Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Firestone, Mary K.
Location University of California, Berkeley
Primary Field Environmental Sciences and Ecology
Secondary Field Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences
 Election Citation
Firestone developed the conceptual models and tools to test them, which fundamentally altered understanding of terrestrial nitrogen cycling, revealing it to be significantly more dynamic than previously appreciated. Her research was the first to link microbial physiological responses to water stress to organic matter dynamics at the ecosystem scale.
 Research Interests
Mary Firestone's laboratory investigates the ecological interactions of microorganisms with their soil environment. The extreme heterogeneity of soil and the scale at which microorganisms interact with their habitat has made understanding the ecology of soil microbes a life-long challenge. Members of the Firestone lab have extensively studied the roles of microbial community structure and function in controlling terrestrial ecosystem processes, working toward understanding the biogeochemistry of carbon and nitrogen cycling by interfacing the microbial bases of nutrient transformation with the functioning of ecosystems. To provide structure and clarity to data sets delineating the most diverse and complex assemblages of organisms on earth, the Firestone lab has used concepts and methods from macro-organismal community ecology. The research done in the Firestone lab seeks fundamental understanding as well as knowledge relevant to current applied problems such as the use of soil microbiomes to enhance plant tolerance to environmental stresses. Firestone's research program has brought to bear expertise in microbiology, biogeochemistry, ecosystems, and community ecology to globally-important questions including climate change, sustainability, land use change, and environmental contamination.

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