The Forest and Fire Ecology Lab recently conducted small winter prescribed fires at Spirit Hill Farm as part of a newly established experiment investigating effects of fire timing and seed predation on tree establishment. Both white and Shumard oak acorns were placed in fenced and unfenced plots and will receive different fire treatments throughout the year.

The Forest and Fire Ecology Lab was joined by new MSU professor Dr. Josh Granger for fall field work at our site in North Mississippi! Lab members helped grad student Jennifer McDaniel retrieve her leaflitter decomposition bags and helped set up a new fire/predator seed project at Spirit Hill Farm

Dr. Alexander will present her work on forest and fire management effects on regional forest communities at the annual Fire and Forest Management workshop at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Kentucky this October

Link to Workshop Details

PhD Position Available to Study Stand Dynamics, Forest Restoration, and Fire Ecology of Upland Oak and/or Pine Forests

Position Description Here

Dr. Alexander and Jennifer McDaniels join host Dr. Burger for Renew, the show about Mississippi State University's College of Forest Resources

We Successfully Conducted Our Spring Prescribed Fire at Spirit Hill Farm

Over Spring Break, the Forest and Fire Ecology Lab worked with Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and Dr. Lashley in the MSU WFA Department to conduct spring burns in our large-scale experiment evaluating burn season and deer herbivory impacts on upland oak forest dynamics at Spirit Hill Farm.

Spring Burn

MS Position Available to Study Fire Ecology of Upland Oak Forests

A MS position is available with Dr. Heather Alexander and the Forest and Fire Ecology Lab ( in the Department of Forestry at Mississippi State University (Starkville, MS). Research in our lab focuses on understanding forest response to changing disturbance regimes in a variety of forest ecosystems, including Mississippi, Kentucky, Texas, and Siberia. The student will conduct extensive field research investigating the influence of fire on upland oak forest regeneration and consequences of forest compositional shifts on resource availability and forest flammability at a variety of sites, including Spirit Hill Farm in northern Mississippi and Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in western Kentucky.

The student will be appointed as a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) but will act as a teaching assistant for an undergraduate course in Dendrology and/or Ecology during two semesters. The student also will be expected to assist other researchers in the lab with their projects and contribute to departmental, college, and university service. Applicants must have a Bachelor's degree in forestry, ecology, biology, or a related field. Successful candidates must demonstrate an aptitude for research, strong analytical and communication skills, attention to detail, and ability to work independently. Prior experience in fieldwork related to forest and ecosystem ecology is highly desired. Applicants must be in excellent physical condition and capable of working long hours outdoors exposed to harsh weather, biting insects, and thorny vegetation. The student must have data analysis and scientific writing experience and a strong desire to pursue these non-field related activities. Must also possess a current and valid driver's license.

If interested, please email to Dr. Heather Alexander ( (1) a cover letter discussing interest in the research, qualifications, and applicable background experience; (2) a resume/CV; and (3) unofficial transcripts. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Details on the full application process to the MSU Graduate School can be found at Financial support is available for two years, starting in fall 2017, and includes a stipend, tuition waiver, and health insurance. Review of applications will begin on February 26, 2018.

Post-Doc Position Available to Study Larch Regeneration in the Siberian Arctic

A post-doctoral research associate position is available with Dr. Heather Alexander and the Forest and Fire Ecology Lab ( in the Department of Forestry at Mississippi State University. The successful candidate will coordinate and conduct observational and experimental field studies, analyze scientific data, and write and publish scientific papers and proposals as part of a collaborative NSF grant aimed at investigating the implications of a changing fire regime on forest recovery and climate feedbacks in the Siberian Arctic. The post-doc will interact with scientists from collaborating institutions, including Colgate University, Western State Colorado University, University of Dayton, University of Florida, Northern Arizona University, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Melnikov Permafrost Institute.

The primary responsibilities will include: 1) coordinating and conducting summer fieldwork focused on larch forest recovery post-fire in the Russian Far East at field sites near the Northeast Science Station in Cherskiy, Russia and near the Spasskaya Pad Scientific Forest Station near Yakutsk, Russia for durations of 1-2 months, 2) leading a field crew consisting of scientists and students from the U.S. and Russia, 3) processing field samples, 4) analyzing data, 5) writing scientific manuscripts and proposals, and 6) presenting research findings at meetings and conferences. The successful candidate must have: 1) a PhD Degree in Biology, Forestry, Wildlife, Natural Resources, Ecology, or related discipline by the time of hire, 2) excellent writing and oral presentation skills, 3) excellent interpersonal and organizational skills, 4) demonstrated field work experience and field crew leadership in ecology, 5) demonstrated experience working independently and with a team, 6) a valid US passport and ability to travel abroad, and 7) strong work ethic and professionalism. Preference will be given to candidates with: 1) experience or demonstrated interest in working in forested ecosystems, 2) conducting field work in remote locations in sometimes challenging conditions (bugs, heat/cold, jet-lag), 3) conducting forest inventories, soil sampling, and seeding experiments, and 4) ability to find solutions to sometimes difficult logistical issues.

This a full-time, 12-mo position, renewable for up to 24-mo with satisfactory performance, and may be extended if future funding permits. Salary is $45k plus benefits. The ideal start date is June 1, 2018 but could be later if necessary. Temporary housing is provided at field stations during the field season. Travel cost to and from field sites is provided. Applications must include a cover letter describing interest in the position, CV, unofficial transcripts showing completion of PhD (or progress towards for ABD candidates), and contact information for three professional references and should be sent electronically to Dr. Heather Alexander (

Dr. Alexander Awarded CFR 2017 Research Award and Early Career Achievement Award

At the Annual Awards Banquet on November 9, the College of Forest Resources awarded Dr. Alexander the 2017 Research Award for her outstanding contributions, dedication, and performance and the 2017 Early Career Achievement Award for outstanding performance.

Rewilding megafauna in the Siberian Arctic to mitigate climate-Guest Lecture

The Department of Forestry and Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture will co-host visiting speaker, Nikita Zimov, Director of Pleistocene Park, on December 8th in Thompson Hall’s Tully Auditorium from 2pm-3pm. This seminar describes Nikita’s work rewilding mega-herbivores in the Siberian Arctic to mitigate climate change and is open to the public.

View Event Flyer

Lab Attends Oak Symposium in Knoxville, TN

Members of the Forest and Fire Ecology Lab presented research at the Sustaining Oak Forests in the 21st Century through Science-based Management Symposium in Knoxville, TN on October 24-26. Research posters were presented by CFR Undergraduate Research Scholar, Evie Von Boeckman and Graduate Students, Brian Izbicki and Emily Babl.

Oak Symposium

Several members of the Forest and Fire Ecology Lab spent 4 weeks this summer at the Northeast Science Station in Cherskiy, Russia. The team measured carbon pools across stands that burned at different severity 75 years ago, quantified cone and seed production of larch trees as function of stand density and age, and assessed larch tree recruitment following fire.

Small Screw

Graduate students Eric Borth (University of Dayton), Brian Izbicki (Miss State), and Emily Babl (Miss State) measuring larch recruitment in a recently burned stand. Credit: Heather Alexander

Crew Orbita

The team just before leaving the station. Left to right: Brian Izbicki (Miss State), Emily Babl (Miss State), Homero Pena (Miss State), Eric Borth (University of Dayton), and Heather Alexander (Miss State)