Steven Hall

Steven is the lab’s Principal Investigator and an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at Iowa State University. He received a PhD in Ecosystem Science from the University of California-Berkeley, and an MS in Environment and Resources and a BS in Botany from the University of Wisconsin. Before coming to ISU in 2015, he was a post-doc at the University of Utah Global Change and Sustainability Center. Aside from science, he enjoys hiking, biking, construction projects, and making music.

Wenjuan  Huang

Wenjuan (wjhuang [at] is a Research Scientist who joined the lab in 2015 as a post-doctoral scholar. She earned her B.S. degree in Ecology from the China Agricultural University in 2007 and her Ph.D. in Ecosystem Ecology from the South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2013. At ISU, her research has focused on soil carbon dynamics.

Carlos Tenesaca

Carlos (Charlie4 [at] is a Research Scientist in the lab who coordinates several of our projects related to soil greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient leaching. He earned a masters degree in soil science from ISU in 2013, where his research focused in soil health and greenhouse gas emissions in areas used for corncob residue storage (cellulosic ethanol production). Before coming to the lab, he was a research associate at the Soil and Plant Analysis Laboratory (ISU), where he analyzed soil and plant samples for farmers and researchers.

Holly Curtinrich

Holly (hrich [at] is a PhD student in the Environmental Science program. Her current work focuses on iron oxidation-reduction cycling in bogs and fens and how this may affect organic carbon stabilization and loss. Holly enjoys sampling peat cores and extracting iron in the lab with her colleagues. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2013 with a BS in Environmental Science.

Holly Loper

Holly (hjloper [at] is a PhD student in the Interdepartmental Microbiology program. She joined the lab in the Fall of 2019 and is interested in ways microbes can affect the world around us. Her current research focuses on how nitrogen from bacteria used to improve fertilizer efficiency may be making its way into the air, water, and maize crops. She received a Bachelors of Science with a double major in Bioinformatics and General Biology from Michigan Technological University.

Wenjuan Yu

Wenjuan Yu (wjyu [at] is a PhD student in the Environmental Science program who arrived in 2019. She received a BS in Chemistry from Fudan University of China and a MS in Food Microbiology from Shanghai Jiao Tong University of China. Her dissertation focuses on linkages between microbial communities and organic matter decomposition in soils from across the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). She is also interested in soil organic matter (SOM) chemistry.

Matthew Ford

Matthew (fordmatthew3017 [at] is an MS student in the Environmental Science Graduate Program, co-advised by Dr. Tom Isenhart. Matthew first joined the lab in 2020 as a technician. He graduated from Northern Arizona University with a BS in environmental science and a minor in chemistry. His interests are focused in environmental chemistry and the foundation it sets for healthy ecosystems. His MS research focuses on understanding the influence of soil organic matter on nitrate removal from saturated riparian buffers.

Current Undergraduate Researchers

  • Tayana Roark
  • Kyra Oberbroeckling
  • Tye Skilang

Lab Alumni 

Former Graduate Students

  • Wenjuan Yu, PhD 2022 (now a research scientist in applied organic chemistry)
  • Nate Lawrence, PhD 2021 (now a research scientist at the Savannah Institute)
  • Chenglong Ye (2017-2018 visiting PhD student, now faculty at Nanjing Agricultural University)

    Former Undergraduate Students / Technicians

    • Lien Tran
    • Jessie Ribera (now with Ecological Society of America)
    • Stephanie Tsui (technician, now PhD student at Northeastern U.)
    • Anthony Mirabito (now PhD student at U. of Central Florida)
    • Mariana Gonzalez (LSAMP)
    • Jerry Young Bear (HHMI)
    • A’lece Moore (McNair Scholar)
    • Andrea Boyer (McNair Scholar)
    • Eli Cooper (LSAMP fellow)
    • Lucio Reyes (URAP student; went on to receive MS from University of S. Florida)
    • William Mejia (now with the US Forest Service)
    • Emma Duff (now with Iowa State extension)
    • Laura James (now a county conservation scientist)
    • Hannah Craven
    • Lindsay Mack
    • Kris Mueller
    • Collin Stratton
    • Jessie Ribera
    • Charles Garrett