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Dr. Rachel Wood: Exploring Wetland Wonders

New Assistant Professor of Biology

A woman in a blue dress with brown hair smiles in front of a gray background.
Photo by BYU Photo

The College of Life Sciences is honored to welcome Dr. Rachel Wood as one of the newest faculty in the Department of Biology. Wood is a skilled researcher in the fields of ecology and wetland preservation. Ever in awe of the world around her, Wood has spent most of her academic career studying how wetlands impact the nitrogen and phosphorus levels of aquatic ecosystems.

As an undergraduate student, Wood switched from civil engineering to environmental science. Her passion for science ignited after joining the Environmental Analytical Lab that focused on soil and plant analysis. Upon graduating with her bachelor's and master’s degrees, Wood pursued a PhD at Utah State where she studied how the many man-made ponds or impoundments in state and federal wildlife management areas process phosphorus and nitrogen.

The view of Utah Lake from Wood's window is the perfect reminder of her primary research interest: how to best maintain ecosystem health in the face of widespread pressure from humans, including habitat loss and invasive species. Invasive plants like Phragmites australis have significantly altered wetland ecosystems, replacing native plants and degrading habitats of birds, fish, insects, and people. She is especially interested in the effect on soil microbial communities and nutrient cycling. Other interests include looking into Great Salt Lake preservation and xenobiotics in aquatic environments.

When not researching, Wood enjoys spending time with her two sons, helping them gain an appreciation for the world around them and the wetlands she cherishes. She also enjoys running and hiking in her free time.

As Wood rejoins the BYU Life Sciences community, she hopes to share with the students her love for the intricately beautiful world that Heavenly Father has created. She encourages students to actively seek opportunities to work with faculty members and get hands-on experience to inspire their future careers. Students are Wood’s favorite part of being an academic, and she looks forward to helping them chase their dreams and cultivate a love for ecosystems and nature.