I received my PhD from Yale University, and have been at Rice since 1972. I am a forest ecologist, specializing in forest communities of the southeastern United States, as exemplified by the Big Thicket National Preserve in east Texas. My publications have elucidated the environmental factors that control plant communities and the distribution of forest types across the landscape. I have documented the effects of floods, fires, and windstorms on forest change. The results of the research are used by the National Park Service for natural area monitoring and management planning.
I am also interested in biomass and stand dynamics in the coastal spruce-hemlock forests of the Pacific Northwest. With collaborators, I have documented patterns of change in long-term study plots on the Oregon coast. In our most recent paper, we reconstructed stand development over 150 years, and used a simple model to project change into the future.
I am a member of the Ecological Society of America, and the International Association for Vegetation Science. I hosted the 1995 Annual Symposium of the IAVS at Rice. This was the first time the group had met in the United States. I currently serve as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Vegetation Science.
I work with many conservation organizations locally and nationally; I now serve on the Boards of Trustees for the Nature Conservancy of Texas. I am now teaching Plant Diversity and Environmental Problem Solving to undergraduates at Rice. I am co-director of the Center for the Study of Environment and Society.