Sasha C Reed

I am a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a member of the Southwest Biological Science Center. My research interests are centered within the fields of biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology. Currently, I study terrestrial ecosystems in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Perú, and Costa Rica. 


Current Research Interests
  • Climate variability and its effects on terrestrial ecosystems: Climate variability is known to significantly alter terrestrial ecosystems around the globe, with the potential to negatively affect a suite of ecosystem services. These controls also have the potential to create feedbacks that could alter the course of future climate. I have a variety of projects - ranging from climate manipulations in southwestern U.S. drylands and a Puerto Rican tropical wet forest to elevation gradients in Hawai'ian forests - aimed at elucidating how terrestrial ecosystems will respond to climate variability. In particular, I am interested in understanding the mechanisms behind observed ecosystem changes, with the overarching goal of not only bettering our understanding these systems, but of improving our predictions of future ecosystem function as well. The ability to span spatial and temporal scales is particularly important, and  I work closely with a number of collaborators in order to try and reach these research goals.
  • Biofuels development in the southwestern U.S.: Alternative energy offers a suite of potential benefits for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, adding to our economy, and reducing our dependence upon foreign oil. In particular, due to high solar energy and newer biofuel crop alternatives, bioenergy development in the southwestern U.S. could represent a significant source of biofuel energy. However, we know little about the potential for this region to act as an efficient biofuel energy source; what resources this development would require (irrigation, fertilization, etc.); what effects it would have on overall greenhouse gas budgets and local plant and animal communities; and what ecosystem consequences might follow from this development. I am currently conducting a multi-disciplinary assessment of biofuels in the southwestern U.S., integrating modeling efforts with field and laboratory assessments.
  • Invasive species, beetle infestation and ecosystem consequences: Beetles are affecting plant communities across the western U.S., and a relatively recent release of the Tamarisk Beetle (Diorhabda elongata) has caused major Tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) defoliation events along western river corridors. Understanding how this defoliation and likely death of Tamarisk will affect future riparian communities is at the heart of this research. I am part of a multi-Center USGS team working to assess the consequences of defoliation on exotic plant invasion, biogeochemical cycling, hydrology, plant-water interactions, and bird and mammal communities. The central goals are to understand what aspects of Tamarisk defoliation and mortality help determine the trajectory of future community composition and what management approaches might take advantage of this understanding to reduce exotic plant invasion and maintain ecosystem function.
  • Nitrogen deposition in the Four Corners Region, USA: Nitrogen deposition in the western U.S. has repeatedly been linked with lowered air quality, increased greenhouse gas emissions, altered plant community composition, reduced water quality, and modified fire regimes. Using modeling and field approaches in Arches, Canyonlands, and Mesa Verde National Parks, I am part of a research team investigating how increased nitrogen deposition in the Four Corners region could affect plant and soil communities and their function. In particular, we are asking questions about how nitrogen deposition could affect exotic plant invasion, the frequency of natural fire regimes, soil stability, greenhous gas emissions, water and air quality, and feedbacks between nitrogen deposition and multiple other aspects of terrestrial biogeochemical cycling.


Ph.D. in Ecology, University of Colorado at Boulder (August 2002-May 2008)

Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Institute of Arctic & Alpine Research (INSTAAR), Boulder, CO.

Co-advised by Alan R. Townsend and Steve K. Schmidt.


B.A. in Organic Chemistry, Colgate University (August 1993-May 1997)

Department of Chemistry, Hamilton, NY. Graduated magna cum laude.

Advised by David A. Modarelli.


Courses Outside My Universities:

CO2 Flux Methods Course led by Drs. Russ Monson, Dave Moore, and Paul Stoy, July 2012.

Dr. Jim Ehleringer’s Isotope Course at The University of Utah, June 2005.

Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) Tropical Ecology Program, January-March 2003.

NSF Environmental Geology and Environmental Philosophy Internship, Southwest Earth Studies Group, Durango, CO, May1997-August 1997.


Professional Experience

Research Ecologist, USGS, Moab, UT, May 2008-present.

Research Ecologist, USGS-SCEP Program, Moab, UT, 2005-2007 summers only.


Honors and Fellowships

Awardee, Ecological Society of American (ESA) Early Career Fellow. ESA nominates and selects early career fellows for making and showing promise of continuing to make outstanding contributions to the ecological sciences. March 2016.

Awardee, Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers in the early stages of their research careers. October 2011.

Recipient, Star Awardreceived for outstanding work with the Department of the Interior. October 2010.

Recipient, Graduate Student Research and Creative Works Award, University of Colorado at Boulder. One of two of the University’s graduating Ph.D. students whose dissertation was selected by faculty members from all disciplines as representing outstanding research and creative work. May 2008.

Fellow, USGS Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). Supported in creating a research project to model how soil gas fluxes in dryland ecosystems will vary under altered climate regimes. June-August of 2006 & 2007.

Recipient, Student Policy Award, Ecological Society of America (ESA). Graduate student chosen and funded by ESA to meet with members of Congress regarding national scientific funding. September 2006.

Selected Participant, AAAS Program for Excellence in Science. Nominated by the University of Colorado Vice Chancellor of Research to participate in a program rewarding praiseworthy graduate students working in the life sciences. August 2006.

Fellow, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Awarded April 2003; deferred until September 2005-May 2008.

Fellow, NSF IGERT Fellowship, Carbon Climate and Society Initiative (CCSI). August 2003-August 2005.

Selected Full Member, Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, Fall 2003-Present.

Recipient, Star Awardreceived for outstanding work with the Department of the Interior. May 2000.

Fellow, Wolk Foundationfellowship for promising student research. Summer 1996.

Recipient, Lawrence Award, awarded to one student annually for superior performance in organic chemistry. April 1996.

Selected Member, Phi Ea Sigma University Honor Society, chosen for academic excellence. April 1994-May 1997.

Selected Board Member, Phi Eta Sigma Aid Committee, elected for superior   research to a board that selected student grant applications for funding. September 1995-May 1997.

Nominee, Barry Goldwater Award, nationally nominated by Colgate University foracademic distinction. November 1994.