Colleen Iversen

Dr. Colleen Iversen is an ecosystem ecologist who uses a variety of field and laboratory techniques to understand and predict how ecosystems are shaped by environmental change. Her work takes her from upland forests to soggy peatlands to thawing arctic tundra, chasing a better understanding of the secret lives of roots hidden beneath the soil surface. She works to bridge the gap between her millimeter-scale measurements and the global impacts of climate change by fitting together data from across the globe in sophisticated computer models that faithfully represent the natural world. For more information, visit Colleen’s website at

Colleen is a Senior Staff Scientist in the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and also serves as a Theme Lead in the Climate Change Science Institute. She is an Associate Editor for the journal New Phytologist, an elected Early Career Fellow of the Ecological Society of America, and a member of the Inaugural Cohort of the New Voices in Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Colleen leads teams linking above- and belowground processes as a part of large, cross-disciplinary projects like a warming × elevated CO2 manipulation in northern Minnesota (, and an observational study focused on the Arctic tundra ( She also values the importance of open data, and along with international collaborators has brought together root trait data from across the globe, freely shared with empiricists and modelers alike in the Fine-Root Ecology Database (FRED; Working on large, cross-disciplinary, and international projects has given Colleen the opportunity to advocate for changing the science culture in a way that is welcoming to a diversity of voices, including and especially those that may suffer from impostor syndrome like she does. Colleen is a proud member of ESWN and has particularly appreciated the warm feeling that comes with being a part of a broad, diverse community of women, both on-line and IRL. She avidly follows along with ESWN conversations and mentoring chats on Facebook and Twitter.

Colleen sees science communication as the foundation for a shared understanding of society’s future, and she has shared her scientific vision on Public Radio International’s ‘Science Friday’, and in the Alda School’s ‘Flame Challenge’, as well as in organized symposia, sessions, and workshops, and she loves to chat with kids of all ages on ‘Skype a Scientist’. Underpinning her scientific success is the foundation of support provided by her family. Colleen is the mother of two boys, the wife to a stay-at-home dad, the daughter of geologists, and a former Midwesterner who is still known to be aggressively polite.