School of
Integrative Biology
Feng Sheng Hu

2090 Lincoln Hall
Office: 217-244-2982
Lab: (217)244-9871

Mail: 702 S. Wright St.
Lab Page

Feng Sheng Hu
Professor - Plant Biology
Ralph E. Grim Professor of Geology


Ph.D., 1994, University of Washington
M.S., 1990, University of Maine
B.S., 1983, Xiamen University

Teaching Interests

IB452, Ecosystem Ecology

Ecosystem ecology, quaternary paleoecology, climatic change and biotic response, soil and sediment biogeochemistry

I work at the interfaces of biological, geological and climatological sciences. The overall objective of my research is to understand patterns and mechanisms of long-term ecosystem dynamics under changing climatic conditions. To achieve this objective, I use "the natural experiments of the past" that are archived in geological deposits. These deposits offer a long-term holistic perspective into past environmental conditions, some of which do not exist today but may be analogs of different climatic conditions in the future. In pursuing my research interests, I integrate traditional paleoecological analyses and state-of-the-art analytical tools (e.g., genomic, isotopic, and numerical-modeling techniques). My students and I have conducted field research from the tropics to the Arctic to address a wide array of global change questions. We have authored more than 100 scholarly articles in top-tier disciplinary and interdisciplinary journals.

I served as Head of the Department of Plant Biology from 2008-2014, and am currently Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences where I work with the science departments to promote research, teaching, innovation, and public service. Despite my administrative duties, I continue to enjoy working closely with my students on their research projects. Prospective graduate students are encouraged to contact me directly to explore research of mutual interest.

Representative Publications

*Chipman, M.C., Hudspith, V., Higuera, P.E., Duffy, P., Kelly, R., Oswald, W.W., and Hu, F.S. 2015. Spatiotemporal patterns of tundra fires: Late-Quaternary records from Alaska.  Biogeosciences: In press.

Hu, F.S., Higuera, P.E., Duffy, P., Chipman, M.L., Rocha, A.V., Young, A.M., Kelly, R., and Dietze, M.C. 2015. Tundra fires in the Arctic: natural variability and responses to climate change.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment: In press.

*Barrett, C., Kelly, R., Higuera, P.E., and Hu, F.S.  2013. Climatic and land-cover influences on the spatiotemporal dynamics of Holocene boreal fire regimes.  Ecology 94: 389-402.

*Kelly, R., Chipman, M.L., Higuera, P.E., Stefanova, V., Brubaker, L.B., and Hu, F.S.  2013. Recent burning of boreal forests exceeds fire regime limits of the past 10,000 years. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 32: 13055-13060.

*Urban, M. A., *Nelson, D.M., Jiménez-Moreno, G., Châteauneuf, J-J., Pearson, A., and Hu, F.S. 2010. Isotopic evidence of C4 grasses in southwestern Europe during the middle Miocene-early Oligocene. Geology 38: 1091-1094.

Hu, F.S., Hampe, A., and Petit, R.J. 2009. Paleoecology meets genetics: Deciphering past vegetational dynamics.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7: 371-379.

Petit, R.J., Hu, F.S., and Dick, C.W. 2008. Forests of the past: A window to future changes.  Science 320: 1450-1452.

Hu, F.S., Kaufman, D., Yoneji, S., Nelson, D., Shemesh, A., Huang, Y.S., Tian, J., Bond, G., Clegg, B., and Brown, T. 2003. Cyclic variation and solar forcing of Holocene climate in the Alaskan subarctic.  Science 301: 1890-1893.

(*=graduate students)