Current Graduate Students



Courtney Currier
Ph.D. Student

Courtney joined the Sala Lab in the fall of 2018 as a Ph.D. student in the ELS program. She is interested in studying biogeochemical interactions between nutrients, plants, soils, and water availability in drylands.  A current project of hers focuses on multi-year rainfall manipulation effects on grass and shrub phenology. Before joining the Sala Lab, she received her MSc from Arizona State University, where she investigated the ecological stoichiometry and physiological responses of three Daphnia species to phosphorus-enriched lake seston, and her BSc from the University of Notre Dame.


Sam Jordan
Ph.D. Student

Sam joined the Sala lab in the fall of 2018 as a PhD student in Environment and Life Sciences. Sam studies how climate, soil water, and disturbance control plant diversity and functional type abundance in dryland plant communities. With the Sala lab, Sam will be collaborating on a new multi-year drought manipulation study in three dryland ecosystems across the American West. His Master’s work in big sagebrush ecosystems explored how climate, ecohydrology, and disturbance affects plants diversity, and how livestock grazing changes plant communities over time. Sam received his MESc from Yale University and his BS from the University of Tennessee.








Chris Vito
Ph.D. Student

Chris joined the Sala lab in the fall of 2019 as a Ph.D. student in the ELS program. He received a Bsc in Geoscience from Drexel University in 2016, where he researched paleontology and tropical ecology. After graduating, he worked as a staff scientist at the Academy of Natural Sciences assisting with a variety of aquatic ecology research projects investigating the impacts of land use practices on ecological systems. Chris is interested in researching the effects of changes in climate and land use on ecosystem services and resilience at multiple scales.


Bryce Sutter
MSc. Student

Bryce joined the Sala lab in 2020 as an undergraduate student at ASU, and will continue her involvement as she works on her Master’s in Biology. She is interested in learning more about desert and dryland ecosystems, especially in the face of climate change. In addition to lab work, Bryce has been an intern at the Arizona Game and Fish Department since 2019, where she helps create videos showing the conservation work carried out by the Department’s wildlife biologists.





Madeline Buhman
Ph.D. Student


Madeline Buhman will be joining the Sala lab in the fall of 2021 as a Ph.D. student  in the ELS program. She is interested in the effects of variable precipitation of dryland ecosystems, and the role of climate change in these ecosystems. Prior to joining the Sala lab Madeline worked as a contractor at the Environmental Protection Agency assisting in their Extramural Branch Division of the Office of Research and Development. She also worked previously in laboratories studying salt marshes and their food webs, and nutrient cycling in intermountain watersheds.