Photo of Stephen A. Prior

Stephen A. Prior

Affiliate Professor
Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences

  SelectedPublications  National Soil Dynamics Lab


1993 Ph.D., Auburn University (Agronomy & Soils)
1986 M.S., North Carolina State University (Crop Science)
1980 B.S., North Carolina State University (Wildlife Biology)


My assignment is that of a Plant Physiologist/Lead Scientist for the Global Change Research group at the USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Laboratory (NSDL), Auburn, AL. The overall program goals are to: 1) Reduce uncertainty regarding the effects of rising atmospheric CO2 concentration on crops, pastures, invasive weeds, and plant diseases; and 2) Determine the role of agronomic management practices in the production of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (i.e., N2O and CH4), as well as the sequestration of atmospheric CO2 as organic C in soils. Specifically, my assignment focuses on: effects of atmospheric CO2 concentration on plant physiology, biomass allocation patterns, residue quality, the root system (distribution and function), trace gas emissions, soil carbon and nitrogen cycling, and related soil phenomena. This program addresses the carbon issue at several scales, ranging from controlled laboratory environments to outdoor elevated CO2 field exposures. The approach is to conceptualize the role that plant canopy responses to CO2 enrichment may have on belowground processes and thereby develop a body of experimental evidence sufficient to develop and test relevant hypotheses. Findings will add to the knowledge base necessary to understand and modify existing agricultural production systems for adaption to future conditions. Further, information generated can be used by public and private laboratories to refine their basic research. Such knowledge is essential to agriculture, the environment, and establishment of public policy. More recently, cooperative work has been initiated with the Department of Horticulture to determine the role of horticulture production systems in the global change debate.


1993-1996 Postdoctoral Research Associate, USDA-ARS, Auburn, AL
1994-2003 Affiliate Assistant Professor, Agronomy & Soils (Auburn University)
1996-2000 GS-12 Plant Physiologist, USDA-ARS, Auburn, AL
1999-2006 Affiliate Associate Professor, School of Forestry & Wildlife Sci. (Auburn University)
2000-2004 GS-13 Plant Physiologist, USDA-ARS, Auburn, AL
2003-2008 Affiliate Associate Professor, Agronomy & Soils (Auburn University)
2004-2006 GS-14 Plant Physiologist, USDA-ARS, Auburn, AL
2006-present Affiliate Full Professor, School of Forestry & Wildlife Sci. (Auburn University)
2006-2010 GS-14 Plant Physiologist/Lead Scientist, USDA-ARS, Auburn, AL
2008-present Affiliate Full Professor, Crop, Soil & Environmental Sci. (Auburn University)
2010-present GS-15 Plant Physiologist/Lead Scientist, USDA-ARS, Auburn, AL


  • American Association for the Advancement of Science

  • American Society of Agronomy

  • American Society of Plant Biologist

  • Botanical Society of America

  • Crop Science Society of America

  • International Society of Root Research

  • International Soil Tillage Research Organization

  • The Longleaf Alliance

  • Soil Science Society of America

  • Soil and Water Conservation Society


411 S Donahue Drive
Auburn Univ, AL 36849