ESSM Awards & Merits 2016 Yong Zhou Receives NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant Yong Zhou, a Ph.D. student with Drs. Tom Boutton and Ben Wu in ESSM, was recently awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant. Yong was awarded $19,305 to support his research on “Woody plant encroachment into grasslands: Impacts on landscape-scale patterns of soil carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus storage and dynamics.” His proposal was one of only 14 funded this year by the NSF Ecosystem Studies Program. With this research funding, Yong will quantify the 3-dimensional changes in soil C and N in the upper 1.2 m of a soil profile in a landscape undergoing woody encroachment. By measuring soil total P, this proposal will provide the first assessment of changes in landscape-scale spatial patterns of soil P along a soil profile driven by vegetation change, and test whether soil P is stoichiometrically deficient relative to soil C and N in a region where N-fixing woody plants are encroaching. The C:N:P stoichiometry of woody encroachment should also provide new insights that will enhance the integration of biogeochemistry-climate models and improve their ability to represent the effects of land cover changes.