Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory

Paustian Lab Group

Keith Paustian

Dr. Keith Paustian is a Professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and Senior Research Scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University. He received his BSc and MSc at Colorado State University, and a PhD in Systems Ecology and Agricultural Ecology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. A major focus of his work involves modeling and field measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from land use activities. Research activities include developing methodology for agricultural emission sources, used in the US national greenhouse gas inventory; development of web-based tools for estimating on-farm greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and carbon sequestration, used by USDA; and developing methods for estimating greenhouse gas inventories in developing countries. Professional service includes serving as a Coordinating Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2006 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Methods and the 2003 IPCC Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry GHG inventories. He recently served on a 2010 National Academy of Science panel evaluating greenhouse gas measurement methods and verification issues. He served as a member of the US Carbon Cycle Science Steering Group, which provides expert input to Federal Agencies involved in climate and carbon cycle research. He serves on the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Steering Committee for Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) and the Soil Science Society of America Greenhouse Gas Working Group.

Research Staff

Kevin Brown

Karolien DenefDr. Karolien Denef is a Research Scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University, and Managing Director of EcoCore, a CSU specialized facility which provides analytical, training and educational services related to ecology and ecosystem research. Karolien has a degree in bioscience engineering and received her PhD from the University of Leuven in Belgium, which focused on soil carbon sequestration in no-tilled agro-ecosystems. She did a post-doc at the University of Ghent, looking at the role of microbial communities in soil C cycling under the impact of grassland management and elevated CO2. After this post-doc, Karolien worked as a consultant at Environmental Resources Management (ERM), where she was in charge of developing and leading a new climate change and sustainability business practice for ERM Belgium, gained project experience in corporate GHG accounting and carbon management, and received formal EU-ETS en CDM verification training. In her current position, Karolien is involved in different projects related to long-term soil C monitoring and GHG accounting from land use, as well as in more mechanistic studies on the role of plant-soil-microbe interactions in soil C and N cycling.

 Mark EasterMark Easter is a Senior Research Associate at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. He works on greenhouse gas inventories in land use, focusing on agriculture and forestry.  Mark contributed analysis to multiple IPCC reports on greenhouse gas inventory methods, and has worked on national-level inventories of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and forestry in the United States, Brazil, Kenya, Jordan, India, Spain and Italy. He is currently the project leader for the COMET-Farm Project and technical lead for the Carbon Benefits Project.  COMET-Farm is a web-based decision support system for assessing the greenhouse gas benefits of agricultural conservation practices.  The Carbon Benefits Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility, and provides decision support systems for assessing the greenhouse gas benefits of sustainable land use projects in developing nations.  Mark has been working on greenhouse gas inventories and decision support systems since 1999, and it remains a principal focus in his work. He earned a M.S. in Botany with an emphasis in Forest Ecology at the University of Vermont in 1991.

Kendrick Killian

Ernie Marx

Eleanor MilneEleanor Milne graduated from the University of Liverpool in 1991 in where she studied Environmental Biology. She went on to gain a Masters Degree in Crop Production and the Changing Environment from Essex University in 1995 with field work being carried out at The Smithsonian Institute in the USA considering the impacts of elevated CO2 on soil and root respiration. She then worked for Imperial College considering the impacts of air pollutants on crops in India and Pakistan. In 2001 she was awarded a PhD from The University of Wolverhampton entitled ‘Soil conservation and maize productivity on sub-tropical red soils in Yunnan Province China’. After completing her PhD she coordinated the Global Environment Facilities (GEF) GEFSOC project which developed a system to estimate changes in soil carbon stocks at national and sub-national scale. She has gone on to do work for Colorado State University and is currently coordinating the modelling component of the GEF’s Carbon Benefits Project which has developed online tools which allow developing countries to estimate the GHG impacts of land management activities.

Alan RenoAlan Reno's forte is in the Computer Science industry - primarily in Web Application development. Other interests in the computer science field that interest him are Computer Security and Architecture. He graduated with a B.S in Computer Science in Applied Computing Technology in December of 2012. Alan nabbed this 3ft. catfish with Kevin's assistance on a vacation to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.



Veeresh Rudrappa

Jill Schuler

Vijay Singh

Ben Sutton

 Amy SwanAmy Swan is a Research Associate at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University. She has worked on a variety of research projects that evaluate the impacts of agricultural management and land use change on greenhouse gas cycling in ecosystems. She has contributed to the EPA National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the last several years, as well as supported development of web-based tools to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from farms in the U.S. and sustainable land management projects in the developing world. Ms. Swan has extensive experience applying the Century Ecosystem Model to a variety of agricultural ecosystems. In her MSc thesis research, she evaluated the socio-economic and environmental factors that affect adoption of carbon sequestering agricultural conservation practices in the U.S. and nitrous oxide emissions associated with those practices. She received a BSc in Environmental Management from South Dakota State University and MSc in Ecology at Colorado State University.

Steve WilliamsSteve Williams is a native South Carolinian. He earned a BS in Marine Science from University of South Carolina – Coastal Carolina College, and a MS in Physical Oceanography from The College of William and Mary – Virginia Institute of Marine Science.  Steve worked as a Research Associate with Clemson University in the Belle W. Baruch Laboratory from 1991 -1995 before coming to NREL in 1995. Research interests include: modeling of agro-ecosystems in CENTURY and DAYCENT models, site-level, regional, national and global simulations of historical land-use change, current and projected cropland and grassland management practices and effects on soil carbon and nitrogen, greenhouse gases, and nutrient leaching.  Steve has served as an instructor in use of CENTURY and DAYCENT models for several years.


Graduate Students

Nell CampbellNell Campbell is a PhD student in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology. Her research interests involve modeling the soil carbon impacts of bioenergy production systems (including corn stover, mixed grasses, and sugarcane), comparing simulated versus field data, and using these results to understand large-scale implications of bioenergy development. Additionally she is working on developing both methods to model deep soil C as well as model testing protocols using existing datasets and Bayesian model selection techniques.




John Field

Carolyn Hoagland

Jeff Kent

Peter Means

Trung NguyenTrung Nguyen is a Fulbright scholar from Vietnam. He has worked as a lecturer of Plant Biochemistry at the Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry, Vietnam since 2008. He has participated in many research projects related to draught-hardy maize variety selection, agriculture waste management, climate change mitigation and agricultural extension for uplanders and minority groups. These experiences help him to understand how research focused on an important single question fits within the broader context. The study of bioenergy enables him to combine academic and professional experience for the highest impact. His focus is on the Life cycle assessment (LCA) of biofuel production pathways and ecosystem modelling.

Kris Nichols

Yao ZhangYao Zhang is a PhD candidate in the Dept. of Soil and Crop Sciences.  His research interests include: soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics, soil water/plant relationships and deficit irrigation, soil erosion and land conservation, and trace gas fluxes and climate change impacts on ecosystems.







Undergraduate Students

Shawn Brown

Geoffrey Pietz