Donald R. Zak

University of Michigan
School of Natural Resources & Environment
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Burton V. Barnes Collegiate Professor of Ecology

Affiliate Faculty Member
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Adjunct Professor
Department of Earth and Environmental Science

School of Natural Resources & Environment
University of Michigan
440 Church Street
Ann Arbor, MI
(734) 763-4991

PhD 1987, Michigan State University
MS 1983, University of Idaho
BS 1981, Cum Laude, Ohio State University

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Rima Upchurch
Lab Manager 
I graduated from Agnes Scott College with a BA in Biology in 2002, and I received my MS in Microbiology from the University of Georgia in 2006. I have always been interested in using molecular techniques to study microbial ecology and community structure, especially in soils. As a graduate student, I constructed 16S clone libraries from different soil regimes (ag and non-ag). During that time I came to realize the importance of bioinformatic tools as a way to gain insight into soil microbial communities.

Karl Romanowicz
Research Associate
I am a microbial ecologist working as a member of the Zak Lab since 2013. My research interests revolve around the functional responses of microbial communities to global climate change, and ultimately how those responses will influence ecosystem processes. I received a B.S. in Applied Ecology and Environmental Science in 2010 and completed my M.S. in Applied Ecology in 2013, both from Michigan Technological University. My studies included discerning how changes in plant communities and hydrology of peatlands influences the composition of bacterial, archaeal, and fungal communities and their feedback on enzyme activities. More recently, my focus is on identifying the environmental drivers of microbial composition in hardwood forests exposed to chronic nitrogen deposition.

Will Argiroff
Research Associate
I received a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2012 and completed my M.S. in Conservation Ecology in 2015, both from the University of Michigan. My thesis research focused on the microbial ecology of wetland soil communities in the context of ecological restoration, specifically how community composition and functional potential vary in wetlands under differing hydrological management regimes. I have been a member of the Zak lab since 2012, first as a research assistant and now as a research technician. My general research interests revolve around the responses of microbial communities to disturbances and how these responses influence ecosystem processes.

Wes Bickford
EEB PhD Graduate Student
I am a PhD Student in Ecology and evolutionary Biology studying plant-microbial interactions in invasive plant species. My interests lie in invasion ecology, wetland ecology, and how microbes influence plant performance and ecosystem functions. I received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Indiana University in 2007 and an M.S. in Environmental Science with a focus on Wetland Science from the University of Maryland in 2011 where I studied the effects of prescribed fire on coastal wetland health and plant community composition. Since 2013, I have worked with the USGS Great Lakes Science Center to understand if and how microbial communities are playing a role in Phragmites australis invasions. This work led me to pursue a PhD co-advised by Dr. Deborah Goldberg and Dr. Don Zak.

Peter Pellitier
SNRE PhD Graduate Student
Peter joined the lab as a doctoral student in September of 2015. He earned his undergraduate degree at Pomona College studying arbuscular mycorrhizal ecology in coastal sage scrub ecosystems. Before joining the Zak lab, he studied coral reef ecology in Papua New Guinea on a Fulbright Fellowship. Peter’s research interests include the functional ecology of ectomycorrhizal fungi and carbon dynamics in forest soils. His PhD work is still in development, but will likely involve the evolutionary and physiological mechanisms of decay in ectomycorrhizal fungi.
Sydney Salley
Research Technician
I received my B.S. in Earth and Environmental Sciences in 2014 from the University of Michigan. I joined the Zak lab in 2013 as a part time assistant to a PhD student; since graduating, I have become a full time research assistant. The summer of 2013, I worked as an NAGT intern with the USGS on a riverine floodplain biogeochemistry project. Additionally, in 2015 I worked as a field and lab assistant on an eco-evolutionary project studying guppies in montane streams in northern Trinidad. My research interests include paleoclimatology and paleoceanography, and more specifically what information these investigations into the past can give us about the effect of a changing climate.
   Lab Alumni  
Elizabeth Entwistle SNRE PhD Student, 2008-2016 Postdoctoral Researcher,
University of Alabama at Birmingham
 Zachary Freedman  Postdoctoral Researcher, 2012-2016 Assistant Professor,
West Virginia University
 Lauren Cline  SNRE PhD Student, 2010-2015 Postdoctoral Researcher,
University of Minnesota
 Anna Peschel  SNRE MS Student, 2012-2014 PhD Graduate Student, 
University of Minnesota
 Huijie Gan  EEB PhD Student, 2008-2013 Postdoctoral Researcher,
Cornell University
 Sarah Eisenlord  Research Technician, 2008-2013 (MS 2008) Research Scientist,
Gas Technology Institute
Pat Micks  Research Technician, 2007-2012
 Amanda Garzio-Hadzick  MS Student, 2010-2012
Stewardship and Research Assistant
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
 Dana Thomas MS Student, 2009-2011Academic Advisor
NC State University
 Kyle Whittinghill Postdoctoral Researcher, 2010-2011Lecturer,
University of Pittsburg
 Linda Van Diepen Postdoctoral Researcher, 2009-2010Assistant Professor,
University of Wyoming
 Sierra Patterson MS Student, 2008-2010Forest Botanist
US Forest Service