My name is Casey Hamilton, and I am a first-year MS + PhD student in the Department of Geography. I am a member of the Landscape Ecology at Penn State (LEAPS) Lab, led by Erica Smithwick. I earned my BS in Ecology, Evolution, & Natural Resources and Environmental Geomatics from Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
My research interests lie broadly in landscape ecology, particularly in areas involving human disturbance and global change. As an undergraduate at Rutgers I conducted a senior research project investigating the influence of landscape-scale forest composition and configuration on forest-specialist bees in New Jersey. It was through this research that I first gained an appreciation for the complexity of interactions between spatial pattern and process in the landscape. I also became familiar with contemporary GIS and remote sensing tools and applications.
Following my undergraduate experience, I spent a summer at Brookhaven National Laboratory in the Terrestrial and Ecosystem Sciences (TEST) lab group, where I worked on a project testing the efficacy of remote sensing for use in detecting crop plant traits and stressors at multiple scales. Then, I spent several months at the Highstead Foundation in Redding, CT, which works to advance the scale and pace of land protection across New England and beyond. In my position at Highstead, I used my GIS skills to develop maps and analyses for use in identifying land parcels suitable for protection.
In graduate school at Penn State, I am hoping to work broadly in the field of landscape ecology, to investigate questions surrounding the connections between disturbance and ecosystem functioning.