Nave's research is focused on carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling in forests. Through various doctoral and post-doctoral projects, he has studied processes occurring in soils, fungi, plants, and the atmosphere. These processes include soil C and N transformations, mycorrhizal and plant N uptake, growth, and detritus production, and atmospheric N deposition. To study these processes, he uses a combination of basic methods (e.g., digging up soil samples, shooting down leaves from the tops of trees) and more complex approaches, such as stable isotope mass spectrometry and meta-analysis.
He currently conducts research at the U-M Biological Station and is also the Coordinator for the International Soil Carbon Network, affiliated with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science.