Current Research

I am currently a postdoctoral research associate with Dr. Diane  Ebert-May at Michigan State University. I am working on questions in Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) for biology education. Specifically, we are asking how the environment, self-efficacy and training impact teaching practices for early‑career faculty from around the country. My role is to build and maintain a database as well as conducting multivariate statistical analyses of the data we collect. I look forward to expanding my pedagogical and computational skills as well as building collaborations among ecologists and education researchers.

In addition to exploring professional development in early-career biology faculty, I am collaborating with colleagues at MSU and beyond on examining foliar uptake across plant species and other ecophysiological questions.

Current Questions:

How does water enter leaves? and how does it affect their physiology and ecology?

How does professional development affect best practices in teaching for biology faculty?

How have networks of hiring changed for biology faculty? How has research productivity changed across biology fields?

How can we detect changes in plant flammability and what are the consequences for ecosystems and landscapes?

Dissertation work

How does seasonal fog influence the fire regime for the central coast of California?

My dissertation takes a multi-scale approach to evaluate how fog affects the fire regime for the Santa Barbara region and the California coast from Ventura to Monterey. First I’m focusing my efforts on determining the effect of fog on live fuel moisture for several shrub species as changes in live fuel moisture have important consequences for fire disturbance. I will evaluate the influence of fog relative to other climate factors in affecting the seasonal change in live fuel moisture. To fully understand changes in live fuel moisture it is important to understand where plants are acquiring their water from during the summer drought.


In addition, I am using stable isotopes of Hydrogen and Oxygen to discern the source of water in plants during the late summer when fog events tend to occur. During my investigation of live fuel moisture I will also explore other means by which fog can influence the water budget of chaparral and CSS shrubs. Fog may affect shrub physiology and could be incorporated into plant tissue via fog drip or foliar uptake.


It is essential to understand the effect of fog on fuel moisture at the scale at which fires occur. I plan on evaluating records from several coastal counties and examining the relationship between meteorological variables, fuel moisture and fire size. With this dissertation I plan on understanding the interactions between fog, shrubs, fuel moisture and patterns of fire at multiple spatial scales.

Publications (* denotes undergraduate coauthor)

Emery, N., C. M. D’Antonio, and C. J. Still. 2017. Fog and live fuel moisture in coastal California shrublands. BioRxiv 

Ebert-May, D. and N. Emery. 2017. Teaching like a scientist: assessing your assessments. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 15(5), 227-227.

Emery, N. 2016. Foliar uptake in coastal California shrub species. Oecologia. 182(3), 731-742.

Emery, N. 2016. Writing an Ecology Research Proposal. EcoEd Digital Library. Ecological Society of America.

Emery, N. and J. Lesage*. 2015. Late summer fog use in the drought deciduous shrub, Artemisia californica (Asteraceae)Madroño, 150-157.

Chen, X., Emery, N., Garcia, E. S., Hanan, E. J., Hodges, H. E., Martin, T., … & Tague, C. 2013. Perspectives on disconnects between scientific information and management decisions on post-fire recovery in western US. Environmental management, 1-12.

Elseroad, A.; Emery, N. and L. Nelson. 2009. Changes in vegetation on range monitoring plots at Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility (NWSTF) Boardman from 1987-2008. Technical Report, The Nature Conservancy.

Elseroad, A. and N. Emery. 2009. Changes in vegetation at Lawrence Memorial Grasslands Preserve from 1993-2008. Technical Report, The Nature Conservancy.

Publications in progress

Emery, N. and A. Swider*. Fog deposition patterns in a coastal shrubland community. In prep.

Emery, N. and A. Pivavoroff. Flowering phenology predicts plant flammability. In prep.

Emery, N., D. Lin, and B. Cantwell. Hiring networks of University of California biology faculty. In prep for PLOS ONE.

Ma, S., D’Antonio, C. M., and N. Emery. Effects of Short Interval Wildfires on Southern California’s Shrubland Communities. In prep for Landscape Ecology.

Pivovaroff, A., Emery, N., Sharifi, M. R., Witter, M., Keeley, J. E., and P. W. Rundel. Live fuel moisture: The physiology of a fire fuel trait. Accepted (International Journal of Wildland Fire)

Foggy Ideas