CSU student presentations nationally recognized

Three Ph.D. candidates in the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship department received top awards for communicating their research effectively at recent national conferences.

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Thomas Timberlake, Ph.D. candidate Forest Sciences

Thomas Timberlake, received first-place for his research presentation at the annual Society of American Forester’s convention, and Scott Ritter and Alex Masarie received first and second place respectively for their poster presentations at the triennial Association of Fire Ecology Congress.

Timberlake wasn’t intimidated by being paired up with two professionals from the USDA Forest Service during their session. The nature of his own research and the session’s theme of integration made his 30 minute presentation a natural fit. He has worked with the USFS’s Office of Sustainability and Climate to evaluate themes, best practices and improvement opportunities gleaned from assessments made on forest vulnerability and climate change.

“My research considers the interactions between forest managers, scientists and policy-makers in the context of climate change adaptation,” Timberlake said. “Acknowledgements like this award motivate me to continue my research and seek out additional opportunities to communicate my results.”

Ritter and Masarie’s poster presentations were evaluated alongside 78 other posters during the AFE conference. They were judged by a team of researchers who sought originality, quality and validity in the visual representation of research.

man in hat smiling
Scott Ritter, Ph.D candidate Forest Sciences

Ritter’s first-place poster reported on findings from his physics-based modeling project that assesses how fine scale forest structure influences crown fire behavior. This was the first time he presented on this project.

“I was asked some tough questions by the judging committee that were helpful in contextualizing my work,” he said. “At times the modeling work we do can seem somewhat removed from reality, but it was great to show people from a variety of backgrounds how this work is relevant to forest ecology and management.”

Alex Masarie’s second-place poster reported on his modeling research that studies the efficient allocations of fire suppression personnel and equipment to incidents nationwide. This was the eighth time he has presented on this project during its various stages since 2015.

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Alex Masarie, Ph.D. candidate Forest Sciences

“It was great to demonstrate these esoteric math modeling methods, and have this group of fire management practitioners as well as other scientists appreciate what our team learned,” Masarie said. “My crazy math talk might be an agent for change via its dexterity to untangle the complex human/fire ecosystem.”

It isn’t easy to explain the complexities found in these fields of research, but these CSU students have proven they can be effective communicators across the board.