Dr. Julie Zinnert - PI



Research interests:  

My research centers on plant interactions with biotic and abiotic factors in the context of global change across spatial and temporal scales in coastal systems. The importance of sea-level rise, alterations in storm frequency, and temperature changes are at the forefront in explaining long-term changes in coastal plant communities. Trained as a plant physiological ecologist, I am interested in understanding the mechanisms responsible for individual species distributions under various environmental conditions to inform predictions for response to climate change. I approach questions at a variety of scales, working at the organismal level and across the landscape by combining cutting edge laboratory studies, field work, and remote sensing. I am co-PI at the Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR) Long-Term Ecological Researach (LTER) site. Current research includes 1) mechanisms of state change between grassland/shrubland, 2) functional composition and connectivity across the barrier island landscape, and 3) carbon dynamics in barrier island communities.


About me: 

I am a creative person and spend much of my non-working time knitting, sewing, designing, gardening, and traveling while raising two wonderful children. I believe that science should be accessible to all people and that students have ideas that need to be heard. As an advisor I view myself as facilitator and work to empower students to recognize their own expertise,  express their views, and find their passion for future career paths. Science is always evolving and there is no fixed path to achieving your goals. My students and post-docs contribute meanigfully to the direction and future of the Coastal Plant Ecology Lab.


B.S., Biology (2001)
M.S., Biology (2004), Virginia Commonwealth University
Ph.D., Integrative Life Sciences (2008), Virginia Commonwealth University
Dissertation: The relationship between lead optical properties and physiological responses for stress detection in coastal plant species

Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Post-doctoral Reserch Fellow (2008-2009)

Research Biologist, US Army Corps of Engineers (2009-2013)

Dr. Donald Young - Collaborator
Dr. Natasha Woods - Post-doc
Joe Brown - PhD student
Lauren Wood - PhD student
Michael Sinclair - MS Student
Audrey Kirschner - MS Student
Austin Tuley - MS Student
Nicole Keller - MS Student
Eddie Long - Undergraduate
Caroline Baucom - Undergraduate
Caitlin Bishop - Undergraduate

Recent news

How will climate change impact coastal communites? VCU news story

Congratulations to Ben Nettleton for successfully defending his MS thesis!

Recent Ecology paper on non-linear shifts from grassland to shrubland

VCU Island time

Other collaboration

CPEL is a member of the Nutrient Network. We maintain 2 sites on Hog and Metompkin Islands in order to understand how disturbance regime interacts with nutrient additions on coastal grassland communities.