aLe_2022

LEAD PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Alessandro Ossola - Assistant Professor & Assistant Agronomist in the AES

Dr Ossola is a first-generation ecologist and environmental scientist who specializes in urban and peri-urban areas. He is also a Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and is a former US National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine NRC Associate within the National Risk Management Research Laboratory of US-EPA in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr Ossola is a recipient of a 2022 New Innovator Award from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).

His research encompasses several topics including ecology, climate change, forestry, water management, food production, planning and design. Over the years, he enjoyed the opportunity to lecture for undergraduate and postgraduate subjects related to urban green infrastructures, urban biodiversity conservation, climate change, urban horticulture, eco-hydrology, landscape architecture, urban planning and design. Alessandro is particularly interested in the applied side of his research which spans environmental management, ecological design, science communication and outreach.

Alessandro is the Chair of the Saratoga Horticultural Research Endowment (SHRE) and Member of the Executive Oversight Team of the Los Angeles Center for Urban Natural Resources Sustainability. He further advises many local, state, regional and federal government agencies on a number of issues and policies related to urban land management, planning and governance.

  
 CURRENT STUDENTS AND STAFF  
Pooja Singh

Dr Pooja Singh, Postdoc

Dr Singh has research experience in forest ecology, species distribution modelling, climate change, LULC mapping, spatio-temporal modelling using remote sensing and machine learning (ML) approaches, to soil moisture retrieval using multi-sensor satellite data. She received a PhD from the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing and Forest Research Institute, India. Dr Singh doctoral research focused on the vulnerability assessment of mountain ecosystem by investigating the impact of projected climate scenarios and LULC changes on species' bioclimatic niche & assemblages in western Himalaya. Before joining UC Davis, she worked as a research associate at the Division of Agricultural Physics, IARI, New Delhi on regional soil moisture mapping in semi-arid and arid zones using a variety of high-resolution satellite data - SAR (Sentinel-1), thermal (Landsat 8), optical (Sentinel-2), semi empirical and ML based modelling approaches.

  
Moreen

Dr Moreen Willaredt, Postdoc

Dr. Willaredt explores the impact of impervious surfaces on urban tree water supply and growth. She was awarded the Walter Benjamin Fellowship by the German Research Foundation to conduct her research at the Urban Science Lab. Her research in urban environments focuses on soils and their hydrological properties and functions. She holds a Master's in Urban Ecosystem Science (Technische Universität Berlin) and received a PhD from the Institute of Ecology of Technische Universität Berlin in Germany. Her PhD project as a fellow of the Berlin International Graduate School on Model and Simulation-based Research (BIMoS) focused on modelling the water retention characteristics in constructed Technosols.

  
Elizeth

Dr Elizeth Cinto Mejía, postdoc

Dr Cinto Mejía is a postdoc with Meineke and Lubell Labs investigating tree growth patterns in relation to urban islands and water availability in Sacramento, New Orleans and Raleigh. Elizeth completed her bachelor's degree in biology from Universidad de Navarra, MS in biology from Boise State University, and doctoral degree in Entomology from Michigan State University. Her past research includes bird, plant, and insect ecology. Through her career she has done extensive outreach and education work in Idaho and Michigan mostly working with K-12 classrooms. This project is supported by a grant from USDA-NIFA.

  
 

Dr Luisa Fernanda Velásquez Camacho, postdoc (summer 2024)

Dr Velásquez Camacho is a postdoc working on a USDA-FS-funded projected aimed at assessing tree cooling benefits across California's K-12 schoolyards. This project is a collaboration between USDA-FS, UCLA, UC Berkley, and Green Schoolyards America. 

  
    
Katie

Katarina Elena Rodriguez Michel (Katie), PhD Student (GGG)

Katie is a graduate student interested in climate adaptation and how urban areas might serve as climate resilient habitats. Katie holds a MSc in Environmental Science and Management from UC Davis with specializations in Statistics & Data Analysis and Urban & Regional Planning and a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science. In conducting her research she has worked with the California Department of Insurance, the Ocean Science Trust, and the California Native Plant Society. 

  
Jared Sisneroz

Jared Sisneroz, MSc Student (GGG) - Co-advised with Dr Haven Kiers

Jared is a third-year student in the Geography Graduate Group. He has a bachelor's degree in Landscape Architecture from UC Davis. After graduating in 2010, Jared worked as researcher on projects related to greenhouse and nursery crops, residential urban runoff, and outreach to structural pest controllers. His key focus was managing the UC Landscape Plant Irrigation Trials, a long-term project endeavoring to identify low water-use landscape plants for California’s Central Valley. Jared is interested in how plants fit into larger conversations around water-use, climate resiliency, and human wellbeing in urban environments. 

  
Ruchika

Ruchika Jaiswal, MSc student (EPM)

Ruchika (she/her/hers) is a second-year student in the Environmental Policy and Management master's program. She graduated in 2022 from UC Davis with a bachelor's in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning. During her undergraduate career, she worked alongside a PhD candidate in the hydrological sciences to study the impacts of government-party interactions on water access in the Central Valley. Currently, she is interning for a sustainable cover crop and carbon-capture company, Vitidore. Ruchika wants to explore spatial data analysis through GIS, and more about community resource accessibility.

  
Zerin Alam

Zerin Alam, MSc student (EPM)

Zerin is a second-year graduate student in the department of Environmental Policy and Management master’s program. She completed her bachelor’s and master’s in Civil Engineering from Khulna University of Engineering & Technology, Bangladesh. Her research experiences include waste management, air quality assessment, and microscopic and spectroscopic analyses of particulate matter. During her MSc, her goal is to learn how to develop and implement environment-related policies to create a better and sustainable planet for human well-being.

  
Becky

Becky Haworth, MSc student (EPM)

Becky Haworth (she/her) graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2018 with a degree in Environmental Earth Science. After graduation, she interned in the lab at a large scale winery before spending a year serving with the AmeriCorps CivicSpark program at the City of San Pablo where she worked on a wide array of projects, including stormwater compliance, environmental education, and updates to city policies and ordinances. Becky currently works at CalRecycle, overseeing implementation of California’s pharmaceutical and sharps extended producer responsibility programs. She is excited to specialize in food systems & sustainable agriculture and explore how policy and science can be used to reduce wasted food.

  
Madison

Madison Burns, Undergraduate Researcher

Madison is a 3rd year undergraduate student in the Landscape Architecture program at UC Davis. As a designer in this era of climate change, she aims to take part in reimagining unsustainable landscaping standards. Madison believes California native plants are a vital piece to this puzzle and has led efforts to incorporate native landscaping in the Davis area. She also has experience collecting data pertaining to drought and plant health through her internship with UC Davis’s Smart Landscape Program. She hopes to contribute these skills and her passion for climate resilient landscaping to the USDA-FS residential fire project. 

  
Priscilla

Priscilla Maldonado, Undergraduate Researcher 

As a 4th year undergraduate student at UC Davis, I am pursuing a landscape architect degree. Due to my passion for environmental design, I am interested in flood resilient planning and fire defense design. Initially, I was solely focused on flood resilient planning, because I did not believe landscape design could mitigate the destruction of wildfires. However, learning about fire defense design changed my perspective from vegetation fueling wildfires, to vegetation slowing wildfires and potentially saving lives. By surveying post-wildfire sites and finding suitable drought-preventative vegetation, I hope to sway public opinion that landscape design can save lives.

  
Kelly

Kelly Graziadei, Undergraduate Researcher & 2022 McNair Scholar

Kelly is a Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Major student working on a FFAR-funded project on the climate resilience of urban tree crops across the US, and the taxonomic and nutritional diversity of urban forests. Kelly is an awardee of a prestigious McNair Fellowship, a U.S. Department of Education program to support first-generation college students or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic and research potential.  

  
 Alex Berk, MSc student (EPM)  
Dani

Danelia Robinson (PhD student co-supervised with D/Prof Leishman, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)

Dani Robinson is a First Nations Kamilaroi Aboriginal woman. She is undertaking research into greenspace governance, environmental law, urban greening and development. Her research project reviews the success of governance models and the legal frameworks used by government and developers to balance urban growth with the long-term aspirations for adequate greenspace and healthy urban precincts. Dani has a strong interest in green space as a means by which Indigenous cultural heritage can be conserved and understands the importance of preserving cultural heritage landscapes for future generations to learn and appreciate the unique attributes of Aboriginal or First Nations culture. She is also researching the governance processes by which Indigenous traditional knowledge regarding land and land use can inform future urban development. Dani has an extensive work history, having worked on developing large complex water-based infrastructure, land management and rehabilitation projects, planning and implementation of urban/residential masterplans, and government approvals.

  
Jessica
Dr Jessica O'Hare (Postdoc with D/Prof Leishman and A/Prof Jaco Le Roux, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia). Jess investigates the genetic signatures of urban trees intruding in underground water infrastructures in Sydney, Australia, to measure which of the 651 tree species living across the city is most likely to intrude and occlude pipes. This project is supported by a grant from the Sydney Water Corporation.  
Shifu
Dr "Shifu" (Science Hyper-Intelligent Fabulous Unit) is our new lab supercomputer that enables our lab to leverage the capabilities of UCD's HPC Core Facility and the CAES FARM Cluster (https://hpc.ucdavis.edu/). Dr Shifu - powered by 12 Cores and 256 GB RAM - helps us with a number of big data analyses, model fitting, predictions and much more!  Photo Credit @Google Generative AI, 2023.    
    
    
    
 PAST STUDENTS, STAFF and STUDENT COLLABORATORS  
 
  • Dr Mengran Yu (Clare) - postdoc with Macquarie University, now University of Sydney, Australia
  • Dr Ariningsun Cinantya (Tya) - PhD student co-supervised with D/Prof Leishman, Macquarie University Sydney
  • Dr Sourav Das (Rony) - PhD student co-supervised with A/Prof Beaumont, Macquarie University Sydney. Now Research Scientist at the University of Saskatchewan
  • Dr Heather Stevens, PhD student collaborator now at Newcastle city council
  • Katarina Elena Rodriguez Michel (Katie), MSc student (EPM 2023), now PhD student in geography (UCD GGG)
  • Mia Bell, MSc student (UCD EPM 2023), now in environmental consulting
  • Sarah Roy, MSc student (UCD EPM 2023), now in environmental consulting
  • Grant Johnson, MSc student (UCD GGHA 2023), now Assistant CE Urban Agriculture Technology Area Advisor, South Coast Research and Extension Center, Irvine, CA
  • Thami Croeser, PhD student collaborator (RMIT, Australia)
  • Diana Backes, PhD student collaborator (Western Sydney University, Australia)
  • George Lloyd, MSc student collaborator (University of Sheffield, UK)
  • Sophie Moore (Macquarie University, Australia, now PhD student WSU)
  • Melchior Bizot-Espiard, Fanny Debourdeau - Visiting MSc students from AgroParisTech, France
  • Selina Kosak, BSc student now MSc student at Macquarie University Sydney
  
You

YOU

Interested in what we do? We are actively recruiting new lab members and collaborators as we kick start our research activity and teaching in 2022-2023. Please get in touch for upcoming positions, scholarships, fellowships and visiting experiences in our lab.

We are part of UCD's Geography Graduate Group (MSc and PhD programs), the Horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Group (MSc and PhD programs), the Environmental Policy and Management Graduate Group (MSc program), and the Graduate Group in Ecology (MSc and PhD programs). Student recruitment for MSc and PhD programs are generally open in Nov-Dec with a start in the fall quarter the following year. Please check out the UCD Graduate Studies website to find suitable Fellowships and Grants https://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/financial-support. The Department of Plant Sciences offers ~10 Graduate Student Research Assistantship (GSR) Awards each year (deadline mid March).

We strongly support candidate applications to a range of pre- and post-doctoral fellowships including but not limited to AAUW's American Fellowships, NSF Postdoctoral Fellowships, Fulbright Postdoctoral/Early Career Grants, Graduate Women in Science FellowshipsFord Foundation Fellowships, the UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, and many more.

A range of pre- and post-doctoral fellowships and programs are also available to international applicants including: AAUW's International FellowshipsFulbright's Foreign Student ProgramFulbright's Visiting Scholar and Scholar in Residence programsBanting Postdoctoral Fellowships (Canada)Faculty for the Future PhD Awards (for women from developing countries), Marie Skłodowska-Curie International postdocs (for European candidates), Schrodinger Fellowship (for Austrian applicants), Walter Benjamin Programme (for German applicants) and the Fulbright U.S.–ASEAN Visiting Scholar Initiative (for citizens of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). Postdoctoral and mid-career fellowships for urban science scholars from the Global South are also available through the Urban Studies Foundation.

Undocumented students and immigrants are encouraged to apply to dedicated programs https://immigrantsrising.org/resource/graduate-scholarships/.