Alum Profile: Meghan Midgley

Meghan Midgley.
Meghan Midgley earned her Ph.D. in Evolution, Ecology & Behavior in 2015. She was a member of Associate Professor Rich Phillips’ lab. Courtesy photo
Twig with leaves.

I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.

The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

In her own way, IU Biology alumna Meghan Midgley [PhD ‘15 Evolution, Ecology & Behavior] speaks for the trees.

Midgley is a soil ecologist at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL—a nonprofit organic garden outside of Chicago with a mission to enhance tree conservation, health, and growth. There she studies plant-soil interactions. Through field experiments and observations as well as laboratory studies, Midgley works to understand how interactions among plants, microbes, and soil bring about ecosystem-specific responses to environmental changes.

Focusing on temperate hardwood forest ecosystems, Midgley investigates how plants impact the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the soils in which they grow. She uses this information to (1) predict ecosystem-specific responses to environmental changes and (2) manage the urban soil environment for healthy, long-lived trees.

Her research projects include:

  • Linking root and microbial traits with soil biogeochemistry
  • The Tollway Trees Initiative: From right tree/right site to right soil/right tree
  • Vacant lots and soil ecosystem services
  • Invasive earthworm impacts on forest soils and seedlings
  • Nitrogen deposition effects on current and future forests
  • Controlled burn impacts on soil biogeochemistry and forest dynamics