Jenna Morris '17
Alumna studies threat to forests
Jenna Morris' graduate research takes her high into the Colorado Rocky Mountains to the Fraser Experimental Forest, one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country.
"Composed primarily of subalpine spruce-fir and lodgepole pine forests, walking around is breathtaking – both in terms of scenery and as a result of the elevation," says the 2017 Whitworth alumna. "Occasional wildlife encounters, mainly moose, add to the excitement."
A major problem is clearly evident, though – nearly all the mature pine trees in Morris' plots are dead. The reason is not fire, but beetles.
"I'm currently researching how forest management practices can increase tree resistance to mountain pine beetle outbreaks," Morris says. "Bark beetles are major disturbance agents in western North America, often affecting a larger area than fire."
Morris is studying the problem, which is exacerbated by climate change, as a master's student at the University of Washington School of Environmental & Forest Sciences.
"I am passionate about supporting conservation and sustainability efforts in the face of rapid global change," she says. "Ensuring that future generations have access to the same opportunities and experiences I have enjoyed is important to me and requires research and management of natural areas and their resources."
At Whitworth, Morris was a biology major and environmental studies minor.