Mary Arthur, University of Kentucky

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Mary Arthur is Professor of Forest Ecology in the University of Kentucky, Department of Forestry. Together with her graduate students and collaborators, she has been studying the effects of prescribed fire on forest stand structure, species composition, oak regeneration, and ecosystem function for the past 20 plus years. Mary started working on fire ecology in 1993, when a fellow faculty member called her attention to the preponderance of white pine in the understory of oak-dominated upland sites in the Red River Gorge Geological Area of the Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF). In collaboration with managers in the DBNF and the USFS Bent Creek Experimental Forest, this work developed into multiple long-term research projects examining the role of prescribed fire, wildfire, and fire plus mastication

Donald Hagan, Clemson University

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Don Hagan grew up in Panama City, Florida and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of West Florida. After 2 years in Ecuador with the Peace Corps, he returned to his home state to pursue a master's and Ph.D. in Forest Ecology from the University of Florida. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the forestry program at Clemson University, where he teaches courses in Forest Ecology, Forest Communities, and Dendrology and conducts applied research. His research program addresses how fires influence population, community, and ecosystem-level processes in southern Appalachian forests. Current research projects are supported by the Joint Fire Science Program, the US Forest Service, and the National Park Service. He joined CAFMS in 2016. 

Ryan Jacobs, NC Wildlife Resources Commission

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Ryan is the Mountain Region Wildlife Forest Manager for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, where he has worked for the past 14 years. His primary responsibilities include overseeing and implementing prescribed burning and forest habitat improvement projects on state-owned Game Lands in the mountains of North Carolina. Ryan is a graduate of the University of Tennessee holding a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. He is an active member and past board member of the NC Prescribed Fire Council, agency representative for the NC Fire Environment Working Group, cooperator in the Southern Blue Ridge Fire Learning Network, and CAFMS board member since 2015. Ryan has also participated in conducting several prescribes fire research projects focused on the fire effects in the Southern Appalachians for wildlife habitat improvements and ecological restoration.

Ben Jones, PA Game Commission

Ben is chief of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Habitat Division, where he also serves as the agency's Fire Program Manager. Ben holds a Ph.D. in Forestry and Wildlife Science from the University of Tennessee, and M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Mississippi State, and a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries (Forest Science minor) from Penn State.

Ben's fire work began on the Homochitto National Forest investigating effects of prescribed fire (especially growing season fire) and forest management on wild turkey habitat. From there he worked on the Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina assessing forest management and prescribed fire practices for ruffed grouse. He is currently working to grow the Game Commission's fire program and develop strategies for landscape-scale fire use. The Pennsylvania Game Commission owns or manages nearly 2 million acres and currently uses prescribed fire on about 10,000 acres annually. Professional interests include fire history, impacts of land management practices on wildlife and the use of forest management to improve wildlife habitat.

Melissa Thomas-Van Gundy, USDA Forest Service


Melissa grew up in New Holland, PA and earned a bachelor's at Davis and Elkins College and master's at SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry. After 16 years on the Monongahela National Forest as a forester and ecologist, she joined the Northern Research station as a research forester in 2006 and is stationed in Parsons, W. She returned to graduate school and earned a PhD in forestry in 2011 from West Virginia University. Her current research includes the use of witness trees in land surveys as a source of ecological data and the use of prescribed fire as a silvicultural tool.

Beth Buchanan, USDA Forest Service

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Beth is the Regional Fire Ecologist for Region 8 of the US Forest Service. She is located in Virginia but works with forests across the 13-state Southern Region as well as with federal, state, NGO and university partners. She is co-lead of the Southern Blue Ridge Fire Learning Network, a successful, decade-long collaboration spanning four states, which works to reduce barriers to fire use. Additionally, she oversees the Region 8 fire effects monitoring program, and encourages managers to work together to compile data across unit boundaries in order to show successful adaptively-managed fire programs. She is a member of the Association for Fire Ecology, and three JFSP-funded knowledge exchange consortia, including CAFMS. She has Master's Degree in Ecology from The Ohio State University.

Steve Croy, USDA Forest Service

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Steve is originally from southwest Virginia. He holds degrees from the University of Montana in Wildlife Biology and Botany. He began working for the U.S. Forest Service in 1991 and is currently the Ecologist and Fire Planner for the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia. His work focuses on management of threatened, endangered, and sensitive species, disturbance ecology (especially fire history and fire effects), species/habitat relationships, monitoring, fire planning, and the Forest Aviation Program. Steve was on his first fire handcrew in 1974 and during the past 25-years has been active in fire management and is certified as a Wildland Fire Ecologist and Wildland Fire Manager by the Association of Fire Ecology. Steve currently holds a number of fire management qualifications and frequently travels nationwide to help manage wildland fires.