Astrid Volder

Astrid Volder

Position Title
Associate Professor

Plant Sciences


Volder, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, specializes in how plant roots respond to stresses such as extreme heat or drought. Volder completed her Ph.D. in physiological ecology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and worked at the Pennsylvania State University, CSIRO Plant Industry (Australia), and Texas A&M University before joining the UC Davis faculty in 2013.

Research interests:

Plant root systems, plant health, water use and quality, climate change, ecosystems, environment and natural resources, food systems, land use, sustainability, trees and forestry, urban issues

Brief overview:

Urbanization and climate change place increasing pressure on our ability to feed and house our growing population in ways that do not compromise the ability of future generations to inhabit earth. I am interested in using vegetation to develop more sustainable cities, and in improving growth conditions for vegetation (ranging from farm crops to urban trees) so that plants can function optimally with minimal external resources.

I focus on root traits and understanding how roots respond to and explore their environment. Many plant health problems reside in the belowground parts of plants. My aim is to gain a better understanding of the role that root systems play in how plants adapt to environmental stresses, particularly heat and drought. With this information, we can make more efficient use of resources such as water and nutrients in crop production systems and also improve tree health in urban landscapes.

Current projects:

  • Effects of climate change (altered precipitation, warming) on tree-grass interactions in oak-savanna
  • Species diversity and plant-plant interactions—effects on root growth and soil processes
  • Linking root traits to the ability of urban trees to cope with extreme drought stress and heat waves
  • Fine root nutrient uptake rates as affected by climate change conditions