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_at_psu.edu

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



Our Lab In the News
Interactive Video Quizzes Prove Successful for Student Engagement, Oct 7, 2016
How Land Use Affects the Spread of Disease, Penn State News, Sept 08 2016
Erica Smithwick: Carbon and Conservation in South Africa, 11/4/15 (video by wpsu)

Professor awarded Fulbright to study tree carbon storage, teach in South Africa, 10/29/15 (quoted: Erica Smithwick)

A city goes renewable, but raises questions about impact of biomass power, 4/20/15 (quoted: Ethan Davis)

Why Big, Intense Wildfires are the New Normal, 8/30/13 (quoted: Erica Smithwick)

Climate Change Tipping Points: A Point of No Return?, 5/13 (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

DECEMBER, 2015: Erica is leaving the lab for 6 months to go work in South Africa! She is being 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: LEAPS Lab hosted the first annual E-SCAPE Day, featuring guest lecturer F. Stuart Chapin III. He presented his work "Conservation Stewardship: Shaping Pathways of Large-scale Change in Social-ecological Systems".
SEPTEMBER, 2015: Lydia returned to the lab for the fall semester to finish her summer research.
AUGUST, 2015: Jamie Peeler joined the lab as a Ph.D student! She graduated from Duke University in 2012 with a B.S. in Biology, and will be working on invasive species effects on disturbance regimes and ecosystem vulnerability.
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.
APRIL, 2015: Doug Baldwin presented his work "Assessing changes in root zone soil moisture patterns with a newly developed hydrologic data assimilation system" at the Association for American Geographers Meeting in Chicago.

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)