Ramesh Laungani

Biology - Associate Professor
Campus location: 
Campus Phone: 
Education:   B.A. in Biology New York University, 2002
  PhD in Biology University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2010

Areas of interest:

Courses taught:  Introduction to Cell Biology, Ecology and Evolution of the Organism, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, Conservation Biology, Climate Change Biology, Senior Research I, II, III.

Research interests:  My research interests are extremely varied but center around plant ecology, particularly how plants change the cycling of nutrients in the ecosystem. As part of this research, I have examined questions concerning climate change, biochar, plant competition for soil resources (such as nitrogen), plant-soil microbe relationships, and plant-soil feedbacks on plant performance. I have also conducted research into bioenergy and the most sustainable tree species to use for renewable biofuel production.  

Here's a link to an interview I did about my research for a podcast called Warm Regards

Student Research (Laungani Lab)

Some of the questions that students will have the chance to explore in my lab are:

  • How do different plant species respond to global change?
  • How do exotic species invade new communities?
  • Are all exotic species ‘bad' for an ecosystem?
  • How do plants-microbe interactions drive the plant communities that you see everyday?
  • How can plants impact their own growth and success in an ecosystem?

You can also read a summary of the research in the Laungani Lab (in a nutshell) using only the 1000 most common words in the English language (click here)

My training in ecology and evolutionary biology however allows me to examine a wide range of questions from the physiological to the ecosystem scale.

I currently have 2 research students working with me on their research projects (click on the link to hear about what they are working on).  

Other Educational Activities at Doane and in the Crete community:

1) I am currently developing a carbon sequestration plan for Doane University (DC2P) that involves students actively planting trees and quantifying the standing carbon stocks in the trees and soil on Doane's campus.

2) I am currently working with upper-level science students at Crete Middle School. On this day we are carrying out a graphing activity using the explosive chemical reaction between Diet Coke and Mentos. The students are asking the question: "What is the relationship between number of Mentos inserted into the bottle and height of Diet Coke explosion.

3) I am involved with a local prairie nature club in conjunction with the Audubon society. We take a group of school aged students, many of whom are under-represented groups in science, and Crete community members out to a restored prairie near Doane to explore a variety of aspects of prairie biology ranging from grassland restoration to mammals and birds of the prairie.

4) I have established a set of experimental plots near Doane University that are part of a global research network known as NutNet (Nutrient Network).  The Doane University NutNet sites at Spring Creek Prairie place Doane University in a global network of researchers, and provide a long-term pedagogical tool to the entire Doane community.  Participation in the NutNet program allows Doane University students to conduct cutting-edge research on anthropogenic changes in nutrient availability are impacting grassland communities and other critical environmental issues by having access to data from not only the Spring Creek site, but from the entire global research network.  It also provides opportunities for Doane students to visit other NutNet sites and conduct their own cross-site studies of how anthropogenic changes in nutrient availability are impacting grassland communities.  In addition, this site has been used by a number of other faculty members in their classes

Peer Reviewed Publications:

Laungani, R.; C. Tanner; T. Durham-Brooks; B. Clement; M. Clouse; E. Doyle; S. Dworak; B. Elder; K. Marley; B. Schofield. 2018. Finding some good in an invasive species: Introduction and assessment of a novel CURE using invasive species to improve experimental design in undergraduate biology classrooms. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education 19 (2).

Biederman, L, B. Mortensen, P. Fay; N. Hagenah, J. Knops, K. La Pierre, R. Laungani, E. Lind, B. McCulley, S. Power, P. Tognetti.  2017. Nutrient addition shifts plant community composition towards earlier flowering species in some prairie ecoregions in the U.S. Central Plains. PLoS One e0178440 NutNet collaboration

Laungani, R;K. Elgersma; K. McElligott; M. Juarez; T. Kuhfahl. 2016. Biochar amendment of grassland soil may promote woody encroachment of Eastern Red Cedar. Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition 16(4): 941-954 (Doane undergraduate authors) 

Andrew T. Tredennick, Peter B. Adler, James B. Grace, W. Stanley Harpole, Elizabeth T. Borer, Eric W. Seabloom, T. Michael Anderson, Jonathan D. Bakker, Lori A. Biederman, Cynthia S. Brown, Yvonne M. Buckley, Chengjin Chu, Scott L. Collins, Michael J. Crawley, Philip A. Fay, Jennifer Firn, Daniel S. Gruner, Nicole Hagenah, Yann Hautier, Andy Hector, Helmut Hillebrand, Kevin Kirkman, Johannes M. H. Knops, Ramesh Laungani, Eric M. Lind, Andrew S. MacDougall, Rebecca L. McCulley, Charles E. Mitchell, Joslin L Moore, John W. Morgan, John L. Orrock, Pablo L. Peri, Suzanne M. Prober, Anita C. Risch, Martin Schütz, Karina L. Speziale, Rachel J. Standish, Lauren L. Sullivan, Glenda M. Wardle, Ryan J. Williams, Louie H. Yang. 2016. Comment on “Worldwide evidence of a unimodal relationship between productivity and plant species richness”. Science 29 January 2016• Vol 351 Issue 6272

H. Flores-Moreno,*, P. B. Reich, E. M. Lind, L. Sullivan, E. Seabloom, L.Yahdjian, A. MacDougall, L. Reichmann, J. Alberti, S. Baez, J. Bakker, C. Brown, M.Cadotte, M. Caldeira, E. Chaneton, C. D'Antonio, P. Fay, J. Firn, N. Hagenah, W. Harpole, O. Iribarne, K. Kirkman, J.M.H. Knops, K. La Pierre, R. Laungani, A. Leakey, R. McCulley, J. Moore, J. Pascual, D. Wedin, E. Borer.  2016. Climate modifies response of non-native and native species richness to nutrient enrichment. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 371 - NutNet collaboration (Doane Undergraduate Student data contributed to this paper).* [pdf]

Li, Wenjin; J. Knops; Xiaoan Zuo;R. Laungani. 2014. Carbon and nitrogen cycling are resistant to fire in nutrient poor grassland. Soil Science Society of America Journal 78:825-831[pdf]

Laungani, R., J. Knops, and C. Brassil. 2012. Feedback on plant productivity can be constrained by SOM in N-limited grasslands. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 53: 1-8* [pdf]

Laungani, R. and J. Knops. 2012. Microbial nitrogen immobilization drives nitrogen cycling differences among species. Oikos 121: 1840–1848* [pdf]

Laungani, R. and J. Knops. 2009. Species impacts on ecosystem carbon pools, distribution, and potential bioenergy stocks. Global change biology: bioenergy 1: 392 - 403. [pdf]

Laungani, R. and J. Knops. 2009. Species-driven changes in nitrogen cycling can control plant invasions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (30): 12400-12405 [pdf]

Umphlett, N.A., T.R. Brosius, R. Laungani, J. Rousseau, and D.L. Leslie-Pelecky. 2009. Ecosystem Jenga. Science Scope 33 (1): 57 - 60 [pdf]

*Published while at Doane University

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