Featured Faculty: Lucas Silva
“Solving puzzles as part of an interdisciplinary team has been a consistent source inspiration for me,” says Lucas Silva. “The transdisciplinary collaborative spirit observed through campus, and particularly salient in my home departments (ENVS & Geography), is the single most important factor that drew me to UO.” Indeed, Silva exemplifies this spirit of interdisciplinarity through his work and contributions to academia.
Silva joined the Environmental Studies program and Geography department this August and brings with him an acute expertise on terrestrial ecology. Specifically, Silva studies soil-plant-atmosphere (SPA) interactions as a means reconstruct, predict, and mitigate the impact of changes in climate and atmospheric composition on natural and managed ecosystems. “Our projects typically blend lab and field experiments with observations and statistical models / meta-analyses, to address critical gaps in knowledge toward simultaneously improving environmental and social sustainability,” he says.
Originally from Brazil, Silva joins us most recently from UC Davis where he was first a postdoctoral fellow in William Horwath’s Biogeochemistry & Nutrient Cycling Lab, and later a faculty member of the Department of Land, Air, & Water Resources. In Brazil, Silva first obtained a BS in Forestry, and was later encouraged to pursue a graduate degree abroad. “I did part of my MS at the University of Miami, where I received training in stable isotope ecology in Leonel Sternberg’s Lab,” says Silva, “and received my PhD from the University of Guelph, Canada, working in Madhur Anand’s Global Ecological Change & Sustainability Lab.” Through all of this, Silva’s interest in SPA feedbacks was shaped by 10 years of experience researching tropical forests and savannas of South America, temperate and boreal forests in North America, and alpine forest-grassland ecotones in Mexico and Tibet.
With a strong background in natural sciences, Silva recognizes the need for strong interdisciplinarity in the environmental field. “…Disciplines within the humanities (e.g. arts, philosophy, political sciences) are probably better equipped than the natural sciences to shape public perception and legislation toward reversing the climate crisis trajectory,” he says. “Scientists, in turn, have an obligation to generate and communicate reliable data to support decision-making and adaptive changes that will ensure environmental and social sustainability.”
The Environmental Studies program is excited and honored to welcome Silva as one of its newest faculty members. To read some of Silva’s most recent works, check out the following resources:
- “Word of mouth from nomadic herders led Lucas Silva into Tibetan forests and grasslands. What his team found was startling: Rapid forest growth in tune with what scientists had been expecting — but not yet seeing — from climatic changes triggered by rising levels of carbon dioxide and thawing permafrost” https://around.uoregon.edu/con
- “Soil carbon could be key to protecting global biodiversity and climate at same time” http://news.mongabay.com/2016/
02/soil-carbon-could-be-key-to -protecting-global-biodiversit y-and-climate-at-same-time/?n3 wsletter
- “Atmospheric carbon dioxide can change how trees use nutrients: Plants can uptake nitrogen directly from the atmosphere in unexpected ways” http://blogs.ucdavis.edu/egghe
ad/2015/09/18/atmospheric-chan ge-is-impacting-how-trees-grow /