Allison Leach

Allison Leach
Degree: Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

Advisor: Dr. John Aber
Natural Resources and the Environment

Research Topic

The Impact of Human Consumption Patterns and Food Production Methods on Nitrogen Losses to the Environment

Allison's research will explore how human consumption patterns and food production methods impact nitrogen losses to the environment. She will address this broad question with two related projects:

  1. The nitrogen footprint of the University of New Hampshire. A nitrogen footprint describes the total amount of reactive nitrogen released to the environment as a result of an entity’s activities—in this case a university. The footprint approach helps connect a university and its decision-making with environmental impacts. The original tool, developed for the University of Virginia, will be expanded to account for nitrogen-releasing activities at UNH (e.g., research farms) and unique management strategies (e.g., the heat-capture composting facility). This effort will ultimately aim to reduce the nitrogen footprint of UNH.
  2. A comparison of the nitrogen budget of the UNH organic dairy research farm to the conventional dairy research farm. This project will directly compare the nitrogen budget, nitrogen use efficiency, land requirements, and time requirements for producing dairy products at two farms using different production methods. This study will add to an existing data record for the research farms and will help inform consumers who are concerned about the environmental impact of a food product.

Previous Awards and Activities

  • Maury Environmental Sciences Prize, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
  • Graduate Student Research Publication Award, Department of Virginia Sciences, University of Virginia
  • Arthur A. Pegau Award for geosciences, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
  • Best Research Paper Award in 2012 for the journal Environmental Development
  • Exploratory Research Award, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia

Selected Presentations and Publications

  • Leach, AM, K Emery, J Gephart, KF Davis, JW Erisman, A Leip, ML Pace, P D’Odorico, J Carr, L Cattell Noll, E Castner, JN Galloway. 2016. Environmental impact food labels using carbon, nitrogen, and water footprints. Food Policy 61, 213-223.
  • Galloway, JN, AM Leach. 2016. Sustainability: Your feet’s too big. Nature Geoscience 9: 97-98.
  • Davis, KF, JA Gephart, KA Emery, AM Leach, JN Galloway, P D’Odorico. 2016. Meeting future food demand with current agricultural resources. Global Environmental Change 39: 125-132.
  • Gephart, J, KF Davis, K Emery, AM Leach, JN Galloway, P D’Odorico, ML Pace. 2016. The environmental cost of subsistence: Optimizing diets to minimize footprints. Science of the Total Environment 553: 120-127.
  • Turner-McGrievy, GM, AM Leach, S Wilcox, EA Frongillo. 2016. Differences in environmental impact and food expenditures of four different plant-based diets and an omnivorous diet: Results of a randomized, controlled intervention. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition 11: 382-395.
  • Davidson, EA, JN Galloway, N Millar, AM Leach. 2014. N-related greenhouse gases in North America: Innovations for a sustainable future. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 9-10: 1-8.
  • Galloway, JN, W Winiwarter, A Leip, AM Leach, A Bleeker, JW Erisman. 2014. Nitrogen footprints: Past, present, and future. Environmental Research Letters doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/11/115003.
  • Leach, AM, AN Majidi, JN Galloway, A Greene. 2013. Toward institutional sustainability: A nitrogen footprint model for a university. Sustainability: The Journal of Record 6: 211-219.
  • Erisman, JW, JN Galloway, S Seitzinger, A Bleeker, N Dise, AM Leach, W de Vries. 2013. Consequences of human modification of the global nitrogen cycle. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B. 368.1621.
  • Leach, AM, JN Galloway, A Bleeker, JW Erisman, R Kohn, J Kitzes. 2012. A nitrogen footprint model to help consumers understand their role in nitrogen losses to the environment. Environmental Development 1 pp. 40-66.


M.S., Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 2014
B.S., Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 2009

Professional Positions

Research scientist at the University of Virginia, 2009-2012

Related Link

Nitrogen footprint website: