Meet the Team

SoilBioME Group photo taken outdoors in front of a campus building


Leadership Team


Jessica Ernakovich

Jessica Ernakovich is a microbial ecologist and biogeochemist whose research aims to understand how disturbance from environmental change—ranging from agricultural management to permafrost thaw—affects the function of ecosystems, with a specific emphasis on greenhouse gas production, soil organic matter formation, and nitrogen mineralization. Her research team does collaborative science investigating how microbial communities interact with and function in their physical, chemical, and biological environment using a mixture of science tools—including high-throughput sequencing of nucleic acids and tracing of chemical transformations with stable isotopes.

Faculty Profile

Jessica Ernakovich PI


Serita Frey 

Serita Frey is a microbial ecologist with over 30 years of experience studying microbes in the environment. Her research examines how environmental change is altering the structure and function of forest ecosystems, with an emphasis on soil microbial communities and nutrient cycling processes. She works at the interface between microbial ecology, ecosystem science, and global change biology, combining microbiological and -omics tools with stable isotope analysis and a variety of soil physical and chemical approaches to examine structure-function linkages. Her research team maintains five long-term global change experiments at the Harvard Forest Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) site.

Faculty Profile

Serita Frey PI


Stuart Grandy 

Stuart Grandy is a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry whose research program examines the role of soil organisms in regulating soil carbon cycling, trace gas emissions, nitrogen cycling and productivity. His team integrates microbial-explicit models, emerging biogeochemical concepts and data. They are currently focused on soil health, soil organic matter dynamics, and rethinking from where and how plants and microbes mobilize and obtain bioavailable nitrogen.

Faculty Profile

Stuart Grandy


Laboratory Managers

Amanda Daly

Grandy Lab Manager and Ph.D. Candidate in Earth and Environmental Science 

Amanda Daly’s fascination with soils sprang from a love for complex ecosystems, the mysteries of the invisible, and the booming local food movement in her home state of Vermont. Trained as an ecologist and molecular biologist, she seeks to hone our understanding of soil organic nitrogen cycling to enable land-management strategies that maintain ecosystem health and productivity. She is also passionate about being of service to the broader community whether by supporting farmers, writing in accessible ways about science, or supporting future scientists from underrepresented groups who wish to pursue careers in STEM.

Amanda Daly Lab Manager


Mel Knorr 

Mel Knorr manages Serita Frey’s soil microbiology lab, works closely with graduate students on their various projects, and maintains several long-term experiments at the Harvard Forest LTER. Her specific interests involve exploring relationships among C and N cycling and microbial community composition as impacted by chronic warming and N deposition. 

Mel Knorr lab supervisor


Research Scientist

Hannah Holland-Moritz

Postdoctoral researcher

Hannah Holland-Moritz is a post-doctoral researcher. She uses molecular and computational tools to study plant-associated and soil microbial communities. Her research focuses on the environmental conditions which influence community assembly and the molecular mechanisms that underpin community functional traits. She is particularly interested in using microbial functional traits in conjunction with community assembly processes to develop more accurate predictive models of carbon release. In addition to her research interests, Dr. Holland-Moritz is passionate about science communication, diversity and inclusion in STEM, and lowering barriers to acquisition of computational skills among early career scientists.

Hannah Holland-Moritz post doctoral researcher


Research Team

Adeena Ahsan

Master’s Student

Adeena Ahsan is a graduate student at UNH and completed her undergraduate degree at Minerva University. Her research background includes climate change and population dynamics modeling, analyzing Devonian fish fossils, and citizen science.  

Adeena Ahsan


Nathan Alexander

Master's student

Nathan began as a lab technician in the Ernakovich lab, assisting other lab members in their research, including preparation and processing of soil samples, conducting dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen extractions, and performing DNA extractions on various tundra plant species. He is also assisting in the construction of the lab's isotope labelling chamber. Nathan has now started a Master’s project where he will continue this work within his research projects. 

Nathan Alexander lab tech


Pax Bakke

Master’s student 

Pax Bakke is a Master's student working with Jessica Ernakovich to learn how microbial communities in permafrost soils are affected by depth and glacial history. As an undergraduate at Minerva University, Pax majored in Earth's Systems, while also learning as much as possible about political sciences, effective communication, and curriculum design. Their interest in soil science was sparked by a summer spent researching how fungi in leaf litter in El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico respond to hurricanes and droughts.  

Pax Bakke Master's student


Emma Bergh

Ph.D. student 

Emma Bergh is a PhD student in Stuart Grandy’s lab, studying mineral-associated organic matter and nitrogen cycling in agroecosystems. In her free time, Emma enjoys playing board games, hiking, and hanging out with her two pet bunnies. 

Emma Bergh PhD student


Nathan Blais

Ph.D. student 

Nate Blais recently completed his master’s degree here in the Ernakovich lab at UNH researching permafrost soil structure and its influence on microbial communities. Now, he is pursuing his PhD researching soil biogeochemistry in agricultural systems. Besides his interest in science, he loves all things sports and is currently focusing on racing mountain bikes for the UNH team. 

Nathan Blais PhD student


Samuel Bratsman

Ph.D. student 

Samuel Bratsman is a PhD student in the Ernakovich Lab, studying arctic permafrost microbial communities. Sam's background is in human-induced changes to aquatic biogeochemistry and harmful algal blooms, which he studied during his Master's at Brigham Young University. Outside of research, he enjoys road biking and birding. 

Samuel Bratsman PhD student


Andre Chiang

Lab Technician 

Andre is an undergraduate lab technician studying Forestry and Plant Biology. His focus is on quantifying fungal biomass for a range of projects. He is also particularly enthusiastic about field days where he aids in collecting data for some of the Harvard Forest LTER sites. He enjoys identifying fungal bodies in the forest and learning alongside the Ph.D. and master's students on their current projects.  

Andre Chiang lab tech


Alma Hernández

Master’s student

Alma Hernández earned her bachelor's degree in Microbiology at the University of Texas at El Paso in 2021. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Ecosystem Science at UNH. Alma’s research interests focus on investigating the impact of Arctic tundra wildfires on soil microbial communities involved in nitrogen cycling. Her master's research work is held in conjunction with Woodwell Climate Research Center’s Polaris Project and UNH graduate work funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. 

Alma Hernadez Master's student


Lee Hildebrand

Master’s student 

Lee Hildebrand is a graduate student at UNH who is researching the fate of nitrogen in agricultural soils and how different soil nutrient pools cycle nitrogen. Lee has a background in environmental science and Russian and is curious about how different soil nutrient pools store nitrogen and exchange it with the environment around them. Lee is specifically investigating soil particulate organic matter (POM) and mineral associated organic matter (MAOM) and their roles in soil nitrogen cycling. 

Lee Hildebrand MS Student


Manjot Kaur Rekhi

Ph.D. student 

Manjot Kaur Rekhi is a PhD student (Earth & Environmental Science) in the Grandy lab. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Hons.) from Punjab Agricultural University, India in 2019. She completed her master's degree in Agronomy (Soil and Environmental Chemistry) from Kansas State University researching on the potential of soil-based microbial fuel cells to sense nutrient dynamics. Her current focus is on agricultural nitrogen use efficiency. She is particularly interested in tracing isotopically-labelled nitrogen from inorganic fertilizers into agricultural pools, including soil organic matter, soil microbes and, ultimately, crop biomass. Her bigger goal is to promote sustainable agriculture and help solve environmental issues related to nutrient cycling. Apart from this, Manjot has a keen interest in public speaking. 

Manjor Kaur Rekhi, PhD student


Thomas Moratore

PhD Student

Bio TK

Thomas Muratore, PhD student


Mariah Reitzel

Lab Technician

Mariah is a Lab Technician in the Frey lab. She is interested in assisting in research projects including ergosterol extraction for estimating fungal biomass and measuring soil microbial function through respiration measurements in the field. She is also learning about how soil warming affects the environment and ecosystem in New England. 

Mariah Reitzel labtech


Sean Schaefer

Ph.D. candidate 

Sean Schaefer is a Ph.D. candidate in Natural Resources where he studies microbial ecology. His primary interests include arctic ecology, biogeochemistry, plant-microbe interactions, and mycorrhizal ecology. His research examines how mycorrhizosphere dynamics can influence soil organic carbon decomposition and global carbon cycling. 

Sean Schaefer, PhD student


Else Schlerman

Ph.D. Student 

Else Schlerman is a first year Ph.D. student working with Stuart Grandy and Jessica Ernakovich.  Her research focuses on refining global climate models to better predict changing carbon dynamics in the Arctic permafrost.  Prior to graduate school, she led wilderness trail crews, apprenticed on an organic vegetable farm, and taught physics to high school and undergraduate students. 

Else Schlerman, PhD Student


Cristhian dos Santos Teixeira

Postdoctoral Researcher

Cristhian hails from Brazil and has a background in Agronomy, holding a degree in Agronomy, a Master's degree in Ecology, and a Doctorate in Agronomy. Cristhian started his professional career as a field agronomist and has gradually developed skills and competencies in both practical and theoretical aspects of agronomy and ecology. Currently, as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of New Hampshire, his particular research interest is in carbon dynamics and microbial ecology within threatened natural ecosystems and agroecosystems.

Cristhian Teixeira post doctoral researcher


Josh Trombley

Master’s student 

Josh Trombley is interested in examining how global-change stressors drive evolutionary processes in soil fungi, with special focus on how soil warming and nitrogen deposition impact fungal genes associated with decomposition and carbon dynamics in temperate forest ecosystems.

Josh Trombley, Master's student


Jennie Wuest

Master’s student 

Jennie Wuest is interested in the structure and function of soil fungal communities especially in relation to their response to global change factors caused by anthropogenic activity. She would like to answer questions about the global implication of these responses and how they can be used to predict ecosystem changes. 

Jennie Wuest, Master's student



Mark Anthony, Ambizione Fellow, Ecosystem Ecology Unit, Swiss Federal Research Institute

Sarah Andrews, Teaching, Learning, and Technology Assessment Consultant, University of Colorado, Boulder

Lukas Bernhardt, CEO, Bernhardt Moving

Tim Bowles, Assistant Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Rachel Buck, Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University

Alix Contosta, Assistant Research Professor, University of New Hampshire

Buck Castillo, Director of Research

Stacey Doherty, Research Scientist, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Sarah Eisenlord, Technical and Grant Writer, LanzaTech

Kevin Geyer, Assistant Professor of Ecology, Young Harris College, GA

Janice Gilbert, Founder and Executive Director, Invasive Phragmites Control Centre, Ontario, Canada

Andrea Jilling, Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina

Cynthia Kallenbach, Assistant Professor, McGill University

Elizabeth Landis, Microbiome Engineer, Columbia University

Jessica Mackay, Science Communicator

Jessica Moore, Post-doctoral Researcher, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN

Eric Morrison, Research Scientist, University of New Hampshire

Joy O’Brien, PhD student & DoD SMART Fellow, Indiana University Bloomington

Gregory Pec, Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Nebraska Kearney

Adriana Romero-Oliveras, Assistant Professor of Biology at New Mexico State University

Lindsey Scott, Research Assistant and Lab Manager, Woodwell Climate Research Center, Woods Hole, MA

Rodney Simpson, Research and Business Manager, EcoCore Analytical Services, Colorado State University

Ryan Stephens, Assistant Professor, East Tennessee State University

Rachel Thiet, Core Faculty, Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Antioch University

Lisa Tieman, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

Linda van Diepen, Associate Professor, University of Wyoming

Chelsea Vario, Senior Managing Consultant, Energy and Environmental Economics, Boston

Shana Whitney, Project Scientist, Woodard & Curran, Portland, ME

Emily Whalen, Postdoctoral Research, Critical Ecology Lab, Oakland, CA

Kyle Wickings, Assistant Professor, Cornell University