Associate Professor, Environmental Studies
Affiliated Faculty, Coastal Science and Policy
Kai is interested in global change ecology, ecological modeling, and environmental data science, where he enjoys integrating ecological theory with advanced tools in statistics and computer science. His current research focuses on plant and soil responses to environmental change in the coupled natural and human systems, spanning from meter-scale experiments to global-scale analyses. Recent projects include quantifying climate change impacts on forest geographic distribution and growth in North America; synthesizing a multi-factor global change experiment in California grassland; understanding soil fungi and tree mutualisms across geographical gradients in the United States; detecting land surface phenology change in Northern Hemisphere.
Kai is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, an elected Ecological Society of America Early Career Fellow, and a winner of the New Phytologist Tansley Medal. Kai completed his postdoc with Chris Field and Tad Fukami at Stanford University and received his PhD in ecology with Jim Clark and MS in statistics with Alan Gelfand from Duke University.
Google Scholar: link
New Phytologist profile: link
Email: kai dot zhu at ucsc dot edu