Dr. William Headlee

Postdoctoral Fellow
Photograph of William Headlee

Broadly speaking, I am interested in quantifying the effects of climate, soils, and nutrient management on tree growth and productivity. My dissertation research with Dr. Richard Hall focused on the biomass production and allocation of hybrid poplars with respect to establishment at various topographic positions and fertilizer rates, regional productivity modeling based on climate and soils data, inventory and thinning techniques for hybrid aspen regeneration, and utilizing bio-energy byproducts as fertilizers and soil amendments. My current research involves expanding my productivity modeling efforts to include additional tree species, with a focus on optimizing species selection and economic feasibility on marginal farmland, in collaboration with researchers at the USFS-NRS Institute for Applied Ecosystem Studies and DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Activities & Affiliations

Honors & Awards

  • USDA-AFRI National Institute of Food & Agriculture Postdoctoral Fellowship (2013-present)
  • International Phytotechnology Society / NIEHS Phyto Scholar Award (2013)
  • ISU Graduate College Research Excellence Award for research accomplishments in top 10% of graduating class (2012)
  • ISU NREM Outstanding Senior Award (2004)
  • ISU College of Agriculture Joseph F. Nelson Scholarship (2002 and 2003)
  • ISU NREM Xi Sigma Pi / Keith A. Bauer Memorial Award (2002)


Headlee WL, Hall RB. Methods to inventory and strip thin in dense stands of aspen root suckers. iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, in press. (preview available here)

Zalesny RS, Headlee WL. Developing woody crops for the enhancement of ecosystem services under changing climates in the North Central United States. Journal of Forest and Environmental Science, in press. 

Headlee WL, Hall RB. 2015. Biomass fly ash as foliar fertilizer for hybrid aspen trees: nutrient uptake, growth response, and compatibility with nitrogen fertilizer. Journal of Plant Nutrition 38: 647-662. (available by subscription here)

Lazarus WF, Headlee WL, Zalesny RS. 2015. Impacts of supplyshed-level differences in productivity and land costs on the economics of hybrid poplar production in Minnesota, USA. BioEnergy Research 8: 231-248. (available by subscription here)

Headlee WL, Brewer CE, Hall RB. 2014. Biochar as a substitute for vermiculite in potting mix for hybrid poplar. BioEnergy Research 7: 120-131. (available by subscription here)

Wilson DM, Heaton EA, Schulte LA, Gunther TP, Hall RB, Headlee WL, Moore KJ, Maier ME, Boersma NN. 2014. Establishment and short-term productivity of annual and perennial bioenergy crops across a landscape gradient. BioEnergy Research 7: 885-898. (available by subscription here)

Headlee WL, Zalesny RS, Hall RB, Bauer EO, Bender B, Birr BA, Miller RO, Randall JA, Wiese AH. 2013. Specific gravity of hybrid poplars in the north-central region, USA: within-tree variability and site × genotype effects. Forests 4: 251-269. (appears in special issue "Improving Wood Quality from Planted Forests"; available as open-access here)

Headlee WL, Hall RB, Zalesny RS. 2013. Establishment of alleycropped hybrid aspen ‘Crandon’ in central Iowa, USA: effects of topographic position and fertilizer rate on aboveground biomass production and allocation. Sustainability 5: 2874-2886. (appears in special issue "Sustainable Agroforestry"; available as open-access here)

Headlee WL, Zalesny RS, Donner DM, Hall RB. 2013. Using a process-based model (3-PG) to predict and map hybrid poplar biomass productivity in Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA. BioEnergy Research 6: 196-210. (available by subscription here)

Zalesny RS, Donner DM, Coyle DR, Headlee WL. 2012. An approach for siting poplar energy production systems to increase productivity and associated ecosystem services. Forest Ecology and Management 284: 45-58. (available by subscription here)

Zalesny RS, Wiese AH, Bauer EO, Headlee WL, Hall RB, Mahama A, Zalesny JA. 2007. An inexpensive and reliable monitoring station design for use with lightweight, compact data loggers. Tree Planters' Notes 52: 32-35. (available by subscription here)

Area of Expertise: 
Nutrient Management
45 Science II