Rebecca R. Hernandez, Ph.D.
UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow
Energy and Resources Group, University of California, Berkeley
Climate and Carbon Sciences Program, Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Personal website: www.rebeccarhernandez.com
My work examines processes where human and natural systems interact and those that elucidate the functioning of the Earth system. Answering pure ecological research questions and solving critical environmental problems through applied work are important to me. My research program to date is comprised of three interconnected themes:
1 | Energy Geography and Development – My energy research is motivated by the belief that every human should have access to energy in a manner that is sustainable with the Earth system. I study the intersection between energy development and the environment, and particularly how solar energy can be deployed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water deficits, and land-cover change. I am interested in elucidating how renewable energy development can be realized at policy-relevant timescales to address issues of energy insecurity, climate change, and global environmental change.
2 | Global Change in Aridlands – My global change research is motivated by the fact that over one-third (41%) of Earth’s terrestrial surface is arid, semiarid, or dry-subhumid. Together, these water-stressed biomes support 38% of the global population. Aridlands have been identified as highly vulnerable to global change-type threats and yet they remain vastly understudied despite their importance for ecosystem services that humans depend on. I am interested in impacts, mitigation, and priorities of global change-type threats on various components of aridland ecosystems.
3 | Soil Ecology and Biogeochemistry – My soil ecology research is motivated by the fact that soils are the most understudied component of the Earth system and yet have enormous impacts on its function. My research seeks to understand the microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of soils, especially how soil carbon moves in soils across time and space, and what factors lead to these changes. One such factor includes the role of plants that form symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi, which in turn create vast underground networks of carbon throughout the soil ecosystem.