Cristina Lazcano, Principal Investigator
Associate Professor of Soil Ecology.
Associate editor: Soil Science Society of America Journal.
Dr. Cristina Lazcano completed her PhD at the Soil Ecology research group from the University of Vigo (Spain). Afterwards, she worked as a postdoc at the Technical University of Denmark, the University of Calgary and UC Davis. Before joining UC Davis in 2019, Dr. Lazcano was an assistant professor of soil ecology at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Mariel Mondragon-Becerra, Junior Specialist Mariel recently graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Management, specializing in Ecology, Biodiversity, and Conservation. Working under the supervision of Dr. Lazcano and Dr. Geisseler, Mariel is currently working on a UC-collaborative climate action project investigating the suitability of organic amendments across soils throughout the state of California for carbon sequestration and crop nutrients. Mariel has previous research experience analyzing the potential of Poplar trees as bioenergy, and investigating the phenological response and adaptation of native California grasses to altered environmental conditions due to climate change.
Ivan Martínez, Junior Specialist Ivan Martinez is a recent UC Davis graduate with a major in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. His focus is on improving Urban Agriculture systems through the integration of research, community engagement, and design to convert cities into beneficial greenspaces. His prior experience consists of conducting research on Integrated Vineyard-Livestock Systems to better understand the fluidity of agroecological systems, as well as working with MARS, Inc. to design and implement hydroponics systems to study nutrient deficiencies in cacao. Ivan has also worked closely with Three Systers Gardens, a Sacramento-based urban agriculture nonprofit focused on community assistance and youth development. Much of his work is oriented towards bringing home the majestic feeling of being at a National Park, and if you don’t find him in the lab, you’ll probably find him in the mountains.
Raymond Reis, Junior Specialist Meet Raymond Reis, a Junior Specialist in the Lazcano Soil Biodiversity and Soil Health Lab. He’s a recent UC Davis graduate in Environmental Science and Management, specializing in Soil Science and Biogeochemistry. Currently, he’s working on the USDA “SW CAP” Project to understand the impact of regenerative agriculture on Napa Valley Vineyard soils. His prior experience in quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from almond orchards in the U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative Project (at the UCD Horwath Laboratory), has helped Raymond gain expertise in California Agriculture’s specialty crop systems. In his free time, he enjoys gardening, basketball, fishing, and exploring the outdoors.
Patrick Makiri, Junior Specialist.
I work to support PhD and Postdocs to assess soil health on vineyards and mixed nut orchards using a wide range of lab and field techniques. I enjoy collaborating with growers to examine questions of water use, climate change resilience, soil fertility and biodiversity. When I’m not working I’m scheming ways to jump in water with my wife, Teresa, our toddler, Theo, and our dog, Pina.
Joshua Garcia, Postdoctoral Research Associate Joshua Garcia is originally from Phoenix, Arizona. He attended the University of California, Davis for his B.S. and majored in Biological Science with a minor in Chicanx Studies. While an undergraduate, Joshua worked in Dr. Amelie Gaudin’s lab in agroecology, where he developed a strong interest in plant-soil-microbe interactions in agriculture. Joshua attended Cornell University for his Ph.D, where he worked in Dr. Jenny Kao-Kniffin’s lab in rhizosphere ecology. His dissertation research broadly examined how microbial consortia in soils can influence different horticultural crop traits and biogeochemical processes utilizing a diverse range of research methodologies. Joshua is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate examining the effects of climate-smart irrigation strategies and cover cropping on soil health and almond root systems in California almond orchards with Dr. Cristina Lazcano and Dr. Mallika Nocco. https://www.joshuagarciaphd.com/
Axel Herrera, Postdoctoral Research Associate Originally from Colombia, Axel earned an Agronomic Engineer degree, focusing on fruit crop physiology. His curiosity drove him to get a scholarship at China Agricultural University, where he got his Agricultural Engineer master’s degree by applying GIS and Multi-Criteria Analysis in the biogas sector. Most recently achieved his PhD at the University of Milan with a thesis titled “Environmental assessment of undercurrent agricultural technologies towards circular nutrient management” developed under the European Horizon2020 project: Nutri2cycle. He is interested in applying informatics tools (e.g. Life Cycle Assessment) to understand better the interaction and impact of emerging technologies/practices with our natural resources. Axel believes connecting with our planet and ourselves is vital for bringing together diverse knowledge areas to find harmony within our environment and productive systems.
Imane Slimani, Postdoctoral Research Associate. Imane is interested in the potential for regenerative practices to increase soil health and stabilize carbon. Imane attended the University of California at Davis for her Ph.D. where she examined how organo-mineral associations influence nitrogen cycling processes in soils. Prior to joining UC Davis, Imane earned an agriculture engineer degree from the Agronomic and Veterinary Hassan II Institute in Morocco. Her research interest includes the interaction between nutrient cycles, carbon stabilization, soil health, mineral organic matter interactions and soil testing methods and quality control.
Nall Insham Moonilall, Postdoctoral Research Associate. Dr. Nall Inshan Moonilall is currently a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Conservation Irrigation Lab at the University of California-Davis, working under the guidance of Dr. Mallika Nocco and Dr. Cristina Lazcano. His work explores the intersection of soil health and regenerative managed aquifer recharge for several agroecosystems across the California Central Valley. He will assess the efficacy of several regenerative agricultural management approaches on key physical soil health attributes including water infiltration, transmission, and storage for these semi-arid California soils. Before joining UC Davis, Nall completed his Ph.D. in Environmental Science at The Ohio State University (OSU) where he evaluated the effects of topsoil depth and amendment application on soil health and agronomic productivity in Central Ohio. Over the past decade, Nall has used his background in soil physics, agronomy, and natural resource management to conduct national and international interdisciplinary research focused on sustainable soil and water management for improving soil health, agronomic yields, and resiliency in various agroecosystems. Previously, Nall received his M.Sc. in Environmental Science from OSU and his B.Sc. in Environmental Studies (Agroecology specialization) from Florida International University (Miami, Florida).
Noelymar González-Maldonado, PhD Candidate
Noely grew up in Lares, Puerto Rico. She pursued a B.S. in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez where she did undergraduate research in saline-sodic soil management in semiarid tropical agroecosystems. After her undergraduate studies, she pursued a M.S. in Environment and Natural Resources at the Ohio State University with Dr. Steve Culman. Her master’s project focused on studying the long-term and temporal effects of no-till and crop rotations in soil health focusing on labile soil organic matter dynamics and crop (corn and soybean) productivity. During that time, she co-founded the Women in Ag Science collective, a platform to connect, support and empower women in the agricultural sciences. Currently, Noely is pursuing a PhD program in Soils and Biogeochemistry at UC Davis with Dr. Cristina Lazcano where she will be focusing her research in managements impacts on soil health and crop productivity/quality from the soil biology perspective.
Connie (Tsz-Fai) Wong, PhD student
Originally from Hong Kong, Connie moved to the US upon completion of secondary education and obtained a B.S. in Biology at California State University, Fresno. During the gap years after her undergraduate studies, she had a brief experience working in the wine industry which sparked her interest in Soil Science and sustainable agriculture in vineyards and other cropping systems. She pursued a M.S. in Agriculture with a Specialization in Soil Science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and her Master’s Thesis focused on the effects of compost application on soil carbon and greenhouse gas emissions in a California Central Coast vineyard. She is currently a Ph.D. student in Soils and Biogeochemistry working with Dr. Cristina Lazcano at University of California, Davis. Her research interests are soil biology and microbiology, soil health, sustainable and regenerative agriculture.
Halima Malal, visiting Fulbright PhD student
Halima MALAL was born in a small town named Aourir Near AGADIR city in Morocco. After two-year technical degree in industrial and biological engineering, she obtained her associate degree and succeeded in integrating the Faculty of Science and Technology of Marrakech for the preparation of an engineering degree in Industrial and Food Safety. she was interested in the environmental aspect in general, and particularly in sustainable agriculture and the production of healthy food. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in environmental science at Ibn Zohr University, Agadir, Morocco, under the supervision of Dr. LAKHTAR Hicham. she is working on the amelioration of vermicompost process and studying its application on sustainable agriculture. recently she joined UC Davis as a visiting scholar after obtaining a Fulbright grant, she well works with Dr. Cristina Lazcano about the effect of organic amendment on microbial community of soil under abiotic stress conditions.
Amanda Rodriguez, PhD student Amanda is a Ph.D. student in the Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry Group at UC-Davis. Before pursuing her doctoral degree, she attended the University of Florida, where she earned her B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Chemistry and her M.S. in Soil and Water Sciences with a focus on Agroecology. Her master’s research aims to improve fertilizer recommendations in Florida by assessing phosphorus sorption characteristics. During her time at the University of Florida, she also evaluated the relationship between iron oxide impregnated filter strips and other soil phosphorus extractants for U.S. soils of varying textures. Her current research focuses on developing a mechanistic understanding of the effects of regenerative agriculture on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi colonization and grapevine nutrient and water use.
Sarah Brickman, PhD student Sarah is curious about the potential for regenerative practices to increase agricultural resilience through improvements in soil health; she aims to support farmers in their efforts to adapt to climate change. As an aspiring agroecologist, Sarah is excited to learn from producers throughout California and work to understand how agricultural practices can better serve both people and the planet. Before joining the lab, Sarah earned a B.S. in Earth Systems at Stanford University and a M.Sc. at the University of Vermont, where she studied greenhouse gas emissions in response to different nitrogen sources and application methods on hayfields in the northeastern U.S. Sarah grew up in Florida and enjoys reading, spending time outdoors, and connecting with family and friends.
Bruna Albuquerque- Vaz, visiting student, Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil) Bruna is a senior undergraduate from Brazil majoring in Biological Sciences at the University of São Paulo. During her undergraduate studies she interned in multiple labs and acquired experience in the fields of molecular biology, plant physiology and plant biotechnology. Fields of interest include sustainable agriculture systems and climate change mitigation. Here in the Soil Biodiversity and Health Lab she studies how carbon stocks varies in different soil depths in vineyards located at the Northern Coast of California.
Leo Wallo, MS Student Leo is a MS candidate in the Viticulture and Enology department. For his graduate degree advanced internship he worked at Jackson Family Wines, producing small batch wines from the Lazcano lab regenerative farming trials. Prior to UC Davis, Leo worked at a vineyard management company, and other wineries in California and the southern hemisphere. He is interested in the effects of regenerative farming on soil fertility, and the subsequent implications for vineyard management and quality wine production in California.
Ivy Israel, Student Research Assistant. Ivy is a fourth-year undergraduate from San Luis Obispo, California. She is majoring in Ecological Management and Restoration and aims to continue studying management practices that best support regenerative agriculture through soil health, water management, and policy making. She is currently assisting with meta-analysis and field research related to regenerative soil health management practices in relation to water infiltration, erodibility, and groundwater recharge. She has interned with the Funk lab involving grassland research with secondary invaders, and a non-profit urban organic farm in SLO
Sangeeta Bansal, Postdoctoral Scholar (2022-2023). Currently Assistant Professor of Soil Health at Fresno State.
Alicia Hans, Student Research Assistant (2021-2023). Currently Soil Scientist at the US Forest Service.
Courtney Emerson, MSc Student (2020-2023). “Soil Biogeochemistry in California Processing Tomatoes Under Deficit Irrigation“.
Luisa Robles, Junior Specialist (2022- 2023). Currently graduate student at Penn State.
Leqian Zhang (Nono), Student Research Assistant (2022-2023)
Claire Kisliuk, Student Research Assistant (2022-2023)
Anna Marrs, Student Research Assistant (2020-2022). Soil health and water management in California processing tomatoes.
Erika Yao, Junior Specialist (2020-2022).
Geneva Iversen-Krampitz, Student Research Assistant (2022).
Emma Finlkalng, Student Research Assistant (2022).
Anthony Alameda, Student Research Assistant (2020-2021). “Effects of tillage and grazing on metabolic diversity of the soil microbial community in a Mediterranean vineyard”
Eric Boyd, MS Student (2017-2020)
‘Exploring the relationship between soil-borne disease resistance and the rhizosphere microbiome of modern strawberry cultivars’ . Current position: San Luis Obispo County Ag Commission.
Marissa Yim-Sun, Lab Research Assistant (2020)
BS in Environmental Science and Management with an emphasis on Ecology, Biodiversity, & Conservation.
Holly Deniston-Sheets, MS Student (2016-2019) ‘Short term shifts in soil nematode food web structure and nutrient cycling following sustainable soil management in a California Vineyard’. Current position: Data Analysis and Tactical Operations Center Coordinator, Citrus Research Board, California.
Ian Mann, Undergraduate Researcher
Analysis of the production and recycling of bagasse in wineries of San Luis Obispo County (California).
Adriana Delucchi, Undergraduate Researcher
AMF colonization and plant interactions across soil textures and soil moisture regimes.
Angus Chang, Undergraduate Researcher
Chemical changes during composting. He currently works in Yakima Valley, Washington as a quality assurance assistant for the many hop farms in the valley and surrounding areas