UC Merced Update

Grad Student Researches Environmental Effects of Erosion


Erin StacyFrom an early age, Erin Stacy has been interested in how humans affect the environment. The environmental systems doctoral student is putting her passion to use researching the effects of fire and erosion on the ecosystem.

Her primary focus is to better refine carbon models in order to predict the ecosystem’s response to carbon dioxide. In order to do this, Stacy is studying soil samples from prescribed burns and archived samples from the 2002 Gondola fire near South Lake Tahoe.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, she studied ancient horse teeth from Kazakhstan and Mongolia to learn more about the climate and environment when the animals were alive.

“I’ve always been interested in water dynamics and the ecosystem,” Stacy explained. “(California’s water system) has a pretty precarious balance and that’s what makes it interesting.”

Stacy, who is working under School of Natural Sciences professors Asmeret Asefaw Berhe and Steve Hart, was drawn to UC Merced by the opportunity to work in the Sierra Nevada Research Institute and the campus’ Critical Zone Observatory in the Sierra Nevada. She is in her second year of pursuing a Ph.D. and plans to continue her environmental research upon graduation, working at a nonprofit or in a research group.

“I like being at the intersection of the research and management, and working with people,” Stacy said.