NATURAL disturbances like fire, drought and plant invasions will fuel the research of Laurie B. Abbott, an assistant professor of range science at New Mexico State University.

Abbott, who joined NMSU's animal and range sciences department March 13, studies ecosystem processes in order to restore and manage degraded rangelands.

"My principal research interest is the relationships between vegetation and soil and how they are influenced by disturbances such as fire and drought," Abbott said.

"Understanding the dynamics of how ecosystems respond to disturbance can then be applied to management and restoration of degraded lands."

In addition to her research, Abbott will teach an undergraduate course on rangeland analysis and a graduate class on advanced range ecology. She also plans a new course on quantitative plant ecology to help students better understand applications of statistical analyses to ecological research.

Before joining NMSU, Abbott had worked as an ecological consultant since 1997. She comes to NMSU from Tucson, Ariz., where she received a doctorate in rangeland science and management from the University of Arizona in 1999. Her dissertation dealt with effects of planting date and species choice on the fate of warm-season perennial grass seeds and the implications for revegetation. It was named the outstanding dissertation in the School of Renewable Natural Resources.

Abbott has worked as an instructor, graduate research assistant and graduate teaching assistant at the University of Arizona.

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