Research Projects

The interdisciplinary research projects proposed & completed by CAS trainees

Cohort 5 (Fall 2020)

The CAS trainees in cohort 5 are currently developing their CAS research projects.

Once cohort 5 research teams finalize their proposals, we will detail their projects, here!

Cohort 4 (Fall 2019)

The CAS trainees in cohort 4 are all working together on a California Wildfires project.

California Wildfires


CAS trainees Ellie Smith-Eskridge, Erika Blomdahl, Alex Howe, and Dakoeta Pinto are working on a project that seeks to: 1) pair spatial data of wildfires and a survey to understand how experiences of wildfire (e.g., smoke, power shutoffs, property damage) may have impacted California residents in the past year, and their views on wildfire policies and programs; and 2) assess how biophysical factors related to wildfire (i.e., wildland-urban interface development, air quality, climate, area burned, burn severity, average fire size, and burn seasonality) have changed in four ecoregions in California. Cohort 4 hopes that their findings will reach the desks of policy makers, planners, and forest managers in California, where they will be exposed to an analysis of fire regime trends and fire-climate conditions in their state, and where they can see which policies the public is prepared to take action on.


Cohort 3 (Fall 2018)

The CAS trainees in cohort 3 worked on three different research projects. 

Boa Ogoi Commemorative & Restoration Site

The first group of trainees, Will Munger, Sofia Koutzoukis, and Lindsay Capito, are working with the Northwestern Band of Shoshone to restore the ecology of Boa Ogoi, the site of the largest mass murder of Native Americans in the history of the United States. The Shoshone People are co-producing knowledge with our CAS trainees to develop a habitat restoration plan that will help restore the ecology of Boa Ogoi to what the site may have looked like in 1863, at the time of the masacre. Darren Parry, the former Chairman of the Northwestern Band of Shoshone, purchased this land in 2018. His solace is in knowing that 400 of his ancestors lie just beneath the surface; their voices, silent for more than a century and a half, are beginning to be heard once again.


Water Availability for Cannabis in Northern California             


The second group of trainees, Betsy Morgan, Kaitlyn Spangler, Jacob Stuivenvolt Allen, and Christina Morrisett, completed a project that considered the intersections of climate, policy, and public discourse in water availability for cannabis production in northern California. The production of legal cannabis is certainly a new frontier in agriculture, subjecting the sector to new resource-use regulations. Morgan et al. find that the combination of climate oscillations and restrictive water-use policies can limit available water for legal cannabis cultivation. At the same time, public discourse and media representations widen the divide toward effectively managing legalized cannabis. The paper concludes by stating: "If policies do not account for hydroclimatic variability, respond to grower concerns, and address sociocultural controversies, grower compliance and industry viability will remain elusive."



Cohort 2 (Fall 2017)

The CAS trainees in cohort 2 worked on two different research projects. 

Impacts of Climate Change on Multiple Use Management on BLM Land

brice et al. blm

The first group of trainees, Lainie Brice, Brett Miller, Hongchao Zhang, Kirsten Goldstein, Scott Zimmer, and Guen Grosklos, completed a project that considered the impacts of climate change on multiple use management on BLM Land in the Intermountain West (IMW) and the extent to which climate change is considered in BLM management. Brice et al. find that climate change is expected to exacerbate threats to intrinsic values like conservation and ecosystem services on BLM land, and that substantial changes in vegetation are expected due to climate change. At the same time, BLM plans rarely refer to climate change, suggesting that "there is a disconnect between management of BLM lands and the best available science on climate change". The paper concludes by stating: "...we recommend that editors and reviewers strongly encourage a more explicit description of management implications when accepting articles regarding climate change that pertain to public land managers."

Head to this page to see Lainie Brice's capstone communication project, an online and easily accessible BLM literature database!

Impacts of and Adaptations to Climate Change in Utah's Ski Areas

wilkins utah ski

The second group of trainees, Emily Wilkins, Tara Saley, Rachel Hager, and Hadia Akbar, completed a project that considered the impacts of and adaptations to a changing winter climate for Utah ski areas.


Cohort 1 (Spring 2017)

The CAS trainees in cohort 4 all worked together on a fire project in the Intermountain West.

Impacts of Wildfire Characteristics & Employment on Adaptive Management Strategies in the Intermountain West

prudencio fire

CAS trainees Liana Prudencio, Ryan Choi, Emily Esplin, Muyang Ge, Natalie Gillard, and Jeffrey Haight completed a project that investigated how trends in fire characteristics influence adaptive management and economies in the Intermountain Western (IMW). Prudencio et al. "analyze area burned and fire frequency in the IMW over time, how fires in urban or rural settings influence local economies and whether fire trends and economic impacts influence managers’ perspectives and adaptive decision-making". The paper concludes by stating: "Our findings demonstrate that fires have significant economic impacts on affected communities and that changing fire trends and economic effects influence the decision-making and planning of fire managers. The interdisciplinary nature of this research highlights the interconnectedness of the physical, economic and social aspects of fire and answers the call to utilize interdisciplinary approaches to address these complex social-environmental issues."