Our Mission

Motivated by the need to sustainably and equitably support a growing world population, we study the physical underpinnings that make soils habitable environments. Our research blends fundamental environmental and soil physics with applications in agroecology and environmental stewardship.

Inclusivity and equity are the basis for the topics we study, how we treat one another, and how we engage with our community.

Areas of Interest

Flow & Transport

Dynamic soil properties, such aggregation and disaggregation cycles, and associated effects on flow and tranport in soils.

Machine Learning & AI

Physics-informed Deep Learning and application of Machine Learning in soil and environmental problems


Hydrologic factors that control biogeochemical processes including effects of soil structure and wetting/drying cycles on soil respiration.


Conservation tillage, inter-cropping of native shrubs and food crops, and applications of organic matter and biochar on water and nutrient use efficiency.

Featured Publications

January 27, 2020

Soil structure is an important omission in Earth System Models

Systematic inclusion of soil structure addresses local and global hydrologic and climatic responses.

July 12, 2019

Using Machine Learning for Prediction of Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity and Its Sensitivity to Soil Structural Perturbations

Using machine learning, high‐performance computing, and a large database of over 18,000 soils, we developed new PTFs to predict Ks.

March 21, 2019

On the role of soil water retention characteristic on aerobic microbial respiration

Soil water status is one of the most important environmental factors that control microbial activity and rate of soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition.

Updates & News

September 14, 2018

News: Impact of low-severity wildfires more than previously believed

Two new publications covered in news outlets.

May 13, 2018

Congrats Luis and Abraham

Today two of our lab undergraduate assistants graduated with B.S. degree in Earth Systems Science.

July 19, 2017

New Partnesrhip & Research Site

We visited a new study site in Five Points to start a collaborative research with UC ANR, UC Davis and other partners. The following is an excerpt from a blogpost by ANR Specialist Dr. Jeff Mitchell.

May 30, 2017

Congrats Nate and Mat

Today Nate Bogie and Mat Jian participated in the hooding and commencement ceremony. Nate completed the requirements for PhD degree in Environmental Systems earlier in the acdemic year. Mat is preparing to defend his MS thesis in a few weeks.

May 11, 2017

NSF Grant: New Microscope

UC Merced added a powerful new tool to the campus’s Imaging and Microscopy Facility. The newly acquired Zeiss LSM 880 is a state-of-the art laser scanning confocal microscope that represents a huge leap forward for the university’s imaging capabilities.

Our team

Teamrat A. Ghezzehei


Jennifer Alvarez

PhD Student

Toshiyuki Bandai

PhD Student

Touyee Thao

PhD Student

Yulissa Perez-Rojas

PhD Student

Chelsea Arnold

Research Associate

Jing Yan



ESS 110 Hydrology & Climate

Basics of the hydrological cycle and the global climate system. Fundamentals of surface water hydrology, hydrometeorology, evaporation, precipitation, statistical and probabilistic methods, unit hydrograph and flood routing.


ESS 112 Subsurface Hydrology

Hydrologic and geologic factors controlling the occurrence and use of groundwater on regional and local scales. Physical, mathematical, geologic and engineering concepts fundamental to subsurface hydrologic processes. Introduction to ground-water flow and transport modeling, with emphasis on model construction and simulation.


ES 228 Environmental Modeling

An advanced study of modeling environmental sciences. The first half of the course a survey of common modeling approaches of environmental phenomena. In the second half, student work on individual projects that involve modeling environmental systems or processes. Often students work on problems related to their thesis/dissertation area. (Graduate Only).



Like what you see here? We would love to hear from you if you have interest to join our lab as a student or to collaborate with us. You can find out about admission and degree requirements and offerings by visiting the websites of the Graduate Division and Environmental Systems Graduate Program (links are below).