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Gavin McNicol, PhD

Assistant Professor

Soil biogeochemistry, Biosphere-Atmosphere Exchange, Wetlands

Pronouns: He/Him

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I will be joining UIC and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in Spring 2021.  Actively seeking interested students for MS and PhD programs.

We explore the connection between terrestrial biogeochemistry and the Earth’s climate system. We focus on carbon cycling in wet environments spanning different human disturbance and management conditions, such as wetlands, temperate rainforests, and waste systems. We use a mix of methods to measure, understand, and predict biogeochemical processes, combining soil science, ecosystem ecology, and Earth systems science. In the laboratory, we manipulate soil conditions to understand the microscale controls of processes like decomposition and rates of greenhouse gas emissions. In the field, we make long-term measurements of gas exchanges to quantify the unique greenhouse gas signatures of wet ecosystems and how they respond to land-use and global change. At regional to global scales, we use data science and machine learning to synthesize big data from global scientific and sustainable development networks. Current collaborators include eddy covariance flux scientists from AmeriFlux (FLUXNET-CH4), an NSF-funded coastal rainforest margin’s research coordination network (CRMRCN), and SOIL, a research and development non-governmental organization providing sanitation services in Haiti.

Selected Publications

Complete list of publications on Google Scholar

Wetland Methane

  • McNicol G. Knox S. Guilderson T. Baldocchi D. D. & Silver W. L. (2020) Where old meets new: An ecosystem study of methanogenesis in a reflooded agricultural peatland. Global Change Biol., 10.1111/gcb.14916
  • Knox S. H. Jackson R. B. Poulter B. McNicol G. Fluet-Chouinard E. Zhang Z. Hugelius G. Bousquet, P. Canadell J. G. Papale D. et al. (2019) FLUXNET-CH4 synthesis activity: Objectives, observations, and future directions. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 2607-2632. 10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0268.1
  • Yang W. H. McNicol G. Teh Y. A. Estera K. Wood T. E. & Silver W. L. (2017) Evaluating the classical versus an emerging conceptual model of peatland methane dynamics. Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 31: 1435-1453.
  • McNicol G. Sturtevant C. Knox S. Dronova I. Baldocchi D. D. & Silver W. L. (2017) Effects of seasonality, transport pathway, and spatial structure on greenhouse gas fluxes in a restored wetland. Global Change Biol., 23: 10.1111/gcb.13580

Sanitation and Climate Change

  • McNicol G. Jeliazovski J. François J. J. Kramer S. & Ryals R. Climate change mitigation in sanitation via offsite composting of human waste. Nat. Climate Change, 10: 545-549. 1038/s41558-020-0782-4
  • Lawrence C. R. Beem-Miller J. Hoyt A. M. Monroe G. Sierra C. A. Stoner S. Heckman K. Blankinship J. C. Crow S. E. McNicol G. et al. (2020) An open source database for the synthesis of soil radiocarbon data: ISRaD version 1.0. Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 12: 61–76.

Soil Carbon

  • McNicol G. Bulmer C. D’Amore D. Sanborn P. Saunders S. Giesbrecht I. Gonzalez Arriola S. Bidlack A. Butman D. & Buma B. (2019) Large, climate-sensitive soil carbon stocks mapped with pedology-informed machine learning in the North Pacific coastal temperate rainforest. Env. Res. Letters, 14: 014004.

Professional Leadership

Early Career Network Organizer, FLUXNET 2018-2020


BS Environmental Science, 2010, Stirling University
PhD Environmental Science, Policy and Management, 2016, University of California Berkeley