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NAFSE Student Webinar Series

September 14th, October 26th, and November 2nd, 2023

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



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


Speaker: Benjamin Brower

Bio: Benjamin is currently a GIS Specialist II at Ocean County, New Jersey. He mainly works in 911 data maintenance, and is currently leading the county's Enterprise GIS consolidation. Benjamin received his Master's in Geographic Information Systems and Certificate in Remote Sensing from Penn State University (August 2023).


Webinar: Benjamin will share details of his capstone project, which involves the creation of a Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) within the Pinelands National Reserve. Located within Southern New Jersey, the reserve is the largest open space along the Northeast corridor of the United States between Boston and Richmond.  Urban development has increased around the Pinelands, but the area is also prone to wildfires. To ascertain the risks of residents to potential future fires within the Pinelands, a WUI was created through the use of artificial intelligence for the year 2019. This WUI will be compared to the one created by the Spatial Analysis for Conservation and Sustainability (SILVIS) Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for accuracy. The purpose of this project is to ascertain if retrieval of data from artificial intelligence provides an accurate WUI, and the possibilities that could be done in the future.




OCTOBER 26, 2023 WEBINAR (12PM - 1PM)

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


Speaker: Sonya Kaufman

Bio: Sonya is a Prescribed Fire Practitioner with The Nature Conservancy's North American Fire Team. She graduated from the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist Masters Program in May 2023. She has worked in wildland and prescribed fire for eight years, with the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.


Webinar: The Southern pine beetle is expanding its range north, putting globally rare, fire-dependent pitch pine ecosystems at risk of being lost completely. As part of a regional assessment of pitch pine barrens across the northeast, I conducted vegetative surveys of two preserves that are actively managed by The Nature Conservancy: the Ossipee Pine Barrens in New Hampshire and Waterboro Barrens in Maine. Plots were established in stands that were categorized into four restoration and stewardship options: mechanical harvest only, prescribed fire only, mechanical harvest and prescribed fire, and no management. All overstory trees were assessed, sapling and seedling plots were conducted, and tree cores were taken from all living overstory trees. I will discuss the study design, findings, and implications for northeastern pitch pine barrens management.






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




Speaker: Peter Breigenzer

Bio: Peter is a graduate research assistant in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana, he worked four seasons on various fuels, fire, and forestry crews in the northern Rocky Mountains and spent two years as a data analyst in an environmental chemistry laboratory. His current research examines biophysical and social aspects of how climate change impacts forest management.


Webinar: Monitoring and predicting conditions that contribute to fire spread are central to both the national fire danger rating system and prescribed fire efforts. In forests, fine scale variation in stand structure and composition can influence microclimate conditions (i.e. understory temperature and relative humidity) and dead fuel moisture. However, these dynamic drivers of fire behavior are difficult to parameterize in predictive models due to their high spatial and temporal variability. In this study, we used terrestrial laser scanning, field-based climate data loggers, fuel moisture sticks, and forest inventory measurements to better understand the relationship between forest structure, microclimate, and dead fuel moisture in two managed northern conifer forests in Maine and New Hampshire. This research enhances northeastern fire managers’ ability to plan and implement fuel treatments by highlighting how changes in forest stand structure drive fine scale heterogeneity in fuel moisture and fire behavior.




Please contact us with any questions at​

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