Mingzhen Lu is an ecologist and complexity scientist. His research seeks to unearth the simple rules that give rise to the complexity of terrestrial ecosystems and their coupled human urban systems.
Specific research topics include i) examining the role of plant roots in shaping global biogeochemistry, ii) understanding plant-microbial symbioses and their global significance, iii) investigating vegetation regime shifts using the lens of plant-trait-resource feedback, and more recently iv) developing a general system-based theory that can bridge ecosystem ecology and urban science. Mingzhen’s fieldwork systems include the South African Cape Floristic Kingdom, Alaskan Tundra, Tibetan grassland, etc.
His key contribution to the field includes revealing (and explaining) the latitudinal pattern of plant root-microbial symbioses, discovering a novel mechanism for the maintenance of the hyper-diverse South African fynbos-afrotemperate forest system.
Prior to NYU, Mingzhen was an Omidyar Complexity Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute (2020-2023), where he worked on applying toolkits from ecosystem ecology for better understanding urban material flows.
He is a board member of SinoEco, and member of Sigma Xi, Ecological Society of America, and the American Geophysical Union.
Ecosystem ecology, theoretical ecology, complexity science, urban biogeochemistry