Early Career Ecologist Profile: Meet Kristen Pelz

Hi, everyone – I’ve written a couple posts, but I need to introduce myself.

Like many of you, my academic/professional interest in ecology is intertwined with my upbringing and appreciation for the natural world. I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. I was lucky enough to have adventurous parents, so I got to spend many weeks each summer exploring the beauty of the American West. The many hours I spent wandering around desert canyons, forests and riverbanks or staring out the car window developed into a life-long fascination with the patterns of nature.

Now, I study these patterns in my research on forest ecology and management. I am primarily interested in forest disturbances (insects, wind, fire, etc.), how they affect forest structure and species composition, and how these altered forest characteristics will in turn affect future disturbances. Unfortunately, many (most?) ecologically-important disturbances have and will continue to be altered by human activities. Therefore, I am very interested in how we can best emulate these natural disturbances through forest management.

I have many interests outside of my work, though I sadly don’t spend enough time on them these days. (Grad school isn’t exactly good for my life/work balance.) To keep myself sane, I enjoy running, backcountry skiing, backpacking, and bike riding. I like thrift shopping and have a weakness for fashion magazines. I love music – almost anything goes, as long as there is good rhythm and doesn’t involve auto-tune. I also enjoy gardening and hanging out with my dogs, chickens, and fiancé (not necessarily in that order).