Dr. Merritt Turetsky

Principal Investigator

Dr. Turetsky has more than 20 years of experience working in boreal and arctic ecosystems. Her work contributes to theoretical predictions of ecosystem structure and function, but it also applies to regulation of carbon in a global change world.


Dr. Turetsky has provided leadership to the Permafrost Carbon Network, NASA's ABoVE campaign, and the recently formed Canadian Permafrost Network. She sits on the executive committees of several international research networks and was selected last year as a AAAS Leshner Science Engagement Fellow.  She currently sits on the National Academies' Polar Research Board.


She is passionate about northern ecosystems and the people who depend on them. Through her research and teaching, she hopes to train the next generation of scientists in the interdisciplinary skills required to tackle ongoing challenges in the north related to food and water security, energy sustainability, carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, and landscape change.

A complete list of papers and publications can be viewed here.

       merritt.turetsky@colorado.edu             @queenofpeat

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Dr. Catherine Dieleman

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Catherine was recently awarded a prestigious NSERC postdoctoral fellowship and has played a central role in several NASA ABoVE funded projects related to wildfire activity in Canada. In the past couple of years, she also initiated an ambitious experiment testing the effects of deep nitrogen fertilization on permafrost ecosystem greenhouse gas emissions.


Ph.D. Students

Will Cox

Ph.D. Student

Will's research is focused on the many varied impacts of permafrost thaw on plant communities in boreal peatlands. Working out of the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research network near Fairbanks, Alaska, he's spent the last few summers tracking changes in plant community composition and greenhouse gas flux rates along a rapidly changing permafrost thaw gradient. He hopes to use these concurrent changes in the surface vegetation community and the subsurface permafrost integrity as an early warning system to identify potential hotspots of current and future thaw.

​​       William.Cox-2@colorado.edu


David Bysouth

Ph.D. Candidate

David recent completed his MSc research on peatland paleoecology at the University of Toronto and will be developing his PhD work to focus on agroecology in peat-rich soils of the Northwest Territories. This is an emerging topic of research in the Turetsky lab and we are excited to see how David's ideas develop!

​​       dbysouth@uoguelph.ca


Zhichao Jiao

Ph.D. Candidate

After completing a MSc thesis on soil science at the University of Alberta, Zhichao joined the lab to gain more experience in soil ecology. He is utilizing the Bonanza Creek LTER regional site network to examine long term changes in soil carbon and nitrogen stocks and quality in response to wildfire and shifts between conifer and deciduous dominance.

​​       zjiao@uoguelph.ca


Jesse Rush

Ph.D. Student

Jesse is interested in understanding how redox dynamics affect carbon dioxide and methane production under a changing climate. She specifically looks at how humic, iron and sulfur cycling are being affected by water table and vegetation manipulation at APEX. 

​​       Jessica.Rush@colorado.edu                          @LifesJustPeaty


Hailey Webb

Ph.D. Student

Hailey received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Montana State University in 2020 and then worked as a research assistant for the Woodwell Climate Research Center before deciding to pursue a Ph.D. She is interested in the controls on permafrost carbon vulnerability post-thaw (permafrost history, aggrading processes, ice content, residence time) and how that will improve estimates of carbon emissions under future climate warming scenarios.

​​       hailey.webb@colorado.edu                          @ArcticWebb

M.Sc. Students


Jessica McCuaig

M.Sc. Candidate

Jessica is studying wildfire and permafrost thaw in the Sahtu region of Northwest Territories. She completed her BSc in biology at the University of Guelph where she found her love for ecology. Jessica is interested in how fire impacts permafrost thaw and consequently changes the carbon storage of these permafrost peatland systems. 

​​       jmccuaig@uoguelph.ca



Thinking about graduate school?


Obtaining a MSc. or Ph.D can be an exciting and challenging step forward in your career. Ideally, prospective students will demonstrate enthusiasm, a background in ecology or relevant field, an understanding of the research method and basic statistics, and the ability to troubleshoot and be a good team member. If you think these qualities describe you, please take the time to read about our research projects and some of our recent publications. Then feel free to contact us by email with a description of your background and research interests.


Students are expected to form novel and independent hypotheses that capitalize on opportunities in the lab. Dr. Turetsky's goal as a mentor is to provide students with the guidance, encouragement and resources to complete this research. Current lab members are working on a wide variety of topics within carbon management and ecosystem ecology, including plant-soil feedbacks, nutrient limitations on plant and microbial productivity, controls on greenhouse gas fluxes, and the effects of disturbances (fire, permafrost thaw, plant invasions) on ecosystem function. We also conduct work related to food and water security.

Are you an undergrad interested in research?


Mentoring undergraduate students in the research method is an important and valued part of our jobs. We routinely hire undergraduate students as research assistants. There are also opportunities for committed students to develop thesis projects. If you are interested in gaining research experience, please look through the information on this website prior to contacting Dr. Turetsky by email with a description of your coursework, any relevant background, and career interests.



Members of the Turetsky lab are trained broadly in field ecology, statistics, vegetation ID, soil sampling and permafrost characterization. Because we have skills in plants, water, soil, and gas fluxes, scholars from the lab are well placed for a diversity of career options. In addition to pursing science, members of the Turetsky lab are now practicing medicine, law, city planning, journalism, and education.

A comprehensive list TBA, but past members of the Turetsky lab include:

Dr. Brian Benscoter

Dr. Evan Kane

Dr. Tobi Oke

Dr. Jason Martina

Dr. Kevin Wyatt

Dr. Alison Rober

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