News & Events
August 26, 2020
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is leading the Artificial Intelligence Institute for Future Agricultural Resilience, Management and Sustainability (AIFARMS), one of two new $20M artificial intelligence institutes funded by USDA NIFA for five years. Dr. Yang is a member of the AIFARMS Soil Health thrust. See the full news release here.
August 12, 2020
The Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) has renewed funding for project, “Towards Management of Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonium for Nitrate Retention in Agricultural Soils.” This project is led by Dr. Angela Kent with Dr. Yang as Co-PI.
NREC has also funded a new project by Drs. Kent, Yang, Martin Bohn, and Fred Below, “Managing the maize microbiome for sustainable nutrient retention in Illinois agricultural soils.” The new project addresses the question: Can we achieve synergy between N fixation (generating ammonium), BNI (inhibiting nitrification, the transformation of ammonium to nitrate), and DNRA (transforming nitrate/nitrite back to ammonium), potentially reducing fertilizer N input requirements for productive agroecosystems?
Dr. Yang is also an unfunded collaborator on a newly funded NREC project led by Dr. Zhongjie Yu with Dr. Lowell Gentry as Co-PI, “Sources and cycling of nitrate in tile-drained corn-soybean rotation systems: A stable isotope approach.”
May 28, 2020
Dr. Yang won a Faculty Retreat Grant awarded by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Office of the Provost to implement instructional enhancement inspired by this year’s Faculty Retreat with the theme, “Harnessing the Science of Emotion to Spark Learning.” Dr. Yang’s project titled, “Emotionally engaging students as participants in the scientific process,” will result in video lessons which take her students on the journey of discovering the answers to questions that she poses in her Ecosystem Ecology class. Graduate student, Joe Edwards, will wear a GoPro camera as he conducts field work in Trelease Woods, a UIUC field site. In the videos he will lead students through the scientific process of developing questions about his study ecosystem, collecting samples, and generating data. We will then provide the students with Joe’s data to gain practice in analyzing and interpreting data to discover the answers to their posed questions.
April 27, 2020
Undergraduate researcher, Emina Sipic, received High Distinction from the School of Integrative Biology in recognition of her outstanding independent research project, “The influence of manganese and nitrate addition on soil microbial iron reduction potential.”
April 13, 2020
The USDA NIFA Agricultural Microbiomes program has funded a proposal led by Dr. Angela Kent with Drs. Wendy Yang and Martin Bohn as Co-PIs, “Mining Ancient Genomes for Mechanisms to Improve Nutrient Retention in Maize Agroecosystems.” The objectives of this four-year project are: (1) to identify the genomic and biochemical mechanisms by which pre-domestication maize influences the rhizosphere microbiome and its functions, enabling future germplasm improvement, and (2) to determine the impact of altered rhizosphere nitrogen cycling functions on nutrient retention in agroecosystems.
April 11, 2020
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Center for Digital Agriculture has awarded a seed grant to Drs. Yi Lu (lead PI), Wendy Yang, Li-Qing Chen, and Jian Peng for their project, “Integration of novel wireless in-field sensors and machine learning for smart precision agriculture.”
February 24, 2020
The Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has funded a Phase II project led by Aerodyne Research Inc. to continue development of a novel oxygen laser monitor and to field test the instrument in bioenergy cropping systems. The latter objective is led by Dr. Yang in synergy with her group’s research efforts in the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI).
January 6, 2020
Dr. Yang’s exemplary teaching of IB 452/NRES 462: Ecosystem Ecology landed her on the Fall 2019 List of Teacher Ranked as Excellent By Their Students.
December 12, 2019
Dr. Yang gave an invited oral presentation, “Reducing agroecosystem nitrogen losses via biological nitrification inhibition,” in the Agricultural Systems: Links Between Hydrology and Biogeochemical session at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. She presented research results produced by Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) postdoc, Mark Burnham.
December 9, 2019
Dr. Yang gave an invited oral presentation, “Does microbial diversity on nitrous oxide reducers regulate soil nitrous oxide emissions?,” in the The Bioatmospheric N Cycle: N Emissions, Transformations, Deposition, and Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystem Impacts session at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. She presented highlights from a review and synthesis manuscript in preparation by the research team funded by the National Science Foundation Dimensions of Biodiversity program for the project, “Collaborative research: The role of microbial biodiversity in controlling nitrous oxide emissions from soils.”
August 11-16, 2019
The Yang lab descended on Louisville, Kentucky for the 103rd Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting. Below is a list of oral and poster presentations by the Yang lab (*graduate students and ^postdocs):
- Yang WH, ^Burnham M, DeLucia EH, Lee DK, Heaton EA. Meeting the nitrogen demands of high Miscanthus productivity.
- ^Burnham M, Lee DK, DeLucia EH, Yang WH. Biological nitrification inhibition in the rhizosphere of energy sorghum.
- ^Eddy WC, Yang WH. Fertilization effects on ecosystem service tradeoffs in agroforestry for food production.
- *Edwards JD, Yannarell AC, Yang WH. Exploitation of fungal nutrient economy by invasive plant jeopardizes future soil productivity in forests.
- *Krichels AH, Kent A, Sanford RA, Chee-Sanford JC, Yang WH. Soil drainage history selects for distinct denitrifier communities that mediate nitrous oxide emissions.
- *Egenriether S, Kent AD, Yang WH. Dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium occurs at soil moistures low enough to inhibit denitrification.
- ^Von Haden AC, Yang WH, DeLucia EH. Accounting for soil bulk density differences in comparative or repeated measurement soil organic carbon stock studies.
- *Seyfried G, Yang WH. Separating the effects of mycorrhizal fungi and leaf litter chemistry on litter decomposition rates in a tropical montane forest.
August 2, 2019
Dr. Yang again organized the iBio Undergraduate Research Symposium to cap off the iBio Summer Program to enhance independent research experiences for undergraduates in the School of Integrative Biology. This year 12 students gave oral presentations about their summer research projects.
Deyaneira Ortiz-Iglesias, a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) student supervised by Drs. Yang and Robert Sanford, presented on “Effects of diurnal cycles of temperature on agroecosystem microbial activity in tropical and Midwest soil.”
Anthony Guaman, an Integrative Biology Honors student, presented on “Arthropods in woody polyculture: effects of fertilization and comparisons to corn – soybean rotations.” His project represents a new collaboration between the Yang lab and the pollination ecology lab of Alexandra Harmon-Threatt.
January 24, 2019
Dr. Yang visited the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She gave a seminar titled, “Microtopographic controls on soil greenhouse gas emissions in the flat Midwest U.S.”
January 7, 2019
The Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has funded a Phase I project led by Aerodyne Research Inc., “Novel probe of oxygen and its isotopes for millimeter-scale measurements of soil dynamics.” Dr. Yang is a subcontractor on this project to advise Aerodyne scientists on the technical needs for application of the oxygen laser monitor to probe rhizosphere and soil processes in the laboratory and field.
December 14, 2018
Dr. Yang was named an I.C. Gunsalus Scholar by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in recognition of her outstanding tenure dossier. This award was established by Professor Emeritus I.C. Gunsalus for the development of the scholarship and teaching of young faculty members in the physical and life sciences.
December 4, 2018
Undergraduate researcher, Ally Cook, won a Research Support Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research to fund her work on “The effects of Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) presence on the rate of microbial nitrogen uptake and storage.”
August 10, 2018
Dr. Yang presented results from our work on DNRA in the New Paradigms in Biogeochemical Cycling session at the Ecological of Society of America’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Her talk was titled “Genetic and environmental controls on dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium as a nitrate retention pathway in upland soils.”
August 9, 2018
We had a lively discussion in the Inspire session on “Developing a Unifying Framework for Understanding Controls on Denitrification in Terrestrial Ecosystems” organized by Drs. Yang and Maya Almaraz at the Ecological of Society of America’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Ph.D. student, Alex Krichels, did a fantastic job presenting the highlights of his dissertation research in his 5-minute Inspire talk titled, “Historical drainage legacy effects on denitrification in upland soils.” Dr. Almaraz also gave a talk about a census of terrestrial denitrification studies that she, Dr. Yang, and Michelle Wong will soon submit for review; her talk had the tongue-in-cheek title of “Misery loves company: A meta-analysis of controls on terrestrial denitrification” (if you’ve studied denitrification, you’ll know what we mean!).
August 8, 2018
Master’s student, Joe Edwards, presented a poster titled, “Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) disrupts the fungal nitrogen economy in forests” in the Invasion session at the Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting in New Orleans.
August 3, 2018
Yang lab undergraduate researchers presented their summer independent research at the iBio Research Symposium organized by Dr. Yang. NSF REU student visiting from Wellesley College, Andrea Sama, presented on “The role of oxygen and nitrate diffusion in enhancing DNRA rates in agricultural soils.” Emina Sipic, who was supported by an SIB Camp Family Fellowship this summer, presented on “Do redox reactions of iron in poorly-drained soils facilitate greater carbon loss?”
August 1, 2018
Dr. Yang along with Drs. Kostas Konstantinidis, Frank Loeffler, and Robert Sanford were awarded a 5-year $2 M NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity grant set to start on August 1! The overarching goal of the proposed study is to determine if the abundance and taxonomic diversity of N2O-reducing bacterial species (phylogenetic diversity), as well as the activity of diverse nosZ gene alleles (genetic diversity), can predict the N2O reduction rates and N2O emissions (functional diversity) of representative U.S. terrestrial ecosystems. The working hypothesis is that the taxonomic and the genetic diversity (i.e., nosZ alleles) in soils are largely not functionally redundant, but rather are tuned to different substrate concentrations (N2O in this case) or environmental conditions, and ultimately determine N2O emissions
March 1, 2018
Dr. Yang was selected as one of seven Early Career Fellows of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) for 2018-2022. She was “elected for outstanding contributions to research, teaching, and outreach in the fields of biogeochemistry and global change biology.” The full list of ESA Fellows and Early Career Fellows elected this year can be found here.
February 15, 2018
Dr. Yang was interviewed by the local newspaper, The News-Gazette, for a weekly video series called, “Office Hours with Aldo.” You can view the video here.
February 8, 2018
Drs. Yang, Robert Sanford, and Joanne Chee-Sanford were awarded an REU Supplement for their NSF grant, “Unraveling the paradox of dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium in upland soils.” They welcome applications from students with no prior research experience but with a strong interest in ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, environmental microbiology, or related fields; and they especially welcome outstanding students from under-represented groups and/or from primarily undergraduate institutions and community colleges. More information about the REU program and how to apply can be found here. Applications will be accepted through March 23, 2018.
December 19, 2017
Dr. Angela Kent and Dr. Yang received a renewal award from the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council for their grant, “Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonium: An Unexplored Microbial Pathway for Nitrate Retention in Agricultural Soils.” The new grant is titled, “Toward Management of Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonium for Nitrate Retention in Agricultural Soils.” In this second phase of their NREC research, graduate student, Sada Egenriether, will lead efforts to identify the optimal soil conditions to enhance rates of dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium in agricultural soils.
December 18, 2017
Dr. Yang received the Biogeochemistry “Excellence in Reviewing” award for the top 25 reviewers for the journal!
December 14, 2017
Dr. Yang was named one of four 2017-2019 Lincoln Excellence for Assistant Professors (LEAP) Scholars by the UIUC College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. See article here describing the new LEAP scholars.
December 8, 2017
Dr. Yang and postdoc, Dr. Will Eddy, are co-authors on an opinion paper led by Dr. Evan DeLucia’s former graduate student, Dr. Kevin Wolz. The paper titled, “Frontiers in alley cropping: transformative solutions for temperate agriculture,” was published online in Global Change Biology.
December 4, 2017
Dr. Yang gave a talk titled, “Unsolved mystery: The fate of nitrate in upland terrestrial ecosystems,” in the Illinois State Geology Survey Seminar Series.
December 1, 2017
Dr. Yang gave a talk titled, “Microtopographical controls on hot spots and hot moments of upland soil biogeochemical fluxes,” in the Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Seminar Series in the UIUC Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
November 27, 2017
Dr. Yang’s recent paper in Global Biogeochemical Cycles was highlighted in the Eos Research Spotlight, “A New Model Yields a Better Picture of Methane Fluxes.” The Research Spotlights summarize the research and findings of the best accepted articles for the broad Earth and space science community!
September 25, 2017
Dr. Yang and colleagues’ paper, “Evaluating the classical versus an emerging conceptual model of peatland methane dynamics,” was published online in Global Biogeochemical Cycles.
July 7, 2017
Dr. Yang, along with Dr. Robert Sanford of the UIUC Geology Department, received a $150,000 grant from the Ecosystem Science program of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology. They will work with senior personnel, Dr. Joanne Chee-Sanford (USDA-ARS), on the project titled “Unraveling the paradox of dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) in upland soils.” The team will use state-of-the-art stable isotope and molecular techniques to answer the following the questions: (1) Where can DNRA occur, and why? (2) Who performs DNRA? and (3) How important is DNRA relative to denitrification as a fate of nitrate, and what controls the competition between these two pathways?
April 27, 2017
Congratulations to Ph.D. student, Georgia Seyfried, who received the Francis M. and Harlie M. Clark Research Support Grant from the UIUC School of Integrative Biology! This award provides a $1,000 to support her summer research.
April 20, 2017
Congratulations to Integrative Biology undergraduates, Natcha Suriyavirun and Joseph Edwards! Natcha earned High Distinction for her senior thesis research titled, “Historical soil drainage effects on soil properties, microbial community composition, and greenhouse gas emissions.” She also won the $300 Integrative Biology Distinction Award for excellence in the pursuit of knowledge. Joe earned Highest Distinction for his senior thesis research titled, “Evaluating the use of biochar in mitigating nitrous oxide emissions related to microbial nitrification and denitrification activity in an Illinois maize fields.” Joe also won the $300 Helen Hess Award for a Biology student whose research report was of high merit with respect to the research contribution and written presentation. Both Natcha and Joe’s research were conducted in collaboration with microbial ecologist, Dr. Angela Kent (UIUC Natural Resources and Environmental Science), and Joe’s research was based in the lab of agronomist, Dr. Cameron Pittelkow (UIUC Crop Sciences).
March 17, 2017
Congratulations to Ph.D. student, Sada Egenriether, for winning an Honorable Mention from the Geosciences panel of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program!
April 20, 2016
Ph.D. student, Alex Krichels, received the Lebus Fund Award from the UIUC School of Integrative Biology in recognition of his outstanding academic achievement and research potential. This award includes $1000 to support his research this summer.
March 29, 2016
Integrative Biology junior, Natcha Suriyavirun, won the Robert J. Graesser Award for Undergraduate Research in Plant Biology. This award comes with $1000 to support her stipend and research expenses associated with her senior thesis research on soil drainage legacy effects on soil properties and microbial community composition in Champaign-Urbana agricultural soils. She is also working with graduate student, Alex Krichels, to determine how these legacy effects influence the response of soil greenhouse gas fluxes to contemporary precipitation events.
March 22, 2016
We are thrilled to have three exceptional new graduate students joining the lab in Fall 2016! Sada Egenriether and Georgia Seyfried won the prestigious Illinois Distinguished Fellowship that provides three years of funding for the top incoming graduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Georgia and Caitlin O’Neill won two-year fellowships to join the last cohort of the Vertically Integrated Training in Genomics IGERT program at UIUC. Sada will be co-advised by Dr. Angela Kent, a soil microbial ecologist in the UIUC Natural Resources and Environmental Science department, and will work on the recently funded projects on dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium in agricultural soils.
March 18, 2016
Drs. Yang and Whendee Silver’s paper, “Net soil-atmosphere fluxes mask patterns in gross production and consumption of nitrous oxide and methane in a managed ecosystem,” was published in Biogeosciences.
December 31, 2015
The Illinois Nutrient Research and Education council awarded $125,000 to Drs. Angela Kent (PI), Wendy Yang, and Martin Bohn to study “Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonium: An Unexplored Microbial Pathway for Nitrate Retention in Agricultural Soils.” This study complements the USDA-funded study to advance our understanding of the environmental and genetic potential for dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium to occur in Midwest agricultural soils and how management practices could maximize this potential.
December 28, 2015
Dr. Yang was awarded a $100,000 USDA AFRI Exploratory grant to study “Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonium: An Unexplored Microbial Pathway for Nitrate Retention in Agricultural Soils.” Dr. Angela Kent from the UIUC Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science is co-PD.
December 15, 2015
Drs. Yang and Whendee Silver’s paper, “Gross nitrous oxide production drives net nitrous oxide fluxes across a salt marsh landscape,” was accepted by Global Change Biology.
December 4, 2015
Dr. Yang presented at the UIUC Plant Biology Departmental Colloquium. The title of her talk was “Does trait-based nutrient limitation drive belowground carbon and nitrogen cycling in a lower montane tropical forest?”
October 19, 2015
Dr. Yang presented about her research conducted as a 2014-2015 National Great River Research and Education Center (NGRREC) Faculty Fellow at the NGRREC 2nd Annual Day of Science in Alton, IL. Her talk was titled, “Investigating the fate of nitrate in agricultural soils, including nitrogen cycling processes and the export of nitrate to streams and rivers.”
September 28-29, 2015
Dr. Yang participated in the Cross Critical Zone Observatory Biogeochemistry SAVI workshop at the University of California, Riverside. In the next year, look for a paper summarizing what workshop participants considered the major biogeochemistry questions in the critical zone, which is defined as the zone from bedrock to the top of the canopy.
August 10-14, 2015
Dr. Yang, Will Eddy, Alex Krichels, and Nate Lawrence traveled to Baltimore, MD for the Centennial Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Wendy gave a talk titled, “Controls on potential iron reduction in soils from diverse ecosystems.” Alex presented a poster titled, “Does drainage history mediate the response of greenhouse gas emissions to precipitation in an agricultural field?” Nate presented a poster titled, “Mycorrhizal mediation of nitrogen deposition effects on extracellular enzyme activity and soil carbon pools in a montane tropical forest.” Will presented a poster from his dissertation work with Sarah Hobbie: “In situ experimental warming has few effects on the temperature sensitivity of hydrolytic soil enzyme Michaelis-Menten kinetics in two southern boreal forest ecosystems.”
August 3, 2015
Dustin Park and Natcha Suriyavirun, our iBio Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows, presented about their summer research projects at the UIUC iBio Research Symposium. Dustin’s talk was titled, “Does dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium occur in agricultural soils?” Natcha gave a talk titled, “How do soil aggregate separation methods affect aggregate greenhouse gas fluxes?”
April 29, 2015
Dr. Yang received the Joseph B. Hawkes Research Award from the UIUC School of Integrative Biology for a proposal written by her and postdoc, Will Eddy, titled “Assessing Controls on Soil Carbon Storage as an Ecosystem Service Provided by Woody Polyculture Systems.” This $10,000 award will fund research on working woody polyculture farms throughout the Midwest.
December 18-19, 2014
Dr. Yang, together with Dr. Daniel Liptzin, Dr. Sophie Nixon, and Dr. Jemma Wadham, organized a session entitled, “Iron Cycling in Terrestrial Ecosystems and Extreme Environments” at the AGU Fall Meeting. The poster session (B41H) was at 8am-12:20 pm on Thursday, December 11, in Moscone West; Wendy gave a poster (B41H-0157) called, “High Potential for Iron Reduction in Upland Soils from Diverse Terrestrial Ecosystems.” The oral session was at 4-6 pm on Friday, December 12, in Moscone South 102. We had a great lineup of invited speakers including Dr. Oliver Chadwick, Dr. Scott Fendorf, Dr. Eric Roden, and Dr. Whendee Silver.
August 5, 2014
Lily Zhao presented her summer research at the 2014 National Great Rivers Research and Education Center Intern Symposium in Alton, IL. Her poster and talk were titled, “Evaluating soil greenhouse gas emissions from multifunctional perennial buffers.”
June 25, 2014
The UIUC Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) awarded our project, “Multifunctional Woody Polyculture for Sustainability Food Production,” led by Dr. Sarah Taylor Lovell (Crop Sciences) with Co-PIs, Dr. Wendy Yang (Plant Biology & Geology), Dr. Nick Paulson (Agricultural & Consumer Economics). Dr. Jeremy Guest (Civil & Environmental Engineering), Dr. Michelle Wander (Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences), and Dr. Bruce Branham (Crop Sciences). For more information, see the project description at the iSEE website or the Multifunctional Landscape website.
April 28, 2014
Dr. Yang was named a National Great Rivers Research and Education Center Faculty Fellow for 2014-2015.
April 24, 2014
Dr. Yang gave a talk, “High Potential for Iron Reduction in Upland Soils from Diverse Terrestrial Ecosystems,” at the North-Central Section GSA Meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska.
April 4, 2014
Dr. Yang received an award from the UIUC Campus Research Board for her proposal, “Trait-based nutrient limitation: Drivers of belowground carbon and nitrogen cycling response to nitrogen deposition in a tropical montane forest.”
February 7, 2014
Dr. Yang presented at the Plant Biology Grad Recruiting Sampler Colloquium. Her talk was titled, “Studying Ecological and Biogeochemical Processes in a Changing World.”
January 24, 2014
Dr. Yang gave a talk for the UIUC Natural Resources and Environmental Science departmental colloquium titled,”Towards Understanding Controls on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Terrestrial Ecosystems.”
December 9, 2013
Dr. Yang presented on “Controls on Gross Fluxes of Nitrous Oxide and Methane from an Active Agricultural Ecosystem” at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco.
November 21, 2013
Dr. Yang served on a panel for the UIUC Postdoctoral Affairs Office’s professional development event, “Negotiating a Start up Package.”
November 8, 2013
Dr. Yang presented about “Iron as a Catalyst for Redox Sensitive Biogeochemical Processes” at the UIUC Geology departmental colloquium.
October 25, 2013
Dr. Yang presented about “Invasive Perennial Pepperweed Effects on Soil Nitrogen Cycling” at the UIUC Plant Biology departmental colloquium.
October 18, 2013
Dr. Yang and Jonathan Treffkorn joined Dr. Rich Phillip’s lab for a fun day of hiking in the hardwood forests located near Bloomington, IN. It was an interesting day sampling soil greenhouse gas emissions using borrowed field equipment, but we look forward to seeing if nitrogen fertilization and mycorrhizal associations affect greenhouse gas emissions. A highlight of the day was zapping the soil to see if earthworm burrowing caused a sudden release of greenhouse gases from the soil!
October 17, 2013
Dr. Yang gave a talk, “Towards Understanding the Controls on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Terrestrial Ecosystems” for the School of Public and Environmental Affairs’ Environmental Science Seminar at Indiana University.