Skip to main content

Plant-Soil Interactions in a Changing World

What is the ambitious goal of this project?

Environments are changing owing to changes in land-use, climate and loss of biodiversity. These changes impact the functioning of ecosystems in a way that alters the services they provide to us, including food production and climate regulation.

Research in our lab centers around two questions: (1) how does loss of biodiversity impact the functioning of ecosystems, and (2) how do the interactions between plants and soil microbes fundamentally regulate the cycling of carbon between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere? We can apply our results to help improve soil quality, the sustainability of crop production, and ecosystem restoration. Besides, our results are used to improve the ecosystem component in climate models, which aim to predict future atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

Experience Gained

  • Students will learn a variety of skills while working in my lab, including basic laboratory techniques, experimental design, data analysis and dissemination, reading, evaluating and discussing the scientific literature, and they will practice working as part of a team.
  • Students in my lab gain great teamwork skills, they learn to appreciate and feel comfortable with the process of science, they are exposed to some risk-taking, and they learn to present their work.
  • If students fully commit to participating in the lab, they tend to come out with more confidence in themselves, their work, and their place in a team.
  • Many students make valuable connections which can help them find jobs, or pursue graduate degrees.

Majors and Interests Needed

  • Biology
  • Outreach to K-12 schools

VIP Coach Information

Dr. Marie-Anne de Graaff is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator in the Biology department Full profile at Marie-Anne de Graaff

Course Information

VIP  200, VIP 400, or VIP 500.
Full semester course.
Students signing up for their first semester in this project are required to enroll for 2 credit hours. Subsequent enrollments may be 1 or 2 credits.
Meeting time: TBD

Interested in joining this team?

For more information and to request a permission number to register, contact Dr. de Graaff at or by phone at 208-426-1256.

You may also complete this interest form and someone will contact you.
Check out this page for tips on contacting a professor.

To register: search by Subject: Vertically Integrated Projects, read the project description to find the right section of VIP 200, 400, or 500. Use permission number, here are instructions Add with a permission number