Dr. Justin Wright
While much of my research has focused on wetland plant communities, I am willing to study any organism and work in any ecosystem to answer the questions that interest me. I have worked in systems ranging from tropical streams to desert shrublands and am always looking for ways to explore the causes and consequences of patterns of biological diversity across the planet. My research program combines observational and experimental approaches with modeling to develop and test hypotheses and build towards synthetic ecological theory. Visit our Research page for more information on my current research project.
Google Scholar Profile
jw67 (at) duke.edu
Department of Biology Duke University
Box 90338 Durham, NC 27708
Office BioSci 255 | Lab BioSci 256
Tel (919) 613-8096 | Fax (919) 660-7293
Greg Ames, Post-doctoral associate
I am broadly interested in understanding how the functional traits of individual organisms scale up to produce the spatial and temporal dynamics in species composition that we observe at higher levels of ecological organization. I am particularly interested in understanding: 1) Which organismal traits most strongly impact ecosystem productivity in a particular system? 2) How does the relative importance of these traits change along environmental gradients? 3) How is productivity impacted by the level of functional diversity in the system? I am currently working to understand how the structure of pine savannah communities in the Sand Hills of North Carolina are influenced by the interaction between plant traits and fire frequency.
greg.ames [at] duke.edu
Aspen Reese, PhD candidate
I am studying the role of consumers in driving secondary succession. In old-fields, I am using greenhouse studies, field experiments, and modeling to answer the question "what is the relative importance of predation, resource availability, and plant traits in determining the rate and pattern of succession?" I am also addressing similar questions in the human gut microbiome. With longitudinal meta-genomic data and in vitro model community experiments, I am testing for mechanism(s), including phage predation and changing oxygen concentration, causing post-illness secondary succession.
aspen.reese [at] duke.edu
Cari D. Ficken, PhD candidate
I am broadly interested in understanding how biotic and abiotic interactions affect ecosystem functions and overall health. I studied how soil removal as a restoration practice affected nutrient stores and greenhouse gas emissions from Prairie Pothole wetlands in North Dakota. In seasonal Florida wetlands, I examined how anthropogenic disturbance impacted the extant seed bank and whether subsequent hydrologic restoration had the potential to approximate the natural aboveground vegetation community. I now hope to incorporate these interests in plant community ecology and biogeochemistry to examine how plant functional traits interact with environmental conditions and disturbance regimes to affect nutrient cycling in North Carolina long leaf pine ecosystems.
Follow me on Twitter (@cdficken) or see my website for more information:
cdf15 [at] duke.edu
As a plant ecologist, I am fascinated by the diversity of life and how this diversity shapes communities and ecosystem function. I am particularly interested in plant functional traits, the variation present within and among species, and how this variation affects ecosystem function and communities in a changing world. My research focuses on quantifying the extent of variation in plant functional traits, and determining how this variation impacts community dynamics and ecosystem function
In addition to research, I am also very involved in science outreach and communication. I am a co-founder of the Engage project at the University of Washington and a Science Communication Fellow through the Pacific Science Center.
I am also dedicated to teaching and education. I have taught courses in science communication at both the undergraduate and graduate level, as well as several courses as a Project for Interdisciplinary Pedagogy Teaching Fellow.
rmm57 [at] duke.edu
Emily Ury, PhD Candidate
Bonnie McGill at South of the Border.
Summer Technicians, 2013 (left to right): Cinnamon Mittan, Laureen Echiverri, Rachel Bangle, Fabio Baptista, Cherissa Dukelow, and Hannah Kisley
Emily joined the lab in August 2016. She recently completed her Masters at Yale where she worked with Peter Raymond using the oxygen isotopes of phosphate to trace fertilizer runoff in heavily farmed watersheds. She is curious about nutrient cycling and the impacts of various land uses on ecological communities and biogeochemical processes. Emily will begin her doctoral research in conjunction with our Coastal SEES project. Emily is co-advised with Emily Bernhardt.
emily.ury [at] duke.edu
Steve Anderson (research associate/lab manager) worked in the Wright lab from 2011-2014. His primary focus was on Longleaf Pine savannah research at Fort Bragg, and managing laboratory operations. Steve continues to work at Duke as a research associate in the Bernhardt lab.
Bonnie McGill (lab manager) and Bowie-wan Kenobi (lab pup) worked with Justin from 2007-2012. During that time, Bonnie was a major contributor to Wright lab as a whole. She is now pursuing a Ph.D. at Michigan State University.
Amanda Koltz, PhD. defended May 2015. Dissertation title: "The changing structure and function of arthropod food webs in a warming arctic."
Si-Yi "Jenny" Wang, Ph.D. defended June 2011. Dissertation title: "Causes and functional consequences of denitrifying bacteria community structure in streams affected to varying degrees by watershed urbanization."
Eileen Thorsos, M.S. defended Dec 2011
James Cho, Duke class '16
Honors thesis title: "Island biogeography vs physiochemical controls on zooplankton diversity and communities"
Donnie Vineyard, Duke class '13
Honors thesis title: "Annual growth in a pine savanna is driven by interactions between fire and climate"
Jamie Peeler, Duke class '12
Honors thesis title: "Trait plasticity of tree species in response to changing disturbance regimes in the Kruger National Park"
Kiki Contreras, Duke class '12
Honors thesis title:"Effects of biotic and abiotic environments on the distribution, growth, and mortality of juvenile clams in the San Juan Islands, WA"
Sarah Diehl, Duke class '09
Honors thesis title: "Microstegium vimineum, an invasive grass, affects tree germination, soil communities, and nitrogen cycling in a riparian system."
Nate Emery, Duke class '07
Honors thesis title: "Functional diversity and the invasibility of an exotic grass (Microstegium vimineum)
Andrew Gloterman, Duke class '07
Honors thesis title: "Predictors of Microstegium vimineum and their implications in stream restorations of central North Carolina."
Fabio Baptista, Laureen Echiverri, Cherissa Dukelow, Malia Losordo, Hannah Kisley, Cinnamon Mittan, Kirsten Moy, Kirin Riddell, Allison Rowe, Boris Senatorov, and Samantha Walker.
A big thank you to our amazing crew of past work study students: Samir Arora, Rachel Bangle, Matt Barnett, Gaby Benitez, Ansel Bubel, Shanay Conaway, Kiki Contreras,
Ashley Green, Catherine Henry, Molly Johnson, Aimee Lansdale, Emma Loewe, Joseph Lozier, Sharon Luong, Libby Malcolm, Matthew McCann, Miles Muller, Haylee Newton, Cameron Oswalt, Tuana Phillips, Gabriel Sneed, Josh Unghire, Kristin Vaughn,
Rachel Workin, Cha Yang, and Kathy Zhou.