Ben got interested in science and nature from watching TV and mountain biking in the foothills of Mount Timpanogos. Near the end of his senior year at Orem High, he slipped on a pamphlet for the Quinney Scholarship at Utah State University and applied to the Watershed and Earth Systems Science program. During his B.S., he worked as an undergraduate researcher in northern Alaska, investigating how fish influence nutrient cycles in Arctic lakes. That led to his Ph.D. at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he studied the permafrost climate feedback, using interdisciplinary techniques to quantify and predict responses of Arctic and Boreal ecosystems to climate change. After finishing his Ph.D. in 2014, he worked as a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at the French National Science Foundation (CNRS). While in western France, he investigated resilience of agricultural catchments and coastal ecosystems to nutrient loading and disturbance from agriculture and urbanization.
Ben works primarily on the permafrost climate feedback and water quality in river networks. Drawing on biogeochemistry, evolutionary biology, and social science, his research investigates how the co-evolution of landscapes and ecosystems results in broad-scale patterns of biological, hydrological, and socioeconomic behavior. Specifically, he studies how permafrost collapse, agriculture, fire, and flooding affect carbon and nutrient cycles in soil, groundwater, rivers, and lakes. He is particularly interested in social and environmental sustainability, science communication, and exploring the Mormon doctrinal and cultural basis for ecological stewardship. He has been married for ten years and has fourchildren who take after him in their love of animals, TV, and biking.
For more information, visit his blog, Approximately Limitless.