Stan D. Wullschleger

Scientist & Director, Environmental Sciences Division and CCSI

Stan D. Wullschleger joined the Environmental Sciences Division at ORNL in 1990 as a plant physiologist. His educational training is in forest management and forest biology (BS and MS, Colorado State University) and crop physiology (PhD, University of Arkansas). His current research interests include quantifying plant response to environmental change, modeling plant, regional, and global carbon and water cycles, and incorporating emerging capabilities of plant genomics and sensors and sensor networks into studies of plant physiology and ecology.

Wullschleger currently serves as Project Director for the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE Arctic) activity that involves researchers from ORNL, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In this project, a large team of scientists are assembled to address how permafrost thaw and degradation in a warming Arctic, and the associated changes in landscape evolution, hydrology, soil biogeochemical processes, and plant community succession, will affect feedbacks to the climate system. Important ecosystem-climate feedbacks arise due to gradual thawing of permafrost and thickening of the seasonal active layer, and as a result of permafrost degradation and thermokarst formation and through the many processes that are influenced as a result of these landscape-scale dynamics. Fundamental knowledge gained in these investigations will improve representation of ecosystem dynamics, subsurface biogeochemistry, and land-atmosphere processes in global climate models, and will reduce uncertainty and improve prediction of climate change in high-latitude ecosystems.

Wullschleger also is lead scientist for the Climate Change Mitigation Science Focus Area (SFA). This activity – known to many as the Consortium for Carbon Sequestration in Terrestrial Ecosystems (CSiTE) – involves several national laboratories and university partners, where scientists seek to discover and characterize the processes that influence how quantity and quality of plant biomass input to soils control carbon accumulation; how soil structural properties control carbon lifetimes in managed storage pools; how microbial function influences stabilization of soil carbon; and how humification chemistry and intrasolum carbon transport processes are influenced by soil chemical and physical characteristics. Knowledge gained in this DOE-sponsored project is used to refine our representation of processes in ecosystem and earth simulation models.