Coming up on Saturday, October 18, from 7 to 8 p.m., SEFS graduate student Melissa Pingree will be presenting the next installment in the Evening Talks at ONRC speaker series: “The unseen legacy of fire: Charcoal and its role in carbon and nutrient cycling in forest soils of the Olympic Peninsula.” Held out at the Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks, Wash., the talk is open to the public, and light refreshments will be served.
Pingree, a second-year doctoral student working with SEFS Director Tom DeLuca, earned a bachelor’s in forestry from the University of Montana, where she worked in the DeLuca Biogeochemistry Lab and explored the fundamentals of soil science and forest ecology. After graduating, she worked for the forestry department at Fort Lewis Army Base (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord) and gained wildland firefighter certification. The following summer, she worked as a handcrew member with Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Initial Attack, and later on the Wenatchee River crew with the U.S. Forest Service.
Her experiences in wildland fire sparked an interest in fire ecology, which Pingree combined with her knowledge of soils to earn a master’s in environmental science at Western Washington University. From working with Professor Peter Homan and studying the 2002 Biscuit Fire of southwest Oregon, she then diversified her fire experiences by working on a fuels module at North Cascades National Park, where she strengthened her skills in the field and traveled to various national parks in response to wildland fires, prescribed fires and fuel-reduction projects.
Working with Professor DeLuca once again, Pingree is studying the role of charcoal in nutrient and carbon cycling in natural forest ecosystems. This legacy of wildfires has the potential to alter short-term and long-term forest soil characteristics and plant-soil relationships, and you can learn a whole lot more from her talk next week! (Also, in case you can make the journey out to Forks, we hear Pingree knows some killer fishing spots out there, so bring your tackle along! No promises, though, because she says she’s about as likely to divulge those secrets as she is to call “soils” “dirt.”)
About the Speaker Series
Evening Talks at ONRC is supported by the Rosmond Forestry Education Fund, an endowment that honors the contributions of Fred Rosmond and his family to forestry and the Forks community. In addition to bringing speakers and interesting research out to ONRC, the series provides a great opportunity for graduate students to gain experience presenting their research to the public, and to a generally non-scientific—though thoroughly engaged—audience. For participating University of Washington graduate student speakers, ONRC will cover travel expenses and provide lodging for the night, as well as a stipend of $200.
So far, we’ve had fantastic talks from Laurel Peelle, Jorge Tomasevic, Meghan Halabisky and Rachel Roberts. If you’re interested in giving a talk or know someone who would be a great fit for this series, email Karl Wirsing or Frank Hanson!
Photos © Melissa Pingree.