Tom Buckley

Tom Buckley

Position Title
Associate Professor
Vice Chair of Plant Sciences

  • Faculty
  • Plant Sciences Executive Committee - Vice Chair of Agricultural Plant Biology
UC Davis, One Shields Ave, Davis CA 95616


  • Ph.D., Utah State University; Biology, 1999
  • B.S., James Madison University; Biology, 1994 (minors in Chemistry and Mathematics)

Research interests and expertise: 

Physiology, ecology and biophysics of plant responses and adaptations to environmental stress and change. Plant water relations, water transport, stomatal biology, gas exchange (transpiration, photosynthesis, respiration), photosynthetic resource economics, process-based and optimization-based modeling of plant function.

Current projects: 

  • Developing and testing a novel sensor for leaf relative water content. Funded by FFAR; collaboration with Omeed Momeni in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Colleen Mills (incoming PhD student).
  • Examining the effect of leaf hairs (trichomes) on leaf boundary layer conductance. Funded by NSF; collaboration with colleagues at UCLA, University of Arkansas and UC Irvine, and Marshall Pierce (MS student).
  • A synoptic approach to physiological breeding for drought tolerance in bean. Funded by USDA-NIFA; collaboration with Matthew Gilbert, Paul Gepts and Troy Magney.
  • Quantifying the nature of hydraulic risk in the context of stomatal optimization theory. Unfunded. Collaboration with Brian Bailey and Ethan Frehner (PhD student).
  • Enhancing leafy crop yield by increasing stomatal density and reducing clustering. Unfunded. Project led by Ian Boyles (PhD student); collaboration with Gail Taylor.
  • Phenotyping diverse coast redwood and giant sequoia accessions for drought tolerance related traits. Collaboration with David Neale, Jill Wegrzyn and others.
  • Integrated physiology and ecology of adaptation to temperature and water stress in eucalypts. Funded by NSF; collaboration with colleagues at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Sydney. 

Current teaching: 

  • Physiology of environmental stresses in plants; PLS 157 (spring quarter, even years)
  • Plant propagation; PLS 171 (spring quarter)

External activities that contribute to scholarship:

  • Chief Editor, AoB Plants
  • Editorial Review Board Member, Plant, Cell & Environment
  • Ad hoc reviewer for 37 journals

Prizes, Awards, Honors

  • Dean's award for outstanding research achievement, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, University of Sydney (2015)
  • Graduate Research Assistant of the Year, Utah State University (Robins Award) (1999)
  • Graduate Student Researcher of the Year, College of Science, Utah State University (1999)
  • Willard C. Eccles Foundation Fellowship, College of Science, Utah State University (1994-1997)
  • Vice-presidential scholarship, Utah State University (declined) (1994)
  • Summa cum laude (highest honors), Bachelor of Science degree, James Madison University (1994)
  • Award for Excellence in Botany, Biology Department, James Madison University (1994)

Google Scholar


Social media links: 



  • Plant water relations
  • Stomatal biology
  • Irrigation scheduling
  • Leaf biophysics
  • Mechanistic modeling
  • Optimization theory
  • Environmental physiology
  • Stress physiology
  • Ecophysiology
  • Physiological ecology
  • Subalpine forests