Lab Members (in the works)

Aoesta K. Rudick

Lab Project Manager

Smissman Research Laboratory B64, 2099 Constant Ave. Lawrence, Kansas 66047

Dr. Aoesta completed her Post Doctorate from the Department of Environmental Science at the University of California, Riverside. She received her Ph.D. in Geography (with an emphasis in soil geography) from the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science at the University of Kansas and her Masters in Geography and Geomorphology from the Department of Geography at the University of Sulaimanyah in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Her B.A. is in Geography with a minor in Cartography. Her many years of teaching experience include undergraduate and graduate level courses in physical and natural geography, regional geography in North and South America, ArcGIS, remote-sensing, soil, and statistical analysis of geographical data. She has researched extensively in Soil Geography, Geomorphology, and Hydrology. The central theme of her research is identifying relationships between soil structure and climate. Soil structure influences biological, physical, and chemical soil processes, such as water retention, infiltration, erosion, root penetration, and aquifer recharge. Soil structure also influences climate by affecting soil water evaporation, respiration, and the exchange of gases with the atmosphere.

Current Graduate Students

Nathaniel Weickert, Katie Eckhoff, and Ashley Wojciechowski
Kathryn Eckhoff

Ph.D. Student

I am interested in how drought and interannual variability in climate affects plant species composition, functional diversity, and ecosystem functioning in tallgrass prairie restoration. In addition, I want to understand how grassland restoration affects soil microbial composition and extracellular enzyme activity, and how variation in climate affects soil microbial composition and function.


Ashley Wojciechowski

Ph.D. Student

I completed my B.S. in Biology at a small liberal arts college called North Central College where I got interested in grassland ecology, nutrient dynamics and plant-microbe interactions. At KU in the Baer lab, I investigate how environmental heterogeneity and resource availability affect plant species composition and ecosystem functioning. I also am interested in how reduced precipitation and nutrient availability affect plant community diversity, soil microbial community composition, and aboveground productivity in restored grassland. I enjoy being active in the KU EEB Graduate Student Organization’s Outreach Committee and I co-manage the KU Community Garden where we donate grown produce to local food pantries.


Kiersten Bergquist

M.S. Student


Current Undergraduate Students