Ariel Leger, MS student

Spring 2019 Graduate Teaching Assistant


Ariel Leger
Caroline Mosley/University of Arizona

Ariel is a natural teacher...  He became my primary assistant and go-to person in the classroom. He is skillful, thoughtful and works superbly with students.

- Dr. Joan Curry, nominator

Ariel has a remarkable ability to connect and engage—both with people and scientific knowledge. His curiosity and creativity are reflected in the compelling research questions he is addressing during his Master’s work. He leans into challenges, using teamwork, methodical trial and error, a positive outlook, and a persistent work ethic to overcome obstacles.

- Dr. Joey Blankinship, faculty adviser

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Montreal, Canada. I have my bachelor's degree from Quest University Canada and lived in British Columbia for a decade working in forestry and sustainable agriculture. I became interested in soil carbon storage as a way to offset carbon emissions and increase agricultural sustainability. I came to Arizona to work in Dr. Joey Blankinship's lab. 

What do you research and why?

I research soil health and sustainable agriculture in arid environments, specifically organic matter in soil. I want to answer the question: how do we increase food security in the face of climate change? In places like Arizona where it's very sunny and warm, organic matter breaks down very quickly. So we already have very little healthy soil, and now in the face of drought and extreme heat, we need to find a way to produce food sustainably. 

My research is a mixture of lab and field work, as I'm trying to develop best practices when it comes to revegetation (or the process of replanting and rebuilding the soil of disturbed land) of arid landscapes. One example is I've been conducting mulching experiments where I use mesquite trees to see if we can encourage revegetation of rangeland.

Listen to Ariel on KXCI Thesis Thursday 

What do you teach and what do you enjoy the most about it?

I help students use diverse approaches to break down complex environmental issues.

Future plans?

I'm very focused on the present and finishing up all the projects I've started during my graduate study.

Words of advice?

No matter what you research have good data management--you will thank yourself later!