My name is Olivia Spencer and I am a MS + PhD student in the Department of Geography at Penn State. I earned a bachelor's degree in Biology from William & Mary. Following graduation, I completed a post-baccalaureate GIS Fellowship at William & Mary, which largely involved teaching, geospatial research and technology support, and GIS-related outreach with community partnerships. Prior to coming to Penn State, I worked as a geospatial research assistant with NASA DEVELOP where I used remote sensing techniques and geospatial analysis to model flood susceptibility, sea level rise, mangrove habitat, and LULC classification to assist community partners in capacity building and science communication.
I am a member of the Landscape Ecology at Penn State (LEAPS) lab, led by Dr. Erica Smithwick. My research interests broadly include remote sensing and geospatial modelling applications in landscape ecology, sustainability, and climate change. My current research focuses on pyrogeography in Pennsylvania where I am investigating the impacts of prescribed-burning practices in the mid-Atlantic at multiple ecological and landscape scales. I aim to understand how tick abundance and ecosystems are impacted by prescribed burning in the short and long term. I also hope to utilize simulation modeling to predict how fires behave in the mid-Atlantic under various climate scenarios and what that means for tick-borne disease risk in the face of climate change.