Welcome to Definearth

Thank you for visiting my blog. The purpose of this blog is to educate the public about important environmental issues that are applicable to their lives in a clear and concise way. With this blog I hope to express the growing world of environmental technology, share current environmental news, and incorporate a little bit of myself into my writing. Definearth is a name that I brainstormed, but it really came from one of my favorite environmentally conscious movies, Wall-E. Watch this 30 second clip to see.

Definearth is written by me, Jess Turner, an environmentalist in Wisconsin. All my life, I have been shaped by my experiences to appreciate the environment. I grew up exploring my grandma’s woods filled with evergreens, deer, salamanders, snakes, poisonous plants, and marshes. I went to long summer camps with my sister, and we were taught to swim early on. I was president of my school’s environmental club and obsessed over my tiny rock and fossil collection. But enough about me. It’s time to explore my blog.

Current Work:

I currently perform research on gaseous wetland fluxes measured with the eddy covariance technique for Dr. Ankur Desai’s ecometeorology lab at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Because University of Wisconsin is a land grant institution, it is the perfect location to study ecosystems that are unique to the area such as wetlands. You can see one of the field sites that I work on in my previous blog post, Allequash Creek Wetland and on the Water@UW-Madison Research Story Map. My job involves dealing with “big data” through data analysis and data visualization with the computer programming language, MATLAB. I am also interested in wetland conservation, management, and cultural value.


I was awarded the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship in 2020 to pursue my PhD in Freshwater and Marine Science at UW-Madison. The university press release is here.

Photo credit: Bill Bellon. Image from Space Science and Engineering Center at UW Madison.

Past Work:

I previously worked as a research assistant in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Syracuse University with Dr. Charles Driscoll. I tested samples from the NSF-funded Ice Storm Experiment in Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest for Dissolved Organic Matter (DOM) and Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC). I evaluated the samples with the help of Dr. Teng Zeng in the Environmental Organic Chemistry lab. I have also done research at University at Buffalo’s Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering Department. There, I studied the efficiencies of solar cookers.


Turner, J., Desai, A.R., Thom, J., Wickland, K.P., and Olson, B. Wind sheltering impacts on land-atmosphere fluxes over fens. Frontiers in Environmental Science: Biogeochemical Dynamics. https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2019.00179

Helbig, M., Waddington, J.M., Alekseychik, P., Amiro, B., Aurela, M., …Turner, J., et al. “Increasing contribution of peatlands to boreal evapotranspiration in a warming climate.” Nature Climate Change (2020): 1-6. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/10.1038/s41558-020-0763-7

Turner, J. (2018), Creating Diversity in STEM: An Interview with Dr. Letitia Thomas. Women in Higher Education, 27: 6-7. doi:10.1002/whe.20581