Santa Clara University

Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Virginia Matzek


Virginia Matzek

Assistant Professor

Office: Varsi Hall 217
Phone: (408) 551-6006

Ph.D., 2006, Stanford University

Go to Virginia Matzek's research lab webpage

Curriculum vitae

Teaching and Research Vision 

Scientists like me, and undergraduate students like the ones I teach, have more in common than one might think. The job of both is to inquire - to seek answers to questions. The big difference is that the student tends to see inquiry as a process of looking up facts and ideas in books, while the scientist sees inquiry as a means to generate new facts and ideas. My research and teaching are animated by the desire to turn the student into a scientist. I hope that students in my courses come to see themselves as experimenters and analysts who can use data to find their own answers to novel questions.
My research examines the ecosystem service benefits to humans that may accrue from restoring natural ecosystems. My lab’s current main focus is in quantifying the carbon sequestration that results from restoration, and how it can be compensated in voluntary or compliance markets around the world. We also study the ecology of invasive species, and how pest species management relates to ecosystem service provision. A third focus is on understanding how land managers prioritize and accomplish restoration projects, and in particular how scientific evidence and stakeholder needs figure into their decision-making. Undergraduates assist on these projects doing fieldwork, benchwork, and library research, and are encouraged to take on projects, present posters at conferences, and co-author articles for publication. SCU students who wish to get experience in environmental research should contact me to see if opportunities are available.
Courses Taught

Recent Publications

Underlined text indicates undergraduate co-author.

Matzek, V., C. Puleston, and J. Gunn.2014. (Restoration Ecology, in press) Can carbon credits fund riparian restoration?
Funk, J.L., M. Hoffacker, and V. Matzek. 2014. (Restoration Ecology, in press). Summer irrigation, grazing, and seed addition differentially influence community composition in an invaded serpentine grassland.
Oliveira, M.T., V. Matzek, C.D. Medeiros, R. Rivas, H. M. Falcão, and M.G. Santos. 2014. Stress tolerance and ecophysiological ability of an invader and a native species in a seasonally dry tropical forest. PLOS One, doi:101371/journal.pone.0105514
Matzek, V., S. Cresci, and M. Pujalet. 2014. What managers want from invasive species research vs. what they get. Conservation Letters, doi: 10.1111/conl.12119.
Funk, J.L, V. Matzek, M. Bernhardt, D. Johnson. 2014. Broadening the case for invasive species management to include impacts on ecosystem services. Bioscience 64(1): 58-63.
Nelson, E., P. Kareiva, M. Ruckelshaus, K. Arkema, G. Geller, E. Girvetz, D. Goodrich, V. Matzek, M. Pinsky, W. Reid, M. Saunders, D. Semmens, and H. Tallis. 2013. Climate change’s impacts on key ecosystem services and the human well-being they support in the US. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11(9): 483-493.
Matzek, V., Justin Covino, Jennifer L. Funk, and Martin Saunders. 2013. Closing the knowing-doing gap in invasive plant management: accessibility and interdisciplinarity of research results. Conservation Letters doi: 10.1111/conl.12042.
Matzek, V. 2012. Trait values, not trait plasticity, best explain invasive species’ performance in a changing environment. PLoSOne 7(10):e48821.