Professional and Biographical Information


Ph.D., University of Alaska Fairbanks (2014)
B.A., Middlebury College (2005)

Research Interests

My research focuses on how species traits and interactions shape community structure and ecosystem function. I primarily study how fine-scale belowground processes contribute to broad-scale ecosystem responses to a warming climate and associated changes in disturbance regimes. I focus on investigating the role of plant-fungal interactions in carbon and nitrogen cycling, community assembly after disturbance, and landscape patterns of vegetation change. I explore these research themes primarily in Arctic tundra and boreal ecosystems of Alaska and Siberia (research overview).

Teaching Interests

I aim to help students explore the most important environmental issues of our time.  In order to think critically about our natural environment and social-ecological systems, it is critical for students to have a strong understanding of environmental science. In the courses I teach, students will attain an array of scientific skills to study the natural environment. I focus on building critical thinking to facilitate student engagement in environmental studies, whether that is through scientific inquiry, political engagement, or contributing to current environmental discourse. 


  • Ballhausen, M., Hewitt, R.E. & Rillig, M.C. Mimicking climate warming effects on Alaskan soil microbial communities via gradual temperature increase. Scientific Reports 10, 8533 (2020).
  • McLauchlan, K. et al. (44 authors including R.E. Hewitt). In press. “Fire as a fundamental ecological process: research advances and frontiers.” Journal of Ecology.
  • Hewitt, R.E., M.R. DeVan, I. Lagutina, H. Genet, A.D. McGuire, D.L. Taylor, and M.C. Mack. 2020. “Mycobiont contribution to tundra plant acquisition of permafrost-derived nitrogen” New Phytologist, 226: 126-141. DOI:10.1111/nph.16235 (See also the commentary on this article by Robinson et al., (2020), 226: 8–10.)
  • Ellison, S.E., P. Sullivan, S. Cahoon, and R.E. Hewitt. 2019. “Poor nutrition as a potential cause of divergent tree growth near the Arctic treeline in northern Alaska.” Ecology, DOI:
  • Hewitt, R.E., D.L. Taylor, H. Genet, A.D. McGuire, and M.C Mack. 2018. “Below-ground plant traits influence tundra plant acquisition of newly thawed permafrost nitrogen.” Journal of Ecology, 00:1–13.
  • Bjorkman A.D., et al. (many co-authors including R.E. Hewitt). 2018. “Tundra Trait Team: A database of plant traits spanning the tundra biome.” Global Ecology and Biogeography, DOI:
  • Hewitt, R.E., D.L. Taylor, T.N. Hollingsworth, C.B. Anderson, and G. Martínez Pastur. 2018. “Variable retention harvesting influences belowground plant-fungal interactions of Nothofagus pumilio seedlings in forests of southern Patagonia.” PeerJ, 6:e5008.
  • Djukic, I. et al. (many co-authors including R.E. Hewitt). 2018. “Early stage litter decomposition across biomes.” Science of the Total Environment,
  • Hewitt, R.E., F.S. Chapin III, T.N. Hollingsworth, and D.L. Taylor. 2017. “The potential for mycobiont sharing between shrubs and seedlings to facilitate tree establishment after wildfire at Alaska arctic treeline.” Molecular Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/mec.14143.
  • Hewitt, R.E., T.N. Hollingsworth, F.S. Chapin III, and D.L. Taylor. 2016. “Fire-severity effects on plant-fungal interactions after a novel tundra wildfire disturbance: implications for arctic shrub and tree migration.” BMC Ecology. DOI: 10.1186/s12898-016-0075-y
  • Hewitt, R.E., A.P. Bennett, A.L. Breen, T.N. Hollingsworth, D.L. Taylor, F.S. Chapin III, and T.S. Rupp. 2015. “Getting to the root of the matter: landscape implications of plant-fungal interactions for tree migration in Alaska.” Landscape Ecology, DOI: 10.1007/s10980-015-0306-1
  • Hewitt, R.E., E. Bent, T.N. Hollingsworth, F.S. Chapin III, and D.L. Taylor. 2013. “Resilience of arctic mycorrhizal fungal communities after wildfire facilitated by resprouting shrubs.” Ecoscience, 20:296-310. DOI:
  • Hewitt, R.E., and E.S. Menges. 2008. “Allelopathic effects of Ceratiola ericoides (Empetraceae) on germination and survival of six Florida scrub species.” Plant Ecology, 198:47-59. DOI: