Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory

Wallenstein awarded prestigious NSF CAREER grant

Matt WallensteinNREL professor and research scientist Matthew Wallenstein has been selected to receive a 2013 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for $916,609 over five years. The award will support research and education on the vulnerability of Arctic soils to microbial decomposition in response to climate change. Wallenstein is an assistant professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability and a research scientist with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, both part of CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources. Wallenstein has been studying microbiology in the Arctic since 2004. His CAREER proposal focuses on understanding how increasing temperature alters the complex interactions between plant communities and soil microorganisms. The project aims to shed light on the fate of the large stocks of carbon that are currently sequestered in Arctic soils.

Arctic soil ecology

To further expand Arctic learning opportunities at CSU, Wallenstein will also teach a module in a senior capstone course on Arctic soil ecology that will compare Rocky Mountain alpine environments with Arctic ecosystems and allow Arctic research participants to teach other students about the different biomes.

According to the NSF, the Early CAREER Awards are “the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

Wallenstein earned his Ph.D. in Ecology from Duke University, and joined CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory in 2007. He then became a faculty member for the newly formed Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability led by Department Head John Moore, who has also partnered with Wallenstein on Arctic research. Wallenstein credits his department and collaborative research partners with his NSF CAREER award.

“The Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability was really designed from the ground up to integrate innovative, global research with environmental education curriculum, giving students the opportunity to learn side-by-side with leaders in the field,” said Moore. “Dr. Wallenstein's research and educational initiatives embody the philosophy of the NREL, ESS and the Warner College as a whole."

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