Cristina Lazcano, Principal Investigator
Associate Professor of Soil Ecology.
Associate editor: Soil Science Society of America Journal.
Associate editor: Soil Research (CSIRO).
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.
Sangeeta Bansal, Postdoctoral Research Associate Sangeeta is a Postdoc Research Associate focusing on soil health and sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the Southwestern United States. Her research interests include soil health, biogeochemical cycling, microbial ecology, and sustainable management of productive agriculture in the face of climate change. Prior to joining UC Davis, she worked as a Postdoc Researcher at South Dakota State University assessing soil physicochemical and microbial properties as influenced by integrated crop-livestock systems and native pastures, as well as the economic performance of cropping systems with cover crops in South Dakota. She has experience with research on microbiome-dependent early-season chilling tolerance in sorghum accessions. She completed her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, examining soil organic carbon and nitrogen turnover, carbon footprint, and greenhouse gas emissions following long-term integrated bio-cover, crop rotation, and conservation tillage ecosystems in Mid and West Tennessee. Her research training includes a master’s in Plant Sciences from California State University, Fresno, and a bachelor’s in Agriculture from Punjab Agricultural University, India.
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.
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.
Courtney Emerson, MS Student
Courtney is a Washington, D.C. native. 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.
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.
Luisa Robles, Junior Specialist
Luisa got her degree in Environmental Science and Management with a focus on Soils and Biogeochemistry at the University of California, Davis. She is working as a Junior Specialist 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.
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.
Claire Kisliuk, Research Assistant
Claire graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Plant Sciences with an emphasis in soils. She currently works in the lab as a research assistant. She is interested in management of soils to benefit soil health, increase food security and mitigate climate change, as well as policy to support small-scale farmers utilizing practices to conserve and benefit soil.
Leqian Zhang (Nono), Research Assistant Nono holds a B.S. degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems from UC Davis. Originally from Canton, China, Nono is especially interested in learning (sub)tropical agriculture and agroecology in Asia. He could spend much his break time self-studying soil science and agronomy, an authentic “Aggie”. Nono attended the 2022 D.C. Agricultural Policy Conference on behalf of California. During summer 2022, Nono was doing internship at CDFA and working at Soil Ecology Lab.
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