University of Wisconsin–Madison

Laura Szymanski

Title: Graduate student (Ph.D.)


M.S., Geography, University of Wisconsin- Madison, 2015 B.S., Biology, University of Wisconsin- Madison, 2010

Current Research

My research studies the effects of changes in land cover on SOM stabilization by comparing rates of microbial respiration and soil carbon turnover for soils before and after crop establishment on different soil types. I am using a land conversion approach and am comparing the effects of four different agricultural crop types established on perennial grass cover: corn, switchgrass, poplar, and native prairie. The availability of archived soils, collected prior to crop establishment, will provide the unique opportunity to measure changes in soil carbon stocks and turnover time since establishment of the different crop types. To better understand how soil specific properties, such as texture, mineralogy and soil chemistry, affect carbon storage I am comparing the same cropping systems on two different soil types, a Mollisol from southern Wisconsin (silt loam) and an Alfisol from southwestern Michigan (sandy loam). I am comparing soils from two depths, 0-10cm and 25-50cm, to evaluate changes in soil carbon dynamics with depth that occur due to differences in rooting characteristics, chemistry and depths, within the different crop treatments. I am separating archived soils, collected in 2008, and soils collected in 2013, following the fifth growing season, into three different SOM pools via acid hydrolysis and a long-term, one-year lab incubation to assess pool size and corresponding carbon turnover time. Respired CO2 will be collected and analyzed for 13C and 14C radiocarbon to elucidate the age of the carbon being respired throughout the incubation, as well as what SOM pool it can be attributed to. Additional analysis of bulk soil radiocarbon will show the change in the age of the carbon following five years of land conversion to agricultural treatments. This research will contribute to the understanding of how changes in land cover on different soil types influence the rate of organic matter decomposition and soil carbon dynamics.

Courses Taught

Head Teaching Assistant, Introduction to the Earth System (Geog 120) Dr. Erika Marin-Spiotta and Dr. John Williams, UW-Madison Department of Geography, Spring 2016 Teaching Assistant, Introduction to the Earth System (Geog 120) Dr. Erika Marin-Spiotta and Dr. John Williams, UW-Madison Department of Geography, Fall 2015

Recent Publications

Radeloff, V. C., Williams, J.W., Bateman, B.L., Burke, K.D., Carter, S.K., Childress, E.S., Cromwell, K.J., Gratton, C., Hasley, A.O., Kraemer, B.M., Latzka, A.W., Marin-Spiotta, E., Meine, C.D., Munoz, S.E., Neeson, T.M., Pidgeon, A.M., Rissman, A.R., Rivera, R.J., Szymanski, L.M., and J. Usinowicz. 2015. The rise of novelty in ecosystems. Ecological Applications 25(8): 2051-2068 Mayes, M., Marin-Spiotta, E., Szymanski, L., Erdogan, M. A., Ozdogan, M., and M. Clayton. 2014. Soil type mediates effects of land use on soil carbon and nitrogen in the Konya Basin, Turkey. Geoderma 232-234:517-527

Contact Information


Mailing Address:

University of Wisconsin- Madison Department of Geography 550 N Park St Madison, WI 53706