Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

Earth Sciences Division Staff: Cristina Castanha

Cristina Castanha

Cristina Castanha

Assistant Research Scientist

Climate Sciences Department



Phone: 510-495-2226

Fax: 510-486-7152


Biographical Summary

Cristina Castanha is an assistant research scientist at the University of California, Berkeley and a senior research associate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She is an ecologist and biogeochemist who studies the effects of climate change and other anthropogenic influences on vegetative land cover and the terrestrial carbon cycle. For the past three years she has been studying conifer seedling demographics in Colorado's Front Range. And over the past fifteen years she has worked in a variety of locations and on a series of collaborations investigating the controls on carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. Her work uses natural environmental gradients, field experiments, isotope analyses, and laboratory analyses. Cristina holds a B.S. in Fermentation Science from UC Davis (1985), an M.S. in Environmental Systems from Humboldt State University (1992), and a Ph.D. in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley (2004). At UC Berkeley she served as lecturer in Environmental Sciences and as teaching assistant for a variety of classes including Environmental Problems, Development and Classification of Soils, and Renewable Resources for Electrical Generation.


  • Ph.D. - University of California Berkeley. Energy and Resources, 2004.           
    • Mineral and Climate Controls on Soil Organic Matter Storage and Cycling.
    • John Harte (chair), Ronald Amundson, Susan Trumbore, and Richard Norgaard
  • M.S. - Humboldt State University. Environmental Systems, 1994.           
    • The USA/Brazilian Rural Electrification Pilot Program; a technical and economic analysis. Robert Gearhart
  • C.S. - Sonoma State University. Energy Management and Design, 1992.                       
  • B.S. - University of California Davis. Fermentation Science, Honors, 1985.

Professional Experience

  • Principal Research Associate, Earth Sciences Division, LBNL. 2012-present.
  • Senior Research Associate, Earth Sciences Division, LBNL. 2005-2012.
  • Assistant Research Scientist, University of California, Berkeley 2008-present 
  • Lecturer, Environmental Science Senior Research Seminar, UC Berkeley 2004-5.
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor, UC Berkeley 2001.
  • GSI, UC Berkeley, 1994-2004: Quantitative Aspects of Environmental Problems (Harte), Summer Soil Field Course (Amundson/Singer/Dahlgren), Development and Classification of Soils (Amundson), Field Study of Soil Development (Amundson), Renewable Resources for Electrical Generation (Morris).

Teaching Experience

  • UC Berkeley Lecturer, Environmental Science Senior Research Seminar - 2004-5
  • UC Berkeley Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor - 2001
  • Graduate Student Instructor Appointments:
    • Quantitative Aspects of Global Environmental Problems (Harte) - 2004
    • Summer Soil Field Course (Amundson/Singer/Dahlgren) - 2000
    • Development and Classification of Soils (Amundson) - 1998
    • Field Study of Soil Development (Amundson) - 1998
    • Renewable Resources for Electrical Generation (Morris) - 1994

Mentoring and Supervisory Experience

  • 2009-2010. Mentor to Bettina Weibel, MS.  University of Zurich, Switzerland. 2010. Conifer seedling demographics across a forest to tundra gradient in the Rocky Mountains. M. Schmidt (faculty representative), C. Castanha and M. S. Torn (co-advisors).
  • 2008-2010. Supervise crew of three to seven concurrent field technicians at the Mountain Research Station, Niwot Ridge Colorado.
  • 2005-2010 Oversee numerous graduate and baccalaureate students, summer interns, volunteers, and up to five concurrent part time lab assistants in Margaret Torn’s lab, LBNL.


  • National Science Foundation California Pre-Doctoral Program Honorable Mention - 1993
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship - 1993-7
  • Winslow Foundation - 1997-8
  • Compton Foundation - 1998-9
  • Luso-American Development Foundation - 1998-9
  • Kearney Foundation of Soil Science - 2001-3


  • American Geophysical Union
  • California Botanical Society
  • California Native Plant Society
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Portuguese-American Postgraduate Society


Ackerly DD1, Amundson  RG1, Andersen GL2, Billesbach DP3, Brodie EL2, Carey S, Faist A4, Ferrenberg SM4, Firestone MK1, Fischer ML2, Germino MJ5,6, Harte J1, Herman DJ1, Hopkins FM7, Jansson JK2, Kueppers LM8, Moyes AB8, Nico PS2, Placella SA9, Reichl K2, Reinhardt K6, Salve R2, Smith AB10, St.Clair S11, Suddereth E12, Swanston CW13, Swarbreck SM, Tas N2, Torn MS1,2, Trumbore SE7,14, Weibel B15.

1UC Berkeley
2Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
University of Colorado, Boulder
United States Geologic Survey, Boise
Idaho State University
University of California Irvine
University of California Merced
Michigan State University
Missouri Botanical Garden
Brigham Young University
Brown University
United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany
Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Zurich, Switzerland


English & Portuguese (fluent). Spanish & French (minimal working knowledge)