Doctor Amy Churchill

Amy Churchill joined HIE in 2017 as a research fellow in Ecosystem Function and Integration. Her research focuses on plant responses to extreme climate conditions within the PAstures in Climate Extremes experiment (PACE) applying drought and elevated temperatures. She is interested in examining both temporal (phenological) and structural (biomass and nutritional) plant responses to extreme climate conditions, and in particular to understanding the nature of plant species interactions as environmental conditions change.

She completed her doctoral work in 2017 at the University of Colorado Boulder, where her research emphasized community structure and controls on ecosystem processes associated with consequences from nitrogen deposition. Her research was conducted both along natural gradients and through experimental manipulations comparing responses of different plant communities in the alpine to elevated nitrogen deposition. During her time as a PhD candidate Amy was the primary instructor for an undergraduate upper division course on plant ecology, and co-instructed a graduate level science writing seminar.

Her Master’s thesis at the University of Alaska Fairbanks focused on the responses of plant community and ecosystem carbon cycling to changes in hydrology associated with climate change in the boreal forest. Please see her website ( for more information on specific projects and research interests.

Awards and Recognition

  • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Teaching Award. 2017. University of Colorado Boulder, USA
  • Outstanding Student Paper Award. 2016. Biogeosciences Section, American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • GK-12 Graduate Fellow. 2012-2013. Project EXTREMES, University of Colorado Boulder, National Science Foundation, USA

Selected Publications

Papers in review and in preparation (full manuscripts available upon request)

Churchill AC, Dorich CM, Turetsky MR, McGuire AD, (In Prep for Biogeosciences). Effect of permafrost thaw and thermokarst formation on plant and ecosystem carbon uptake in boreal peatlands.

Churchill AC, Bowman WD, (In prep for Biogeochemistry) Variation in the stabilization of N among ecosystem pools within three alpine plant communities under the influence of N deposition.

Churchill AC, Bowman WD, (In Revision) Alpine community dependent responses and ecological thresholds to elevated nitrogen deposition in the Rocky Mountains

Churchill AC, Simkin SM, Ribarich MJ, Bowman WD, (In Revision) Alpine moist meadow response to a regional gradient of nitrogen deposition in the Rocky Mountains.

Faist AM, Churchill AC, (In Review) Plant soil feedbacks mediated by invasive plants can maintain restoration soil legacies in vernal pool systems.

Hund AK, Scordato ESC, Love Stowell SM, Churchill AC, Faist AM, Havrilla CA, McCreery HF, Ng J, Pinzone CA, (In Review) Transforming Mentorship in STEM by Training Scientists to be Better Leaders.

Ratajczak Z, Churchill AC, Ladwig L, Taylor J, Collins SL, (In Review) Combined extreme climate event and wildfire shift tallgrass prairie to a non-grassland state.

Peer Reviewed

Watkins JE, Churchill AC, Holbrook NM, (2016) 'Ecophysiology of fertile-sterile leaf dimorphy in ferns', Amer.Journal of Bot, vol.103, no.5, pp 845-855 

Ladwig LM, Ratajczak ZR, Ocheltree TW, Hafich KA, Churchill AC, Fery SJK, Fuss CB, Kazanski CE, Munoz JD, Petrie MD, Reinmann AB, Smith JG, (2016) 'Beyond arctic and alpine: the influence of winter climate on temperate ecosystems', Ecology, vol.97, no.2, pp 372-382

Churchill AC, McGuire AD, Hollingsworth TN, Turetsky MR, (2015) 'Response of vegetation structure and primary productivity to experimental drought and flooding in an Alaskan fen', Can. J. For. Res, vol.45, no.2, pp 183-191

Waldrop MP, Harden JW, Turetsky MR, Petersen DG, McGuire AD, Briones MJI, Churchill AC, Doctor DH, Pruett LE, (2012) 'Bacterial and enchytraeid abundance accelerate soil carbon turnover along a lowland vegetation gradient in interior Alaska', Soil Biology and Biochemistry, vol.50, pp 188-198

Theses, reports, and contributions

Love Stowell S, Churchill AC, Hund AK, Kelsey KC, Redmond MD, Seiter SA, Barger NN, (2015) 'Transforming graduate training in STEM education', Bulletin of ESA, vol.96, no.2, pp 317-323

Beers AT, Potter TS, Churchill AC, Faist AM, Filkins HR, Golden EM, Hicks JJ, Barger NN, (2013) 'Advocating for science writing cooperatives in graduate programs', Bulletin of ESA, vol.94, no.3, pp245-246

Churchill AC, Bowman WD, Visty J, Bobowski B, (2012) 'Review of research conducted in Rocky Mountain National Park of CO, USA and the Tatra National Parks of Poland and Slovakia, pp 1–59