Photo of Eric Davidson

Administrator / Faculty

Eric Davidson

Director and Professor
Eric Davidson
Director and Professor
Appalachian Laboratory


Eric A. Davidson is Director and Professor at the Appalachian Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Frostburg, MD. Previously, he was a Senior Scientist and served a term as President and Executive Director at the Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, MA. His research in biogeochemistry includes the exchange of plant nutrients from the land to streams and groundwater and the exchange of greenhouse gases between the soil and the atmosphere. He works in a variety of ecosystems, including forests and agricultural lands in North and South America. Davidson holds a Ph.D. in forestry from North Carolina State University and held post-doctoral positions in soil microbiology and biogeochemistry at the UC-Berkeley and the NASA Ames Research Center. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Past-President of the 60,000-member scientific society, the American Geophysical Union. He served as the Coordinator of the North American Center for the International Nitrogen Initiative and is the leader of a Research Coordination Network on Reactive Nitrogen in the Environment. Davidson has written a popular book, You Can’t Eat GNP, which explores the links between economics and ecology for students and laypersons.

Areas of Expertise

  • Biogeochemical effects of land-use change and land management
  • The global nitrogen cycle, including the global nitrous oxide budget
  • Soil microbial processes of nutrient cycling and greenhouse gas fluxes
  • Leaching of plant nutrients to streams and groundwater
  • Interdisciplinary studies of nitrogen management in agriculture
  • Interactions of C, N, P, and other nutrient cycles in terrestrial ecosystems
  • Land-water-atmosphere exchanges of greenhouse gases and nutrients
  • Temperature sensitivity of soil organic matter decomposition
  • Modeling soil microbial processes


  • North Carolina State University, 1986, Ph.D., Forestry
  • Oberlin College, 1978, B.A., Biology

Lab News

Avoiding Pollution Swapping while Reducing Agricultural Runoff of Nitrogen to the Chesapeake Bay

A team of UMCES researchers are trying to figure out the best management practices for reducing runoff from farm land are featured on a episode of Maryland Farm & Harvest.

Eric Davidson rides to raise climate awareness and funds for graduate students

Q&A with Eric Davidson, director and professor at the Appalachian Laboratory, who embarks on his third Climate Ride this September to raise awareness of climate change and raise money to support UMCES graduate students.

Hungry planet requires more efficient use of nitrogen

The global population is expected to increase by two to three billion people by 2050, a projection raising serious concerns about sustainable development, biodiversity and food security. Given the world’s growing food demands, nitrogen fertilizer use is likely to increase. Using too much fertilizer, however, will lead to increased pollution of waterways and the air.

More food, low pollution effort gains traction

Nitrogen fertilizers make it possible to feed more people in the world than ever before. However, too much of it can also harm the environment. Professor Eric Davidson, director of the UMCES Appalachian Laboratory, has been leading a group of scientists, economists, social scientists, and agriculture experts in figuring out how to produce more food while lowering pollution at the same time. He calls it a “Mo Fo Lo Po”: more food, low pollution.