The Williams Lab

Lab News

› Jack Williams has been awarded the Romnes Faculty Award by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF)

This award, for professors within six years of tenure, is supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). H.I. Romnes was the former president of the WARF Board of Trustees, and the award recognizes his service to the University through an unrestricted $50,000 research grant.

› Sam Munoz and Cahokia make another spash with a new paper in Geology & coverage in Discovery.

Sam Munoz's work at Cahokia has been published online in Geology, with coverage in Discovery News

› Sam Munoz and Cahokia make a big splash in National Geographic! (October 31, 2013)

Sam Munoz has had his work on Cahokia featured in National Geographic's Daily News feature.


› A new year, and new faces! (Setember 1, 2013)

We're happy to welcome two new members to the Williams lab, Ben Bates and Kevin Burke. Ben is working in the lab in conjunction with the Wisconsin Geological Survey. Kevin has started his M.Sc after finishing his undergraduate degree at Notre Dame.

› Congratulations to Sam Munoz! (September 1, 2013)

Sam Munoz is now on a traineeship with the Novel Ecosystems IGERT. The Novel Ecosystems IGERT is an NSF funded project that brings together faculty and graduate students from many departments on campus to foster collaborative research in the realm of conservation biology in an ever-changing environment.

› New papers on plant diversity, pollen assemblages megafauna proxies (September 1, 2013)

Jacquelyn Gill, Jack Williams, Chad Zirbel and Simon Goring are co-authors with Adam Skibbe and Kendra McLauchlan on a new paper out in the Journal of Ecology relating herbivore density to dung fungus abundance. In a paper in the same issue, Simon Goring, along with co-authors Terri Lacourse, Rolf Mathewes and Marlow Pellat discuss the lack of a link between modern plant species richness and pollen taxonomic richness in British Columbia.

› NSF Funding for Sam Munoz! (September 1, 2013)

Sam's NSF-DDRI proposal titled "Doctoral Dissertation Research: Assessing the Characteristics and Consequences of Prehistoric Land Use in the Cahokia Region" was successful. This grant will help fund Sam's dissertation research, and allow him to present his research at the annual meetings of the American Association of Geographers and the Society for American Archaeology.

› PalEON on the WildIdeas podcast (July 1, 2013)

Simon Goring talks about PalEON on this week's WildIdeas podcast, produced by The Wilderness Center, a non-profit nature center in Wilmot OH.

› Putting dung fungus in a modern context (July 1, 2013)

Key to the use of Sporormiella as a proxy for Pleistocene megafauna is linking it to estimates of biomass or grazing intensity in modern systems. Jacquelyn Gill's accepted paper in the Journal of Ecology does just this, showing that Sporormiella concentrations and percent abundance in bison enclosures at the Konza Prairie Biological Station are much higher than at ungrazed sites in the same region. This helps us extend the use of this important proxy and improves our ability to understand the role of megaherbivores in structuring Pleistocene landscapes.

› How does climate change in the Mediterranean? (June 15, 2013)

Simon Goring is a co-author on a new paper out in Climate of the Past. A multi-record shows partitioning of Holocene climate between a northern and southern system, with alternating patterns of drying and wetting that shift from north to south during the Holocene.

Hunting for clues to why the last mammoths disappeared

One of the last places on earth with surviving mammoths is the focus of a Discover article featuring work by Jack Williams.

Improving the chances of success in interdisciplinary research

Simon Goring presented a talk in Washington DC at the NSF Macrosystems PI meeting about ways the academic community can support interdisciplinary collaboration by changing the definitions of success to include both individual and team measures (here).

Welcome to Ben Seliger

Ben Seliger is joining the lab for the summer as part of an REU in conjunction with the IBS-SRP Program. He'll be heading off to the University of Maine to work with Jacquelyn Gill in the fall, but for now he's being mentored by Simon Goring and Jack Williams as part of the PalEON Project.

Climatic analogs, climate velocity, and potential shifts in vegetation structure and biomass for Wisconsin under 21st-century climate-change scenarios

A report for the Environmental and Economic Research and Development Program of Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy and the Bryson Climate, People, and Environment Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been released. Check it out here.

Access Neotoma through APIs in R

Simon Goring has released the first version of a Neotoma package for R with the ROpenSci team (here and here).

Congratulations to Sam Munoz!

Sam passed his proposal defense on March 14th!

Alejo is off to Denmark

Alejandro has accepted a position as a postdoctoral researcher at University of Aarhus (Denmark) at the Department of Bioscience - Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity in the Svenning lab. He will be working on the macroecological, long-term historical constraints on functional diversity and ecosystem functioning across continents [link]

Yi-Fu Seminar Series talk by Simon Goring

Simon Goring presented the February 15th Yi-Fu Seminar with a talk entitled: Using the Past to Predict the Future: The Public Land Survey, 19th Century Climate and the PalEON Project. You can see the slides on figshare.


Check out the Williams Lab contribution to Palaeo50!

What are the 50 most pressing questions in Paleoecology? Take a look at the Williams lab questions.

› Congratulations, Dr. Jacquelyn Gill!

Jacquelyn successfully defended her PhD on July 5th! She gave a great exit seminar, well attended by folks in person and online. She starts a postdoc at Brown University on August 1st.

Brigitta Rongstad, undergrad extraordinaire!

BG has won several awards this spring, including a Hilldale Research Fellowship from the university, the Clarence W. Olmstead Undergraduate Achievement Award in Geography from the Department of Geography, and the Mack C. Lake scholarship from the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

› Two new lab papers are out! The 'shifting niches' paper is in the current issue of Global Change Biology, and the 'ice age ecologist' paper is available early-online through Global Ecology and Biogeography

Get more details about the papers here.

Jack, Alejo, Jessica, and Simon co-led a graduate seminar on Conservation Paleoecology in the spring 2012 semester

See the reading list here!

Jack and Jessica contributed to a global syntheses of deglacial climate, available now in PNAS Plus

Get the paper here.

Jenn's paper in PNAS on a long-term perspective on wildfire in the western USA just came out online!

Get the paper here and read the press release.

Jack will be speaking in the upcoming AAAS symposium "The Future of Ecological Communities Under Climate Change: No Analog?"

Get more info on the symposium and Jack's abstract here!

Jacquelyn's Silver Lake paper on climatic and megaherbivory controls on vegetation is out in QSR!

Get the paper here and read Jacquelyn's post on the paper


An interview with Jack is featured in The Atlantic

Jack spoke with The Atlantic about climate change and lab research. Read more here!

Want to learn more about no-analog climates and shifting realized niches? Watch for a new paper just accepted by Global Change Biology!

Sam Veloz headed up this work, along with Jack Williams, Jessica Blois, and others. Get the full details here

Congratulations to Sam Munoz!

Sam has just been awarded a 'Young Explorer Grant' from the National Geographic Society. This award help fund Sam's dissertation research on prehistoric Native American land use and environmental change in the central Mississippi River valley.

Congratulations to Chad Zirbel, undergraduate extraordinaire!

Chad won the Student Section Best Undergraduate Student Poster Presentation Award at ESA 2011 for his poster on "Effects of Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn) invasion and restoration on woodland carbon sequestration". His poster is the result of research he did while an REU student at the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2010, where he worked with Daniel Larkin and James Steffen.

Additional congratulations to Simon Goring!

Simon was awarded the 2011 Aleksis Dreimanis Doctoral Scholarship by CANQUA, the Canadian Quaternary Association.

Jessica Blois and Jack Williams have a new paper out!

The paper is on assessing and reducing temporal uncertainty in late Quaternary pollen cores in eastern North America (in QSR, with co-authors Eric Grimm, Steve Jackson, and Russ Graham). Read more about it here.

Congratulations to Karen Russ, who finished her Master's degree in AOS spring semeseter 2011!

Congratulations to Nancy Parker, who defended her Master's degree on April 21st!

Sam Munoz received the "Paleoenvironmental Change Specialty Group of AAG Student Research Award"!

This award will help fund Sam's dissertation research

Congratulations to Jacquelyn Gill, who received a UW Peer Mentoring Award!

› Take a look at the new website that visualizes how Wisconsin's climate is changing.

The website was developed for the WICCI project by Jack Williams, former postdoc Sam Veloz, and geography grad student Jeremy White. [website]

A related news item was published in the UW Madison College of Letters and Science News & Notes [link]



Alejandro Ordonez will be joining the Williams lab in early summer 2011 as the CPEP postdoc

[learn more about Alejo's current research here]

Jacquelyn's recent paper (Gill et al. 2009, Science) received the ESA Cooper Award! [original paper here]

This award is given annually to honor an outstanding contribution to the fields of geobotany and/or physiographic ecology.

Conflict of Interest Disclosure here

Jessica has a recent paper out in Nature, on small mammal diversity through the Late Pleistocene [more info here]



Jacquelyn, Jack, and collaborators have a new paper in Science!

Gill, J. L., Williams, J. W., Jackson, S. T., Lininger, K., and Robinson, G. S. (2009). Pleistocene megafaunal collapse preceded novel plant communities and enhanced fire regimes. Science 326: 1100-1103.

[find the paper and other information here]


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