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New faculty profile: Paul Stoy focuses on natural resources engineering

Paul Stoy joined the Department of Biological Systems Engineering as an associate professor in August 2019.

What is your hometown? Where did you grow up?
Hudson, Wisconsin.

What is your educational/professional background?
I’m a Badger. I received a B.A. in Zoology and Botany here at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2001. I went on to earn my Ph.D. in Ecology at Duke University in 2006

What was your previous position?
Associate professor at Montana State University.

How did you get into your field of research?
I went to a talk by Jon Foley when I was a freshman here at UW–Madison.

What is the main goal of your current research program?
My major research interest is to understand the role of environmental conservation in the earth system. But I usually find myself working on any number of other things about ecosystems, land management, and surface-atmosphere exchange that I also find interesting, especially when I can help students by doing so.

What attracted you to UW-Madison?
It was the perfect opportunity for the whole family – my wife Amy Trowbridge was hired in Entomology. I’m very grateful.

What was your first visit to campus like?
I went to SOAR and was one of those freshmen running around campus in the summer before classes started.

What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with?
That there are so many opportunities to ask groundbreaking questions with datasets that are open to the public, and that learning techniques to work with these data will make you a better citizen and scientist. (OK maybe that’s two things.)

Do you share your expertise and experiences with the public through social media? If so, which channels do you use?
Yes, I use twitter (@paulstoy) to find new research and ideas from others and to share results from my research group and colleagues.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.
I started my undergraduate research career by running around restored prairies in southern Wisconsin with a soil corer and measuring soil carbon under the direction of Chris Kucharik. At the moment I am doing my best to help with a groundbreaking project on surface-atmosphere exchange that Ankur Desai is leading called #CHEESEHEAD19 in northern Wisconsin. Wisconsin is the perfect place to understand the role that conservation can play in the climate system and it’s great to be back.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?
Bison emit about the same amount of methane as cattle. At least if our latest measurements stand up to more scrutiny.

What are your hobbies/other interests?
Spending time with family but also biking and skiing.