Meet DEB: Carla D’Antonio and Gary Lamberti


Name:  Carla M. D’Antonio

Education:  M.S. in Marine Ecology, Oregon State University; Ph.D. in Plant Ecology, University of California, Santa Barbara; Postdoc, Stanford University

Home Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara

Tell us about your research: I study many different aspects of invasive plant species and how they alter community and ecosystems processes over the short and long terms, including their interaction with fire. I have a couple of research projects in Hawaii that involve interactions of invasive grasses with native woody plants, birds, soil N cycling and successional change (or lack thereof) in altered ‘novel’ forest ecosystems.  In California, I have ongoing research evaluating the potential importance of woody species traits in successful restoration of degraded shrublands in the face of increased fire and highly altered soil and competition environments.

Why do you want to serve with NSF? This is an exciting opportunity to see what is at the cutting edge of population and community ecology, and to help promote exciting research in an era of dramatically changing biophysical conditions. I also felt the need to do something different after six years as chair of one of my two departments at UCSB.

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF? I am looking forward to the wonderful team environment of NSF especially within DEB! In addition, I’m already enjoying the diverse education I am getting on panels. I am also excited to be in the DC area for the richness of the cultural environment here and to experience strong seasonality again!

Name: Gary A. Lamberti

Education: B.S., University of California, Davis; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley; Postdoc, Oregon State University

Home Institution: University of Notre Dame

Tell us about your research: I’m an aquatic ecologist with a deep love for streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The overall goal of my research program has been to better understand the structure and function of these freshwater ecosystems on a changing planet. Along with being biodiversity hotspots, freshwater ecosystems harbor some of the most essential elements for human existence, including water for consumption and irrigation, food in fisheries, nutrient and contaminant filtration, avenues for transportation, and recreational opportunities. I and my students study many aspects of these ecosystems to contribute to our basic understanding of ecological processes. I am particularly interested in how migrations of fish connect these ecosystems, thereby transferring energy and nutrients to other ecosystems. These elements then cycle through food webs to provide vital linkages between otherwise disconnected ecosystems. However, fish can also transport contaminants in their bodies that impact recipient ecosystems. We study these processes in the face of strong global drivers, such as climate change and invasive species, that threaten the integrity of freshwater ecosystems.

Why do you want to serve with NSF? The National Science Foundation has been instrumental in my own development as a scientist and academic. NSF has supported my own research program and educational initiatives with awards at crucial times during my career. In fact, every pivotal time during my career seems to be associated with a grant from NSF. Even our two children were born in years that I received an NSF award! In reflecting on this, I realized that it was my responsibility to return something to NSF and the research community at large by helping other scientists build successful research careers and maximize their scientific potential for the benefit of society and the planet.

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF? The National Science Foundation is the most respected supporter of scientific inquiry in the world, and therefore it’s an honor to serve NSF and the scientific community. This is also an extremely exciting and crucial time for environmental biology as we deal with the effects of rapid global change in the Anthropocene. I particularly look forward to assisting the next generation of diverse scientific leaders to develop outstanding research careers, and to make lasting contributions to our fundamental knowledge of the earth system and its extraordinary biota.

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