My broad area of interest is the intersection of ecology and agriculture. I find that ecology provides a useful set of tools with which to investigate agriculture, and that agriculture provides a fascinating and relevant laboratory for ecology. Agriculture represents the largest human land-use, and so the largest impact on natural systems.

I am currently involved in a project focused on optimizing weed control from cover-crops by adjusting the timing of cover-crop planting and termination. We are collaborating with Virgina Cooperative Extension, University of Maryland Extension, The Rodale Institute, and USDA-ARS at Beltsville to approach this question in several cropping systems.

I grew up in Indonesia, Central America, Southern California, and Bangladesh. I attended Woodstock School, an international school in northern India. I attended Goshen College, in northern Indiana, majoring in Biology. I completed my M.S. in ecology at Penn State in 1998, working with Dr. Les Lanyon. My research focused on contrasting functional agro-ecosystems based on flows of nutrients through a small watershed in central Pennsylvania with agro-ecosystems defined by landscape boundaries.

From 1999 to 2002 I worked in Honduras, in Central America, with Mennonite Central Committee, a private voluntary organization. My work there was focused around protecting water supplies, assisting community water projects, and promoting sustainable agriculture in rural communities in the western area of the country. Three years was nearly long enough to begin to understand the context, and identify some of the underlying problems.

Returning to the US in 2002, my partner Andrea and I spent a year teaching at Goshen College, and concluded that teaching was a good fit for us. So we returned to Penn State in 2003, and I began PhD studies with Dr. Jonathan Lynch, in the Department of Horticulture. My research focused on understanding the role of the timing of life history events in the adaptation of plants to low-phosphorus soils.

When I am not exploring the confluence of ecology and agriculture, I like to spend time with my family. I also enjoy reading, playing guitar, and working on home improvement projects. I am also inordinately fond of riding, repairing, buying and selling bicycles.

Contact Eric.


  • Nord, E.A. and Lanyon, L.E. 2003. Managing material transfer and nutrient flow in an agricultural watershed. Journal of Environmental Quality. 32(2):562-570.
  • Nord, E.A. and J.P. Lynch. 2008. Delayed reproduction in Arabidopsis thaliana improves fitness in soil with suboptimal phosphorus availability. Plant, Cell and Environment. 31(10):1432-1441.
  • Nord, E.A. and J.P. Lynch. 2009. Plant Phenology: A Critical Controller of Soil Resource Acquisition. Journal of Experimental Botany. In Press.