Welcome to Erica Smithwick's research lab in the Department of Geography at Penn State. Our lab is focused on understanding how ecosystems change in space and time.  We use field studies, models, and laboratory activities to measure, quantify, and forecast these changes to inform landscape-level research and management.

We are currently recruiting graduate students!  Please contact Dr. Smithwick at smithwick@psu.edu

Our research is aimed at
 understanding how natural and human disturbances influence landscape sustainability.



Our Lab In the News
Why Big, Intense Wildfires are the New Normal, 8/30/13 (quoted: Erica Smithwick)
How Fire Could Change the Face of the West, 7/6/12 (quoted: Erica Smithwick)
Climate Change to increase Yellowstone wildfires dramatically, 7/25/11 (paper release: Erica Smithwick)
Wildfire!, 7/7/11 (quoted: Erica Smithwick)

What We've Been Up To

OCTOBER, 2017: Jamie Peeler successfully passed her candidacy exams and is now a Ph.D. candidate in Geography! 
AUGUST, 2017: Stacey Olson joined the lab as a master's student. She got her B.S. in Anthropology/Geography and Biology from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. She will be doing ecological simulation modeling as part of Erica's VIFF project.
AUGUST, 2017: Erica was selected as the new Director of the Ecology Institute at Penn State University.  
MARCH, 2017: Ethan Davis successfully defended his dissertation titled Evaluating Agricultural Land Use Patterns in Relation to Food Systems,
Bioenergy, and Carbon Mitigation. 
JULY, 2016: Erica returned from 6 months of research in South Africa! She was funded by a Core Fulbright U.S. scholarship to measure carbon storage in trees and teach a sustainability class at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.
DECEMBER, 2015: Doug Baldwin successfully defended his dissertation titled Improving Estimates of Root Zone Soil Moisture to Understand Ecosystem Drought Sensitivity.
JUNE, 2015: Lydia Olson joined the lab for the summer through the SCRiM Summer Scholars program! She recently graduated from Franklin & Marshall College with a B.A. in Environmental Science, and will be researching climate change effects on American cash crop production.

Hey PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS! Think you might want to join this awesome lab?
Feel free to contact Erica, she's always looking for new members! (contact info found on PEOPLE page)