Forestry Graduate Student Spotlight - Leonardo Ziccardi

Leonardo Ziccardi, PhD Candidate, studies the functions of tropical forest ecosystems, backed by extensive practice in leaf and whole-plant scale ecology, in order to understand how humans can respond, protect, and mitigate effects of climate change.

Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil

Degree in Progress: PhD in Forestry (since fall 2018)

Research Focus

Tropical forest ecophysiology. As I have developed a solid background in leaf and whole-plant scale ecology throughout my career so far, my next major interest is to become a remote sensing and ecosystem scale ecologist.

What inspired your interest in pursuing a Ph.D. in Forestry?

I enjoy studying problems related to fostering the sustainable use of limited natural resources and finding solutions that can benefit the lives of people today and in future generations. My personal research interests are focused on helping decision makers to plan conservation policies that perpetuate local communities and to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Why did you choose to study at MSU?

I found at MSU a diverse and inclusive university.

What has been one of your best experiences within graduate school so far?

Since I arrived at MSU, I have been addressing topics related to my research scope in a group that is focused at this scale in coursework, lab meetings and collaborations. With my advisor Scott Stark’s support, I have forged a collaboration with a prominent leaf physiology and technology research group at MSU (David Kramer, DOE Plant lab). In this collaboration, I was enabled to rapidly and easily collect leaf level fluorescence, revealing photochemical processes of leaves with a new handheld instrument developed by the group, the MultispeQ. My objective is to use this instrument to link variation in photochemistry at the leaf level and across canopy microenvironments to whole-canopy fluorescence measured by a local research tower in Central Amazon and from satellites. To do this I need to get into the trees! In August 2019, I learned how to use tree climbing techniques to access the canopy on an intensive course held in Panama by ITEC (Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation), which is critically necessary for measuring leaves in complex and tall tropical canopies of the Amazon. I also had the opportunity to document part of my research in a collaborative work with MSU-CLACS (Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies), see in this video.

What do you want others to know about this program?

The forestry program values ​​diversity and provides a collaborative research environment that helps with the professional development of graduate students.

What are some of the best things about being an MSU student?

Access to technology and the ease of building collaborative research bridges between different departments and researchers.

Any thoughts or advice for current students?

MSU is a large and dynamic university, so it is worth finding out what is going on around you. Try to take advantage of the multiple opportunities to connect with students and professors from your and other departments.

What are your future plans?

My professional goals are to become a researcher with multidisciplinary knowledge, to obtain a position as a professor, and create collaborative research projects to understand the role of tropical forests in the global climate system.


Did you find this article useful?