About Jennifer Riehl

I have a BS in Biology (Texas Lutheran University), MS in Molecular Biology (SUNY Albany) and PhD in Forest Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology (Michigan Tech). My research interests reside largely in the field of ecological genetics/genomics. I am interested in understanding the underlying genetic architecture of adaptive traits in forest trees in general. I also have an intense interest in how science and natural resource management policy interact, from drivers of NIPF land management choices or the incorporation of controversial scientific topics (e.g., species concepts or hybridization) into bureaucratic structures. I also love to travel and explore new places. On my downtime I like to attend musical events from rock concerts to symphony orchestra performances or see new films.

Olivia wins second place in the grad student paper presentation competition!

Our own Olivia Cope has been awarded second place in a graduate student paper presentation competition (Plant-Insect Interactions section) at the North Central Branch meeting of the Entomological Society of America in Madison, Wisconsin this week.

Her paper entitled “Clonal ramets of trembling aspen do not coordinate defense induction” shows that while clonal ramets of trembling aspen may share resources through vascular connections in their roots, they do not appear to coordinate defense induction through these connections.

Ned publishes aspen freeze study results

Ned Rubert-Nason has successfully published the results from his Aspen Freeze Study in Plant, Cell and Environment. The study showed that vernal freeze damage to aspen alters phytochemistry and plant-insect interactions (indicated by faster reproduction of aphids on trees with prior damage).

These results suggest that even a single damaging vernal freeze event can have long term consequences for plant-insect interactions through effects on plant growth and chemistry. Additionally, variable responses among genotypes suggests that increases in the frequency of vernal freeze events, like those predicted to occur in temperate regions, could influence natural selection. 

Much research has focused on immediate effects of climate change consequences for forest tree health, so this study helps fill a gap concerning cascading effects on trees and their associated communities as a result of a changing climate.


Amy receives prestigious George Kress Award for excellence in teaching!

Our own Amy Flansburg has been selected as the recipient of the Forest and Wildlife Ecology Department’s George Kress Award for Outstanding Contribution of a Forestry Graduate Student (and she receives $1000!). The award is given to a graduate student who has gone above and beyond contributing to the department’s mission “to provide science-based research, instruction, and extension that supports forest management in an ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable fashion”. Amy took on the sole responsibility of teaching Forest Ecology last fall and has been an advocate for undergraduate students in the department.

Congratulations Amy!


In the spotlight: the art of science

Our own Hilary Barker submitted an up close photo of stinkbug eggs to the 6th Annual (2016) UW-Madison Cool Science Image Contest and was selected as one of 12 winners out of 93 submissions. Recently, her artwork and the story behind it was showcased in a short video entitled, “Forward Motion: The Art of Science” that will also be aired on the Big Ten Network as a TV story called “Art of Science” on a date yet to be determined.

Congratulations to Hilary!

Congratulations to Jennifer Riehl!


Jennifer Riehl has been awarded a postdoctoral fellowship through the National Institute of Food and agriculture (NIFA). She will be researching the genetic architecture of growth and defense traits in aspen using a combination of genomic and transcriptomic data.

WisAsp Association Mapping Garden June 2016


The Poetic Side of Ecology

Art and science have a long history of entanglements from Leonardo da Vinci’s beautiful anatomical drawings to the revolutionary essays of Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold. After all, both practices are about understanding ourselves and our surroundings. In keeping with this tradition, the Western Aspen Alliance has launched a new feature called WAA Creates. The most recent newsletter (Volume 6(4), November 2015) features a poem by one of our own, Amy Flansburg.



New Phytologist Paper




Recently, a former member of the Lindroth Research Group published a manuscript on condensed tannins and nitrogen recovery in New Phytologist. Madritch and Lindroth investigated how condensed tannin concentration in aspen leaves and below ground nitrogen cycling are influenced by herbivory. High levels of condensed tannins were correlated with nitrogen recovery within the same and following seasons in defoliated trees suggesting that tannins may be mediators of tolerance rather than resistance.