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Stephanie Duston

IGC FELLOW    |   Global Change Center

Ph.D. Student  •   Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation

Research Interests: Soil biogeochemistry; soil organic matter & microbe dynamics; distribution & partitioning of soil organic matter through plant and microbial function

Advisor: Drs. Brian Strahm & Brian Badgley  •   CV 


Stephanie is a Ph.D. student in the department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, co-advised by Drs. Brian Strahm (FREC) and Brian Badgley (SPES). Broadly, she is interested in soil biogeochemistry across a variety of ecosystems. Currently, her work focuses on soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics and partitioning with relation to plant traits and microbial function.

A Maine native, Stephanie grew up in New England and has always loved and appreciated the natural world. She became interested in studying water networks, environmental issues, and analytical chemistry while holding positions as a contractor in the nuclear field and in product safety and compliance for an online retailer.

Stephanie transferred to Virginia Tech to completer her B.S. in Environmental Science. Instead of finding a home in water research, a passion for soil took hold after getting sucked into soil judging and competing in contests across the nation. As an undergrad, her research experience started with a NSF REU program studying patterns of soil development at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF). She also carried out a greenhouse experiment that looked at the SOM chemical characteristics of different plant species. Stephanie then worked as a technician in a soil lab for a year before enrolling in a graduate program. She earned her Master’s degree in Forestry at Virginia Tech, working on soil organic matter quantification methods and studying patterns of dissolved organic matter at HBEF.

Stephanie is very interested in how global change affects ecosystem function. There is an intricate web of components tied to understanding how an ecosystem works, and now more than ever, collaboration and communication amongst and between communities is necessary. Stephanie hopes that the Interface of Global Change program will serve as a resource in building the skills necessary to better understand and solve some of these ever-evolving issues.

In her spare time, Stephanie can be found making pottery on her porch, playing with her dogs, and enjoying board games.