Lab alumni are listed below current lab members
Hugh D. Safford, PhD | Region 5 Ecologist/Affiliate Faculty (UC Davis) | hughsafford[at]fs.fed.us
Dr. Hugh Safford is Regional Ecologist for the USDA-Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region (California, Hawaii, Pacific territories), and a member of the research faculty in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California-Davis. Safford manages a boundary-spanning unit of Forest Service ecologists that provides expertise in vegetation, fire, and restoration ecology, climate change, inventory, and monitoring to the 18 National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region. The Safford Lab at UC-Davis is focused on applied ecological support to resource and fire management in California, neighboring states, and other Mediterranean climate regions. Safford is director of the Sierra Nevada section of the California Fire Science Consortium, co-chairman of the California Research Natural Areas committee, and he serves on science advisory boards for a number of national environmental collaboratives and NGOs. Safford provides international technical assistance on fire, forest management, and climate change issues in partnership with the US-Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Program of the Forest Service; recent projects include fire management planning in northern Mexico, climate change adaptation in southeast Brazil, and forest restoration in North Africa and the Levant. Safford was a fellow with the Fulbright Global Scholars Program between 2017 and 2019, where he studied post-fire ecosystem restoration practices in the Mediterranean Basin. Safford co-edited a recent book entitled Valuing Chaparral: Ecological, Socioeconomic, and Management Perspectives, published by Springer in 2018, which deals with the complicated issues surrounding management and sustainability of chaparral ecosystems in California. Safford grew up in southwestern Montana, he has lived in California since 1986 and splits his time between Davis and the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Rebecca Wayman, MS | Associate Specialist | rbwayman[at]ucdavis.edu
Rebecca is an Associate Specialist in the lab of Dr. Hugh Safford at UC Davis, leading and providing support to projects through UC Davis and the US Forest Service Region 5 Ecology Program. Her current research and monitoring endeavors include leading a research project aimed at assessing the effects of pre-fire insect-induced tree mortality on wildfire severity in mixed-confier forests of the southern Sierra Nevada; leading a project monitoring the effects of USFS fuels treatments and prescribed fire treatments on red fir (Abies magnifica) forests of the Sierra Nevada; and providing data analysis and technical support to a project assessing meadow function in the Lake Tahoe Basin. She also oversees the hiring of seasonal field crew members for the Safford Lab, and supervises field crew members working on a variety of projects run by UC Davis and USFS researchers. Rebecca served as the co-chair of the Program Committee for the October 2016 Natural Areas Conference – “Climate Change Adaptation and Natural Areas Management: Turning Words into Action”. In this capacity she managed communications with about 300 conference presenters and led a team charged with reviewing session and abstract proposals and scheduling the conference program. Prior to joining the Safford lab in 2015, Rebecca worked for nine years as a Senior Biologist with a small environmental consulting firm specializing in preserve land establishment and stewardship and natural resource assessment. She received her M.S. in Ecology from UC Davis in 2005.
John Williams | Project Scientist | jnwill[at]ucdavis.edu
John Williams is an ecologist and project scientist in the Safford lab where he studies the effects of natural and prescribed fire on forest ecosystems. He is also interested in the nexus of humans and natural systems, where his research examines topics related to climate change, species distributions, biodiversity conservation and the interface between agriculture and natural habitat.
Clark Richter | Doctoral Candidate | cjrichter[at]ucdavis.edu
Clark’s research concerns how the post-disturbance environment influences understory plant communities. His current work focuses on how understory plant diversity varies across the spectrum of fire severity classes and in response to interactions with Ceanothus and other ecological features associated with the post-fire environment of mixed-conifer forests in the Sierra Nevada. His work also seeks to examine Ceanothus response to wildfire severity through functional trait variation. Clark served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines and assisted fishing communities with coastal resource management as well as organized college students to teach environmental stewardship and climate change awareness in elementary schools. His Master’s research at Sonoma State University focused on plant-plant interactions and plant functional trait response to large mammal (tule elk) herbivory in coastal prairie grasslands.
Jonah Weeks | Doctoral Student | jsweeks[at]ucdavis.edu
Emma underwood, PhD | Research Scientist | eunderwoodrussell[at]ucdavis.edu
Emma Underwood is a research scientist in Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California, Davis. A central theme of her research is the application of geospatial tools and remote sensing techniques to address biodiversity and conservation issues and inform environmental decisions. Her research interests include conservation assessments of biodiversity, estimating conservation return on investment, evaluating ecosystem services, and mapping and predicting the distribution of invasive plant species. During the past 15 years Emma’s research has spanned multiple spatial scales from sites to ecoregions and has focused on a variety of ecosystems including tropical forests in central Africa, Mediterranean-type habitats globally, the central coast and Sierra Nevada of California, and the Mojave Desert. Prior to UC Davis, she worked for the World Wildlife Fund-US and since then has undertaken collaborative research with The Nature Conservancy, the US Geological Survey, and the US Forest Service. Emma received her Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis.
Lorie srivastava, PhD | Postdoctoral Fellow | lsrivastava[at]ucdavis.edu
Lorie Srivastava has a Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, from Michigan State University. She also has a M.A. in Economics, a M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics, a B.A. in Economics, and a B.C.Sc. (Honours) in Computer Science. After completing her Computer Science degree, Lorie designed and developed e-courseware covering financial topics for small/medium businesses. For her Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics, she conducted primary research in the Middle Mountains of Nepal, examining and modelling farmers’ choices to grow vegetable cash crops for nearby markets. After completing her Ph.D., Lorie worked as a non-partisan researcher for Parliament of Canada, has worked in academia, private sector, government, and public agencies. Lorie is keenly interested in estimating the economic value of natural assets, such as water sources and forests and how they are affected by climate change. She would like to leverage her computer skills and apply virtual reality and artificial intelligence technologies in assessing people’s preferences and the economic values they place on market and non-market goods and services – i.e. goods and services such as clean air that are not traded in regular markets. Lorie has returned to academia and is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at UC Davis; in this capacity, she is estimating the economic value of various ecosystem services – water, air quality, sediment retention, and sequestered carbon – generated by the National Forests in southern California, and how climate change will affect these values. These areas are dominated by chaparral, prone to wildfires, and drought. Lorie is Canadian, splitting her time between Davis, CA and Vancouver, BC.
Mark E. De Guzman, PhD | Postdoctoral Scholar | medeguzman[at]ucdavis.edu
Mark De Guzman is an ecologist whose research interest is in carbon and water dynamics of woody plant responses to environmental conditions. His research interests led him to work in both arid and tropical ecosystems contributing insights on diverse drought hydraulic strategies and functional traits of plants in both natural and agricultural systems. Mark’s interest in the interface between academia and environmental regulation brings him from the Oregon Department of Agriculture to UC Davis as a postdoctoral scholar in the Safford lab to study the carbon dynamics of chaparral shrublands in Southern California under the framework of ecosystem services evaluation.
Tara Ursell | Doctoral Student | tlursell[at]ucdavis.edu
Tara is broadly interested in using ecological and economic insights to improve land management practices. In particular, she is interested in identifying cost-effective practices to restore and increase the long-term resilience of areas that have been affected by wildfire. Tara obtained her BA in Environmental Analysis and History at Pomona College, and she obtained an MESc at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. There, her research focused on the influence of an invasive grass on nitrogen cycling in U.S. Southeastern forests. More recently, she worked for California State Parks on climate change issues and natural resource management.
Emily Brodie |Doctoral Student | egbrodie[at]ucdavis.edu
Emily hails from Washington state and graduated from Western Washington University in 2013 with a BS in Biology and a BA in Spanish. Over the subsequent years she has integrated her passion for Spanish language and culture with her interest in biodiversity and botany on three continents. Starting out in Panama at the Smithsonian Tropical Research institute, she studied how mating behaviors in tropical butterflies lead to sexual isolation and speciation. She then completed a Fulbright fellowship in Madrid, Spain, where she used primary source notes and diaries at the Royal Botanic Garden to map vouchers collected by the first Spanish botanists in Peru. Despite her travels, Emily’s heart resides in the western United States where she has spent 5 field seasons working as a botanist for state and federal agencies. Emily is interested in how landscape level drivers influence plant community composition and diversity, and is excited to use her skills as a naturalist and botanist to answer questions about post-fire diversity in the Sierra Nevada.
Sara Winsemius | Doctoral Student | swinsemius[at]ucdavis.edu
Sara is pursuing a PhD in Ecology, working with Drs. Yufang Jin and Hugh Safford. She is using remote sensing to study landscape-level changes and ecosystem response to disturbance in high elevation forests of the Sierra Nevada. She received a B.S. in Environmental Science from UC Berkeley in 2013. She has studied coastal dune restoration and most recently agroecology and native pollinator restoration.
Ashley Grupenhoff | Doctoral Student | agrupenhoff[at]ucdavis.edu
Ashley’s research is aimed at examining the consequences of altered disturbance regimes on species composition and ecosystem function. She is particularly interested in the effects of prescribed fire in shaping plant species, populations, and communities and is currently working with CalFire to implement a long-term monitoring program of prescribed fire in California. Before coming to Davis, she has conducted fieldwork across multiple taxa in Ecuador, American Samoa, and the western United States. Ashley obtained her BS in Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Zack Steel, PhD | Postdoctoral Researcher | zlsteel[at]berkeley.edu
Zack is a postdoctoral researcher at UCD and Berkeley. Through his research he seeks to improve our understanding of how acute (e.g. wildfire & drought) and chronic (e.g. climate) environmental stressors structure ecological communities, how landscape pattern mediates environmental drivers, and how anthropogenic change at local to global scales directly or indirectly alters community dynamics and species distributions. His post-doctoral research assesses impacts of extreme drought on Sierran conifer forests, informs reforestation prioritization within areas of high tree mortality, and investigates the ecological consequences and patterns of managed wildfire in Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks. His dissertation research focused on how wildfire and forest management alters landscape pattern, and influences habitat use of birds and bats in the forests of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Carrie Levine, PhD | Postdoctoral Scholar | crlevine[at]ucdavis.edu
Carrie Levine is a forest ecologist whose research is based in the Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forests of California. Over the last century, these forests have experienced altered fire regimes, timber harvesting, a warming climate, chronic air pollution, and uncharacteristically severe attacks by pests and pathogens, resulting in a shift towards a low-diversity forest system. Carrie works across temporal scales to incorporate historical and contemporary datasets into models that can help predict future ecological conditions under changing climate regimes. Carrie’s research is focused on applying concepts of ecological resilience in management, restoration, and conservation contexts in order to bridge the gap between theory and practice. In 2017, Carrie completed her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and is now a postdoctoral scholar in the Safford Lab.
Jesse Miller, PhD | Postdoctoral Scholar | jedmiller[at]ucdavis.edu
Jesse E. D. Miller is an ecologist with research interests at the confluence of community ecology, landscape ecology and restoration ecology. He is currently studying the effects of fire severity on plant and lichen communities in the Sierra Nevada. Jesse completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied the influence of habitat connectivity and fire history on herbaceous plant diversity and long-term landscape change in Ozark grasslands. Prior to graduate school, Jesse worked as a botanist for government agencies, academic researchers, and private contractors in a number of ecosystems across Oregon and California. Jesse is certified in lichenology by the Northwest Lichenologists. Jesse works at the intersection of basic and applied ecology. He loves teaching botany and ecology, and he is particularly interested communicating research findings with land managers and the general public.
Jesse’s website (visit for CV)
Christina Restaino, PhD | Post-doctoral Scholar in the Safford lab, 2014-2017 | Sierra Nevada Coordinator – California Fire Science Consortium | cmrestaino[at]ucdavis.edu
Christina Restaino is a forest ecologist who studies the impacts of drought, fire and climate change on forest ecosystems. Her work is currently focused on how forest thinning can be used to increase resistance and resilience to drought and fire in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Christina’s research has focused on climate-growth relationships and forest productivity across western US forests, fire regime departures from historical conditions, forest regeneration after disturbance (bark-beetle mortality and fire), and how changing climate teleconnections can alter tree growth. Christina also worked as the Coordinator for the Sierra Nevada Region of the California Fire Science Consortium where she promoted the conduit of information between land managers and scientists to find solutions to pressing resource management questions in the region.