Postdoc blog roll

May 2021

Ashley blogged about her work with nematode soil communities for the Soil Science Society of America! Did you know that soil nematodes are the most abundant animal on earth?! Learn more here:

Maddy blogged about her Harper Prize shortlisted research about root niche separation between savanna trees and grasses. This classic pattern varies with the environment! Read it here:

Welcome to new Hallett lab members!

May 2021

We are excited to welcome new and incoming lab members to the Hallett lab. Marina LaForgia, Paul Reed, and Chhaya Werner are joining as new postdocs and Cal Penkauskas will be joining as a new masters student in the fall.

Marina received her PhD from the University of California-Davis in 2019 where she worked with Susan Harrison and Andrew Latimer. Marina is USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow studying seed trait trade-offs in arid and semi-arid annuals in order to understand how the environment shapes seed strategies and how the invasiveness and persistence of these strategies may shift under climate change.

Paul will be defending his dissertation this May and will be joining the Hallett lab as a postdoc this summer. Paul has been working with Scott Bridgham at University of Oregon studying the conversion of perennial native prairies to annual grasslands with climate change. Paul will be extending this work as a postdoc.

Chhaya recieved her PhD from the University of California-Davis in 2018. She is currently a postdoc at the University of Wyoming where she is studying coexistence theory. Chayya will be joining the lab in September, working on coexistence of annual and perennials in California grasslands.

Cal is a familiar face in the Hallett lab and is finishing his BS this term at UO. The Hallett lab is lucky to keep him on as a Biology masters student! He will be extending his work on Hazelnut Orchard management, working to find sustainable solutions to hazelnut farming.

New publication!

April 2021

Marina LaForgia’s final dissertation chapter on the effects of grass litter on native annual forbs has been published in Biological Invasions! The paper - “Impacts of invasive annual grasses and their litter vary by native functional strategy” - can be read here.

Hazelnut fieldwork

Hazelnut orchard fieldwork begins

Monthly sampling work begins to monitor native forb cover crops seeded in Fall 2019. These study sites are in hazelnut orchards managed by Marissa, a recent Hallett Lab graduate, and her family. This year, we will be evaluating the re-seeding and re-sprouting ability of these plants after they were flailed and the soil was scraped during mechanical treatments. Soil moisture measurements were taken this month, and flowers are starting to bloom already. We have also started monitoring phenology and examining pollinator diversity and visitation in the orchards. Here’s to a productive field season!


April 2021

Lauren was awarded an NSF CAREER grant! Watch this space for more work on resource change and grazing effects on species coexistence in California grasslands, plus student-led projects using our Nutrient Network sites in Oregon mountain meadows.

UO Sustainability Award

Hallett lab receives UO Campus Sustainability Award for Research

The Hallett Lab is a recipient of the 2021 UO Campus Sustainability Award for Research! This award recognizes our ongoing, agroecology-based research in rangelands and hazelnut orchards. These projects involve collaborations between different research levels and disciplines, including undergraduates, farmers, ranchers, and graduate students. Thank you UO Campus Planning & Facilities Management!

A new SER chapter at UO

March 2021

Over the last few months, members of the Hallett Lab have been meeting to establish a new student chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration at the University of Oregon. We are excited to announce that we have been offically recognized by SER and the University as a new student group. Our faculty sponsor is Dr. Hallett, but undergraduate and graduate students interested in restoration across the university are welcome to join.

We are currently planning an online spring speaker series on sourcing native seeds for restoration. In the future we hope to serve as a point of connection between students at the unviersity and local restoration practitioners. We look forward to the day we can tour native plant nurseries, see local restoration projects, or even get involved in a project ourselves.

Check out our website:

Congratulations, Cal!

March 2021

A big congratulations to Calvin Penkauskas for graduating this term with a dual B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science and for his amazing work with hazelnuts and hogs! Lucky for us he will be starting his M.S. in Biology with the lab come fall. We’re so excited for his future work!

New publication!

February 2021

Eliza Hernández led a lab group paper on restoring serpentine grasslands that has just been published in Restoration Ecology. The paper - “Fire versus grazing as tools to restore serpentine grasslands under global change” - can be read here.

Congratulations, Laura!

October 2020

Laura Johnson successfully defended her M.S. thesis entitled, “Understanding Freshwater Mussel Distribution, Abundance, and Demography in the South Umpqua River Basin, Oregon: Impacts of Land Use and Stream Hydraulics”. Laura is the first graduate student alumna from the Hallett Lab. We wish her all the very best for the future! Congratulations to Laura!

Welcome to new members!

August 2020

The lab is growing! We are thrilled to welcome Maddy Case and Andrew Muehleisen to the lab as postdocs, and Carmen Ebel as a PhD student and Gabby Altmire as a masters student.

Maddy comes to us after completing a PhD with Carla Staver at Yale University studying savanna vegetation dynamics. She will be working on a USDA-funded project studying rangeland resilience and annual grass invasion in the northern Great Basin. Welcome Maddy!

Andrew completed his PhD with Liza Comita at Yale University. In his postdoc he will be studying mechanisms of coexistence and plant community stability, while also working with the UO Data Science Initiative to develop new undergraduate curricula. Welcome Andrew!

Carmen joins us from the University of Minnesota where she researched plant communities at the Cedar Creek Long Term Ecological Research site. Welcome Carmen!

Gabby joins us from Purdue University where she was research technician in entomology and recently completed her bachelors in Biology at Ursinus College. Welcome Gabby!

Lab Retreat 2020

July 28-29, 2020

We had a summer lab retreat on July 28-29. We workshopped our papers over zoom in the mornings - those were very productive mornings! We then wrapped up our retreat kayaking in Fern Ridge Reservior. We enjoyed each other’s company (6-feet apart, of course) and the warm sun. Laura helped us identify some bird species.

HJ Andrews Fieldwork 2020

July 2020

Alejandro, Lina, Paul, Eliza, Cal, and Lauren headed out to Bunchgrass and Lookout Nut Net sites at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Blue River, OR. Thankfully we received university approval during the pandemic to take species composition data and clip biomass from long-term experimental plots treated with factorial additions of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium - all while maintaining social distancing!

Hazelnut cover crops are growing!

June 2020

Last fall we seeded native forbs as cover crops in hazelnut orchards managed by the family of recent grad, Marissa. We are investigating whether native prairie plants can survive in a managed orchard context, and provide services such as soil moisture retention and pollinator resources. After a great growing season during which we repeatedly monitored soil moisture, the flowers are up and we are recording community composition and pollinator visits by host plant species.

Next steps are mechanical flailing and scraping treatments to see which of our native species survive!