Project Leader 

 Alex Woodley
Assistant Professor in Sustainable and Organic Soil Fertility
3214 Williams Hall


Alex is originally from Stratford Ontario. He received his B.S., M.S. degrees in Environmental Science from the University of Guelph, and his Ph.D. in Land Resource Science from from the University of Guelph. He was a NSERC visiting fellow at the Harrow Research and Development Centre (AAFC) working in Dr. Craig Drury’s lab.  He joined the faculty at NCSU in spring 2018.

 Current Lab Group Members: 

Richard Hendley – Research Technician / MSc. Student 

Richard grew up in Marietta, Georgia and received a B.S. degree in Horticulture from the University of Georgia in 2011.  He came to NC State in 2019 to pursue an M.S. degree in Crop Science after working on vegetable and plant nursery operations for several years.  His Master’s research explores precision cover cropping with a focus on weed suppression and soil fertility.

Cara Mathers – PhD Student

Cara Mathers grew up beside the Chesapeake Bay in the small town of St. Leonard, MD.  She received her BS degree in Comprehensive Science from Villanova University in 2017, and then immediately began her graduate studies at NCSU.  She worked in the soil physics laboratory group studying the influence of soil drying on evaporation while working towards her MS.  She is now pursuing her PhD in the sustainable soils lab, and her research focuses on the intersection of agricultural management, soil water dynamics, and crop productivity.

Lily Kile – MSc. Student

Lily is originally from Murfreesboro, TN. She obtained her B.S. from Pennsylvania State University in Plant Sciences where she also worked on a Christmas tree farm. She obtained her certificate in Foundations in Counseling at the University of the Nations in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. She spent a year travelling to work with sex trafficked victims in the Philippines and facilitate group counseling sessions with refugees in Germany and Greece. She began her M.S at NCSU in the fall of 2020.

Chris Gillespie – PhD student  (Co-chaired with Dr. Shuijin Hu)

Christopher Jorelle Gillespie was born in Champaign-Urbana. Gillespie grew up in Douglas Park, an area historically stagnated by racial segregation and economic curtailment. Raised by a single mother, Gillespie was introduced to the sciences by his grandmother, an educator and University of Illinois affiliate. In May 2017, Gillespie received his bachelors in Crop and Soil Science from Michigan State University. Gillespie then matriculated to Oklahoma State University, obtaining a M.S. in Plant and Soil Science specializing in soil chemistry in June 2019. Currently, Gillespie is working towards a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology (specializing in soil biogeochemistry) at North Carolina State University. As a member of the Hu Lab, Gillespie’s primary research endeavors are focused on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within differing agroecosystems. Moreover, Gillespie seeks to explore the influence of soil physical properties, chemical processes, and microbial structure and functionality on GHG emissions in Southeastern soils.


 Tom Stanton – Research Technician

Tom received his B.S. degree from The Pennsylvania State University in 2016, majoring in Agricultural Sciences. After a few years of working on different agricultural operations in Pennsylvania and Maine, he joined the Sustainable Soils lab in 2018.

Sam Hahn – M.S. Student

Samuel is from a small town in the ‘pinky’ of Michigan that was voted “Good Morning America’s” Most Beautiful Place in America in 2011. He received his BS in 2015 from the University of Michigan in Ecology and History. After that he taught middle school science in South Carolina, bought a heifer, got a dog, and did some traveling. He started his MS at NCSU in the fall of 2018.

Summer 2021 Research Assistants 

Summer 2019 Research Assistants 

Summer 2019 Research Team
Great group of research assistants this summer, Sam Hahn (grad student), Micayla West, Caitlyn Bell and Jesse Tysinger (Left to Right)

REU Student 2019  – Isabel Pagan-Caballero 

Working hard on ammonia volatilization in corn using a inorganic-organic N fertilizer