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NAFSE Student Webinar Series

About the Webinar Series

Students will share their work via webinar and connect with the fire and forestry community to establish productive working relationships.  Below are details on our series including the ability to register for the presentations you wish to be a part of.  Know of a student who would like to showcase their work?  Please reach out to Eric Evenson, NAFSE Science Communications Coordinator, at

Spring 2024 Series


APRIL 4, 2024 WEBINAR (12PM - 1PM ET)

Operational Terrestrial LiDAR: Incorporating Laser Scanning into Vegetation Monitoring

Speaker: Samuel Stockton

Bio: Sam is a graduate student and researcher in the Remote Sensing Lab at West Virginia University. After obtaining degrees in education and geography from Concord University, he worked in restoration and invasive species management over a course of two years on federal lands in Utah. Before beginning work for his master’s degree, he worked as a land restoration crew lead on military lands in Alaska. His current work investigates the capacities of terrestrial laser scanners to rapidly measure fine-scale forest characteristics such as regeneration.


Webinar: Current methods of assessing fire impacts are typically either time-intensive or subjective, necessitating the implementation of faster, more precise measurement methods. Terrestrial LiDAR scanners are one possible solution to this problem. Single-scan surveys, done year after year, quickly and accurately retrieve plant measurements in a fraction of the time needed for traditional measurements.  Our work utilizes this technology to assess regeneration over four years following a prescribed burn in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. We compared scans taken over this period to composite burn index measurements taken after the fire in order to examine the relationships between traditional observation methods and scan-derived forest structure measurements. This research expands the capacity of an emergent remote sensing technology to inform fuel and vegetation management. I will discuss initial findings, methods, and potential of this technology in assessing fire effects.

APRIL 11, 2024 WEBINAR (12PM - 1PM ET)

Regeneration Dynamics and Understory Plant Community Response in Northeast Pitch Pine Barrens Under a Range of Restoration Scenarios

Speaker: Kathleen Stutzman

Bio: Kathleen is a graduate research assistant in the Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in forestry from the University of Vermont, Kathleen worked for 8 years as a consulting forester in central Vermont. Her research interests include climate adaptation, community ecology, and applied silviculture.


Webinar: For northeastern pitch pine barrens, fire suppression and the range expansion of Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) present substantial and imminent challenges to the restoration and maintenance of these rare, endemic communities. This study examines and evaluates the response of tree regeneration to a range of different restoration scenarios in pitch pine barrens across Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York. Restoration scenarios examined included thinning, spring prescribed fire, fall prescribed fire, and mowing followed by prescribed fire with monitoring also occurring in untreated areas. The diversity and abundance of understory plants was also measured to investigate their relationship with management activities. The overall goal of this research is to formulate region-wide best management practices to restore and maintain pitch pine barrens and to inform cultural and ecological objectives.


APRIL 25, 2024 WEBINAR (12PM - 1PM ET)

Developing Computational Methods for the Utilization of Terrestrial LiDAR Scanning in Forestry Applications

Speaker: Matthew Wozniak

Bio: Matt is a PhD student in the department of Geology and Geography at West Virginia University. Prior to this he obtained a master’s degree in computational biology from Rutgers University. His interests are in developing methods for improving the utility of terrestrial LiDAR scanners for forestry applications, specifically when it comes to mapping fuels and ecological traits related to fire-spread.


Webinar: The ability to segment out individual trees and shrubs from plot level scans acquired through LiDAR collected data is critical for advancing the utility of the technology, and an assortment of algorithms have been developed to do so. While many do a decent job of identifying individual trees in well-spaced stands, they fail to properly segment trees and shrubs in dense stands with complex structure while preserving the necessary data. We are working on an algorithm and associated workflow which does not automatically segment everything, but utilizes a graph theoretic approach to create workable units which the user can easily identify and merge into individual trees and shrubs using open-source software, preserving all of the necessary data. If we can properly segment high resolution individual components of scans, they can be used to train machine learning algorithms to identify tree species identity and other
useful trait information for parameterizing models of fire spread. Along with this, we are also developing a method for estimating canopy cover and canopy closure using terrestrial LiDAR scans, also only using open-source software. I will discuss our progress with these projects thus far and what we hope to accomplish.

Video Recording Not Available

MAY 2, 2024 WEBINAR (12PM - 1PM ET)

The Impact of Controlled Burning and Forest Thinning on the Recovery of Tick Populations Over Time

Speaker: Trevor Roper

Bio: Trevor Roper is pursuing a BA in Environmental Biology at Columbia University and is planning to graduate in May 2024. Before enrolling at Columbia University, he served eight years as a United States Marine, supporting operational units across various landscapes. His current research, inspired by the One Health concept, seeks to understand the impact of differences in regional ecology and land management practices on tick-borne diseases and populations.  Upon completing his undergraduate degree,  Trevor aims to matriculate to medical school, where, while studying medicine, he also hopes to remain involved in interdisciplinary research at the intersection of ecology, medicine, and public health.


Webinar: The increasing abundance and range of tick populations and tick-borne pathogens pose a growing public health threat. This highlights the need for sustainable land management techniques near human settlements to control tick populations and reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases. Fire suppression in the northeastern United States has led to the dominance of shade-tolerant plant species, creating ideal conditions for ticks. Prescribed fire and thinning have been proposed to restore fire-adapted ecosystems and reduce tick populations by creating desiccating microenvironments. However, their impact on tick host species, especially white-tailed deer, which contribute to tick amplification and mobility, is poorly understood. This study in the New Jersey Pine Barrens aims to assess how prescribed fire, and thinning affect tick population recovery over time and deer visitation frequency after disturbance. Forest stands subjected to thinning or burning approximately one, two, and five years ago are compared with control forests undisturbed for over 25 years. A 10-meter radius plot was established in each stand for vegetation surveys, with monthly tick surveys on a 40-meter transect and deer visitation frequency monitored by game cameras. Environmental data loggers track micro-environmental conditions continuously. It is expected that thinning is associated with increased deer visitation and more rapid recovery of tick populations after disturbance relative to the burned forest. This study will inform land management practices to reduce the tick-borne disease burden in vulnerable communities while facilitating fire-adapted habitat restoration.


Fall 2023 Series


Wildland Urban Interface Analysis of the Pinelands National Reserve with Data Derived from Artificial Intelligence

Speaker: Benjamin Brower

Webinar: September 14th, 2023 (CLICK HERE for full details and recording)


Forest Health in the Ossipee and Waterboro Pine Barrens: Preparing for the Arrival of the Southern Pine Beetle

Speaker: Sonya Kaufman

Webinar: October 26th, 2023 (CLICK HERE for full details and recording)


Forest Structure Drives Fine Scale Variation in Microclimate and Fuel Moisture in Northern Conifer Forests

Speaker: Peter Breigenzer

Webinar: November 2nd, 2023 (CLICK HERE for full details and recording)

Please contact us with any questions at​

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