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Silviculture and Restoration Ecology

Dr. Benjamin Knapp (He/Him)

Ben pursued forestry throughout his education, receiving his BS degree from Purdue University in 2003, his MS degree from Clemson University in 2005, and his PhD from Clemson in 2012. He has been a faculty member at University of Missouri since 2012, the Faculty Manager of the Baskett Forest since 2015, and the interim Director of the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry since 2023. Through understanding ecological processes, his research seeks to refine silvicultural practices to address contemporary issues, often related to restoration or conservation objectives. Specific research topics include tree regeneration, fire ecology and the use of prescribed burning as a silvicultural tool, and understanding how disturbances, through management or natural, affect stand dynamics. He enjoys spending time on outdoor projects at home and exploring new ecosystems by hiking and camping with his family.



Ben Knapp is a white man with straight close-cut brown hair, a short beard and mustache, and wire-frame glasses. He is wearing a blue long-sleeve button down shirt, a tan cap, and khakis.

Post-doctoral researchers

Doctoral students

Kendra Esparza-Harris (She/Her)

Kendra Esparza-Harris is a black woman with freckles. She has a nostril piercing and multiple ear piercings with silver jewelery. She is wearing a black t-shirt and a black Nike cap that covers her hair.

Kendra graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. She continued her education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she received a master’s degree in animal sciences with a focus in applied reproductive physiology. Following graduation, she became an Agroforestry Extension Specialist with Peace Corps Senegal, where she disseminated improved agroforestry technologies and techniques. She is currently a USDA NIFA National Needs Doctoral Fellow in the Center for Agroforestry, focusing on domestic and international applications of silvopasture. Outside of academic pursuits, Kendra enjoys traveling, playing sports, outdoor-related activities such as hiking, and spending time with her dogs.

Raelin Kronenberg (She/Her)

Raelin Kronenberg is a white woman with shoulder-length curly brown hair and wire-framed glasses. She is wearing a gray chevron blazer.

Raelin is a doctoral student in the Natural Resources - Forestry graduate program co-advised by Dr. Sougata Bardhan. She is researching the impact of prescribed fire and timber stand improvement on the establishment and productivity of a forest farm to grow native woodland botanicals. Raelin earned her master's degree in natural resources with an agroforestry emphasis from the University of Missouri in 2022. Her previous work explored landowner perceptions of agroforestry practices for conservation and production. Raelin is currently a full-time Research Specialist on several agroforestry projects at Lincoln University while she is working on her Ph.D.

Master of Science students

Ian Goldberg (He/Him)

Ian Goldberg is a white man with short straight brown hair and a beard. He is wearing a gray t-shirt, jeans, and brown work gloves.

Ian grew up exploring the Pine Barrens and back bay coastal salt marshes of central New Jersey. He earned his B.S. degree in environmental science with a forestry concentration in 2022 through Stockton University. With the University of Missouri, Ian is pursuing a master’s degree and works in collaboration with the Jones Center at Ichauway in southwest Georgia to identify the age demographics and growth dynamics of longleaf pine sapling patches. His academic interests include fire ecology, silviculture, paleoecology, nursery production, and ornithology. After graduating, Ian dreams of working as a silviculturist and owning his own native plant nursery on the side. Ian’s hobbies outside of work include birdwatching, painting, gardening, and wildlife photography.

Karen “Ren” Klug (She/Her)

Ren Klug is a white woman with long brown hair in a braid over her shoulder. She is wearing a green shirt, tan work overalls, black rain boots and a green cap.

Karen “Ren” Klug is pursuing a master’s degree in Natural Resources with an emphasis in Agroforestry. Her thesis is focused on maple syrup production in Missouri, with research taking place within the Baskett Research Forest. Following her masters, she is interested in working within the agroforestry industry as a consultant in the Northeast. Ren gained an interest in agroforestry topics following several work exchange programs on small-scale eco-farms during her undergraduate program. She received her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Prior to beginning her master’s, Ren worked throughout Pennsylvania at orchards and in natural resources consulting. Beyond the lab, Ren enjoys painting, traveling, and coffee drinking.

Research staff

Drew Anderson

Drew Anderson is a white man with a patchy red beard and mustache and stretched earlobes. He is wearing a neon orange MU Fire and Rescue Training Institute hoodie and a fireperson's hat and goggles.

Hailing from Des Moines, IA, Drew Anderson is a recent addition to the Baskett crew. Drew began working with Dr. Jeff Wood at the Baskett MOFLUX tower as an undergrad. After graduating with a BS in Forestry from the University of Missouri Columbia, Drew took over the position of Research Specialist in the spring of 2020. He oversees maintenance and community outreach at Baskett, as well as works with students and faculty to implement and conduct research projects. Drew is an outdoorsman and spends his time backpacking and climbing. He is also a musician that plays in several local Columbia bands.

Abby Huffman (She/Her)

Abby Huffman is a white woman with wavy black hair and a nostril piercing with a silver hoop. She is wearing a gray knit beanie, a teal winter coat, and a chunky gray knit scarf.

Abby is a research specialist for the Silviculture and Restoration Ecology lab. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental studies from Augustana College before attending the University of Missouri to obtain a master’s degree in forestry. During her time as a graduate student, she studied white oak regeneration at the Baskett Research Forest. Abby has since transitioned to the role of research specialist where she continues to study silviculture for oak regeneration and explores new areas of study like quantitative wood anatomy. While not at work, Abby frequents the movie theater to eat popcorn and watch the latest flicks.

Past members

Dr. Isaac Hayford – Ph.D. in August 2023

Isaac grew up in eastern part of Ghana and received his Bachelor’s degree in Forestry from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in June 2010. He obtained his master’s degree in Forestry from Michigan State University in August 2017 as a Mastercard Foundation Scholar. His master’s thesis focused on the impact of climate (climate moisture index and temperature) on the growth of oak and other competitor species such as red maple and black cherry in Michigan. In 2023, he completed his doctorate in Natural Resources with Forestry Emphasis at University of Missouri, Columbia, working on ecology and management of oak regeneration (natural and artificial) in bottomland hardwood forests in Missouri. Prior to graduate school in Missouri, he worked with Forestry Commission of Ghana as a Forest Range Manager. In his spare time, Isaac likes watching or playing soccer and enjoys staying outdoors with his family and friends.

Jacob Grochowski – M.S. in August 2023

Jacob grew up exploring the mixed conifer swamps of northeast Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 2017 with a degree in environmental sciences, focusing on policy and forest ecology. Before coming to Mizzou, he worked with the Michigan DNR, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area. Most of his work has focused on invasive plant and insect management, especially the management of hemlock woolly adelgid. He pursued master's of science at Mizzou in partnership with Boggy Slough Conservation Area in east Texas as the first Buddy Temple Graduate Fellow. There he studied the competitive dynamics between desired species including upland oaks, shortleaf, longleaf, and loblolly pine and competitors including yaupon holly, sweetgum, and Chinese tallow. 

Dr. Hope Fillingim – Ph.D. in May 2023

Hope graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She then got a master’s degree from Villanova University, where she studied the effects of oil sands mining on peatlands in Alberta, Canada. She continued working at Villanova for a few years as a research technician, and then spent a few years working on various small farms, including an apple orchard specializing in rare varieties. She spent a year in Virginia with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and in 2023 she completed her PhD at the University of Missouri studying shortleaf pine regeneration.

Isaac Hayford is a black man with close-cut coily black hair. He is wearing black pants and white collared shirt under a black, gray and white jacket.
Hope Fillingim is a white woman with straight brown hair pulled into a messy bun. She is wearing a gray t-shirt.

Dr. Lance Vickers – Post-doc 2022

Lance is a native of south Arkansas’ piney woods and bottomland hardwood forests. He earned a BS in Forestry from the Univ. of AR-Monticello in 2006 and worked for a local consulting firm before leaving the flatland to explore Appalachia. He earned an MS degree from Virginia Tech by 2009 and then pursued a Ph.D. in quantitative silviculture from the University of Missouri, completing his degree in 2015. His dissertation developed models and analytical tools to quantify and interpret regeneration and early stand dynamics of Ozark forests. Lance now works as a Sr. Research Specialist to develop broad-scale regeneration evaluation analytics for 24 northern states using national forest inventory data. He also is a lead scientist for “Operation Ponderosa” – a collaborative effort to develop regeneration methods for ponderosa pine restoration in the Davis Mountains of west Texas. Outside of work, Lance enjoys exploring the world on family adventures and hopes to one day complete the family National Park passport stamp collection.

Trystan Harpold – M.S. in August 2022

Trystan grew up on the high plains of eastern New Mexico. He earned his bachelor’s degrees in Conservation Ecology and French Language from New Mexico State University in 2019. While there, he completed research with the NMSU herbaria on the use of invasive species in urban forestry and worked as a student research technician. In 2020, he moved from the deserts of southern New Mexico to the forests of central Missouri to pursue a master’s degree in forestry at the University of Missouri. In 2022, he completed his master’s thesis focusing on understanding oak regeneration and recruitment in the Missouri Ozarks under uneven-aged management. In his free time, Trystan in an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, and beer brewing.

Lance Vickers is a white man with straight brown hair in a crew cut and a patchy beard. He is wearing a white shirt, paisley tie, and gray knit pullover.

George Jensen – M.S. in August 2022

George Jensen, originally from Wisconsin, is a graduate student working in collaboration with researchers from The Jones Center at Ichauway, where his project has two main focuses. Firstly, on how regeneration domes of longleaf pine influence fire behavior and secondly on how climate adaptive silviculture treatments handle higher intensity wildland fire. George graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point with a BS in Wildland Fire Science. He previously worked for the federal government as a wildland fire fighter in Montana and Wyoming, the State of Wisconsin as a Conservation Biologist for the Endangered Resources section of the WNDR, and for the private sector as a habitat specialist. George loves learning about how ecosystems are developed and working with the public to better educate on matters of wildfire, prairie establishment, and pollinator ecology.


Dacoda Maddox – M.S. in August 2022

Dacoda grew up in Kansas City, Missouri.  He spent 8 years in the Marine Corps and exited the service in 2014.  After the service he knew he could not work inside and decided to go to school to be a conservation agent at Missouri State University.  During his second semester he took his first forestry class quickly gained a passion for forestry.  Dacoda founded Missouri State's first forestry club and took its first team ever to conclave.  He graduated Missouri State with a bachelors in natural resources and minors in forestry and agronomy.  Shortly after graduation he landed a job doing timber stand improvement and eventually lucked into a job as a research technician for the US Forest Service, where he is currently employed.  His Masters research focused on savanna restoration in restored prairies and woodland restoration focusing on ground flora.


Justin Dee - Post-doc 2019

Justin is from central Florida, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Florida Atlantic University in 2010. After graduating from Oklahoma State University in 2017 with his doctorate, Justin joined Dr. Michael Stambaugh and the Missouri Tree-Ring Lab at Mizzou as postdoctoral researcher.  Justin worked with Dr. Knapp on a large data set from the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project (MOFEP) to investigate how, through time, different silvicultural practices (such as clearcutting or single tree selection) affect the composition of the woody and herbaceous ground flora within different ecological land types. He currently works as a Assistant Professor of Biology at Stetson University.

Justin Dee is a white man with a very short beard. He is crouched and wearing gray jeans, a white t-shirt, a dark blue cap, and sunglasses.

Shunzhong Wang - Visiting Scholar 2019

Dr. Wang earned a Ph.D. in Ecology from the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2006, foscusing on forest vegetation patterns in secondary forest zones. He now works as an engineer to monitor soil and water change in Donglingshan Ecosystem Research Station, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr. Wang is interested in various aspects of forest ecology, with particular emphasis on the role of environment and species composition on forest carbon in temperate forest ecosystems. He will be visiting the lab through December 2019.

Shunzhong Wang is a chinese man with close-cut black hair and wire frame glasses. he is wearing a bright blue jacket.

Connor Crouch - M.S. in August 2019

Connor grew up in Downers Grove, IL, a Chicago suburb founded on a grove of oak trees. He graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism degree, but not before realizing his interest in forestry rivaled his passion for writing. After cramming in some last-minute forestry credits, Connor joined Dr. Knapp’s lab, where he has had the chance to study the longer-term effects of site preparation treatments on longleaf pine stand development and on the surrounding vegetation.

Muhamad Nugraha - M.S. in August 2019

Huda grew up in western part of Java island, Indonesia and received his Bachelor’s degree in Plant Protection from Bogor Agricultural University in September 2013. He worked for an industrial timber plantation company in Sumatera and Borneo Island, Indonesia, under Department of Research and Development, focusing on Forest Pest & Disease. Supported by USAID-PRESTASI and Center for Agroforestry, he left his family back at home to continue his study to M.S. at School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, under supervision of Dr. Benjamin O. Knapp & Prof. Rose-Marie Muzika.  MIZ-ZOU.

Connor Crouch is a white man witha short brown beard. He is wearing a white cap with a sun protection flap, a gray long-sleeve button down, and black pants.
Muhamad Nugraha is an indonesian man with short brown hair. He is wearing a gray t-shirt and a red jacket.

Guerric Good - M.S. in May 2019

Guerric was born and raised in Terre Haute, IN.  He completed a Bachelors of Science degree in Natural Resources from Ball State University in December 2012.  After graduation, his interest in forestry took him from Indiana to Montana where he worked in timber stand improvement as a seasonal technician for the United States Forest Service.  At the University of Missouri, Guerric is working toward a Masters of Science pursuing a better understanding of group openings and oak regeneration in the Missouri Ozarks. 

Guerric Good is a white man with short brown hair and a very short beard. He is wearing a white t-shirt and black hiking hat.

Mary Wachuta - M.S. in December 2018

Mary grew up in southwestern Wisconsin and received her Bachelor’s degree in Forestry and Applied Ecology and Environmental Science from Michigan Technological University in April 2016. Her Master’s of Science at the University of Missouri was a joint project with Clemson University and the US Forest Service to create a fire mortality model for eastern hardwood species that can be incorporated into the First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM).

Mary Wachuta is a white woman with long brown hair in a low ponytail and plastic glasses. She is wearing a black knit beanie and black jacket.

Patrick Curtin - M.S. in December 2017

Pat is a Massachusetts native, with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from Bridgewater State University. After completing his degree, Pat worked several seasons as a forestry and wildlife technician, traveling from the Pine Barrens of Long Island, to the spruce-fir forests of Maine, and then to the longleaf pine savannas of Georgia. His research was a collaboration between the University of Missouri and the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, examining canopy recruitment dynamics in naturally regenerated longleaf pine woodlands.

Samantha Anderson - M.S. in May 2017

As a New Jersey native, Sam had never been west of the Mississippi River. After graduating from The Richard Stockton College of NJ with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science, she worked for a year with the New Jersey Forest Service. She then traveled to Puerto Rico for three months as a field technician to study growth and mortality in a tropical dry forest. Shortly after returning home she headed out to Missouri to begin her Master’s in Forestry, studying carbon dynamics in shortleaf pine forests.

Casey Ghilardi - M.S. in December 2016

Casey is a New Jersey native with a degree in environmental science from Stockton College. After graduating, he joined the working world at the technician level working westward from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey to the hardwood forests of Pennsylvania, then Indiana, and then landed in Missouri. Casey's project used empirical field data to evaluate accuracy of the Fire and Fuels Extension of the Forest Vegetation Simulator in the Missouri Ozarks. 

Bob Rives - M.S. in December 2016

Bob is a Missouri native, raised in Chesterfield, MO. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in May 2014 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Forestry. Bob decided to pursue a Master of Science degree, studying the effectiveness of silvicultural treatments at regenerating oak species in mixed bottomland hardwood forests. His study is partnered with the Missouri Department of Conservation and will give resource foresters challenged with managing mixed bottomland hardwood forests information to  better manage these ecosystems. 

Calvin Maginel - M.S. in August 2015

Calvin is a Missouri native of Reynolds County, although his educational and work experiences are varied. After graduating from Berea College in Kentucky, he immediately moved to the Pacific Northwest to survey salmon. An endangered warbler in Texas next caught his attention, after which he worked for The Vermont Nature Conservancy as a land steward/volunteer coordinator. An extended visit to Guatemala and a boat building school later, he ended up back at his home state as a botanist. He researched the effects of landscape-scale prescribed burning on Ozark ground flora with data collected on The Nature Conservancy's Chilton Creek Preserve.

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