William Russell

William Russell

Professor, Environmental Studies


Current Research Activities

My research focuses on ecological disturbance in forest systems, with two main lines of inquiry:  1) Examination of the ecological effects of wildland fire (including wildfire and prescribed fire) on forests and woodlands.  2)  Analysis of the Impacts of timber harvest (and mechanical thinning) on forest ecosystems, including understory herbaceous species; and what is the trajectory of recovery following timber harvest.  

What contributed to your research interests?

A love of natural landscapes and a desire to protect them was introduced to me at an early age by my family, but an understanding of the impact that I could make as a university professor was instilled in most by the late SJSU professor Lester Rowntree who was my master’s thesis advisor in the 1990s.  His ability to combine a rigorous scientific method with a qualitative understanding of social systems, helped me to understand how to communicate my work to the community.

How does your research relate to current issues?

Not only has historic timber harvest drastically altered natural environments and resulted in a massive reduction of our natural carbon storage budget, but current timber industry lobbying is opening up previous preserved forests to logging in National Parks and other protected areas under the guise of fuel management and fire protection and safety.  Through my research I work to shed light on the impacts of various forest management strategies, and expose the myths related to forest thinning for fire safety and restoration.

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