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Ph.D., 2006, Stanford University
Teaching and Research Vision
Scientists like me, and undergraduate students like the ones I teach, have more in common than one might think. The job of both is to inquire-to seek answers to questions. The big difference is that the student tends to see inquiry as a process of looking up facts and ideas in books, while the scientist sees inquiry as a means to generate new facts and ideas. My research and teaching are animated by the desire to turn the student into a scientist. I hope that students in my courses come to see themselves as experimenters and analysts who can use data to find their own answers to novel questions.
My research program analyzes the costs and benefits-to humans and to non-human species-of restoring natural ecosystems. A central aspect of this work involves quantifying the amount of carbon sequestered by a 25-year effort to replant riparian vegetation on the floodplain of the Sacramento River. Understanding carbon sequestration in this system, and how it might be compensated monetarily in a carbon credit system, will permit landowners to make better decisions about the costs and benefits of converting flood-prone orchards and farms to native vegetation. I also have a strong interest in invasive species issues and work on identifying plant traits that could help managers recognize potential invaders before they are introduced.
Matzek, V. and Hill, S. 2011. Response of biomass and seedbanks of rangeland functional groups to mechanical control of yellow starthistle. Rangeland Ecology and Management, in press.
Matzek, V. 2011. Superior performance and nutrient-use efficiency of invasive plants over non-invasive congeners in a resource-limited environment. Biological Invasions doi: 10.1007/s10530-011-9985-y
Matzek, V. 2010. A lesson in sustainability from Cuba. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 8: 59.
Matzek, V. and P.M. Vitousek. 2009. N:P stoichiometry and protein:RNA ratios in vascular plants: an evaluation of the growth-rate hypothesis. Ecology Letters 12:765-771.
Matzek, V. and P. Kareiva. 2008. Casualties of climate change: identity and livelihood in California's Central Valley. Places 20: 42-45.