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Lab PI



Dr. Linda van Diepen


  • 2008, Ph.D. Forest Science, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI
  • 2002, M.S. Environmental Science, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • 1999, B.S. Environmental Chemistry at Hogeschool IJselland, Deventer, the Netherlands


Dr. Paul Ayayee in the field

Dr. Paul Ayayee


PhD in Entomology 2014 (Penn State University)



Research projects:

1) linking soil and plant microbiomes to nutrient cycling in sagebrush ecosystems along a climate gradient in Wyoming

2) characterization of soil microbiomes and biogeochemical cycling in montane wetlands across an elevation gradient

3) characterization of host-associated and free-living microbiomes in saline and freshwater ecosystems.

4) establishment of a microbial culture collection from various ecosystems across Wyoming to be used for further functional characterization of the microorganisms. 



Graduate students

Gordon Custer during fieldwork





Gordon Custer: PhD in Program in Ecology

2018 - present

Dissertation topic: Soil properties and microbial dynamics associated with invasive plants and chemical control of unwanted weedy species

MS in Plant Sciences Jan 2018

Former MS student coadvised with Bill Stump

Thesis: Structural and functional dynamics of soil microbes following spruce beetle infestation.



Liana Boggs during fieldwork

Liana Boggs Lynch: PhD in Program in Ecology

2016 - present, Co-advised with Dr. Urszula Norton, Plant Sciences

Dissertation topic: Regenerating Trees and Their Associations with Soil Microorganisms Ten Years after Bark Beetle Infestation







Elizabeth Traver

Elizabeth Traver: PhD in Program in Ecology

2016 - present

Dissertation topic: Soil properties and microbial community dynamics during the development of de-glaciated soils







Chris Wenzel during field sampling

Chris Wenzel: PhD in Soil Science

2015 - present, co-advised with Dr. Pete Stahl

Dissertation topic: Denitrification Potential of Soil Microbes in the Lower North Platte River Valley, Wyoming.













Undergraduate Students


Zachary Ahrndt: Graduated with BS in Chemistry from UW (2019)

Zachary joined our lab in Fall 2018 and has been helping with various field and lab work for the EPSCoR Microbial Ecology Collaborative projects as well as other lab projects.

He has been the caretaker of our conifer seedlings as part of our restoration experiments.





Martina Greenhaw in the field sampling sagebrush leaves

Martina Greenhaw: Pursuing a Bachelor in Physiology at UW.

Martina joined our lab in summer 2019 and has been helping with field and lab work for the EPSCoR "Sagebrush Microbiome" project as well as other lab projects.





Adam Nibbelink in field sampling Sagebrush leaves

Adam Nibbelink: Undergraduate student at LCCC

Adam joined our lab in summer 2019 and has been helping with field and lab work for the EPSCoR "Sagebrush Microbiome" project as well as other lab projects.









Emily Bean celebrating Masters graduation



Emily Bean: MS in Soil Science 2019

Thesis:The critical role of soil microbiota to sustainable rangelands: Quantifying short-term microbial and vegetation responses to intensive grazing.


Now PhD student in Integrative and Biomedical Physiology at Penn State University






stephanie winters during fieldwork at Rogers Research station

Stephanie Winters: MS in Soil Science 2019

Thesis:Linking soil ecology with the restoration of ponderosa pine forests following a high-severity wildfire in the Laramie Mountains of Wyoming.


Now PhD student in Sustainable Forest Management at Oregon State University.




Zoe Ash during permafrost fieldwork

Zoe Ash: MS in Soil Science 2018

Thesis: Influence of Loess and Cryopedogenesis in High-Alpine Soils on Microbial Activity and Function in the Snowy Range Mountains, Wyoming.

Co-advised with Dr. Karen Vaughan.





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