Alex Schaefer


Alex started in the INES PhD program here at UNC Charlotte in Fall 2015 after earning a Masters degree in Atmospheric Sciences from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He has been working as a Graduate Research Assistant in INES as a part of an NSF-funded project entitled “Collaborative Research: Testing Hypotheses About Fire Using Data Syntheses and Fire Modeling” (September 2014 to February 2018) which I am co-PI on with Dr. Jenn Marlon (Yale University) and Dr. Bart Bartlein (University of Oregon).

With most of his coursework behind him now, Alex is creating the foundation for deep research into questions about what we can learn from global fire modeling of the past millennium using simulations that are keyed to climate from the NCAR Last Millennium Ensemble, and population and vegetation/land-use patterns from the last millennium. Alex is developing new methods within the world of fire modeling to set up the toolbox he needs to even address the questions he is tackling. Once that is done, and the fire model is validated against available present-day data, the longer term variations in fire model output will be evaluated against the paleofire records in the Global Charcoal Database.

Alex started fast by participating in an NSF and PAGES funded workshop that Jenn, Bart, and I organized in September 2015 at Harvard Forest (west of Boston, Mass), and has since been working on honing the questions he wants to ask and the methods he can use to address those questions. That process is in close collaboration with our grant colleagues (skype meetings!) and through the literature review. In December 2017, Alex travelled to the AGU Fall Meeting in New Orleans and present his research in a poster session and he is also co-author on a project I presented at AGU.

As of Spring 2018, Alex is a PhD Candidate. This puts him at the stage of his degree when he is dissertating and working almost full time on research. To set up that stage, he finished coursework and passed his three-part Comprehensive Exam which included a two-part written exam and an oral defense of his proposed research. Alex was awarded funding from the UNC Charlotte Graduate Student Summer Fellowship program and is working on moving his research forward in Summer 2018.