STEM Shoutout: Dr. Jenn Rudgers

Dr. Jenn Rudgers to direct a $6.4M NSF grant to study climate variability

Dr. Jenn Rudgers, a biology professor at University of New Mexico and the newest director of the Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research Program, will oversee a six-year, $6.4 million to research climate variability in dryland ecotones at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.

Rudgers will work with a team of scientists at the site.

“We have dominant ecosystem types of the southwestern US represented here, and we’re in charge of monitoring how those ecosystems are changing over time. We are running long-term experiments where we change different aspects of climate to better understand how our ecosystems will respond in the future as our climate is changing,” she said in a recent interview.

There are very few experiments done to test general climate variability because of the long-term research that it requires. However, the Sevilleta site is unique because it allows for researchers to conduct the extensive research necessary to recognize how different plants and animals react to increasing variability in climate overall.

A team of scientists research separate aspects of climate to test the reactions of species over time, and Rudger’s role in the project enables her to bring the data together on a larger scale to draw conclusive interpretations.

Rudgers hopes that this research will help scientists make better predictions about how the environment will look like in the future, and also help better the management of our ecosystems. Read more here.