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Short Bio

Dr. Chaoqun (Crystal) Lu is an associate professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at Iowa State University. She obtained her PhD training jointly from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Auburn University in the United States. Prior to joining ISU in 2015, she served as a postdoctoral researcher and later as a research fellow at Auburn University.


Dr. Lu's expertise lies in understanding and quantifying human and natural controls over terrestrial hydro-biogeochemical cycling through a systems approach, ecosystem modeling, and hybrid AI technology, addressing various spatial and temporal scales. Her research efforts have yielded approximately 100 peer-reviewed academic articles in top-tier journals such as Nature, Nature Food, Global Change Biology, garnering over 9,900 citations (h-index 54). Moreover, her contributions extend to influential reports such as the IPCC Assessment Reports, US National Assessment report on Climate Change, Iowa Climate Assessment report, and Iowa Carbon Sequestration Task Force report.

With a track record of securing substantial grants, as both PI and Co-PI, Dr. Lu has received over $5.6 million in funding since 2015 from prestigious organizations such as NSF, USDA, and OECD. These grants support her work in quantifying and predicting how human and natural drivers regulate ecosystem processes and services through data-modeling approaches.

Dr. Lu has received accolades including the NSF CAREER award (2020), the ISU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) Award for Early Achievement in Research (2021), LAS Dean's Faculty Fellow (2021), and the ISU CALS (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) Dean’s Citation Award (2022). Her accomplishments have also been acknowledged internationally, ranking her in The Reuters Hot Lists for the world's 1,000 most influential climate scientists in 2021 (#490). In addition, she was honored with the "Early Career Ecologist Award" from the Asian Ecology Section, Ecological Society of America (ESA) in 2013.

Dr. Lu actively serves in editorial boards for prestigious journals such as Earth System Science Data, Ecological Processes, and Frontiers in Big Data. She also contributes as a reviewer for many research journals and acts as an ad-hoc proposal reviewer and panelist for multiple national and international funding agencies such as NSF, USDA, Swiss National Science Foundation.


Currently, Dr. Lu oversees a thriving lab at Iowa State University, which comprises one postdoctoral associate and four graduate students. The lab's primary focus centers around comprehensive assessments and improved predictions of carbon and nitrogen cycling, greenhouse gas fluxes, and land-to-aquatic nutrient export under climate and other global changes in intensively managed systems.

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