Chris Gough's Group

swirlThanks for visiting! Here, you will find information about our research in plant physiological and ecosystem ecology. Our emphasis is on understanding how global change, disturbance, ecological succession, and forest structure affect plant and ecosystem function, with a focus on forest carbon cycling. Work more recently extends into urban and wetland ecosystems. I am seeking student collaborators to conduct Department of Energy (DOE) and National Science Foundation (NSF) supported research at VCU's Rice Rivers Center, and the University of Michigan Biological Station. Contact Chris.

Research is supported by three active federal grants, click for a description:
1) NSF Ecosystem Studies
- Disturbance and carbon cycling

2) NSF Long-term Research in Environmental Biol
Carbon cycling succession
3) DOE Ameriflux Core Site
- Two decades of forest carbon fluxes

A fourth grant recently ended, with several resulting papers published or forthcoming:
4) NSF EAGER-NEON - Regional forest structure-carbon cycling interactions

WHAT'S NEW(ish)?


August 2019: The team up north on Lake Michigan!
From left to right: Evan, Cameron, Alley, Jeff, Carly, Laura, Chris, Lake Dog, Autym, Max, Kayla, Chris V.

Summer 2019: Several new papers out by student authors in the lab (check out the "Publications" tab! Congrats to Spring lab graduates, Shea (M.S). and Laura (B.S.). Our Ameriflux project is in its 20th summer. A 5-yr National Science Foundation (NSF) grant with U. Michigan was recently awarded to continue investigating long-term drivers of forest carbon cycling. And, another NSF-supported project focused on disturbance-carbon cycling interactions is in full swing, with >3600 trees stem girdled this Spring during the installation of our replicated disturbance severity experiment.

Summer 2018: So much (more) news. We've had an incredibly productive and enjoyable summer in the north woods of Michigan (see image above), and several new publications in Nature (, Methods in Evolution and Ecology (, and Oecologia, among others.

Spring 2018: So much news! Our new project, FoRTE, is underway: Lisa Haber officially graduated with an MS. And, the lab has published several papers, including Ellen's in Science of the Total Environment and Jeff's in the Journal of Geophysical Research -- Biogeosciences. I co-authored an open education resource using FLUXNET2015 and NEON data:

January 2018b: Congratulations to Ben Sagara (MS 2017) on the publication of his thesis-turned-manuscript in Forests:

January 2018a: Lisa Haber crushed her MS thesis defense, and delivered an impressive seminar summarizing her work. Congratulations to Lisa!

December 2017: Way to go Lisa Haber, now a PhD student in our lab, on receiving the Outstanding Environmental Studies MS Student Award! This is a huge credit to Lisa's truly impressive contributions to our group and the Biology and Environmental Studies Programs!

November 2017: Congratulations to Ellen Stuart-Haentjens on placing in the university-wide 3-minute thesis competition!:

August 2017: Our National Science Foundation proposal to examine mechanisms underlying forest carbon cycling resilience following disturbance was awarded by the Division of Environmental Biology! Our lab team, including collaborator Ben Bond-Lamberty, is excited about the next chapter of research on this topic, and is grateful for support from NSF.

June 2017: Congratulations to Ben Sagara on the successful defense of his MS thesis, and to Ellen Stuart-Haentjens on easily clearing her PhD comprehensive exams.

May 2017, Part I: Congratulations to Ellen Stuart-Haentjens for receiving the Outstanding Ph.D. Student in Ecology Award! Much deserved!

March 2017: Thrilled to have Shea Wales sign on as an MS student, and Lisa Haber to re-up as a PhD student in the Fall!

January 2017: From part-time adjunct faculty/stay-at-home Dad (see the kid on my shoulders on the "People" page) to term faculty to, as of January 1, tenure-track faculty. Thankful -- really thankful -- for all the support from the lab and many others along the way.

December 2016, Part II: Ellen, Jeff, and I had a productive and motivating Fall AGU Meeting, contributing to a record 13 co/authored presentations plus a sponsored session.

December 2016, Part I: Cynthia Scheuermann successfully defended her MS thesis and graduated. Congratulations Cynthia!

June 2016: Check out this article on the new flux tower at the VCU Rice Rivers Center:

July 2015: Bob Fahey, Brady Hardiman, and I are thrilled to receive an NSF EAGER-NEON award that will use the National Ecological Observatory Network to study forest canopy structure-carbon cycling relationships.

November, 2013: Our group, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Michigan, received an NSF Long-Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB) grant to study the mechanisms controlling carbon storage over the course of ecological succession.

August, 2013: The UMBS carbon cycling research site was selected as an Amerflux core research location by the Department of Energy, ensuring long-term support for our research program! See:


"Trees can help offset human-caused climate warming, and scientists want to know how big a role forests will play."

-University of Michigan Press Release (Full article here )

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We use meteorological towers and ecological methods to estimate how much carbon forests and wetlands take up and release, and why. VCU is a partner in this research, which is supported by the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

Chris Gough 2019, Updated September 7, 2019|