Graduate and undergraduate students conduct research in the Forest Ecology Lab in collaboration with each other, Dr. Larson, and external partners. The Lab is affiliated with regional and global forest research and monitoring networks, including the Smithsonian Center for Tropical Forest Science and the Southwestern Crown Collaborative. These relationships provide opportunities for student research in a variety of settings. Prospective students should contact Dr. Larson directly.
Successful applicants tend to have excellent preparation in quantitative analysis techniques, demonstrable proficiency in technical writing, and a record of successfully managing and completing complex projects. Successful applicants typically have GRE scores that exceed the 70th percentile and an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or greater, although all aspects of an applicant's record are considered and real-world products (e.g., published and unpublished technical reports) and experiences (e.g., project management experience) receive considerable weight in the evaluation process.
There are no openings presently, but prospective students are nevertheless encouraged to contact Dr. Larson as openings do occasionally arise on short notice. Please include enough information to initiate a conversation, including a CV or resume, GRE scores, unofficial transcripts, and a professional writing sample.
Dr. Larson generally advises one undergraduate thesis each academic year. Independent study projects are also available and Dr. Larson can advise several independent study projects each semester. Students interested in pursuing an undergraduate thesis in the Forest Ecology Lab should contact Dr. Larson early in spring semester of their junior year.
An undergraduate thesis is a significant body of work resulting in public presentation of research findings and a manuscript suitable for publication in a refereed journal. The general timeline and expectations for a senior thesis in the Forest Ecology Lab include:
- January-February of junior year: select a thesis topic and develop a research proposal.
- March-April of junior year: submit research proposal to UM, CFC and external scholarship programs.
- May-August between junior and senior years: conduct field work (if necessary).
- September-December of senior year: conduct laboratory work and data analysis.
- January-February of senior year: complete data analysis and draft initial results.
- February-March of senior year: submit presentation abstract to UM Conference on Undergraduate Research (UMCUR), and possibly to a regional scientific meeting.
- March-April of senior year: present at UMCUR and finish complete draft of thesis.
- May of senior year: final thesis draft complete and submitted to refereed journal.
Presentations and publications resulting from undergraduate theses
Ward, A., A.J. Larson, and C.A. Cansler. Charcoal production in mixed-conifer forest under high severity initial fire and repeat burns. Northwest Scientific Association 86th Annual Meeting. Columbia Basin College, Pasco, Washington, USA. April 1-4, 2015.
Hopkins, T.M., A.J. Larson, and R.T. Belote. 2014. Contrasting effects of wildfire and ecological restoration in old-growth western larch forests. Forest Science 60: 1005-1013.
Schaedel, M.S. and A.J. Larson. The effects of litterfall on snow ablation rates in northern Rockies mixed-conifer forests. Northwest Scientific Association 85th Annual Meeting, March 26-29, 2014. Missoula, Montana, USA.
Gabrielson, A.T., A.J. Larson, J.A. Lutz, and J.J. Reardon. 2012. Biomass and burning characteristics of sugar pine cones. Fire Ecology 8: 58-70. (pdf)
Gabrielson, A.T. 2012. Biomass and burning characteristics of Pinus lambertiana cones. University of Montana Conference on Undergraduate Research. April 13, 2012. Missoula, Montana, USA.
Gabrielson, A.T., Larson, A.J., Lutz, J.A., Reardon, J.J. 2012. Biomass and burning characteristics of Pinus lambertiana cones. Northwest Scientific Association Annual Meeting. March 28-30, 2012. Boise, Idaho, USA. (pdf) (Third place, student poster competition.)
Brett, L. 2011. Modeling stand dynamics and landscape heterogeneity in mixed conifer forest following mountain pine beetle outbreak. University of Montana Conference on Undergraduate Research. April 15, 2011. Missoula, Montana, USA.
Brett, L. and Larson, A.J. 2011. Modeling stand dynamics and landscape heterogeneity in mixed conifer forest following mountain pine beetle outbreak. CONFOR West 2011. February 3-5, 2011. Jasper, Alberta, Canada.