Group members

Principal Investigator`

Asmeret in the alpsAsmeret Asefaw Berhe
Associate Professor, Soil Biogeochemistry
Life and Environmental Sciences
University of California, Merced

AABerhe CV
email: aaberhe(at)ucmerced(dot)edu


Fernanda_river_CAFernanda Santos


Research focus: Dynamics of pyrogenic carbon in soil, effect of combustion temperature on composition of dissolved organic matter in fire affected systems


Yang Yang

email: yyang103(at)ucmerced(dot)edu

biogeochemical cycles (e.g. carbon, nitrogen, mercury) in forest and freshwater ecosystems; Uncertainty analysis in ecosystem studies.


Kyungjin Min baldwin-forest.jpg

email: kmin4(at)ucmerced(dot)edu

I am broadly interested in how the biotic (e.g., microorganisms, plants) and abiotic (e.g., minerals, temperature, pH, nutrient availability) interactions influence biogeochemical cycles in soil. At UCM, I investigate how deeply rooted plants affect deep soil organic matter storage and stabilization


Current students

Lixia Jin

Lixia Ph.D. student
Environmental Systems Graduate Group, UC Merced
email: ljin3(at)ucmerced(dot)edu

Research focus: Role of metal oxides in soil organic matter dynamics, and distribution of natural nano-particulate metal oxides in soil

Morgan Barnes

Barnes_website photo PhD student
Environmental Systems Graduate Group, UC Merced
co-advised by Stephen C. Hart

Research focus: Phosphorous Biogeochemistry, and effect of soil development on biogeochemical cycling of essential elements

Kimber Moreland

Kimber for website PhD student
Environmental Systems Graduate Group, UC Merced

Research focus:Dynamics of deep SOM, and climatic controls on biogeochemical cycling of essential elements

Manisha Dolui

PhD studentPicture1
Environmental Systems Graduate Group, UC Merced


Research focus: Vulnerability of Buried Soil Carbon due to Future Climate Change



LeilaWahab-1030x773Leila Wehab

PhD student

Environmental Systems Graduate Group, UC Merced


Research focus: Effect of changing precipitation patterns on Soil organic nitrogen dynamics

Melinda Gonzalez

PhD student
email: Albert-Einstein-Images

role of biochar in reducing greenhouse gas fluxes from soil: effects of feedstock, pyrolysis temperature, and effectiveness for reducing methane fluxes form dairy waste


Visiting Scholar

Chun Liu

chun.jpgEmail: cliu90(at) / lspring(at)

Hunan University (China) and State Key Lab of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau (China)

Current work: Source identification and ecological effect of eroded sediment organic carbon using multiple fingerprinting approach in small watershed of loess plateau of China.



quantum-threat-to-relativity_1_1Veronika Ullman

Email: vullman(at)

Visiting student
University in Augsburg, Germany

Current work: Climatic controls on soil phosphorous speciation (with Morgan Barnes)


quantum-threat-to-relativity_1_1Ray Alves 

Email: ralves(at)

Visiting student
University of Brasilia

Current work: Topographic controls on soil organic matter composition in tropical ecosystems


Lab Alumni

Chelsea Arnold

Washington 09 196

Ph.D. 2014, UC Merced
Environmental Systems Graduate Group
Co-advised by Teamrat A. Ghezzehei
Research focus: Coupled hydrology and biogeochemistry of high elevation meadow soils in the Sierra Nevada
Current: Director of CalTeach Program, School of Natural Sciences, UC Merced



Samuel Negusse Araya


M.Sc. 2014, UC Merced
Environmental Systems Graduate Group
Research focus: The effect of combustion temperature on soil and soil organic matter properties
Current: Ph.D Student ES Graduate Group, UC Merced



Erin Stacy

M.Sc.  2012, UC Merced
Environmental Systems Graduate Group
Co-advised by Stephen C. Hart
Research focus: effect of soil erosion on storage and stabilization of soil organic matter in the S. Sierra Nevada
Current: Field Manager for the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory


Michael Kaiser

Michael photo
Former Postdoc (2010-2012)
currently a senior lecturer at University of Kassel, Germany
Research focus: effect of ultrasonication, air-drying rewetting on soil organic matter dynamics; effect of biochar and CaCO3 on soil aggregation

Current Position: Assistant Professor at University of Nebraska, Lincoln


Deoyani V. Sarkhot

Former Postdoc (2009-2010)
Research focus:nutrient enrichment of biochar with flushed dairy manure, effects on soils C and N dynamics
Currently at EcoPro, India


Emma McCorkle


M.Sc. student
Environmental Systems Graduate Group
UC Merced
Co-advised by Stephen C. Hart

Research focus: Using stable isotopes to determine source of organic matter eroded in low-order granitic catchments in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Current position: Research technician, Reynolds Creek CZO, Moscow, ID


Rebecca Lever

Rebecca Ph.D. Candidate
Environmental Systems Graduate Group, UC Merced

Research focus: Lateral transport of pyrogenic C with soil erosion, and determining mean residence time of PyC in dynamic hillslopes

Current Position: Postdoc, Indiana University, Bloomington.


Benjamin Sulmandigging in grassland

Project scientist

Research focus: Modeling the roles of microbial and mineral processes in soil organic matter formation, stabilization, and decomposition from ecosystem to global scales.Research focus: Effect of drought and variability of soil water input on soil carbon, aggregation, and water holding capacity



Nathaniel Bogienate_field

(Berhe lab and Ghezzehei lab)

Research focus: Effect of drought and variability of soil water input on soil carbon, aggregation, and water holding capacity


Jesseca Meyer

Former Lab Manager
Current Position: High school Life Science teacher, Atwater, CA




Former Visiting Scholars


Elisabet Nadeu
Visiting Ph.D. Student
Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS), Spain





Sebastian Doetterl
Visiting Postdoc
University of Ghent, Belgium



Yaxian photo
Yaxian Hu
Visiting Postdoc
University of Basel, Switzerland


Moritz Mainka
Visiting student
University in Augsburg, Germany


Former Undergraduate Assistants


Matthew McClintock
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Currently a graduate student at Oregon State University

Alexander NewmanGroup

  • Lateral redistribution of Fe and Al oxides  by soil erosion
  • Storage and stabilization of C in soil


Abigail Dziegiel
Yosemite REU student researcher

Stephen Ho
Yosemite REU student researcher

Laura Jelpa
Undergraduate lab research assistant

Jennifer Gurreroquantum-threat-to-relativity_1_1
Undergraduate lab research assistant


Alex GueorguievaFullSizeRender
(El Capitan High School student, Merced)
Research focus: Erosion in fire affected hillslopes

Current: Undergraduate Student at UC Berkeley