Valerie Eviner

Principle Investigator


Link to CV.

I received my B.A. from Rutgers University and PhD from University of California Berkeley (working with Terry Chapin and Mary Firestone). My research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of plant-soil interactions and applying this understanding to ecosystem management, restoration, invasions, ecosystem processes, and rangelands in a changing environment. I am particularly interested in understanding the controls over plant community interactions and multiple ecosystem services, and how these patterns and controls vary across the landscape, over time, and due to environmental changes. Most of my work occurs in California grasslands on working landscapes. Other study systems include: wetlands, riparian ecosystems, degraded grasslands in Inner Mongolia, Northeastern forests (particularly understory dynamics), alpine meadows and forests, and cropping systems in California, Illinois, and New York.


Evan Batzer

Graduate Student

Link to website

Before coming to Davis, I received my B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan, where I studied vegetative growth in clonal plants and the effects of plant invasion on wetland plant communities in the Great Lakes. My current research focuses on the role that nutrient limitation and climatic variability play in driving plant responses to changing environmental conditions, particularly across long time scales. Other research interests include recruitment limitation in native California bunchgrasses and the use of long-term datasets to explore the impacts of exotic plant invasion on the California coast.


Sarah Gaffney

Graduate Student

I received my B.A. in Biology from Smith College, where I studied reproductive effort in mammals. After graduation I worked as field technician for various vegetation and wildlife surveys and was an SCA intern focused on native plant restoration at a national monument. My current research focuses on native plant suppression of invasive weeds in California grasslands. I am interested in restoration and understanding the role of plant-soil interactions in restoration success.



David Mitchell

Graduate Student


Before starting my PhD studies, I had the pleasure of working here in the Eviner lab as a field and lab technician, helping with the lab’s long-term grassland studies. For my graduate research, I am interested in plant-soil relations, plant pathogens, soil organic matter and nutrient cycling, and watershed-scale processes. I am especially interested in riparian areas here in California. I studied biology at St. Olaf College in Minnesota and completed a masters degree at Iowa State University, where I researched soil carbon and nitrogen cycling in prairies and croplands. I also have work experience in the ag/biotech industry and the US DOI’s Office of Surface Mining.


Maggie Shepherd

Lab Technician


After studying biology at Vassar College in upstate New York, I worked with projects in a range of ecosystems. As crew lead for Dr. Sarah Bisbing of University of Nevada, Reno, I surveyed quaking aspen health in the Lake Tahoe basin. In eastern Nevada, I monitored the recovery of land affected by wildfires. As a field technician for University of Waikato’s Environmental Research Institute, I established plots in urban wilderness in several New Zealand cities. I enjoy getting my hands dirty collecting and processing samples to support Dr. Eviner’s investigations!


Undergraduate Students:

  • Erica Kono
  • Emma Korntheuer
  • Sara Lipschutz
  • Docnary Reyes
  • Natalie Ruckstuhl
  • Sarahi Vargas Garcia

Graduate Student Alumni:

  • Jill Baty- now working with the USGS
  • Tracy Erwin
  • Kelly Garbach- now a researcher at Point Blue
  • Elizabeth Goebel
  • Sarah Hoskinson – now at NYC Department of Environmental Protection- Watershed Protection and Planning
  • Julia Michaels- now a postdoc at UCD
  • Ben Waitman- now working at ECORP consulting

Alumni- visiting San Diego State Students:

  • Sherlynette Castro- now a postdoc at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory
  • Marguerite Mauritz- now a Research Professor at University of Texas El Paso
  • Brianne Palmer
  • Eric Wilkman

Collaborators and Cooperators:

Lab Alumi (lab technicians and undergraduate students):

  • Maya Argaman
  • Ian Baker
  • Karina Beltran
  • Catherine Bronge
  • Leslie Canones
  • Alexa Carleton – now working with the Coos Bay Watershed Association
  • Melissa Cayne
  • Chris Chen – now a graduate student at UCD
  • Kiely Doherty – now a graduate student at University of Bayreuth
  • Celia Duffy
  • Rika Fields
  • Alexis Fuller
  • Roman Gutierrez
  • Megan Haug
  • Lillian Hayden
  • Joanne Heraty – now at Yolo County Resource Conservation District
  • Emily Howard
  • Simon Huet
  • Mary Irani
  • Tyler Jackson
  • Ben Janes
  • Adrien Johns
  • Addy Johnson
  • Robert Keatinge
  • Anna Kehl
  • Tree Kilpatrick
  • Whitney Krupp
  • Austin Lo
  • Sharon Luong
  • Tommy McCormack
  • Audrey McLane
  • Annie Montes
  • Mark Noyes
  • Nick Quaglia
  • Arielle Patton
  • Noel Pipa
  • Rebecca Polich
  • Elias Potashov
  • Robert Schupp
  • Rebecca Serata
  • Troy Shea
  • Hunter Stapp
  • Cricket Swanson
  • Barbara Swedo
  • Jack Taylor
  • Naomi Tomco
  • Alec Villanueva
  • Jamey Wilcher
  • Fenmeng Zhu