Daniela Cusack

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Curriculum Vitae

Daniela Cusack

Assistant Professor
Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1499
Phone: (970) 491-5766
Fax: (970) 491-1965
email: daniela.cusack@colostate.edu


Ph. D. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management – Ecosystem Science (2009) University of California – Berkeley, CA.

Master’s of Environmental Science (2003) Yale University, New Haven, CT.

B.A. Latin American Studies, Honors (1999) Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.

Positions and Employment

2019-present Assistant Professor, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

2010-2019 Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of California – Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.

2009-2019 PostDoc, Department of Geography, University of California – Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California.

2008 Graduate Student Instructor, Environmental Policy, Administration and Law. Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley.

2007 Graduate Student Instructor, Tropical Ecology. Department of Environmental Science, Policyand Management, University of California, Berkeley.

2003 Teaching Assistant, Introduction to Soil Science. School of Forestry and EnvironmentalStudies, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

2002 Teaching Assistant, Native Plant Species Identification module. School of Forestry andEnvironmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

2001-2002 Translator oScientific Articles (Spanish to English) for Florencia Montagnini, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

2000 Field Assistant in Biodiversity Assessment, The Nature Conservancy, Costa Rica.

Current Research Activities

My research is in ecosystem science and tropical ecology, with an emphasis on biogeographic gradients and global change factors. I focus on drivers of plant-soil-microbe processes andcarbon cycling with changes in climate and nutrient availability (e.g. nitrogen deposition, warming, andfire regime). In addition to altering plant productivity and carbon inputs to soils, global change candirectly alter soil carbon storage via changes in microbial activity, decomposition, and soil chemical properties. My current projects are: 1) biogeochemical impacts of urbanization in Latin Americanwatersheds; 2) long-term soil carbon storage across climate and soil weathering gradients in Hawai’i; 3)effects of charcoal on plant-soil-microbe interactions in fire-prone California grasslands.

Professional Service

Peer Review Editor for: Ecosystems, Journal of Sustainable Forestry, Journal of VegetationScience, Restoration Ecology, Soil Science Society of America Journal.

Secretary, Ecological Society of America, Biogeosciences Section, 2010-2012.

Co-organizer of Organized Oral Session 4186: Advances in Biochemical Methods for StudyingOrganic Matter Dynamics in an Ecological Context. Ecological Society of America AnnualMeeting, Albuquerque, NM. August 2009.

Volunteer Mentor, Techbridge After-School Program for Girls, Chabot Space and Science Center,Berkeley, CA, 2005-2009.

Student Representative, Graduate Admissions Committee, Department of Environmental Science,Policy and Management – Ecosystem Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 2007.

Student Representative, Graduate Programs Committee, Department of Environmental Science,Policy and Management – Ecosystem Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 2005-2007.

Organizing Committee, International Society of Tropical Foresters, Conference on EnvironmentalServices, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT, 2003.

Organizing Committee, International Society of Tropical Foresters, Conference on IllegalLogging, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT, 2002.

Chair, Latin American Studies Majors’ Committee. Wesleyan University, 1999.

Awards and Recognition

University of California Office of the President Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2009-present.

National Science Foundation Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, awarded 2009, declined because of alternate funding.

University of California Dissertation-Year Fellowship, 2008-2009.

James P. Bennett Agriculture Fund Award, UC Berkeley, 2008.

National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, 2007-2009.

UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Scholarship, UC Berkeley, 2003-2004 & 2007-2008.

UC Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center (BASC) Research Award, 2006-2008.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2004-2007.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility Grant, 2007.

Honorable Mention, Department of Energy Graduate Research Environmental Fellowships, 2007.

Tropical Resources Institute, Research Grant, Yale University, 2002.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Educational Grant, 2002.

Green Corps, Grassroots Organizing Fellowship, 2000-2001.

Fulbright Scholarship, Impacts of Ecological Tourism in Costa Rica, 1999-2000.

Levi-Pierce Award for Excellence in Latin American Studies, Wesleyan University, 1999.

Professional Development

Teaching and Mentoring Workshop. Provided by Professional Development for Postdoctoral Scholars.Office of Higher Education, University of California – Santa Barbara. Attended November 13 – 16, 2009.

Stable Isotope Ecology Short Course. Taught by J. Ehleringer, T. Dawson and others at the Stable IsotopeRatio Facility for Environmental Research, University of Utah. Course attended June, 2007.

Radiocarbon in Ecology and Earth System Science. Taught by T. Schuur and S. Trumbore at the WMKeck Mass Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility, UC Irvine. Course attended July, 2005.


“Ecological and Historical Controls on Black Carbon Storage in Hawaiian Grassland Soils.” DF Cusack,OA Chadwick, T Ladefoged, and PM Vitousek. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting,Pittsburgh, PA. August 2010.

“Nitrogen Fertilization Effects on Long-Term Patterns of Litter Decomposition in Two Humid TropicalForests.” DF Cusack, WL Silver, MS Torn, and WH McDowell. American Geophysical Union AnnualMeeting, San Francisco, CA. December 2009.

“Nitrogen Fertilization Effects on Litter Decomposition and Microbial Community Characteristics in TwoHumid Tropical Forests.” DF Cusack, W Silver, MK Firestone, WH McDowell, and MS Torn. EcologicalSociety of America Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, NM. August 2009.

“Stabilization and Destabilization of Soil Carbon with Nitrogen Additions in Two Tropical Forests.” DFCusack, W Silver, MS Torn, and WH McDowell. American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting, SanFrancisco, CA. December 2008.

“Effects of Nitrogen Additions on Soil Carbon Cycling in Two Tropical Forests.” DF Cusack, W Silver,WH McDowell and MS Torn. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Milwaukee, WI. August2008.

“Changes in Tropical Forest Soil Carbon Fluxes After Long-Term Nitrogen Additions.” DF Cusack, WSilver and MS Torn. Berkeley Atmospheric Science Center Annual Symposium, Berkeley, CA, October 2007.

“Effects of Nitrogen Additions on Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Two Tropical Forest Types.” DFCusack, W Silver and WH McDowell. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, San Jose, CA.August 2007.

“Effects of Nitrogen Deposition on Nitrogen Fixation and Nutrient Cycling in a Tropical Forest.” DFCusack. LTER Graduate Student Collaborative Research Symposium, H.J. Andrews LTER, Oregon.April 2005.

“The Role of Native Species Plantations in Restoring Understory Diversity to Abandoned Pasturelands inthe Neotropics.” DF Cusack, F Montagnini. Annual Meeting of the Project for Reforestation with NativeSpecies (PRORENA), Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama. November 2002.


Cusack, DF, OA Chadwick, and PM Vitousek. Changes in Soil Carbon and Charcoal Storage Along aTropical Climate Gradient: Influence of Ancient Polynesian Agricultural Activity and ModernWildfires, in prep.
Cusack, DF, WL Silver, MS Torn, SD Burton, and MK Firestone. Changes in Microbial CommunityCharacteristics with Nitrogen Additions and Effects on Soil Organic Matter on in Two TropicalForests. Ecology, in press.
Cusack, DF, WL Silver, MS Torn, and WH McDowell (2010). Effects of Nitrogen Additions on Above- andBelowground Carbon Dynamics in Two Tropical Forests.
 Biogeochemistry, in press.
Cusack, DF, MS Torn, WH McDowell, and WL Silver (2010). The Response of Heterotrophic Activityand Carbon Cycling to Nitrogen Additions and Warming in Two Tropical Soils. Global Change Biology, 16(9): 2555-2572.Marin-Spiotta, E and
D Cusack, Eds. (2010). Organized Oral Session 44. Advances in BiochemicalMethods for Studying Organic Matter Dynamics in an Ecological Context.
 Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 91(1): 94-99.
Cusack, DF, WL Silver, and WH McDowell (2009). Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Tropical Forests: SpatialVariation and Effects of Nitrogen Deposition.  Ecosystems,
12: 1299-1315.
Cusack, DF, WW Chou, WH Yang, ME Harmon, WL Silver, the LIDET team (2009). Controls onLong-Term Root and Leaf Litter Decomposition in Neotropical Forests. Global Change Biology,15(5): 1339-1355.
Sinsabaugh, RL, CL Lauber, M Weintraub, B Ahmed, SD Allison, C Crenshaw, AR Contosta, D Cusack, S Frey, ME Gallo, TB Gartner, SE Hobbie, K Holland, BL Keeler, JS Powers, M Stursova, CTakacs-Vesbach, M Waldrop, M Wallenstein, DR Zak, and LH Zeglin. (2008). Stoichiometry of Soil Enzyme Activity at Global Scale.  Ecology Letters, 11(11): 1252-1264.
Marin-Spiotta, E, DF Cusack, R Ostertag, and W Silver (2008). “Trends in Above and BelowgroundCarbon with Forest Regrowth After Agricultural Abandonment in the Neotropics.” Pp. 22-72. In:Post Agricultural Succession in the Neotropics.
R.W. Myster, Ed. Springer, New York, NY.Chacón, N, W Silver, E Dubinsky, and
D Cusack (2006). Iron Reduction and PhosphorousSolubilization in Humid Tropical Forest Soils: The Roles of Labile Carbon Pools and an ElectronShuttle Compound.
 Biogeochemistry 78(1): 67-84.
Cusack, D, and L Dixon (2006). Community-Based Ecotourism and Sustainability: Cases in Bocas delToro Province, Panama and Talamanca, Costa Rica.
 Journal of Sustainable Forestry
, 22(1/2):157.
Montagnini, F, D Cusack, B Petit, and M Kanninen (2005). Environmental Services of Native TreePlantations and Agroforestry Systems in Central America.
 Journal of Sustainable Forestry 21(1):51-67.
Cusack, D, and F Montagnini (2004). The Role of Native Species Plantations in Recovery of UnderstoryWoody Diversity in Degraded Pasturelands of Costa Rica.
 Forest Ecology and Management 188:1-15.
Cusack, D, B Hodgdon, and F Montagnini, Eds. (2002). Forests, Communities, and SustainableManagement: A Summary of a Forum Examining Community Forestry Initiatives in the Tropics. New Haven, CT, Yale Forest Forum Review: 5(6).

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