Scientific Conferences 101

BIOGEOMON Conference 2012 in Camden, Maine. Photo courtesy of Morgan Fuller, 2012.

By Mike SanClements, PhD

Ever wonder exactly what goes on at a scientific conference? I know I did before attending my first one. So let me try and give you a little insight – in case you’re preparing for your first one or are just curious about what us scientists are up to when we all gather in some random city.

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Explaining fuels treatments: Thanks, Smokey, but we’ll do this without you.

Forest that burned during the 2010 Four Mile Fire. Before the fire, it was thinned to reduce risk of crown fire. However, it was thinned too little to be an effective fuels treatment. It is hard to sell the idea that cutting down many trees can actually be good for the environment. Kristen Pelz, 2011.

By Kristen Pelz

The intense wildfire season has put a spotlight on fire ecology and forest management in the general media. There has been a lot of talk about active forest management and its potential to reduce property losses due to catastrophic fire. Many western forests have had an “unnatural” buildup of fuels following a century of active fire suppression. As a forest ecologist, it is great to see widespread enthusiasm for restoration of these forest’s structure and function. Continue reading

Aridland Research on Hopi Land: Merging Scientific Knowledge with Cultural Understanding

By Anjel Craig

When I first started my PhD program in ecology at Northern Arizona University, I was a bit fearful of aridland ecosystems. I am originally from Southern Louisiana and grew up near enough to the Gulf Coast that water as a limiting resource was completely outside of my experience. Having now completed two years of my program, I find that I am captivated by the stories these harshest of landscapes have to share with us. The lessons learned here have the potential to be regionally, and even globally, important as researchers predict further drought and water stress to many parts of the planet. Continue reading

Trees, Forests, Landscapes, and My Pursuit of a PhD

Shore Pine. Patrick’s Point State Park, California. 2010.

By Sarah Bisbing

Each year as spring transitions into summer, there are certain feelings aroused in a field ecologist – those of anticipation, excitement, and fear. Anticipation for the answers we’re seeking, excitement for the many adventures that will surely arise over the course of the field season (grizzly bear charge, anyone?), and fear that we are nowhere near ready to head out and that we have absolutely no clue what we’re doing. Continue reading

Increase in wildfire frequency and severity – is it real?

By Kelly Ramirez, PhD

While Colorado’s wildfire season is really only just beginning, the state has already been struck by multiple serve fires, including the WaldoCanyon and HighPark fires.

As I write this post, 9 wildfires are ablaze in the state in varying degrees of containment and control, and that number is far from static. Each lightning storm brings a wave of fire outbreaks and a fear that any strike could result in devastation. Continue reading

Early Career Ecologist Profile: Meet Mike SanClements


As this is my first post, I thought I’d take some time to introduce myself. So, here you go, a little more about me:

I’m happiest in life when on a trail run, catching some live music, getting a new stamp in my passport, or waking up in my sleeping bag. Combined with a deep love for books and ideas, these are the things that have shaped me personally and professionally. More importantly, they motivate me to work toward the preservation of our natural world and its inhabitants (that includes us – people). Continue reading

Wildfire and Forest Species’ Adaptations – @NREL_EcoPress

Check out the latest guest blog post by two of our ecologists, Sarah Bisbing and Kristen Pelz. Sarah and Kristen teamed up with the editors at NREL’s EcoPress blog to compose an article on forest species’ adaptations to wildfire.