Meg Krawchuk
Associate Professor
Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2007-2011), University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D. Conservation Biology (2007), University of Alberta, Edmonton




The Lab:


Claire Tortorelli, PhD candidate | Claire, originally from the flatlands of Champaign, Illinois headed west to study at Colorado State University. After graduating with a bachelor’s in forestry, Claire spent the next few years botanizing across the West. She is broadly interested in how plant communities respond to and influence disturbances. She is excited to be joining the Krawchuk lab to research the dynamics of Ventenata dubia in the scablands. She can often be found with hand lens at the ready, because you never know when you might stumble upon something worth a closer look. 



Andrew Merschel, PhD candidate | Andrew received his bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and a Master’s in forest ecology from Oregon State University. After graduation Andrew worked as a Faculty Research Assistant. During this time he worked with the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project and Forest Service as a science advisor. Andrew’s reconstructions of fire, development, and management history in old-growth forests on the Deschutes National Forest were used to develop shared restoration goals. Currently Andrew is reconstructing spatial variation in historical fire regimes and forest dynamics in ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine forests on the central Oregon Pumice Plateau and in Douglas-fir/Western Hemlock forest on the west slopes of the Oregon Cascades. Andrew is obsessed with tree rings and fire scars, except during the fall salmon runs…..



Graham Frank, PhD student | Graham grew up in Oregon and discovered his interest in ecology at Colorado College before pursuing a master’s in Forest Biology at Purdue University.  His research interests lie in how natural and anthropogenic disturbances alter the structure and function of communities, and in how this knowledge can be applied to conservation in managed forests.  Graham has previously worked on projects involving invasive plants, forest regeneration, soil properties, and forest health, and is enjoying the challenges of becoming reacquainted with Oregon’s forests after several years spent learning in other systems.  Graham’s research at Oregon State will investigate the biodiversity of early-seral plant and wildlife communities following high severity wildfire, and how much of this diversity is supported by post-harvest tree plantations. 


Doug Turk, MS student (co-advised with Dana Warren) | Doug grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he developed a love of the outdoors through his frequent trips to the Sierra Nevada mountains or through his explorations of the many parks and open space preserves surrounding the greater Bay Area. After many years working in the technology sector, Doug decided to return to school to pursue a Master’s in Forest Ecology. He is particularly interested in studying how disturbances such as fire and drought impact riparian ecosystems, and how climate change may be increasing the severity of these impacts. He is also interested in developing new methods for the identification of refugia habitat for climate-vulnerable species. Doug received his first degree in Finance from San Diego State University and holds Master Certificates in Project Management and Program Management from George Washington University and Stanford University.



Cameron Naficy, Research Associate | Cameron’s research interests include the landscape ecology of disturbances, tipping points, feedbacks and resilience of ecological systems, historical ecology, and interactions between disturbances and plant ecophysiology. He employs a combination of dendrochronology, imaging spectroscopy, point cloud, photogrammetry, GIS, spatial statistics, and plant ecophysiological methods to address these questions for temperate forests in western North America and Patagonia. Prior to entering academia, he worked for many years in conservation organizations and enjoys bridging these joint interests by exploring applied ecology questions that are relevant to public lands management and policy. He is an avid naturalist and wilderness explorer that enjoys as much time as he can get in the woods with family. Cameron has a B.A. (2003) in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University, Houston, TX, then M.Sc. (2008) Organismal Biology and Ecology, University of Montana in Missoula then Ph.D. Geography (2017), University of Colorado at Boulder, CO, and was a Postdoctoral Scientist (2017-2020), Forest & Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada


WillWill Downing, Faculty Research Assistant Will earned his bachelors from Pomona College in Latin American Studies. Shortly after graduating he took to the woods as a firefighter with the Forest Service. What was meant to be one season turned into ten. He has fought fire in every western state as a Hotshot, rappeller and smokejumper. Along the way he developed a deep appreciation for public lands and a fascination with the interactions between fire and the landscape. Will is interested in understanding the  management implications of climate-fire interactions and how fire severity is distributed across the landscape at different scales. Will currently works with Meg on fire ecology-related questions as well as with Dr. Chris Dunn and U.S. Forest Service colleagues on fire management and decision-making issues.


James Johnston, Research Associate James has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oregon, a master’s degree in Forest Resources and a PhD in Forest Science from Oregon State. He works closely with collaborative groups throughout Oregon that are working to restore federal forests. He has broad interests in disturbance ecology, restoration forestry, environmental law and public policy. 





Rachel Houtman, Senior Faculty Research Assistant | photo coming soon! | Rachel has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Earlham College and a Master of Science in Forest Resources with a minor in applied economics from Oregon. After completing her degree she worked on projects exploring optimal wildlife corridor design and valuing wildfire suppression activities over multi-decade timeframes. These projects allowed her to expand interests in programming as a tool to better understand complex interactions between disturbances and management on large landscapes. Currently she works with researchers at Oregon State University and the Forest Service to use scenario planning processes to better understand how long term planning and landscape disturbances interact at regional and national scales. She lives with her three children and parents in the Corvallis area, where they enjoy gardening, biking, hiking, and doing copious amounts of arts and crafts.


Sarabeth Pearce-Smith, Honors College thesis student | Sarabeth grew up hiking and camping all over Oregon and learned to love the outdoors from a young age, planning to study either biology or natural resources in college. She’s fulfilling that plan now, majoring in natural resources and working on an undergraduate thesis with Meg’s lab through the Honors College. Sarabeth is most interested in how people can sustainably live within the ecosystems that provide for them, and towards that end is researching the differences in invasive plant communities following stand-replacing fire and timber harvest.



Fermín Alcasena, USDA Forest Service International Visitor/Postdoctoral Scholar | More details coming soon. 




Graduate students:



Anna Talucci, PhD 2019 | Beetle outbreaks and wildfires: drivers of fire severity, recruitment, and structural legacies for sub-boreal forests in British Columbia. Now postdoc at Colgate University.

Will Downing, MS 2018 | Fire refugia function and composition in dry mixed-conifer forests of Oregon's Blue Mountains. Continuing as Faculty Research Assistant in the lab.

Kurt Frei, MSc 2018 | Bark beetles and wildfire: Influence of overlapping disturbances on wood and light in a sub-boreal headwater system. Now Environmental Technician, Port Moody, BC.

Michael Ton, MSc 2015 | The effects of disturbance history on the taxonomic and functional composition of ground-layer plant communities. Now at Vancouver Public Library, Public Services Associate, Vancouver BC.

Philip Camp, MSc 2015 | Human-fire interactions in British Columbia: varying constraints on human-caused wildfire occurrence and geography of the wildland-development interface. Now Emergency Management Specialist, FEMA, New York.

Kimberly House (McGrenere) MSc 2014 | Bird and beetle assemblages in mountain pine beetle killed forests and those subsequently burned: evidence for an effect of compound natural disturbances in British Columbia. Now somewhere in a crag, and working at Mountain Equipment Coop, Vancouver, BC.


Undergraduate thesis students:


Simone Gibson, OSU Honors College | Examinng the effect of annual grass invasion on fire spread and severity: fuel modeling for Ventenata dubia

Nathan Blades, Spring 2018 BRR Program|  Reconstructing the historical fire climate relationship for the Fremont-Winema National Forests

Isabell Eischeid (joint with Wendy Palen, Biological Sciences) Spring 2012 | Damming BC: A spatial assessment of existing and proposed run of river projects in the province of British Columbia


Faculty Research Assistants/Associates/Postdocs:



Garrett Meigs, Research Associate/postdoc | now Forest Helath Scientist at Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

Ana Barros, Research Associate/postdoc | now Fire Risk Manager and Scientist at Washington State Department of Natural Resources. 

Marc Edwards, Faculty Research Assistant | Marc worked with us on a wide variety of projects in the lab including the Carrott Lake experimental burn project, burn severity work in Entiako Provincial Park, and analytical/conceptual support to the BEACONs project. Marc is now a spatial analyst for the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement and BEACONs. 

Ellen Whitman, Faculty Research Assistant | Ellen worked with us as a spatial analyst on the Fire Refugia Project through 2013 and 2014. Ellen is now working with the Canadian Forest Service in Edmonton, Alberta and completed her PhD at the University of Alberta in 2019.


Field research assistants and trainees:


Summer 2020 trainees and field assistants. Haley Weir,  Simone Gibson

Summer 2019 crews and trainees. Kaitlyn Wright, Rya Rubenthaler, Ken Burton on the ESFB project. David Moy and Sylvan Pritchett on the Fire Refugia project. Leila Giovanonni on the Ventenata project.

Moriah Young, Summer 2018 | Claire Tortorelli's Ventenata plant communities and fire project, Oregon USA

Charles Drake, Kaitlyn Wright, Tyler Mesberg, Jasper Romero, Erana Loveless, Summer 2018 | Andrew Merschel's Umpqua fire history project, Oregon, USA

Jean McCalmont, Claire Tortorelli, Juliann VanSant, Summer 2017 | Will Downing's fire refugia project, Oregon, USA

Kirsten Calder-Sutt, NSERC USRA program, Summer 2016 | Field data collection for short-interval disturbance research in Entiako Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada. 

Aaron Walchuk, Field Research volunteer, Summer 2016 | Field data collection for short-interval disturbance research in Entiako Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada. 

Brian Cobb, Lab volunteer, Summer 2016 | Spatial data jockey #1 for History of Harvest project in the Pacific Northwest

Coleen Hill, Lab volunteer, Summer 2016 | Spatial data jockey #2 (!) for History of Harvest project in the Pacific Northwest

Leah Walker, NSERC Engage program, Fall 2015 Working with MSc student Phil Camp on his wildland-development interface mapping project. Data validation and programming in R using leaflet().

Jennifer Avery, USRA summer 2014 Identifying beetles from Kim's summer collecting season and dabbling with burn severity mapping.

Kathy Ma, Spring and Summer 2014 volunteer. Work study focused on dendroclimatology of lodgepole pine in central interior BC, preparing herbarium materials, "communications".

Aaron Tilston-Redican, Work Study Spring 2014. Work study identifying beetles from Kim's summer collecting season.

Amanda Schrack, Jennifer Avery, George Pietrusinski, Spring 2014 volunteers. Helping to identify beetles from Kim's summer collecting season.

Katie Goodwin, Work Study Fall 2013. Helping Michael with biomass samples from the summer field season. Thanks Katie!

Kathy Ma, Canada Summer Jobs Program 2013 Kathy worked with Michael Ton this summer, exploring the Binta Fire and all it had (or didn't have...) to offer. Particularly impressive was Kathy's ability to bake pies in the camp stove and tell endless entertaining stories. Thanks Kathy.

Stephen Ingraham, NSERC USRA summer 2013 Stephen worked with Kim House during the "long summer of 2013", cooking tastey camp meals and able-y persisting through early birding mornings, and the challenges of an industrial landscape. Thanks Stephen.

Natasha Murphy, NSERC USRA summer 2012 Natasha worked with us up at Carrott Lake. With her funky green tent and anything-goes attitude, Natasha was key in making summer 2012 a successful field season. Thanks Natasha.