I came to the US in 1985 thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship. My graduate work on forest growth trends in Arizona had both regional and global relevance. Regionally, it provided evidence for the impact of fire suppression on the ecology of southwestern conifer forests, ultimately contributing to landscape conservation plans. Globally, it showed the importance of placing twentieth-century patterns into a longer historical perspective to disentangle the impact of land use changes (in this case, European settlement) from stand dynamics and other factors.
From 1994 to 2000 I conducted research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography on past climate using proxy records from terrestrial tree rings and oceanic sediments (varves). Based on such records, I suggested that sudden inter-decadal change occurred near A.D. 1600 over marine and land systems of the American West Coast. At Scripps I also established a research program in dendroclimatology, and assembled the tree-ring laboratory that I then transferred to UNR.
In summer 2000 I joined the University of Nevada in Reno to teach and conduct research in the areas of ecoclimatology, environmental change, and quantitative methods. From 2008 to 2013 I was the statewide lead for the Ecological Change component of an NSF-EPSCoR project entitled “Nevada Infrastructure for Climate Change Science, Education and Outreach”, which was funded for a total of $15 million. As part of the research infrastructure funded by this large multi-investigator project, we established the Nevada Climate-ecohydrological Assessment Network (NevCAN). This mountain observatory consists of valley-to-peak instrumental transects designed to measure changes in atmospheric, hydrologic, and ecologic variables, including the spatial and temporal processes that control, and are recorded by, wood growth of lower and upper treeline species.
Thanks to the science infrastructure provided by NevCAN, I am now involved in multiple research projects aimed at understanding the environmental drivers of intra-annual tree-ring features. Extramurally-funded studies performed by DendroLab personnel are focused on examining the connection between wood form and function in conifer species of the western US. We use automated point dendrometers, wood anatomy, and cellular phenology to uncover the exquisitely intricate connections between dendrochronology, wood science, tree physiology, forest ecology, mensuration, and allometry. These new activities also include domestic and international collaborations, the latter with scientists in Canada, Germany, France, Finland, and Italy.