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Asmeret Asefaw Berhe

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
Assistant Professor
(209) 228-4712
Castle Commerce Center, Bldg. 1200, RM 47
Castle Commerce Center, Bldg 1201, RM 1100
  • Ph.D., 2006 — University of California, Berkeley
  • M.S., 2000 — Michigan State University
  • B.S., 1996 — University of Asmara (Eritrea)
Research Interests: 

Professor Berhe's research is broadly focused on soil science and global change science. The main goal of her research is to understand the effect of changing environmental conditions on vital soil processes, most importantly the cycling and fate of essential elements in the critical zone. She studies soil processes in systems experiencing natural and/or anthropogenic perturbation in order to understand fundamental principles governed by geomorphology, and contemporary modifications introduced by changes in land use and climate.

Professor Berhe's general research themes are:

  • Effect of climate changes (specifically rainfall and temperature) on storage and stabilization of soil organic matter and cation nutrient budgets
  • Nano-scale biogeochemistry of iron oxides, especially how the size and concentration of oxides in soil control stabilization and destabilization of organic matter
  • Erosion and terrestrial carbon sequestration, specifically temporal evolution of the erosion-induced terrestrial carbon sink and reconstruction of environmental history from sediments
  • Political ecology of land degradation and ownership, particularly the contribution of armed conflicts to land degradation and ways people relate to their environment
Media Contact: 

What happens to the soil as Earth’s climate changes? When you consider the potential effects on life – plants, microbes, animals and even humans – as nutrients and moisture in soils change, it’s a crucial question.

Professor Asmeret Asefaw Berhe studies how changing environmental conditions effect vital soil processes, especially how dynamics of essential nutrient cycles might be changing in what scientists have come to call the “critical zone” – near surface environment where important geological, biological, and chemical processes interact to sustain life on the surface of the earth.

She can comment on the role of human beings in changing soil quality (through changes in landuse or climate), how carbon is stored in soils, how armed conflicts lead to land degradation, and the relationship of national/group identity with property relations that govern land ownership and control.