SNRE's Laura Marshall, a graduate student in fire ecology with Dr. Don Falk, was recently awarded the Association for Fire Ecology's 2019 Komarek Graduate Student Excellence Award! Laura's research is focused in forest ecology and resilience, with an interest in the intersection of past disturbance and climate as a driver of community change. Her dissertation investigates the intersection of how past disturbance and topography influences forest ecosystems. She work across scales, using tree rings to track tree growth through time, and plant surveys to show species distribution changes across space in terms of functional traits. Functional traits are species-specific factors that she can use to generalize a response to environmental variation and changes over time.
Laura is currently working on a research project developing an overview of vegetation type conversion in southwestern US forests, with Professor Donald Falk and Philip van Mantgem of the USGS. This project aims to produce a review of the drivers of ongoing vegetation type conversion, and a survey of known occurrences, where forests undergo an event like a severe fire, that causes the loss of trees and a switch to a shrub or grass dominated system.
In her free time, Laura enjoys running and can often be found in the mountains around Tucson training for ultramarathon trail runs. Dissertation work has meant less running lately, but over the past few years she has placed second woman in her first 50-mile race and ran to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back in half a day.
SNRE is proud to have Laura as a productive member of our community and congratulates her on her intellectual contributions and athletic accomplishments!