Team

Cristina Lazcano, Principal Investigator 
Dr. Cristina Lazcano is a soil biologist and assistant professor of soil ecology at the department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California Davis. She completed her PhD at the Soil Ecology research group from the University of Vigo (Spain). Afterwards, she worked as a postdoctoral scholar at the Technical University of Denmark, the University of Calgary and UC Davis. Before joining the faculty of UC Davis in 2019, Dr. Lazcano was an assistant professor of soil ecology at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Noelymar González-Maldonado, PhD Student
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.

Erika Yao, Junior Specialist

Erika recently graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where she earned a BS degree in Environmental Earth and Soil Science with a concentration in hydrology and a minor in watershed management. She has been involved in various research projects as an undergraduate, from looking at how natural soil thickeners can reduce landslide risk to land rehabilitation through the regrowth of native vegetation. Her research interests lie in the overall impact of humans on the environment, but more specifically, the sustainable interactions between humans and soil. She is currently researching the health of vineyard soils in Napa and Paso Robles, CA.

Courtney Emerson, MS Student 

Courtney is a Washington, D.C. native starting her Master’s Degree in the Soils and Biogeochemistry Department at UC Davis. In 2020, she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering, where her focus was on sustainable, organic, and commercial farming methods. She interned at organic farms in Gales Creek, OR, and Hilo, HI, and studied Agroecology in France at the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Lyon (INSA Lyon). Her current research concerns salinity management and soil health in California processing tomatoes and she wishes to continue regenerative agriculture research and extension in the future.

Jenna Merrilees, MS Student
Jenna received a BA in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Currently, Jenna is pursuing a MS in Agriculture with a specialization in Soil Science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Her master’s research is focused on the effects of animal grazing and tillage management on soil C and greenhouse emissions in vineyard soils. Her research interests are on soil microbial community structure, metabolic activity and carbon and nitrogen cycling within plants and soils. Jenna also enjoys hiking, cooking and tending to her wine grapes in Napa CA.

 Luisa Robles, Student Research Assistant   

Luisa is a senior undergraduate student majoring in Environmental Science and Management with a focus on Soils and Biogeochemistry at the University of California, Davis. She is working as a Student Research Assistant helping both in the field and in the lab. She is interested in managing agricultural soils to ensure food security, improve soil health, improve crop resiliency, and mitigate global climate change through carbon sequestration. Other strong interests include soil restoration.

Anna Marrs, Student Research Assistant 

Anna Marrs is a 4th-year Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems student with an emphasis on agriculture and ecology. She is currently working as a student research assistant focusing on the relationships between soil health and water management of California tomatoes. She has interests in the ecological restoration of soils and biodiversity, as well as the balance between soil health and crop productivity.
ALUMNI

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

 


COLLABORATORS
BIOME MARKERS 
TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD
J. LOHR VINEYARDS & WINES
NAPA VALLEY GRAPE GROWERS
CAL POLY STRAWBERRY CENTER