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 wild strawberries. 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. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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