Erica Smithwick

Profile Photo
IEE Research Themes
Associate Director, Institutes of Energy and the Environment
Titles and Affiliations
Professor, Geography

Erica Smithwick is a landscape and ecosystem ecologist. She is also the director of the Center for Landscape Dynamics, a faculty associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State, and graduate faculty in the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology. She is also leading an interdisciplinary team in the development of a new graduate training program at Penn State to help graduate students develop partnerships with stakeholders to co-create solutions to challenges of the food-water-energy nexus at regional to global scales.

Her laboratory group (LEAPS:  Landscape Ecology at Penn State) is actively involved in understanding how a wide range of disturbances, especially fire, affect ecosystem function at landscape scales. Her current research is focused on the influence of these changes on socio-ecological resilience and sustainability, with special attention to protected area management in Africa and the U.S. She recently served as a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa at Rhodes University.

Smithwick has published more than forty-four publications in peer-reviewed journals and, since arriving at Penn State, secured more than $6.4 million dollars in external research funding as lead principal investigator (total = $11.3 million, 97.5% external) from the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Energy, The National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and beyond. This work is increasingly focused on problems that require inter- and trans-disciplinary teamwork to address complex environmental challenges. One of these projects, funded by the National Science Foundation, seeks to address how indigenous and western knowledge systems can be best used to address forest sustainability under climate variability, in partnership with the Menominee tribal nation in northern Wisconsin.

In the News

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Recent Publications

Prescribed fire alters structure and composition of a mid-Atlantic oak forest up to eight years after burning

Dems, C. L., Taylor, A. H., Smithwick, E. A. H., Kreye, J. K. & Kaye, M. W., Dec 2021, In: Fire Ecology. 17, 1, 10.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Landscape-Scale Forest Reorganization Following Insect Invasion and Harvest Under Future Climate Change Scenarios

Olson, S. K., Smithwick, E. A. H., Lucash, M. S., Scheller, R. M., Nicholas, R. E., Ruckert, K. L. & Caldwell, C. M., Nov 2021, In: Ecosystems. 24, 7, p. 1756-1774 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Interactions between landscape and local factors inform spatial action planning in post-fire forest environments

Peeler, J. L. & Smithwick, E. A. H., Dec 2021, In: Landscape Ecology. 36, 12, p. 3523-3537 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Simulated fire regimes favor oak and pine but affect carbon stocks in mixed oak forests in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Zhao, A., Taylor, A. H., Smithwick, E. A. H., Kaye, M. & Harris, L. B., Aug 15 2021, In: Forest Ecology and Management. 494, 119332.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Robust paths to net greenhouse gas mitigation and negative emissions via advanced biofuels

Field, J. L., Richard, T. L., Smithwick, E. A. H., Cai, H., Laser, M. S., LeBauer, D. S., Long, S. P., Paustian, K., Qin, Z., Sheehan, J. J., Smith, P., Wang, M. Q. & Lynd, L. R., Sep 8 2020, In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 117, 36, p. 21968-21977 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Conceptual links between landscape diversity and diet diversity: A roadmap for transdisciplinary research

Gergel, S. E., Powell, B., Baudron, F., Wood, S. L. R., Rhemtulla, J. M., Kennedy, G., Rasmussen, L. V., Ickowitz, A., Fagan, M. E., Smithwick, E. A. H., Ranieri, J., Wood, S. A., Groot, J. C. J. & Sunderland, T. C. H., Jul 1 2020, In: BioScience. 70, 7, p. 563-575 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Hunter and Non-Hunter Perceptions of Costs, Benefits, and Likelihood of Outcomes of Prescribed Fire in the Mid-Atlantic Region

Miller, Z. D., Wu, H., Zipp, K., Dems, C. L., Smithwick, E., Kaye, M., Newman, P., Zhao, A. & Taylor, A., Oct 2 2020, In: Society and Natural Resources. 33, 10, p. 1321-1327 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Seed source pattern and terrain have scale-dependent effects on post-fire tree recovery

Peeler, J. L. & Smithwick, E. A. H., Sep 1 2020, In: Landscape Ecology. 35, 9, p. 1945-1959 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Forest pattern, not just amount, influences dietary quality in five African countries

Rasmussen, L. V., Fagan, M. E., Ickowitz, A., Wood, S. L. R., Kennedy, G., Powell, B., Baudron, F., Gergel, S., Jung, S., Smithwick, E. A. H., Sunderland, T., Wood, S. & Rhemtulla, J. M., Jun 2020, In: Global Food Security. 25, 100331.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Patch-scale selection patterns of grazing herbivores in the central basalt plains of Kruger National Park

Young, C., Fritz, H., Smithwick, E. A. H. & Venter, J. A., Jul 2 2020, In: African Journal of Range and Forage Science. 37, 3, p. 199-213 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review