Erica Smithwick

Associate Director, Institute of Energy and the Environment
Titles and Affiliations
Distinguished Professor, Geography
Director, Earth and Environmental Systems Institute

Erica Smithwick, Distinguished Professor of Geography, is a landscape and ecosystem ecologist. She is the Director of Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI) at Penn State. She is an Associate Director of the Institute of Energy and Environment (IEE), and former director (2017–2021) of the Ecology Institute, both of which foster interdisciplinary environmental research. 

She was also the founding director of the Center for Landscape Dynamics, which connects science to management, and she is Graduate Faculty in the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology.  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.  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. Dr. Smithwick has received numerous research awards from the NSF, NASA, DOE, NPS, the USGS, 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, called Visualizing Forest Futures (VIFF), 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.  Another, LandcapeU, is focused on transdisciplinary graduate training at the Food-Energy-Water nexus.

In the News

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Projects

Recent Publications

Predicting the suitable habitat distribution of berry plants under climate change

Hamilton, C. W., Smithwick, E. A. H., Spellman, K. V., Baltensperger, A. P., Spellman, B. T. & Chi, G., Feb 2024, In: Landscape Ecology. 39, 2, 18.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Observations of enhanced rainfall variability in Kenya, East Africa

Kotikot, S. M., Smithwick, E. A. H. & Greatrex, H., Dec 2024, In: Scientific reports. 14, 1, 12915.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Just energy imaginaries? Examining realities of solar development on Pennsylvania's farmland

Spangler, K., Smithwick, E., Buechler, S. & Baka, J., Feb 2024, In: Energy Research and Social Science. 108, 103394.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Balancing multiple forest management objectives under climate change in central Wisconsin, U.S.A.

Lucash, M. S., Williams, N. G., Srikrishnan, V., Keller, K., Scheller, R. M., Hegelson, C., Nicholas, R. E. & Smithwick, E. A. H., Dec 2023, In: Trees, Forests and People. 14, 100460.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Integrating Menominee model for sustainable forestry with Systems Thinking competency through 3D virtual tours

Nasr-Azadani, E., Smithwick, E. A. H., Steidle, S. J., Lucash, M. S., Wardrop, D. H., Fregien, N. T. & Kenote, T. R., Nov 2023, In: Sustainability Science. 18, 6, p. 2605-2628 24 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Regenerative landscape design: an integrative framework to enhance sustainability planning

Smithwick, E. A. H., Baka, J., Bird, D., Blaszscak-Boxe, C., Cole, C. A., Fuentes, J. D., Gergel, S. E., Glenna, L. L., Grady, C., Hunt, C. A., Iulo, L. D., Kaye, J. & Keller, K., Oct 2023, In: Ecology and Society. 28, 4

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Testing presence, assessing attitudes: Study of a 3D virtual tour in an “aesthetically challenged” landscape

Steidle, S., Lucash, M., Nasr-Azadani, E. & Smithwick, E., Jul 1 2023, In: Journal of Environmental Management. 337, 117574.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Public and manager perceptions about prescribed fire in the Mid-Atlantic, United States

Wu, H., Miller, Z. D., Wang, R., Zipp, K. Y., Newman, P., Shr, Y. H., Dems, C. L., Taylor, A., Kaye, M. W. & Smithwick, E. A. H., Nov 15 2022, In: Journal of Environmental Management. 322, 116100.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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