Australia (Fulbright S&T awardee 2011)
Laura Williams is a doctoral candidate in Ecology at the University of Minnesota. Her research is focused at the intersection of theoretical plant community ecology and applied restoration ecology and includes examining the mechanisms driving plant community assembly, the transient and long-term dynamics of plant communities, and the challenges posed by environmental change.
Land-use changes, invasion of exotic species, and fragmentation have caused widespread degradation of ecosystems. Fortunately, this has triggered substantial efforts to mitigate damage and to manage and restore ecosystems. Improving the effectiveness of these efforts is imperative given limited resources, accelerating rates of degradation, and further threats posed by future environmental change. Effective ecological management and restoration depends on sound knowledge of community and ecosystem dynamics.
Laura is a 2011 International Fulbright Science & Technology Fellow from Australia, where she received Bachelor’s degrees in Arts and Science with Honours from Monash University. Following the completion of her Honours dissertation on disturbance-mediated community assembly in the Australian tropics, she helped collate a leaf-trait database to test theories of coexistence among tree species in Amazonian Ecuador. She was subsequently employed as a research assistant at Monash University. Her recent work has focused on collecting and analyzing a multi-year dataset to investigate plant community responses to riparian restoration efforts and on developing tree-ring chronologies to reconstruct multi-century climate variability in eastern Australia.