Jasmine Crumsey is the 2013 recipient of the Helen Olsen Brower Memorial Fellowship in Environmental Studies from EEB, awarded annually to a graduate student working in applied sciences for the conservation of natural resources.

Crumsey’s research looks at carbon (C) dynamics in a northern U.S. temperate forest. She is assessing the long-term impacts of above-ground leaf litter inputs and exotic earthworm activity on soil at the U-M Biological Station. Her advisor is Professor Knute Nadelhoffer.

“Because of its importance in C storage, alteration to the pool size or turnover time of C in soil organic matter may have large implications for the overall C dynamics of forest ecosystems,” said Crumsey.

“In northern temperate forests, aboveground leaf litter inputs function both as a key source of C inputs to soil organic matter and a driving factor of earthworm abundance and biomass. Soil organic matter processing is catalyzed by microbe-produced enzymes, whose activity can shift dramatically following earthworm invasions into temperate forests. Correlating soil C chemistry with measurements of enzymatic activity and earthworm biodiversity along a leaf litter gradient will highlight more precisely factors driving soil organic matter mineralization. I am studying shifts in soil C properties and microbial enzyme activity in response to earthworm community activity and long-term leaf litter input manipulations within the Detritus Input Removal and Transfer [DIRT] Experiment.

“Biological invasions have both ecological and economic consequences evident in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the Great Lakes region. Many studies have focused on aboveground terrestrial invasions, while belowground invasions have received notably less attention. The study of belowground invasions, however, is equally important for our larger understanding of how forest ecosystems respond to disturbance. Further, the UMBS DIRT experiment is one of five DIRT sites established across diverse ecosystems in the U.S. and abroad. Insights generated from this work will facilitate comparative studies linking above- and belowground ecosystem processes. Receipt of this award will thereby support research addressing a critical issue facing the Great Lakes region, and facilitate collaborations beyond the University of Michigan.

The prestigious award provides one semester of fellowship funding for stipend, tuition and benefits. Sally and Caspar Offutt, Jr., endowed this fellowship in tribute to Sally's mother who graduated in biology in 1917 from the University of Michigan. Brower led a vigorous public life touching on wide-ranging endeavors from politics to war relief. She invariably found her greatest satisfaction with projects involving the outdoors.