Current Buckley Lab members

Tom Buckley (PI)

Heather Vice (MS student)

Marshall Pierce (MS student)

Ian Boyles (PhD student)


Former lab members (from UC Davis or the University of Sydney)

Dongliang Xiong (Postdoc, now at Huazhong Agricultural University)

Paula Guzmán Delgado (Postdoc, now in Maciej Zwieniecki’s lab at UC Davis)

William (Tam) Salter (Postdoc, currently at the University of Sydney)

Rose Deng


Lab visitors

Andrew Merchant (University of Sydney)

Tam Salter (University of Sydney)

David Coleman (University of Sydney)

Carel Windt (Forschungzentrum Julich)



Tom Buckley






BS Biology, 1994, James Madison University, summa cum laude, Minors in Mathematics and Chemistry

PhD Biology, 1999, Utah State University

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I joined the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis in late 2017, after five years at the University of Sydney, where I was a GRDC Senior Lecturer based at the remote IA Watson Grains Research Centre in Narrabri, NSW. Before that, I was on the faculty in the Department of Biology at Sonoma State University for five years. I’m originally from Virginia but have spent the last 25 years in Utah, Australia and California.

I got interested early on in how plants thrive in difficult environments as a result of childhood winter backpacking trips to Dolly Sods in the Allegheny Plateau of West Virginia — the southernmost extension of the North American boreal forest. A college friend encouraged me to study multivariable calculus, which spiralled into a math minor and a persistent interest in applying math to the study of plant-environment interactions. My PhD project involved how different leaf pores (stomata) on the same leaf surface interact physically with one another, causing their behaviors to become entrained and generating spatially patchy patterns of leaf diffusive conductance to CO2 and water vapor that influence interpretation of whole-leaf gas exchange measurements as well as the economy of carbon-water relations. A collaboration with Graham Farquhar and Peter Franks led to many years of postdocs in Australia, and a strong interest in how biophysical processes translate across scales and interact with forces of natural selection to create the patterns we observe in nature.

A major branch of my research has long involved filling gaps in plant ecophysiology’s modeling framework and using those models to address fundamental questions in plant biology. I’ve created or helped to create models of stomatal function (1,2,3), transdermal scaling of photosynthesis (1), water transport distal to the xylem in leaves (1,2,3,4)  and optimal whole-tree carbon partitioning (1). Questions to which these models have been applied include stomatal water relations (1,2,3,4), the effect of leaf anatomy on stomatal function (1), the physiological economics of structural acclimation and growth during height growth and response to elevated CO2 (1,2,3), the role of hormonal signals in stomatal responses to drought (1), inference of nocturnal transpiration from sap flow (1), the economics of CO2 transport within leaves (1), the economy of canopy-scale distribution of nitrogen and water resources (1,2,3,4), the distribution of evaporation within leaves (1) and the interaction of leaf respiration and photosynthesis (1). Students, postdocs and visitors interested in work on process-based and optimization-based theoretical and computational modeling of plant function are always welcome, and encouraged to contact me.

Research in the Buckley Lab has developed an increasing focus on experimental and observational work over the past decade. Today, our research involves a close and continuous interplay between measurement and theoretical modeling. Many of our projects involve, either collaterally or as the primary focus, improving or creating new methods to measure plant function in vivo. You can find an overview of current projects on the Research page.




Paula Guzmán Delgado

Paula is interested in the adaptive strategies of plants to their habitats, especially in relation to water use. Her current research focuses on the mechanisms of water transport across the leaf surface and internal leaf tissues, and the relationship with leaf anatomy and physiological function. She is currently working on the development of a framework to evaluate the dynamics of foliar water uptake and gain further insight into the biological role of the surface absorption pathway (supervised by Maciej Zwieniecki). During her PhD at the Technical University of Madrid (Spain; supervised by Luis Gil and Victoria Fernández), she studied the interfacial properties of leaves, with emphasis on surface-liquid interactions and on cuticle structure and chemical composition.


Guzmán-Delgado, P., Fernández, V., Venturas, M., Rodríguez-Calcerrada, J., & Gil, L. (2017). Surface properties and physiology of Ulmus laevis and U. minor samaras: implications for seed development and dispersal. Tree Physiology, 6, 815–826.

Fernández, V., Guzmán-Delgado, P., Graça, J., Santos, S., & Gil, L. (2016). Cuticle structure in relation to chemical composition: re-assessing the prevailing model. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, 427.

Guzmán‐Delgado, P., Graça, J., Cabral, V., Gil, L., & Fernández, V. (2016). The presence of cutan limits the interpretation of cuticular chemistry and structure: Ficus elastica leaf as an example. Physiologia Plantarum, 157, 205-220.

Guzmán, P., Fernández, V., García, M. L., Khayet, M., Fernández, A., & Gil, L. (2014). Localization of polysaccharides in isolated and intact cuticles of eucalypt, poplar and pear leaves by enzyme-gold labelling. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 76, 1-6.

Guzmán, P., Fernández, V., Graça, J., Cabral, V., Kayali, N., Khayet, M., & Gil, L. (2014). Chemical and structural analysis of Eucalyptus globulus and E. camaldulensis leaf cuticles: a lipidized cell wall region. Frontiers in Plant Science, 5, 481.

Guzmán, P., Fernández, V., Khayet, M., García, M. L., Fernández, A., & Gil, L. (2014). Ultrastructure of plant leaf cuticles in relation to sample preparation as observed by transmission electron microscopy. The Scientific World Journal2014, 963921.

Fernández, V., Guzmán, P., Peirce, C. A., McBeath, T. M., Khayet, M., & McLaughlin, M. J. (2014). Effect of wheat phosphorus status on leaf surface properties and permeability to foliar-applied phosphorus. Plant and Soil384, 7-20.

Fernández, V., Sancho-Knapik, D., Guzmán, P., Peguero-Pina, J. J., Gil, L., Karabourniotis, G., Khayet, M., Fasseas, C., Heredia-Guerrero. J.A., Heredia, A., & Gil-Pelegrín, E. (2014). Wettability, polarity, and water absorption of holm oak leaves: effect of leaf side and age. Plant Physiology166, 168-180.




Heather Vice

Heather is pursuing her PhD with an emphasis on plant stress physiology. She has a BA in Botany, sustainable agriculture from Sonoma State University. She is interested in water relations as applied to sustainable agriculture. Complex interactions between plant canopies and their surrounding abiotic factors have a considerable influence on the crops we grow. Her work focuses on how environmental demands drive transpiration in almonds, particularly the use of plant based methods to inform irrigation strategies. With the interest of climate change and the resulting effect on water resources for agriculture, a better understanding of the physiological mechanisms that impact water use can be applied to agricultural systems. More broadly, she is also interested in informing policy and grower decisions based on research outcomes.


Buckley TN, Vice H, Adams MA (2017) The Kok effect in Vicia faba L. cannot be explained solely by changes in chloroplastic CO2 concentration. New Phytologist 216:1064-1071