Seth Spawn is an ecologist in the Department of Geography and the Nelson Institute’s Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE). His research integrates geography and ecological theory (1) to better understand the broad environmental and earth-system impacts of land-use change in the United States and (2) to explore the potential utility of land for carbon sequestration while also continuing to meet the growing global demand for agricultural products.
Prior to joining the Gibbs Lab, Seth worked at the Woods Hole Research Center where he both led and contributed to research on Arctic biogeochemistry, ecohydrology, and carbon emissions. This work, largely sought to uncover ecological mechanisms to better predict ecosystem responses to environmental change. Later, he moved to the University of Minnesota to join a team studying the impact of agricultural practices on plant-microbe interactions. Together they showed for the first time that global fertilizer application fundamentally alters the make-up of microbes living within plants and the complex web of interactions between those microbes and their host plant – outcomes that could directly affect plant yields, primary productivity, and disease suppression.
Seth received his B.A. in Biology (minors in Environmental Studies and Mathematical Biology) from St. Olaf College in 2014. Outside of the lab he is an avid cyclist, cook, and paddler and hopes to someday finish rebuilding his boat while listening to the late Guy Clark.