News

Spring - Summer 2020

  • The lab has committed to working harder to support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in science and society, and have committed to taking specific actions.
  • Derek Young (formerly postdoc in the lab) has been appointed as an Assistant Professional Researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences.
  • Undergrad research interns Jillian Dyer and Ian Nilson graduated from UC Davis. Jillian started an MS program at UConn, and Ian is leading our field crew this summer. 
  • We received a CeDAR grant to use convolutional neural networks and image regression to predict wildland fuels properties from ground-based and aerial photographs. 
  • Recent lab PhD grad Marina LaForgia received a USDA NIFA postdoctoral fellowship to fund her work on seed bank dynamics and invasive plants.
  • Despite the pandemic, we have been able to run two field projects this summer: one led by Derek Young (funded by CalFire) on mapping post-fire tree recruitment, and one led by Nina Venuti (funded by CalFire and Jastro funds) on the effects of wildfire on conifer tree fecundity.
  • Smith Postdoctoral Fellow Joan Dudney, with grad students Jenny Cribbs and Nina Venuti, received a research grant to do research on bark beetle spillovers into subalpine forest in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park. 

What we're doing

We study how plant populations and communities respond to change, including sudden, major disturbance such as fire and drought, as well as more gradual changes in climate. At the shortest time scales, we are focusing on how communities and populations respond to drought, fire, and competition. Over longer time scales, we study local adaptation to gradients in climatic conditions and to variability in those conditions. We collectively study all kinds of plants (forbs to forests), and things they interact with (beetles, pathogens, fungi, microbes, humans), and aim to learn by comparing the dynamics of different plant systems. We are excited about new tools, including using drone photography and machine learning, that may allow us to extend some of our research methods and ask questions at larger scales. But we stay true to the idea that the core role of scientists is to ask questions and try to answer them by collecting and analyzing data. We think and talk a lot these days about how we can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation in our multiple roles as researchers, teachers, and citizens.