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Staff information


Kirsten Hofmockel

Biosystms Dynamics & Simula
Earth Scientist
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PO Box 999
MSIN: K8-98
Richland, WA 99352


As Integrative Research Scientist, Dr. Hofmockel develops the overall science and technology strategy for EMSL in collaboration with the Deputy Directors. Responsible for EMSL’s Strategic Science Area in collaboration with the Deputy Directors. Is the interface with BER and the user community for science. Communicates BER scientific strategy to the Deputy Directors. Dr. Hofmockel is interested how plant-microbe-soil interactions influence plant productivity, soil biogeochemistry and the land-atmosphere exchange of carbon. This research connects microbial processes to ecosystem functions to yield new insights into microbial ecology and elemental cycling.

Her research focuses on finding the answers to these three questions:

·What are the mechanisms structuring soil microbial communities?

·How do functional groups of microorganisms respond to changing environmental conditions (e.g. elevated atmospheric CO2, warming, altered precipitation, agricultural management)?

·How does variation in specific microbial communities relate to decomposition and coupled C-N cycling?

Research Interests

  • Plant-microbe-soil interactions influence plant productivity, soil biogeochemistry and the land-atmosphere exchange of carbon.

Education and Credentials

  • Ph.D., Ecology, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Masters of Environmental Management, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • B.S. with honors, Environmental Resource Management, Pennsylvania State University

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • 2104-present International Society of Microbial Ecology (ISME)
  • 2005-present American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • 2004-present American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • 2003-present Ecological Society of America (ESA)

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2016 - Department of Energy Early Career Research Award
  • 2014 - Iowa State University Award for Early Achievement in Research
  • 2011 - National Academies Teaching Educational Fellow in the Life Sciences awarded by the National Academy of Sciences, Division of Earth and Life Studies, and the National Research Council.

PNNL Publications


  • Graham E.B., F. Yang, S.L. Bell, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2019. "High Genetic Potential for Proteolytic Decomposition in Northern Peatland Ecosystems." Applied Environmental Microbiology 85, no. 10:Article No. e02851-18. PNNL-SA-136389. doi:10.1128/AEM.02851-18
  • Hovenden M.J., S. Leuzinger, P.D. Newton, A. Fletcher, S. Fatichi, A. Luscher, and P.B. Reich, et al. 2019. "Globally consistent influences of seasonal precipitation limit grassland biomass response to elevated CO2." Nature Plants 5, no. 2:167-173. PNNL-SA-141746. doi:10.1038/s41477-018-0356-x
  • Morrissey E., R.L. Mau, M. Hayer, X. Liu, E. Schwartz, P. Dijkstra, and B.J. Koch, et al. 2019. "Evolutionary history constrains microbial traits across environmental variation." Nature Ecology & Evolution 3, no. 7:1064-1069. PNNL-SA-147133. doi:10.1038/s41559-019-0918-y
  • Starke R., N. Jehmlich, T.D. Alfaro, A. Dohnalkova, P. Capek, S.L. Bell, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2019. "Incomplete cell disruption of resistant microbes." Scientific Reports 9. PNNL-SA-141081. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-42188-9
  • Zengler K., K.S. Hofmockel, N.S. Baliga, S.W. Behie, H. Bernstein, J.B. Brown, and J.R. Dinneny, et al. 2019. "EcoFAB: Advancing microbiome science through standardized fabricated ecosystems." Nature Methods 16, no. 7:567-571. PNNL-SA-138240. doi:10.1038/s41592-019-0465-0


  • Bach E., G. Narvaez-Rivera, K.E. Murray, J.T. Bauer, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2018. "The dynamic life of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal symbionts." Ecology 99, no. 4:978-980. PNNL-SA-129609. doi:10.1002/ecy.2096
  • Bach E., R. Williams, S.K. Hargreaves, F. Yang, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2018. "Greatest soil microbial diversity found in micro-habitats." Soil Biology and Biochemistry 118. PNNL-SA-123740. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2017.12.018
  • Davis M.P., T.A. Groh, T.B. Parkin, R. Williams, T.M. Isenhart, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2018. "Portable Automation of Static Chamber Sample Collection for Quantifying Soil Gas Flux." Journal of Environmental Quality 47, no. 2:270-275. PNNL-SA-132338. doi:10.2134/jeq2017.10.0387
  • Jansson J.K., and K.S. Hofmockel. 2018. "The Soil Microbiome - From Metagenomics to Metaphenomics." Current Opinion in Microbiology 43. PNNL-SA-132057. doi:10.1016/j.mib.2018.01.013
  • Sielaff A.C., R. Upton, K.S. Hofmockel, X. Xu, W. Polley, and B.J. Wilsey. 2018. "Microbial community structure and functions differ between native and novel (exotic-dominated) grassland ecosystems in an 8 year experiment." Plant and Soil 432, no. 1-2:359-372. PNNL-SA-133470. doi:10.1007/s11104-018-3796-1


  • Choi J., F. Yang, R. Stepanauskas, E. Cardenas, A. Garoutte, R. Williams, and J. Flater, et al. 2017. "Strategies to improve reference databases for soil microbiomes." The ISME Journal 11, no. 4:829-834. PNNL-SA-122172. doi:10.1038/ismej.2016.168
  • Hobbie E.A., J. Chen, P.J. Hanson, C. Iversen, K. McFarlane, N.R. Thorp, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2017. "Long-term carbon and nitrogen dynamics at SPRUCE revealed through stable isotopes in peat profiles." Biogeosciences 14. PNNL-SA-126833. doi:10.5194/bg-14-2481-2017
  • Kaleita A.L., L.R. Schott, S.K. Hargreaves, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2017. "Differences in soil biological activity by terrain types at the sub-field scale in central Iowa US." PLoS One 12, no. 7:Article No. e0180596. PNNL-SA-127024. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180596
  • King A.E., and K.S. Hofmockel. 2017. "Diversified cropping systems support greater microbial cycling and retention of carbon and nitrogen." Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 240. PNNL-SA-123816. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2017.01.040

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