Michaeleen Golay

Assistant Professor of Biology

Office: SC 161

(319) 352-8708


More about Michaeleen Golay

Educational Background

B.S./B.A., University of Iowa 2003

M.S., Iowa State University, 2005

Ph.D., Iowa State University, 2013

I am an ecologist who studies various aspects of forest biology, in particular plant community composition and functional restoration. I am interested in plant biology, nutrient cycling, and water quality, especially in working landscapes such as Iowa and the Midwest. I have studied methods to assess forest communities for floristic quality and restoration potential. My research has led me to more questions that I would like to pursue with undergraduates. These questions include collaborating with wildlife researchers to study the impact of deer densities on urban forests, collaborating with entomologists to examine the role of invasive earthworms on understories, studying the feasibility of using forest perennials to stabilize eroding banks in woodlands, using tracers to assess variable nutrient processing in the herb layer after leaf drop, exploring forest soil microbiota under different land uses, and understanding ecosystem services across scales from physiological to ecosystem-wide processes. I have focused on forest ecology for watershed management but many of these topics have the potential to include prairie, savannah, and aquatic communities depending on questions students are interested in exploring.

My other big passion besides forests is collaborative learning. Taking this classroom approach to the field, I have focused on human dimensions of natural resource management and studied collaborative learning with landowners. My research interests are dynamic with outreach opportunities and focus on building a collaborative community for implementing conservation and restoration techniques in terrestrial habitats under various human land uses to maximize ecosystem services. I am interested in research to show how knowledge of ecological principles could inform land use decisions for sustainable development and use of working landscapes to protect and enhance remnant natural areas. Exploration of how to best conserve natural areas for ecosystem function, protect biotic community integrity, and meet the needs of the residents offers chances for multiple research opportunities as well as ways to incorporate cross-campus collaboration and mentor students.

I am very interested in interdisciplinary work, as well as in being a lifelong-learner of biology. If you would like to propose other research ideas that are outside what I’ve mentioned here, I am happy to explore those with you!