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Department of Plant Sciences

Dept. 3354

1000 E University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-3103


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Dr. Urszula Norton

Dr. Urszula Norton

Professor of Agroecology and Agroecosystem Biogeochemistry

Office: Ag Bldg. 4014
Phone: 307-766-5196


My research lies within the areas of both basic and applied science, concentrating on questions formed to evaluate the impact of anthropogenic or chronic disturbances on ecological underpinnings of ecosystem resiliency and sustainability. As a biogeochemist I am drawn toward understanding the linkages between belowground N and C cycling and ecosystem functions. I am interested in agroecological principles governing sustainable food production in time of diminishing natural resources and environmental change and the short and long-term consequences of climate variability on ecosystems services. In my research approach I investigate a variety of soil, air and plant indices that are most sensitive to environmental change such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) and labile and stable organic matter pools. Methodologies I often employ include GHG measurements, assays for determining potentially mineralizable C and N, and gross rates of mineralization using 15N enrichment techniques.


  • Quantifying the impact of a massive bark beetle outbreak on carbon, water and nutrient cycling and regeneration of southern Wyoming lodgepole pine forests
  • Development and transfer of Conservation Agriculture Production Systems (CAPS) for small-holder farms in eastern Uganda and western Kenya
  • Effects of cropping-system, irrigation method, and soil properties on soil nitrogen and organic matter dynamics in the Big Horn Basin
  • Economic and environmental sustainability of conventional, reduced-input, and organic approaches on western crop-range-livestock farms

Professional Preparation

  • Warsaw Agricultural University Warsaw, Poland: Horticulture, Bachelor of Science 1988
  • Warsaw Agricultural University Warsaw, Poland: Horticulture (Ornamental Plants Production) M.S. 1990
  • Iowa State University, Ames, IA: Agronomy (Sustainable Agriculture, Crop and Soil Management) M.S. 1995
  • The University of Montana, Missoula, MT: Forestry (Resource Conservation and Forest Soils) Ph.D. 2000
  • Utah State University, Logan, UT: Soil Biochemistry and 15N methodology Post-doc June 2000-December 2002
  • ARS High Plains Grassland Research Station, Cheyenne, WY: Trace gas emissions Post-doc May 2003-May 2004



2022-present: Professor of Agroecology and Biogeochemistry; Plant Sciences Department, University of Wyoming

2016-present: Faculty Adjunct, Department of Plant, Soil and Climate, Utah State University 

2016-present: Faculty Fellow University of Wyoming Summer High School Institute

2015-2022: Associate Professor of Agroecology and Biogeochemistry; Plant Sciences Department, University of Wyoming

2009-present: Faculty Adjunct, Program in Ecology, University of Wyoming

2009-2015: Assistant Professor of Agroecology and Biogeochemistry; Plant Sciences Department, University of Wyoming 

2007-2009: Faculty Adjunct, Renewable Resources Department, University of Wyoming 

2004-2007: Research Associate, Land, Air and Water Resources Department, University of California Davis, Davis, CA

2003-2004: Post-doctoral Research Scientist, High Plains Grassland Research Station, USDA ARS, Cheyenne, WY/Ft. Collins, CO

2000-2003: NSF Post-doctoral Research Scientist, Department of Biology and the Ecology Center, Stable Isotope Analysis Lab, Utah State University

1995-2000: Research and Teaching Assistant, and Forest Soils Lab Manager School of Forestry, the University of Montana 

1992-1995: Research Assistant, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, USAID/EPA and the Institute of Land Reclamation and Grassland Research, Falenty, Poland

1991-1992: Program Assistant, USDA ARS and USAID in collaboration with Polish Department of Agriculture, Warsaw, Poland


Honors and Awards:

2019 Recipient of the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Outstanding Educator Award

2015 Recipient of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Outstanding Adviser Award


Current PhD Students:

1.     Tina Helseth, Plant Sciences: “Multi-State Evaluation of the Long Term Compost and Cover Crop Legacies in Dryland Organic Winter What (Triticum aestivum, L.) Production.

2.     Chloe Mattilio, Program in Ecology and Plant Sciences: “Application of Remote Sensing and Spatial Decision Making for Mapping and Management Prioritization of Invasive Plants in the Intermountain West”

3.     Elizabeth Moore, Plant Sciences: “Cover Crops in High Altitude/Low Moisture Agriculture”


Current MS Students:

1.     Iliak Harmsen Saa, Plant Sciences: “From compost carryover to compost legacy: Intercropping and compost effects on crop yield, quality and soil health in organic dryland winter wheat”. Spring 2022.

2.     Robert “Rhett” Greenwald, Plant Sciences: “Growing hops (Humulus lupulus) for wet hop brewing at 7220 feet elevation. MS Quick Start Spring 2022.

3.     Brenna Litynski, Plant Sciences: “New sources of heavy metals in alkaline soils and their uptake by locally grown vegetables”. Fall 2022.  


Graduated Students:

1.     Tara Geiger, MS in Plant Sciences (2021): “Heavy Metals in Local Calcareous Soils and the Effects of Organic Amendments and Inorganic Fertilizer on Lead Solubility and Plant Bioavailability” Current position: Search in progress

2.     Liana Boggs-Lynch, PhD in Program in Ecology and Plant Sciences (Lead co-adviser with Linda van Diepen) (2021): “Regenerating Trees and Their Associations with Soil Microorganisms Ten Years after Bark Beetle Infestation” Current position: Post-doctoral Scientist, Ecosystem Sciences and Management, University of Wyoming 

3.     Tina Helseth, MS in Plant Sciences (2020): “Improving Dryland Organic Winter Wheat (Triticum aestivum, L.) by the Inclusion of Composted Manure and Cover Crops in the Fallow”. Current position: PhD in Plant Sciences in Plant Sciences Department, University of Wyoming

4.     Amberle Filley, MS in Plant Sciences (co-adviser with Carrie Eberle) (2019): “Introduction of Pulse Crops into the Wheat-Fallow System in Southeastern Wyoming” Current position: United States Forest Service Research Technician

5.     Mavis Badu Brempong, PhD in Plant Sciences (2018): Carry-over effects of composted manure and cover crops on greenhouse gas fluxes, soil nitrogen, carbon and crop performance in organic winter wheat (Triticum aestivum, L.) in Eastern Wyoming. Current position: Senior Research Scientist; Resource and Crop Management Division, CSIR-Crop Research Institute, Fumesa-Kumasi, Ghana

6.     Prakriti Bista Ghimire, PhD in Plant Sciences (2014):“Effects of Management Practices on Greenhouse Gas Fluxes, Soil Organic matter Dynamics and Crop Performance in Dryland Winter Wheat Production in Wyoming”. Current position: Research Scientist at the Oregon State University, Pendleton, OR

7.     Budjidmaa Borkhuu, PhD in Botany (co-adviser with Elise Pendall) (2014):“Aboveground and Belowground Carbon Cycle Responses to Bark Beetle Infestation in a Lodgepole Pine Forest” Current Position: Senior Lecturer at the Mongolia International University.

8.     Judith Ochieng Odhiambo, PhD in Plant Sciences (2014):“Conservation Agriculture Practices in Rain-fed Stallholder Farming Systems of Western Kenya and Western Nebraska: Soil Nutrient Cycling, Greenhouse Gas Fluxes and Crop Productivity. Current Position: Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Kisi University, Kisi, Kenya

9.     Brekke Peterson Munks, PhD in Plant Sciences (2014):”Nitrogen and Carbon Transformations in Alfalfa/Grass Hay Production in the Central High Plains: Coupling of Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Exchanges”. Current Position: Research Soil Scientist, Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research, USDA Agricultural Research Service, El Reno, OK, USA


Post-Doctoral Researchers: 

Lisa Ashton-Philander (2013-2014): “Local Community Gardens as a source of healthy food and mental wellbeing”. Current Position: Curator, CBS Conservatory, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis St. Paul, MN


Publications (*denotes UN as a corresponding author)

Morris, K.A, P. Saetre, U. Norton, J.M. Stark. 2021. Soil Moisture and Plant Community Effects on Nitrogen Cycling in a Semi-Arid Ecosystem. Biogeochemistry, Accepted with Revisions. Revisions returned on 12/22/2021 

Geiger, T., U. Norton*, 2021. Effects of Garden Amendments on Soil Available Lead and Plant Uptake in a Contaminated Calcareous Soil. Applied Science 11, 5777.

Boggs Lynch, L.A., U. Norton*, L.T.A van Diepen. 2021. Legacy of bark beetles (Dendroctonus spp.) on soil carbon and nitrogen cycling seven years after forest infestation. Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 489, 119064.

Brempong, M, U. Norton*, J. Norton. 2019. Seasonal Carbon Mineralization and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes from Semi-Arid Soils Amended with Compost. International Journal of Recycling of Organic Waste in Agriculture: 367–376;

Zheljazkov, V., T. Astatkie, U. Norton, E. Jeliazkova. 2019. Gypsum and Coal-bed Methane Water Modify Growth Media Properties, Nutrient Uptake, and Essential Oil Profile of Lemongrass and Palmarosa. Agronomy. Volume 9(6), 282.

Rony, A.H., L. Kong, W. Lu, M. Dejam, H. Adidharma, K. Gasem, Y. Zheng, U. Norton, M. Fan. 2019. Kinetics, thermodynamics, and physical characterization of corn stover (Zea mays) for solar biomass pyrolysis. Bioresource Technology, 284: 466-473. 

Saxe, J.P, J.H.Boman IV, M.Bondi, U.Norton, T.K. Righetti, A.H. Rony, B.Sajjadi. 2019. Just or bust? Energy Justice and the impacts of solar pyrolysis biochar production facilities. Energy Research and Social Science 58:101259.

Sapkota, Ramesh, P., P. D. Stahl, U. Norton. 2018. Anthropogenic Disturbances Shift Diameter Distributions of Woody Plant Species in Shorea Robusta Gaertn. (Sal) Mixed Forests of Nepal. Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity. 90.

Ghimire, R, J.B. Norton, U. Norton. 2018. Soil matter dynamics under irrigated perennial forage-annual crop rotations. Grass and Forage Science; 1-11. DOI: 10.1111/gfs.12378.

Bista, P., U. Norton*, R. Ghimire, J. Norton. 2017. Greenhouse gas fluxes, soil mineral N and Global Warming Potential in Semi-Arid Winter Wheat (Triticum aestivum, L.)-Fallow during Drought. Journal of Arid Environments 147: 103-113.

Ghimire, R., U. Norton*, P. Bista, J. Norton. 2017. Soil organic matter, greenhouse gases and net global warming potential of irrigated conventional, reduced-tillage and organic cropping systems. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 107:49-62.

Hurisso, T.T., U. Norton, J.B. Norton, J. Odhiambo, S.J. Del Grosso, G.W. Hergert, and D.J. Lyon. Dryland Soil Greenhouse Gases and Yield-scaled Emissions in No-Till and Organic Winter Wheat-Fallow Systems. 2016. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 80:178-192 

Norton, U*., B. Ewers, B. Borkhuu, N. Brown, E. Pendall. 2015. Soil nitrogen five years after bark beetle infestation in lodgepole pine forests. Soil Science Society of America Journal. doi:10.2136/sssaj2014.05.0223

Hurisso, T.T., J.B. Norton, E.J. Mukhwana, and U. Norton. 2015. Soil organic carbon and nitrogen fractions and sugarbeet sucrose yield in furrow-irrigated agroecosystems. Soil Science Society of America Journal.  doi:10.2136/sssaj2015.02.0073  

Borkhuu, B., S. Peckham, B. Ewers, U. Norton, E. Pendall. 2015. Does soil respiration decline following beetle-induced forest mortality in a lodgepole pine forest? Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 214-215:201-207.    

Odhiambo, J., U. Norton*, D. Ashilenje, E. Omondi, J.B. Norton. 2015. Weed dynamics during transition from conventionally tilled maize/bean intercropping to conservation agriculture practices in western Kenya. PLOS ONE doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133976

Kaur, G. A. Garcia y Garcia, U. Norton, T. Persson, and T. Kelleners. 2015. Effects of cropping practices on water-use and water productivity of dryland winter wheat in the high plains ecoregion of Wyoming. Journal of Crop Improvement 29(5):491-517. 

Bista P, U. Norton*, R. Ghimire, J. Norton. 2015. One-time summer tillage does not negate long-term benefits of no-till. International Journal of Plant and Soil Science, 6(4): 183-193; doi: 10.9734/IJPSS/2015/16234

Norton, U.*, P. Bista, R. Ghimire, J.B. Norton. 2014. One-time summer tillage does not negate long-term benefits of no-till. Crops and Soils: May-June: 24-25 doi: 10.2134/cs2014-47-3-6

Odhiambo, J., U. Norton*, E.C. Omondi, D.S. Ashilende, D.N. Sikuku, and J.B. Norton. 2014. Soil carbon and nitrogen mineralization and crop parameters in typical maize-bean intercropping in western Kenya. International Journal of Plant and Soil Science 5:127-142, doi: 10.9734/IJPSS/2015/14476

Hurisso, T. J. Norton, U. Norton. 2014 Labile soil organic carbon within a gradient of dryland agricultural land-use intensity in the central High Plains, USA. Geoderma, 226-227:1-7 

Taylor, M., A. Hild, N. Shaw, U. Norton, and T. Collier. 2014. Plant recruitment and soil microbial characteristics of rehabilitation seedings following wildfire in northern Utah. Restoration Ecology doi:10.1111/rec.12112

Ghimire, R., J. Norton, P. Stahl, U. Norton. 2014. Soil Microbial Substrate Properties and Microbial Community Responses under Irrigated Organic and Reduced-Tillage Crop and Forage Production Systems. PLOS ONE 9(8): e103901

Hurisso, T., J. Norton, U. Norton. 2013. Soil profile carbon and nitrogen in prairie, perennial grass-legume mixture and wheat-fallow production in the central High Plains, USA. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment. 181: 179-187; 

Ghimire, R., J.B. Norton, U. Norton, J.P. Ritten, P.D. Stahl, and J.M. Krall. 2013. Long- term farming systems research in the Northern High Plains. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. 28:183-193

Norton, U.*, P. Saetre, T. Hooker and J. Stark. 2012. Vegetation and moisture controls on soil C mineralization in semi-arid environments. Soil Science Society of America Journal 78:1038-1047. doi:10.2136/sssaj2011.0270

Edburg, SL, Hicke, JA, Brooks, PD, Pendall, E, Ewers, BE, Norton, U, Gochis, D., Gutman, E. 2012. Cascading impacts of bark-beetle caused tree mortality to coupled biogeophysical and biogeochemical processes. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10:416-424

Norton, J.B., E.J. Mukhwana and U. Norton. 2012. Loss and recovery of soil organic carbon and nitrogen in a semiarid agroecosystem. Soil Science Society of America 76:505-514 

Norton, J.B., L. Jungst, U. Norton, H. Olsen, K. Tate and W. Horwath. 2011. Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Storage in Upper Montane Riparian Meadows. Ecosystems. 14:1217-1231 

Pendall, E., B. Ewers, U. Norton, P. Brooks, W.J. Massman, H. Barnard, D. Reed, T. Aston, and J. Frank. 2010. Impacts of beetle-induced forest mortality on carbon, water and nutrient cycling in the Rocky Mountains. Ecological Society of America FluxLetter 3 (1): 17-21

Ritten, J.P., C.T. Bastian, B.S. Rashford, J. Norton, U. Norton, S.I. Paisley, and P.Burgener. 2010. Can Carbon Find a Home on the Range? Western Economics Forum.  8(2): 14-20

Norton, U.*, A.R. Mosier, J.A. Morgan, P.D. Stahl, J.D. Derner, and L.I. Ingram. 2008. Moisture pulses, trace gas emissions and soil C and N in cheatgrass and native grass-dominated sagebrush-steppe in Wyoming, USA. Soil Biology & Biochemistry. 40:1421-1431 

Hooker, T.D., J.M. Stark, U. Norton, A.J. Leffler, M. Peek, and R. Ryel. 2008. Distribution of ecosystem C and N within contrasting vegetation types in a semiarid rangeland in the Great Basin, USA. Biogeochemistry 90:291-308

Norton, J.B., T.A. Monaco and U. Norton. 2007. Mediterranean annual grasses in western North America: Kids in a candy store (invited commentary). Plant and Soil. 298:1-5 

Blumenthal, D, U. Norton, J. D. Derner, and J. D. Reeder.  2006. Long-term effects of tebuthiuron on Bromus tectorum.  Western North American Naturalist 66:420-425.

Austin, A.T., L. Yahdijan, J.M. Stark, J. Belnap, A. Porporato, U. Norton, D.A. Ravetta, and S.M. Scheffer. 2004. Water pulses and biogeochemical cycles in arid and semiarid ecosystems. Oecologia 141 (2): 221-235.

Choromanska, U.* and T.H. DeLuca. 2002. Microbial activity and nitrogen mineralization in forest mineral soils following heating: evaluation of post-fire effects. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 34:263-271

Choromanska, U.* and T.H. DeLuca. 2001. Prescribed fire alters the impact of wildfire on soil biochemical properties in a ponderosa pine forest.  Soil Science Society of America Journal 65:232-238


Synergistic Activities

Faculty Advisor to ACRES Student Farm Recognized Student Organization

Active collaborations with scientists conducting research in Ghana, Iceland, Kenya, Poland, Switzerland, Uganda, and Ukraine

Professional Memberships in: Agronomy-Crop Science-Science Society of America (1994) American Geophysical Union (2003), Ecological Society of America (1997), Gamma, Sigma, Delta Chapter of Agriculture, Iowa State University (1995) and University of Wyoming (2015), Sigma Xi, University of Montana (1998)



Contact Us

Department of Plant Sciences

Dept. 3354

1000 E University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-3103


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