Newswise — GENESEO, N.Y. – Three geography faculty members have received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) award of $232,099 for a collaborative research project to assess the environmental and human drivers and the cultural dimension of changes in oak forests in the eastern United States.

David Robertson, associate professor and chair of the geograpy department at SUNY Geneseo, is the principal investigator. Joining Robertson as co-principal investigators are Stephen Tulowiecki ’09, also a geography faculty member at Geneseo, and Chris Larsen, associate professor of geography at the University at Buffalo. The project will investigate the changes in abundance of white oaks forests in the eastern United States over the past two centuries as well as consider the society ramifications of the changes. White oak forests provide numerous material and non-material benefits to society, including commercial timber products, habitat for animal species and cultural value.

The research will provide undergraduate student training, including those traditionally underrepresented in the sciences, with field and lab-based educational experiences in STEM fields, specifically in geographic information systems, tree-ring analysis, and statistical modeling. The outcomes of this project will contribute new knowledge for managing oak landscapes to meet economic, ecological, and cultural goals. The research will be conducted in the forests of northern New York state.