George Koch

George  Koch Associate Director
Northern Arizona University
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  • Ecology, global change biology, physiological ecology,biophysics


Associate Director, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society

Professor, Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University


B.S. in Biology from Stanford University (1978)

Ph.D. in Biology from Stanford University (1988)

Research Focus

Koch’s research focuses on understanding the biophysical and ecological interactions of plants with their environments, including features affected by human-driven global change. He has worked in a variety of terrestrial ecosystems ranging from tropical and temperate rainforests to deserts. Much of his research explores the interaction of water relations and carbon metabolism, a relationship central to the challenge of plant life on land. He is fascinated by giant trees and enjoys combining the physical challenge of tree climbing with state-of-the-art scientific techniques.

Other Achievements, Honors, Awards

Koch co-founded the Professional Science Master’s degree program in Climate Science and Solutions at Northern Arizona University.

Koch served as Co-Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Western Regional Center of the National Institute for Climatic Change Research at Northern Arizona University.

Big-picture Career Goal

Through his research and teaching Koch strives to convey how a scientific understanding can enhance appreciation of the workings and wonder of the natural world.   

Personal Note

Koch enjoys getting outside to experience, explore, and understand the natural world. His favorite outdoor activities include climbing big trees, skiing the backcountry, poking around canyons, and sailing.

Selected Publications

Hurteau M. D., T. A. Robards, D. Stevens, S. Saah, M. North, G. W. Koch. 2013. Modeling climate and fuel reduction impacts on mixed-conifer forest carbon stocks in the Sierra Nevada, California.  Ecosystems, in press.

Kerhoulas, L. P., T. E. Kolb, M. D. Hurteau, G. W. Koch. 2013. Managing climate change adaptation in forests: a case study from the U.S. Southwest. Journal of Applied Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12139

Classen, A. T., S. K. Chapman, T. G. Whitham, S. C. Hart, G. W. Koch. 2013. Long-term insect herbivory slows soil development in an arid ecosystem.  Ecosphere 4(5):52

Wu Z, P Dijkstra, GW Koch, BA Hungate. 2012. Progressively declining climate change effects on plant productivity. Nature Climate Change 2:458-462.

Hurteau,M. D., M. North, GW Koch, BA Hungate, G. Smith. 2012. Aligning Ecology and Markets in the Forest Carbon Cycle. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 11: 37–42

Dore, S., M. Montes-Helu, S. C. Hart, B. A. Hungate, G. W. Koch, J. B. Moon, A. J. Finkral, T. E. Kolb. 2012. Recovery of ponderosa pine ecosystem carbon and water fluxes from thinning and stand replacing fire. Global Change Biology, 18, 3171–3185.

Wu Z, GW Koch, P Dijkstra, MA Bowker, BA Hungate. 2011. Responses of Ecosystem Carbon Cycling to Climate Change Treatments Along an Elevation Gradient.  Ecosystems. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-011-9464-4

Dijkstra P, JC Blankinship, PC Selmants, SC Hart, GW Koch, E Schwartz, BA Hungate. 2011. Probing carbon flux patterns through soil microbial metabolic networks using parallel position-specific tracer labeling. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43(1): 126 -132

Sillett SC, R Van Pelt, GW Koch, AR Ambrose, AL Carroll, ME Antoine, BM Misfud. 2010. Increasing wood production through old age in tall trees.  Forest Ecology and Management 259:976-994.

Dore S, TE Kolb, M Montes-Helu, SE Eckert, BW Sullivan, BA Hungate, JP Kaye, SC Hart, GW Koch, A. Finkral. 2010. Carbon and water fluxes from ponderosa pine forests disturbed by wildfire and thinning.  Ecological Applications, 20(3):663-683.

Koch GW, SC Sillett, GM Jennings, and SD Davis. 2004. The limits to tree height. Nature 428:851-854.

Huxman TE, MD Smith, PA Fay, AK Knapp, MR Shaw, ME Loik, SD Smith, DT Tissue, JC Zak, JF Weltzin, WT Pockman, OE Sala, B Haddad, J Harte, GW Koch, S Schwinning, EE Small, DG Williams. 2004. Convergence across biomes to a common rain-use efficiency. Nature, 429:651-654

Current Projects

Modeling the Carbon Implications of Ecologically-Based Forest Management. U.S. Department of Energy, SERDP

Digging Deeper: In Situ Metabolic Analysis Of Soil C Cycling Processes. National Science Foundation

Major Research Instrumentation: Development of a Southwest Experimental Garden Array (SEGA) for Integrating Genetics and Climate Change. National Science Foundation

International Research Experiences for Students: Patagonian Research Experiences in Sustainability Science (PRESS): Understanding Social-Ecological Drivers and Consequences of Global Change.  National Science Foundation

Metabolic Water Production: Developing Applications in Microbiology, Plant Ecology, and Medicine. Technology Research Initiative Fund, Northern Arizona University

Graphene Trees. Technology Research Initiative Fund, Northern Arizona University

Full Curriculum Vitae