Kate McCulloh

Assistant Professor

+1 608 890 3042

324 Birge Hall
430 Lincoln Dr
Madison, WI 53706

Email: kmcculloh <at>

Kate’s CV

Current Lab Members

Steven Augustine

Graduate Student

Email: spaugustine<at>

Pinus is a diverse genus of conifers, with 75 species in North America alone. They are unique in their distribution, as they are typically confined to alpine regions, deserts, or fire disturbed environments. My research will focus will on how climate has driven specific physiological adaptations in Pinus, from their seeds to their needles. Much of my research will look at what traits promote drought tolerance at different life stages and how they differ between white and yellow pines.

Maegan Gagne

Graduate Student

Email: geleynse <at>

My research will focus on the role of fog water in mitigating the effects of drought on coastal tree species.  It is thought that fog water can 1) be taken up directly via foliage and used to refill embolized xylem conduits, 2) largely eliminate atmospheric vapor pressure deficit that drives evaporation and transpiration and/or 3) accumulate on leaf surfaces and drip down to soil.  These mechanisms will be studied in the Lake Superior system (and potentially the South African fynbos system) where fog is a regular occurrence.

Rachel Jordan

Graduate Student

Email: rkjordan<at>

I am broadly interested in the versatility of conifers and their winter carbon balances in a changing climate. My research focuses on the physiological tradeoffs of active vs. inactive responses to midwinter warm periods and the extent to which these strategies may differ within forests or even a single species. A species’ relative ability to “take advantage” of mid-winter thaws (and survive subsequent re-freezing) may influence its future survival and distribution as these warm periods become longer and more frequent. I aim to use this research to inform decision-making in the forestry and tree farming industries.

Kim O’Keefe

Research Associate

Email: okeefe4 <at>

As a plant ecophysiologist, I am broadly interested in studying the functional relationship between plants and their environment. My research has three goals: 1) improve fine-scale spatiotemporal resolution of water movement through the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum (SPAC); 2) elucidate physiological mechanisms of woody and herbaceous species coexistence in grasslands; and 3) understand physiological responses of plants to climate variability. I use a variety of techniques to address my research questions, including leaf gas exchange, sap flow sensors, stable isotopes, and hydraulic measurements. Although my research has primarily focused on grasslands, I am interested in addressing similar questions in other systems as well.Check out my work at

Amanda Salvi

Graduate Student

Email: asalvi <at>

My research interests focus on how aspects of leaf architecture and anatomy have evolved as adaptations to the environment in which they are found. Questions I ask include how certain leaf traits affect photosynthetic and hydraulic abilities, what is the extent of plasticity in these traits, and what are the trade-offs between one trait vs. another. My research project, with these questions in mind, will look at species of Eucalyptus along a rainfall gradient in Australia.

Duncan Smith

Research Associate

Email: ddsmith3 <at>

Duncan’s CV

The coordination of plant architecture, xylem anatomy and stomatal responses represents a “hydraulic strategy” that should greatly influence a plant’s ability to survive. I am interested in the strategies that different species of plants employ that allow them to succeed under varied environmental conditions. Much of my PhD work focused on plants experiencing more or less ideal conditions but in the McCulloh lab I will address responses to drought and its alleviation. Understanding these responses will be increasingly important to predict landscape-level changes in a warming climate. These issues will be addressed through field and lab studies and modeling.

Former Lab Members

Kelly Kerr

Masters degree, 2014

Alex Wenthe

Masters degree, 2017