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About Ben

Ben Abbott was born in Nashville Tennessee and grew up in Orem Utah. He 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 .

Abbott Lab in the News
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April 08, 2020 10:36 AM
PhD student Sara Sayedi wanted to use science to change public policy in her home country of Iran, but politics limited her work in the public arena. Now at BYU, she is influencing policy at a global scale.
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As wildfires get more frequent and severe because of climate change, a BYU team investigates ecosystem resilience to wildfires in a warmer world.
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July 23, 2020 09:56 AM
BYU researchers found that masks could be one of the most powerful and cost-effective tools to stop COVID-19 and accelerate the economic recovery.
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January 16, 2018 10:00 PM
Research by BYU ecosystem ecologist Ben Abbott presents a new tool to fight nutrient pollution. His study found that streams can be used as “sensors” of ecosystem health, allowing both improved water quality and food production.

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September 11, 2018 10:00 PM
When Keely Song moved to Utah in 2016, she was jarred by what she called the “apocalyptic” talk about air quality during the state’s notorious inversions. So when BYU announced in November it would be providing free UTA passes to students, employees and their families, the dance professor had an idea.
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February 03, 2019 10:00 PM
Nitrogen pollution from human fertilizer and fossil fuels affects two-thirds of freshwater bodies worldwide and causes billions of dollars of damage to fisheries and ecosystems annually. It triggers harmful algal blooms and dead zones where only worms and bacteria can survive.
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August 13, 2018 10:00 PM
As part of her undergraduate research at BYU graduating student, Natasha Griffin has presented at conferences in Europe, ridden in a helicopter and visited both the north and south poles.
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BYU professor of ecosystem ecology follows permafrost organic matter from the mountain to the sea on the North Slope of Alaska.
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By Carlee Reber
June 05, 2019 01:06 PM
Will we show up in the geologic record in millions of years? The Anthropocene suggests the answer is yes: collective human impact on the environment will leave a definitive mark in future bedrock.
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March 17, 2020 11:10 AM
Although separated by space and time, our emissions have a great impact on ecosystems across the globe, and those systems are responding. Plant and wildlife sciences professor, Dr. Ben Abbott, has been studying these ecosystem responses and recently published research with Dr. Merritt Turetsky, director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado Boulder, on permafrost collapse in arctic ecosystems.
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June 29, 2020 02:18 PM
Alaska
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