My research interests are the impacts of disturbances upon Piedmont and southern Appalachian vegetation communities and post-disturbance exotic plant invasions. My previous research was on the post-fire invasion of Paulownia tomentosa in xeric and sub-xeric Appalachian vegetation communities. This work developed a model of the fire and environmental conditions which enable the initial invasion pattern, and which enable the species to persist over subsequent years.
My most resent work has been a pyrodendrochronological study of Pilot Mountain State Park. This study used fire scars to document the fire history for the park area from 1849 to 2017 and has used by park managers as they determine how to incorporate prescribed fire to maintain and restore native fire dependent species. I am currently beginning a pilot study to develop a similar history for Hanging Rock State Park.
I have also conducted research with students on coal ash impacts on riverbank microbial communities’ structure and function. This work documented the impacts of the 2014 Dan River coal ash spill 1- and 3-years post-spill.