Welcome to the Shennan Lab website.

The Shennan Lab is based at the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. We work closely with the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS).

Here you will find information about the work we do, the people in the group, how to reach us to get more information, and opportunities for getting involved in our work.

What we do

In the Shennan Lab research group we study agricultural sustainability using participatory approaches in contrasting contexts: high input, high capital intensive vegetable/strawberry production in California; low input, resource poor systems in sub Saharan Africa; and most recently in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam and avocado plantations in Chile.

In California sustainability issues include reliance on controversial toxic soil fumigants, and issues related to inefficient and overuse of inputs that result in non-point source pollution. Our work targets the development of alternatives to soil fumigants for soil borne disease management, strategies for improved nutrient use and disease suppression in high intensity organic strawberry /vegetable rotation systems and the potential for landscape diversification to enhance biological control of arthropod pests.

We have also examined sustainability and agricultural development issues facing sub-Saharan Africa in three different systems: maize production in Malawi, rice production in Senegal, and traditional diverse systems in the highlands of Ethiopia. Currently, we are looking at soil management, rural livelihoods and use of farmer teams and information technology for promoting adoption of new agricultural technologies in Senegal. Each illustrates challenges in designing sustainable systems for resource poor farmers in the face of variable climate, soils and fluctuating input costs. In the absence of adequate resource availability, capital, or economic safety nets; sustainability also involves complex trade-offs to balance short-term livelihood needs, risk management, and long term soil quality improvement.

People

My lab group is a wonderful dynamic team made up of research staff, graduate students, undergraduate students and visiting scientists, led by myself Carol Shennan and my colleague Joji Muramoto (link to people page section).

Current research staff are:

  • Margherita Zavatta

Graduate students:

  • Graeme Baird
  • Jon Eldon
  • Jenny Lovell
  • Christian Magdahl
  • Rachel Shellabarger
  • Rachel Voss

Visiting Researchers

  • Mahsa Fatemi (Graduate student, Iran)

Undergraduate Students

  • Please see undergraduate student information under the people section

Current opportunities

For opportunities to join our lab group:

Undergraduates please contact Dr. Joji Muramoto, email: joj@ucsc.edu

Prospective graduate students and visiting researchers please contact Prof. Carol Shennan, email: cshennan@ucsc.edu