Dr. Paul Knapp, Professor
While I have long appreciated the field of dendrochronology, it was not until the mid-1990s that I became actively involved. Prior, my geography interests were in biogeography and climatology and thus working with tree-rings allowed me to combine my interests. My first project involved studying western juniper expansion in my home state of Oregon. Ironically, I have distinct recollections of collecting western juniper firewood while on camping trips in the 1960s and 70s in central Oregon. Little did I know that two decades later I would have a different appreciation of the value of the tree! Since then, I have been principally involved with a series of dendroecological projects that have focused on the role of atmospheric CO2 fertilization affecting radial growth rates of western juniper and ponderosa pine, dendroclimatology projects that have examined spatio-temporal patterns of droughts, and the reconstruction of severe wind events. I have collected tree-ring data in a variety of places in the American West, and always look forward to my next field adventure. Each year, I try to fund students to help with these projects, and I am grateful for their help over the years. My observations over the past decade have led me to believe that tree-ring science is a great sub-discipline for physical geographers, with extensive, relevant, and timely applications that are often interdisciplinary. In the section on projects, some of these applications are listed.
My initial interests in geography began during my early high school years as I took environmental science and found myself fascinated with the idea of studying earth processes. Upon coming to UNC Greensboro to pursue my undergraduate degree, I settled on studying environmental studies where I was given the freedom to pursue a multidisciplinary approach to all things environmental related. This broad approach was critical in building a firm foundation and opening my mind to the diverse approaches to both studying and solving complex and global environmental issues. Following graduating with high honors, I acquired an internship with the Student Conservation Association conducting riparian plant restoration on the Green River in Utah. This experience solidified my interest in earth processes as well as gave me an appreciation for long days of hard field work. I then returned to UNC Greensboro to pursue a master’s degree in Geography where I met Dr. Knapp and became intrigued with the possibilities of tree ring science. One field trip was all it took to develop “Dendro Fever” and to solidify my interest in using trees as a tool to learn about our world. I am currently researching one of North Carolina’s iconic trees, the Longleaf Pine, in hopes to establish if a gradient exists for both wood density and needle length from the piedmont fall-line to the coast.