Hugh D. Safford, PhD
Region 5 Ecologist/Affiliate Faculty (UC Davis)

Hugh Safford is the Regional Ecologist for the USDA-Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region (California, Hawaii, Pacific territories), and also holds a research position in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California-Davis. Safford manages a staff of ecologists that provide expertise in vegetation, fire, and restoration ecology, climate change, inventory, and monitoring to land management and planning efforts on the National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region. His areas of professional expertise are restoration ecology, community ecology, biogeography, and disturbance ecology. Safford is the manager of the Regional Research Natural Area program, the Sierra Nevada region leader for the California Fire Science Delivery Consortium, and a member of the science advisory boards for a number of environmental collaboratives and NGOs. Safford also works internationally, and provides technical assistance on fire, forest management, and climate change issues to the US-Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Program of the Forest Service. Safford was an editor of Historical Environmental Variation in Conservation and Natural Resource Management, a recently published book exploring the challenges of applying historical reference conditions to the sustainable management of ecosystems in a rapidly changing world. Safford holds a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, an M.A. in Secondary Education from San Francisco State University, and a B.S. in Geology from Montana State University. Safford grew up in southwestern Montana and now splits his time between Davis and Lake Tahoe, California.

Hugh’s CV

Christina Restaino, PhD
Post-doctoral Scholar
Sierra Nevada Coordinator – California Fire Science Consortium


Christina Restaino is a forest ecologist, who also wears the hat of dendrochronologist, biogeographer, disturbance ecologist, or fire ecologist.  Christina studies pattern and process through space and timeon forest landscapes.  She specializes in the relationships between climate variability and forest productivity and impacts of disturbance on forest landscapes. Spending significant time on the ground in forests throughout western North America, she studies the impacts of climate on forest growth.   She has expertise in field ecology methods, botany, dendrochronology, parametric and non-parametric statistics, multivariate statistics, and time series analysis.  Christina is particularly interested in assessing ecosystem vulnerability and adaptation planning  to climate change. She loves teaching forest ecology, engaging youth in wilderness and science education, and acting as a leader in her scientific community.  Christina is a graduate of the UC Berkeley Forestry and Natural Resources program and has a Masters of Science and Doctorate from the  University of Washington Forest Resources program.  She is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Davis where she is working with the Region 5 Ecology Program and the Sierra Nevada Region of the California Fire Science Consortium.

Christina’s CV

Jesse Miller, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar


Jesse E. D. Miller is an ecologist with research interests at the confluence of community ecology, restoration ecology, and landscape ecology. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Hugh Safford’s lab at UC Davis, where he is studying the effects of fire severity on plant communities across an elevation gradient in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Jesse completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied drivers of herbaceous plant diversity and long-term landscape change in Ozark grasslands. Prior to graduate school, Jesse worked as a botanist for government agencies, academic reseachers, and private contractors in a number of ecosystems across Oregon and California. Jesse is also interested in lichen ecology and diversity, and he 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 CV

Rebecca Wayman, MS
Associate Specialist

WaymanRebecca 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 is currently serving as the co-chair of the Program Committee for the October 2016 Natural Areas Conference, whose theme is Climate Change Adaptation and Natural Areas Management: Turning Words into Action. In this capacity she manages communications with about 300 conference presenters and leads a team charged with reviewing and accepting/rejecting proposed organized sessions and individual abstracts, placing individual abstracts, 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.

Rebecca’s CV

Zack Steel, MS
Doctoral Candidate


Zack is a PhD student in the UC Davis Ecology graduate program where he studies the influence of disturbance on wildlife habitat. He works with Dr. Hugh Safford in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy.  Zack’s dissertation research focuses on habitat use of birds and bats in previously burned forests of the Sierra Nevada range in California.  He is interested in how species use forests burning at various levels of severity, how this varies spatially in a heterogeneous landscape, and how these relationships change through successional time.  Some of Zack’s previous research includes investigations into the influence of fire suppression on patterns of burn severity in California forests, the impact of vineyard development on bird communities in the Colchagua Valley, Chile, and vulnerability of sensitive species to climate change in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.

Zack’s CV

Clark Richter
Doctoral Candidate

Richter Lab PhotoClark’s research concerns how wildfire and ecosystem dynamics influence plant regeneration and succession in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  He is interested in how wildfire severity and intensity determine seral communities and affect exotic plant colonization and ecosystem-level characteristics including soil water availability. Clark is currently compiling a database of US Forest Service Common Stand Exams from six different fires with the intention of quantifying regeneration patterns across a spectrum of wildfire characteristics.  The intention of this project is to produce an accessible library on post-fire dynamics for future researchers to contribute to and use for their own work.  Clark’s Master’s research focused on plant-plant interactions and plant trait responses to large mammal herbivory in coastal prairie grasslands.

Clark’s CV

Jonah Weeks
Master’s Student
IMG_0338Jonah’s research is focused on restoration ecology, specifically, fire ecology in higher elevation forests such as those found in much of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. She recently joined a long term, ongoing, post-fire study assessing the area burned by the Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe in 2007. The project began in 2008 and consists of Common Stand Exam plots and Regeneration plots set up on a grid throughout the over 3,000 acres burned by the fire. Jonah is a Davis native who received a BS in Environmental Science from Chico Sate University.

Emma underwood, PHD
research scientist

Underwood_photoEmma 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.

Emma’s CV

Lorie srivastava, PHD
postdoctoral fellow

Lorie Kutab MinarLorie is an environmental economist, with a special interest in water issues and climate change. She has a Ph.D. in Environmental and Resource Economics from Michigan State University. She holds a MA in Economics, also from Michigan State University, a M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics from University of British Columbia, a BA in Economics, and a B.C.Sc. Honours in Computer Science, the latter two from the University of Manitoba.  Lorie is currently working as part of a multidisciplinary team that is undertaking a socio-economic vulnerability assessment of national forests in southern California. The project is a collaboration between researchers at UC Davis, the US Forest Service, and Michigan State University. As an economist, she is attempting to quantify the economic value of select ecosystem services from forests and chaparral landscapes within these national forests. These ecosystem services include water, recreational benefits, and others such as carbon sequestration.Lorie has held a variety of positions before joining UC Davis. Most recently, she worked as an economic consultant on various public policy issues (e.g. road congestion charges, public education, market study on the demand for ferry service), Manager of the research group for a public transport agency in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia (TransLink), Acting Executive Director of a multi-university research data group at the University of British Columbia (Population Data BC), researcher at Environment Canada, faculty at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, a post-doctoral fellow at University of Alberta, and a non-partisan researcher within the Economics Division at Parliament of Canada.

Lorie’s CV