Mary Jane Carmichael

Mary Jane Carmichael

I am a Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Hollins University. As a microbial ecologist turned biogeochemist, I am interested in the direct and indirect links between above- and below-ground processes. I believe that understanding the connectivity between these two systems plays a critical role in our ability to predict the response of ecosystems to global climate change.

My dissertation work focused on questions that lay at the intersection of the fields of biogeochemistry, microbial ecology, and physiological ecology. My research at Hollins will continue to address unanswered questions that stem from my dissertation work, and I also plan to launch a new line of investigation that seeks to understand the linkage between rhizosphere and phyllosphere microbial communities and physiological plant ecology. ​

During my 13 years in the science classroom, I’ve taught students ranging from seventh graders experiencing their first real laboratory investigations to college majors equipping themselves for graduate and professional pursuits. My teaching philosophy revolves around four principles: (1) a supportive learning environment, (2) high standards for myself and my students, (3) emphasizing fundamentals while also modeling an interdisciplinary approach to biological and environmental sciences, and (4) cultivating in my students a sense of wonder in the natural world. In lecture and in lab, students in my Hollins classroom take a multi-dimensional approach to the fields of biology and environmental science, with a goal of helping them to become inspired, ask questions, and be equipped with the tools to find the answers. ​

Curriculum Vitae PDF

Areas of Expertise

  • Biogeochemistry
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Physiological Plant Ecology
  • Global Climate Change

Courses Taught

  • Biogeochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Human Physiology
  • Microbial Ecology
  • Senior Seminar


  • (2017) Ph.D. in Biology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
  • (2012) M.S. in Biology, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
  • (2005) NC Licensure in Biology and General Science, Salem College, Winston-Salem, NC
  • (2003) B.S. in Biology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC

Publications & Articles

  • Carmichael MJ, Helton AM, White JC, and Smith WK. (2018) Standing dead trees are a conduit for the atmospheric flux of CH4 and CO2 from wetlands. Wetlands 38: 133-143. DOI: 10.1007/s13157-017- 0963-8.
  • Carmichael MJ and Smith WK. (2016) Growing season ecophysiology of Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich. (bald cypress) saplings in a restored wetland: a baseline for restoration practice. Botany 94: 1115-1125. DOI: 10.1139/cjb-2016-0147.
  • Carmichael MJ, Bernhardt ES, Bräuer SL, and Smith WK. (2014) The role of vegetation in methane flux to the atmosphere: should vegetation be included as a distinct category in the global methane budget? Biogeochemistry 119: 1-24. DOI: 10.1007/s10533-014-9974-1.
  • Carmichael SK, Carmichael MJ, Strom AC*, Johnson KW, Roble LA*, Gao Y, and Bräuer SL. (2013) Sustained anthropogenic impact in Carter Saltpeter Cave, Carter County, Tennessee and the potential effects on manganese cycling. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 75: 189-204. DOI: 0.4311/2012MB0267.