Rachel K. Thiet, PhD

Director of Conservation Biology, Core Faculty
Department of Environmental Studies

AUNE Contact Information


Highest Degree

PhD, Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University

Other Degrees & Credentials

B.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Michigan
MS, Natural Resources, The Ohio State University
Postdoctoral Research and Teaching Associate, University of New Hampshire

Areas of Expertise

terrestrial soil ecology; salt marsh plant and soil ecology; salt marsh restoration; biogeochemistry; global environmental change


Rachel doing salt marsh fieldwork for her research on Cape Cod, MA

Rachel doing salt marsh fieldwork
for her research in Cape Cod, MA

Think of our life in nature, daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it,rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! the solid earth! the actual world! the common sense! Contact! Contact! Who are we? where are we?
Henry David Thoreau, “Ktaddn”

I’ve been working my entire professional life for an opportunity to contribute to a community like Antioch University New England. I was lucky early in life to have wonderful high school and undergraduate teachers who were committed to teaching critical thinking skills, political awareness, and social responsibility. Fascinated with social science at a young age, I attended the Residential College at the University of Michigan, where I studied political economics and developed an interest in and concern about the impacts of globalization on women in the global economy.

Throughout undergraduate school and for several years afterward, I worked as a counselor and educator in a variety of adolescent treatment facilities and educational research foundations. I began a new chapter in my life by turning toward what had until then been a hobby: I began graduate school in ecology at The Ohio State University in 1996, where I researched the impact of soil cyanobacteria and soil fungi on nitrogen cycling and plant invasiveness. For six years at Ohio State I had an opportunity to teach several undergraduate courses, which allowed me to combine my interest in working with students with my passion for ecology.

During graduate school, I discovered that I was happiest and energized by my interactions with students and by communicating information that enhances their sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world. I love working through difficult ideas with my students and I am enriched by the discoveries we make together.

Antioch New England is a perfect place for me to marry my interdisciplinary social science background with my disciplinary training in plant and soil ecology. I love filling an important niche at Antioch through my teaching and research in soil microbial ecology, soil nutrient cycling, and the impacts of soil organisms on long-term ecosystem sustainability.