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Director of Center for Landscape Dynamics
Personal Lab: Landscape Ecology at Penn State (LEAPS)
I work at the interface of landscape and ecosystem ecology, focusing on the influence of spatial patterns on ecosystem function. I explore how fire patterns (e.g., “pyrogeography”) influence soil biogeochemistry and carbon storage. In the face of increasing concern about fire in human-dominated landscapes, the understanding of the causes and ecological consequences of fire is critical to local and landscape level management. As such, my research is relevant to landscape-level conservation management as well as global change biology. More generally, I am interested in how scale and spatial patterns of disturbance processes can be better modeled so that forecasts of climate change can better incorporate dominant disturbance dynamics. However, I also integrate both laboratory and experimental studies on soil and ecosystem biogeochemistry, and am increasingly interested in spatial statistics (geostatistics), network theory, and Bayesian approaches for understanding and scaling ecosystem complexity. I primarily work in three geographic locations: Africa (Ghana and South Africa), The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (Wyoming – USA), and the Northeast. A majority of my research occurs in natural reserves or parks, which can serve as benchmarks for ecosystem function and coupled human-nature interactions.
Center for Online Innovation in Learning, Research Initiation Grant. Interactive Videos in Online Learning. Smithwick EAH (PI), Rocco S, Long E, Brzycki E, Wilson T, Mooney M, Edel-Malizia S, Blackstock D. 7/1/2015 - 6/30/2016 ($36,106)
J. William Fulbright Award to South Africa. Measuring and monitoring forest carbon stocks and biodiversity. 1/1/2016 – 6/30/2016.
2015/2016 Penn State Institute of Energy and Environment Seed Grant. Landscapes of fire and people: how climate, human values, and shifting ecologies will influence mid-Atlantic forest management. 3/15/16 – 6/30/15. Smithwick EAH (PI), Kaye M, Mortensen D, Newman P, Orland B, Shortle J, Taylor A. ($24,737)
The National Park Service. Identifying critical thresholds: relating soil solution and exchangeable chemistry to detrimental plant responses. 2/1/14- 12/31/14. Smithwick EAH ($20,549)
2013/2014 Penn State Institute of Energy and Environment Seed Grant. Sustainable intensification of grazing land to produce food and bioenergy. 1/1/14 – 12/31/14. Smithwick EAH (PI) and A Kemanian ($25,000)
The Sustainability Institute Reinvention Fund, Penn State. Building sustainable communities through the digital global classroom. Smithwick EAH (PI), Crane R, Brown N, Zembal-Saul C. 1/1/14 – 12/31/14 ($36,500)
The John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis. 1/1/2014 – 12/31/2015. Forecasting Forest Response to N Deposition: Integrating Data from Individual Plant Responses to Soil Chemistry with a Continental-Scale Gradient Analysis. Linda Pardo, R. Quinn Thomas, Erica Smithwick, and Gregory Lawrence co-PIs. ($167, 790)
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Gladys Snyder Educational Grant: 7/1/12 – 6/30/13. Parks as Stories: Video Learning Tools to Enhance Landscape Sustainability. Erica Smithwick PI. ($5000)
NASA Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences 7/1/2011 to 6/30/2014. Influence of Disturbance and Seasonality on Regional Carbon Flux Upscaling. Erica Smithwick PI, Ken Davis co-PI, Klaus Keller co-PI, Kusum Naithani co-PI, Jeff Masek co-PI, Robert Kennedy co-PI ($883,605)
National Science Foundation-Division of Ecosystem Biology (EAGER) 7/1/09-6/31/12. Spatial patterns of nutrient limitation and carbon storage in South African coastal lowland landscapes. Erica Smithwick PI ($150,675)
National Science Foundation-Division of Ecosystem Biology (REU-EAGER) 8/1/10 – 7/31/12. Spatial patterns of nutrient limitation and carbon storage in South African coastal lowland landscapes. Erica Smithwick PI ($15,500)
National Park Service, 10/1/08 – 9/30/09. Characterization of “Elevational Landscapes” along the Appalachian Trail Mega-Transect, Erica Smithwick PI ($20,000)
Department of Energy, National Institute of Climatic Change Research 4/09 – 3/11. Consequences of Novel Disturbance Regimes on Climate-Induced Biogeographic Shifts along the Appalachian Trail. Erica Smithwick PI, Dominique Bachelet co-PI ($125,000)
United States Department of the Interior Joint Fire Science Program 7/1/09- 12/31/10. Climate, Fire and Carbon: Tipping Points and Landscape Vulnerability in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Erica Smithwick PI, Monica Turner co-PI, Anthony Westerling co-PI, William Romme co-PI, Michael Ryan co-PI ($140,653)
National Science Foundation 3/15/10 – 2/28/15. GK-12: Carbon Education and Research Together for Humanity, Renee Diehl-lead PI, Erica Smithwick co-PI, Annmarie Ward co-PI, Elizabeth Boyer co-PI, Angela Leuking co-PI ($3,000,000)
National Science Foundation -Coupled Natural Human Systems 10/09- 8/31/14 Collaborative Research: Climatic Extremes, Mining, and Mycobacterium ulcerans: A Coupled Systems Approach. Petra Tschakert-lead PI, Erica Smithwick, Annmarie Ward, Kamini Singha, Joseph Oppong, Edith Parker ($1,421,997)
National Science Foundation, Ecosystem Science Program, 2012-2017. RCN: The Novus project for integrating paleo- and neo-ecosystem ecology. K. K. McLauchlan PI, D. Gavin co-PI and P. Higuera co-PI (Erica Smithwick, participant) ($499,753)
Ethan Davis (Ecology PhD). “The Potential Impact of Food and Energy Choices on Global Land Use Patterns and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”
Jamie Peeler (Geography PhD)
Eric Taber (Geography MS)
Jared Oyler, MS (Geography). “The Effect of Burn Severity on Short-Term Post-Fire Boreal Vegetation Recovery in Interior Alaska,” May 2009.
Michelle Williams-Tober, MS (Ecology). “Relative Nitrogen Availability Along a Condition Gradient in Headwater Wetlands in the Upper Juniata Watershed, Pennsylvania,” June 2009.
Elizabeth Crisfield, PhD (Geography). “Factors and Conditions Affecting Climate Adaptation in Appalachian Forests,” Fall 2012.
Luke McCormack, PhD (Ecology/Dual-Title Graduate Degree in Biogeochemistry), Co-Advisor with David Eissenstat (Ecosystem Science and Management). “Measuring and Modeling Fine Root Dynamics in Temperate Forests.” Fall 2012.
Kristine Averill, PhD (Ecology), Co-Advisor with Dave Mortensen (Crop and Soil Science) “The Roles of Herbivore Selectivity and Landscape Context in Exotic Plant Invasion”, June 2014
Published or In Press