, and how water quality is influenced by environmental change at the ecosystem scale.

Stephen is a graduate of Michigan State University, where he earned a B.S. in Environmental Geosciences and a B.A. in Chemistry in 2017. He first became interested in freshwater ecosystems and biogeochemistry after conducting field experiments at the Kellogg Biological Station, investigating how different buried organic matter sources could fuel carbon removal in streams.

He continued to pursue research questions linking hydrology, environmental change and carbon cycling across stream networks while working as a research technician at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Blue River, Oregon. Using data collected in the H.J. Andrews, Stephen completed his undergraduate thesis work investigating how changes in streamflow and stream intermittency alter carbon fate and transport.

At Virginia Tech, his research focused on how land use and region influence organic carbon fate and coupled carbon-nitrogen cycles in streams. Using a combination of long-term data collection, laboratory experiments, and whole-ecosystem manipulations, he assessed how stream confluences influence ecosystem function, the fate of carbon and nutrients in stream networks, and ultimately how stream confluences impact downstream water quality.

As a member of the Interfaces of Global Change program, Stephen was excited to engage local and global communities in their water resources and the important ecosystem services they provide. He also worked to encourage involvement of undergraduates and underrepresented minorities in science.

Last updated May 2023.