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

Earth Sciences Division Staff: Margaret S. Torn

Margaret Torn

Margaret S. Torn

Senior Scientist

Climate and Carbon Sciences Program Co-Head

Climate and Carbon Sciences


Phone: 510-495-2223

Fax: 510-486-7775


Biographical Summary

Maragaret TornMargaret  S. Torn is co-head of the Climate and Carbon Sciences Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Adjunct Associate Professor in Energy and Resources at U.C. Berkeley. Dr. Torn is an ecologist and biogeochemist who studies the natural carbon cycle and anthropogenic influence on the carbon cycle through land use (including bio-energy crops and sequestration management) and climate change. This work uses field experiments, isotopic analysis (14C, 13C), laboratory analysis, and mathematical models. Dr. Torn studies climate change impacts on ecosystems and the services they provide to society. She also studies the influence of the land surface on climate, including the potential for ecosystem-climate feedbacks to contribute to abrupt climate change. She has published work on climate change impacts on wildfire, on biodiversity, and on ecosystem sources and sinks of greenhouse gases. At  Berkeley, Torn teaches a class on climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability, and a seminar on food systems.

Research Interests

Maragaret researchThe focus of my work is carbon and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems and trace-gas flux between soil and atmosphere. I conduct research on soil carbon, global change, and the impacts of human activities on ecosystem processes. The primary approaches I use are field experiments, elemental and isotopic measurements, and analytical modeling.

At this time, most of our projects are centered on four controls of soil carbon cycling and storage: soil minerals, nutrient status, climate, and land use.


  • Ph.D.   Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley, 1994
  • M.S.    Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley, 1990
  • B.S.     Conservation and Resource Studies, Highest Honors, University of California, Berkeley, 1984

Professional Experience

  • Program Co-Head, Climate and Carbon Sciences, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, 2001-present
  • Senior Scientist, Earth Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2013-present
  • Associate Adjunct Professor, Energy and Resources, U.C. Berkeley, 2005-present
  • Staff Scientist, Earth Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2005-present
  • Scientist, Earth Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1998-2005
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, U.C. Irvine and Stanford University 1994-1998
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Energy and Resources Group, U.C. Berkeley 1986-1994
  • Research Principal Investigator, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Colorado 1991-93
  • Science Intern, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 1985-1986

Fellowships and Honors

  • Secretary of Energy Outstanding Mentor Award 2008
  • Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, 2003
  • DOE Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, 2003
  • Earth System Science Post-Doctoral Fellowship, 1994-1997
  • NASA Global Change Doctoral Fellowship, 1991-94
  • Switzer Environmental Fellowship, 1990-92
  • Graduate Opportunity Fellowship, U.C. Berkeley, 1986-87

Professional Affiliations

  • American Geophysical Union
  • Ecological Society of America

Student Mentor and/or Collaborator

Serve(d) as reader, mentor, and/or collaborator for graduate students:

Amber Kerr, Andrew Crane-Droesch, Asmeret Asefaw Behre, Danielle Svelha Christianson, Daniela Cusack, Kevin Fingerman, Karen Hammes (University of Zurich), Stacy Jackson, Andrew Jones, Maren Kahle (Martin Luther University, FRG), Amber Kerr, Laurie Koteen, Anna Motschenbacher, Rich Plevin, Nimisha Singh (University Zurich), Erika Marin-Spiotta (DOE GREF Mentor), Rebecca Sutton, Craig Rasmussen (UC Davis), Zack Subin, Bettina Weibel (University Zurich), Erika Zavaleta (Stanford), John Zobitz (DOE GREF Mentor).

Mentored Undergraduate, High School, and Teacher Interns (with name of Mentorship Program), in chronological order:

Diane Kenski (ERULF), Pallavi Shukla (Mickey Leland), Erin Hanlon (Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship, SULI), Braulia Sapien (Pre-Service Teacher Training, PST), Laura Wells (PST), Laura Huppert (Piedmont High School; Winner, Regional Science Fair and Intel International Science Fair  in March 2005 with our project); Francesca Mia Hopkins (Environmental Science Senior Thesis, UCB; then Earth Sciences Division post baccalaureate fellow), Amy Morris (PST); Ryan Smith (PST); Alec Boyd; Chris Denn; Rachel Porras (SULI); Lynn Murphy (DOE Academy for Creating Teacher Scientists); Palermo Cuartero (Community College Initiative, CCI), Alfredo Hernandez (Community College Initiative); Kai Orans (Piedmont High).