Jessica Ernakovich, Ph.D.

Jessica Ernakovich, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Research interests

I investigate how microorganisms interact with their environment to shape the functioning of ecosystems. I take a holistic, community level approach to understand the feedbacks between environmental conditions and microbiome assembly—probing how interactions between microbial communities and their chemical environment can inform large-scale ecosystem processes, such as the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nitrogen. I am interested in microbial communities in both native and managed systems, and have worked to study microbiomes and their functions from the frozen permafrost of the Arctic tundra to the burnt ochre soils of the Australian Outback. I am currently working on developing and implementing methods merging stable isotopes with genomic tools to explicitly link microbial community structure with function, and to probe questions about community assembly, niche differentiation, succession and turnover in microbial communities.


2014 Ph.D., Ecology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins

2002 B.S. (cum laude), Chemistry, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Prospective students

I am currently seeking a graduate student to join the lab. If you are interested in soil ecology, genomics, and/or using isotopes to answer ecological questions, please email me your CV and a brief description of your interests.

I am also seeking two undergraduates: one to work on compiling and managing a database of Arctic microbial communities and another to help with performing standard molecular work (such as making buffers, creating qPCR standards, performing PCR and qPCR, and so on). If interested, please email a resume and brief description of your interests.

Selected publications

Ernakovich, J. G., Lynch, L. M., Brewer, P. E., Calderón, F. J., & Wallenstein, M. D. (2017). Redox and temperature-sensitive changes in microbial communities and soil chemistry dictate greenhouse gas loss from thawed permafrost. Biogeochemistry, 1–18.

Ernakovich, J. G., Evans, T. A., Macdonald, B., & Farrell, M. (2016). The effect of ecosystem engineers on N cycling in an arid agroecosystem. Proceedings of the International Nitrogen Initiative Conference, Solutions to Improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency for the World, 4–8.

Schädel, C., Bader, M. K. F., Schuur, E. A. G., Biasi, C., Bracho, R., Čapek, P., De Baets, S., Diáková, K., Ernakovich, J., et al. (2016). Potential carbon emissions dominated by carbon dioxide from thawed permafrost soils. Nature Climate Change, 6(10), 950–953.

Ernakovich, J. G., Wallenstein, M. D., & Calderón, F. J. (2015). Chemical Indicators of Cryoturbation and Microbial Processing throughout an Alaskan Permafrost Soil Depth Profile. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 79(3), 783–793.

Ernakovich, J. G. & Wallenstein, M. D. (2015). Permafrost microbial community traits and functional diversity indicate low activity at in situ thaw temperatures. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 87(c), 78–89.

Treat, C. C., Natali, S. M., Ernakovich, J., Iversen, C. M., Lupascu, M., McGuire, A. D., et al. (2015). A pan-Arctic synthesis of CH4 and CO2 production from anoxic soil incubations. Global Change Biology, 21(7), 2787–2803.

Ernakovich, J. G., Hopping, K. A., Berdanier, A. B., Simpson, R. T., Kachergis, E. J., Steltzer, H., & Wallenstein, M. D. (2014). Predicted responses of arctic and alpine ecosystems to altered seasonality under climate change. Global Change Biology, 20(10), 3256–3269.

Wallenstein, M., Allison, S. D., Ernakovich, J., & Steinweg, J. M. (2010). Controls on the temperature sensitivity of soil enzymes: a key driver of in situ enzyme activity rates. Soil Enzymology.

Jessica Ernakovich Headshot
56 College Rd.
James Hall Rm 176
Durham, NH 03824