Serita D. Frey, Ph.D.

Serita D. Frey, Ph.D.



The research in my lab focuses on how human activities are impacting terrestrial ecosystems, with an emphasis on soil biota and nutrient cycling processes. We are specifically interested in how anthropogenic stressors (e.g., climate change, nitrogen deposition, agricultural management, invasive species) affect the composition and diversity of soil microbial communities and microbial-mediated carbon and nitrogen cycles. We work at the interface between ecosystem science, microbial ecology and soil science, combining microbiological methods with stable isotope analysis and a variety of soil physical and chemical approaches to examine structure-function linkages.


  • 1999 Ph.D. (Ecology), Colorado State University
  • 1992 M.S. (Environmental Science), University of Virginia
  • 1988 B.S. (Environmental Science), University of Virginia

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

  • NR 501: Studio Soils
  • NR 706/806: Soil Ecology

Selected Publications

Melillo, J.M., S.D. Frey, K.M. DeAngelis, W. Werner, M. Bernard, F.P. Bowles, G. Pold, M.A. Knorr, and A.S. Grandy.. 2017. Long-term Pattern and Magnitude of Soil Carbon Feedback to the Climate System in a Warming World. Science (in press).

Anthony, M.A., S.D., Frey, and K.S., Stinson. 2017. Fungal community homogenization, shift in dominant trophic guild, and appearance of novel taxa in forests invaded by an exotic plant. Ecosphere 8(9), Article e01951.

van Diepen, L.T.A., S.D. Frey, E.A. Landis, E.W. Morrison, A. Pringle. 2017. Fungi exposed to chronic nitrogen enrichment are less able to decay leaf litter. Ecology 98(1), 5-11.

Geyer, K.M., E. Kyker-Snowman, A.S. Grandy, and S.D. Frey. 2016. Microbial carbon use efficiency: Accounting for population, community, and ecosystem-scale controls over the fate of metabolized organic matter. Biogeochemistry DOI 10.1007/s10533-016-0191-y

Morrison, E.W., S.D. Frey, J.J. Sadowsky, L. van Diepen, W.K. Thomas, and A. Pringle. 2016. Chronic nitrogen additions fundamentally restructure the soil fungal community in a temperate forest. Fungal Ecology 23, 48-57.

Andrews, S. and S.D. Frey. 2015. Studio structure improves student performance in an undergraduate introductory soil science course. Natural Sciences Education 40, 60-68.

Contosta, A.R., S.D. Frey, A.B. Cooper. 2015. Soil microbial communities vary as much over time as with chronic warming and nitrogen additions. Soil Biology & Biochem. 88, 19-24.

Frey S.D., Ollinger S, Nadelhoffer K, Bowden R, Brzostek E, Burton A, Caldwell B, Crow S, Goodale C, Grandy S, Finzi A, Kramer M, Lajtha K, Martin M, McDowell W, Minocha R, Templer P, Wicking K. 2014. Chronic nitrogen additions suppress decomposition and sequester soil carbon in a temperate forest. Biogeochemistry 121, 305-316.

Frey, S.D., J. Lee, J. Melillo, and J.W. Six. 2013. The temperature response of soil microbial efficiency and its feedback to climate. Nature Climate Change 3, 395-398.

Contosta, A.R., S. D. Frey, and A. B. Cooper. 2011. Seasonal dynamics of soil respiration and nitrogen mineralization in chronically warmed and fertilized soils. Ecosphere 2(3), 1-21.

Frey, S.D., R. Drijber, H. Smith, and J. Melillo. 2008. Microbial biomass, functional capacity, and community composition after twelve years of soil warming.  Soil Biology & Biochemistry 40, 2904-2907.

Knorr, M., S.D. Frey, and P.S. Curtis. 2005. Nitrogen additions and litter decomposition: a meta-analysis.  Ecology 86, 3252-3257.

Frey, S.D., M. Knorr, J. Parrent, and R.T. Simpson. 2004. Chronic nitrogen enrichment affects the structure and function of the soil microbial community in a forest ecosystem.  Forest Ecology and Management 196, 159-171.

Simpson, R.T., S.D. Frey, J. Six, and R.K. Thiet. 2004. Preferential accumulation of microbial carbon in aggregate structures of no-tillage soils.  Soil Science Society of America Journal 68, 1249-1255.

Frey, S.D., J. Six and E.T. Elliott. 2003. Reciprocal transfer of carbon and nitrogen by decomposer fungi at the soil-litter interface.    Soil Biology & Biochemistry 35, 1001-1004.

Frey, S.D., E.T. Elliott, K. Paustian and G. Peterson.  2000. Fungal translocation as a mechanism of exogenous nitrogen inputs to decomposing surface residues in a no-tillage agroecosystem.  Soil Biology & Biochemistry 32, 689-698.                                               

Frey, S.D., E.T. Elliott and K. Paustian. 1999. Bacterial and fungal abundance and biomass in conventional and no-tillage agroecosystems along two climatic gradients. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 31, 573-585.

Selected Service Activities

  • Co-Chair, Science, Technology, and Engagement Advisory Committee (STEAC), National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), 2016-

  • Soils Advisory Committee, Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University, 2016-

  • Editor-in-Chief, Issues in Ecology, 2012-

  • Board of Editors, Ecology and Ecological Monographs, 2010-

Serita Frey
James Hall, Room 172
Durham, NH 03824