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The [ecological] life and times of David Schimel. By: Steve Hasstedt Caroline Melle Heather Scott Kevin Wilcox. Education. BA in Biology and Applied Mathematics: 1977, Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts

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The ecological life and times of david schimel

The [ecological] life and times of David Schimel


Steve Hasstedt

Caroline Melle

Heather Scott

Kevin Wilcox


  • BA in Biology and Applied Mathematics: 1977, Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts

  • Entry point into ecology was taking intro classes to be better informed for general backpacking/camping trips

    • Drawn to the science of ecology, switched emphasis from math/stats and came to CSU

  • PhD in Rangeland Ecosystem Science: 1982, Colorado State University

    • Advisor: Dr. Bob Woodmansee

    • PhD Dissertation: The Effects of

      HillslopeProcesses on Nutrient and

      Organic Matter Dynamics in a Shortgrass Steppe. 1982

Education professional development
Education & Professional Development

  • Key phrases/words: large scale and international collaboration, increase the general knowledge, integration, synthesis

  • Broad ecosystem based perspectives fostered here at CSU

    • International relationships developed early

    • Working with Bob Woodmansee

  • Maintains contact & active collaboration with PhD advisor, faculty colleagues and students

Professional experience
Professional Experience

  • ‘76-77: Statistical Consultant, U Mass, Research Computing Center, Amhers

  • ‘77-79: Research Assoc, Marine Biological Laboratory, Ecosystems Center, Woods Hole, Mass.

  • ‘79-82: Grad Research Asst, NREL, CSU

  • ‘82-83: Postdoctoral Fellow, NREL, CSU

  • ‘83-86: Research Assoc, NREL, CSU

  • ‘86-present: Research Scientist, NREL, CSU

  • ‘88-89: National Research Council Senior Fellow, NASA/Ames Research Center

  • ‘89-95: Associate Prof, Dept of Forest & Wood Science, CSU

  • ‘90-06: Project Scientist, Climate System Modeling Program, Univ Corp for Atmospheric Research

  • ‘92-93: Scientist III, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

  • ‘92-97: Section Head, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, NCAR

  • ‘95: Senior Research Scientist, NREL, CSU

  • ‘95-present: Senior Scientist, NCAR

  • ‘97-00: Professor and Director, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

  • ‘06: Chief Executive Officer for National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)

Journal research affiliations
Journal/Research Affiliations


  • Agronomy Journal

  • Department of Energy

  • Ecology

  • Geoderma

  • Geophyscial Research Letters

  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles

  • Global Change Biology

  • Journal of Climate

  • Journal of Geophysical Research

  • Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres

  • Journal of Range Management

  • National Science Foundation

  • National Science Foundation: Panelist

  • Nature

  • Science

  • Soil Biology and Biochemistry

  • Soil Science Society of America Journal


  • Biogeochemistry

  • Ecological Applications

  • Global Change Biology


  • Ecological Applications

  • Editorial Board Annual Reviews of Ecology and Systematics

Notable advisees
Notable Advisees

  • Dennis Ojima: professor in the Department of Forest, Rangelands and Watershed Stewardship and senior research scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory

  • KarynCoppinger: Sr. Development Mgr for Invenenergy & Chairman of Wyoming Power Producers Coalition, wind energy generation

    • Daughter of his undergrad advisor!

  • HaraldBuggman: Professur fur Waldokologie, specializing in ecology of mountain regions and dendrochronology at ETH, Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)

Publications overview
Publications Overview

  • Contributed to over 400 publications from 1978-2010 (Google Scholar)

  • Cumulative works cited over 8500 times

  • Published in over 50 forums

  • Contributed to 6 books and 5 book series

Most cited publications
Most Cited Publications

  • Analysis of factors controlling soil organic matter levels in great-plains grasslands 1987

    • 2nd author

    • Published in Soil Society of America

    • Citations: 1444 times - 60/year

  • Terrestrial ecosystems and the carbon-cycle 1995

    • First author

    • Published in Global Change Biology

    • Citations: 577 - 36/year

  • Title: Observations and modeling of biomass and soil organic-matter dynamics for the grassland biome worldwide 1993

    • 3rd author +

    • Published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles

    • Citations: 438 - 24/year

Citations of works by year published
Citations of Works by Year Published

Terrestrial Ecosystems and the Carbon-Cycle

Observations and modeling of biomass and soil organic-matter

The ecological life and times of david schimel

  • Most cited publication: 1444 Citations

  • Schimel 2nd Author, Parton 1st Author

  • Published 1987 in Soil Society of America

  • Study done in the US Great Plains

  • Climatic and textural controls of SOC & N examined

  • Model of SOM quantity and composition and productivity over climatic gradients

  • Regional trends of SOM based on temperature, moisture, soil texture, and plant lignin

  • N inputs and grazing controls of SOM also considered

The ecological life and times of david schimel

  • Many existing publications on controls of SOM at the time, but 2 novel features of this publication:

    • First quantitative theory to explain amount & distribution of soil C based on climate factors

    • First to incorporate both spatial and temporal variability on large scales

    • Became the foundation for subsequent work by explaining patterns of variability on regional scales

    • Schimel originally wanted to publish model based on intensive sites, but was glad Parton won the argument to publish the model on regional scale

Common subjects of publications
Common Subjects of Publications IN GREAT-PLAINS GRASSLANDS

Publications by journal prominent and most published journals
Publications by Journal IN GREAT-PLAINS GRASSLANDSProminent and Most Published Journals

  • Ecology

    • 4 Publications

    • 1991-2001

    • Articles cited 369 times

  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles

    • 12 Publications

    • 1993-2002

    • Articles cited 1661 times

  • Global Change Biology

    • 7 Publications

    • 1995-2008

    • Articles cited 853 times

  • Nature

    • 3 Publications

    • 1998-2008

    • Articles cited 459 times

  • Science

    • 3 Publications

    • 1997-2010

    • Articles cited 338 times

The ecological life and times of david schimel

  • 1994 – 95:Convening lead author for chapters on Carbon cycling and impacts in North America

  • Awarded Nobel Prize in 2007

  • Described experience as, “ fun, exciting, terrific” and that he was “doing research not assessment”

The ecological life and times of david schimel

  • The National Ecological IN GREAT-PLAINS GRASSLANDSObservatory Network (NEON) is, in Dr. Schimel’s opinion, “…an opportunity to fill the data deficit.”

  • NEON will:

    • Collect data uniformly across the United States

    • Use large spatial and temporal scales to look at the impacts of:

      • Climate change

      • Land use change

      • Invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity.

  • Described by Science as, “The biggest project in the history of ecology… The Hubble telescope of ecology.” Data will be open source

  • Dr. Schimel is doing, at NEON, a lot of “what [he] got into Ecology to avoid” (managerial work) because he believes strongly in what NEON is trying to achieve.

Affiliations and awards the big stuff
Affiliations and Awards (the big stuff) IN GREAT-PLAINS GRASSLANDS

  • 1992 – Present - National Center for Atmospheric Research, Climate and Global Dynamics Division

  • Committee on Global Change Research in China, National Academy of Sciences

  • NASA

    • Earth Observing System Project

      • Chairman of the Biogeochemistry Panel

    • Topographic Science Working Group

Dr schimel s thoughts on csu

  • “so many outstanding graduates because of large amount of collaboration”

  • Coming to CSU

    • Nov. 19

    • 11:00am – noon Francis Clark Conference room B215 NESB

    • Insights across the decades: the development of biogeochimistry at and around CSU