Scientists & Staff

Nicholas Skowronski

Research Forester
180 Canfield Street
Morgantown, WV, 26505
Phone: 304-285-1507

Contact Nicholas Skowronski

Current Research

My current research focuses on the quantification and analysis of the structural characteristics of forest canopies and how this relates to carbon and water cycles. I have recently been using a newly emerging remote sensing technology called LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) which actively characterizes the canopy with a laser beam. My work is split between developing methods for using LiDAR and other remotes sensing techniques for wildfire mitigation and studying how forest functionality changes after disturbance.

Why This Research is Important

This research is being conducted to provide information that is allows us to map wildfire risks in 3-D across large areas and to use this information to strategically implement fuel reduction treatments. We are also working to apply this work in the wildland urban interface and intermix environments (where homes and forests come together) to help understand how property owners can manage vegetation around their homes to minimize the effects of potential wildfires.

We also use this research to help us quantify how changes in canopy structure from human caused and natural disturbances change an ecosystem's cycling of carbon and water. By further studying these forest dynamics, we can better understand how the forest's ability to sequester carbon changes after different levels of disturbance.


  • Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ), Ph.D. Ecology and Evolution, 2011
  • Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA), B.S. Environmental Science, 2001

Professional Experience

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Geology & Geography, West Virginia University 2014 - Current
  • Research Technician, USDA Forest Service Northeast Research Station 2003 - 2009
  • Forester, Ft. Dix, NJ 2001 - 2003

Professional Organizations

  • Association for Fire Ecology (2013 - Current)
  • International Association of Wildland Fire (2007 - Current)
  • Ecological Society of America (2004 - Current)

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

A diverse mix of managers and scientists join in the field to discuss and discover creative solutions for oak regeneration using prescribed fire. Erin Lane, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Fire in Oak: Bringing Together Managers and Scientists for Solutions in the Northeast

Year: 2016

The North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange brings together diverse partners to learn and work together to address the issue of regenerating oak using fire. Through multiple interactive methods of collaboration, progressive discussion and an innovative vision is emerging.

Brighton Development in Barnegat Township, 2007 Warren Grove Wildfire. Gregory S. McLaughlin, New Jersey Forest Fire Service

Assessing Fire Risk at the Wildland-urban Interface Using LiDAR

Year: 2015

Assessing wildland fire risk in the wildland–urban interface is difficult because each home and parcel has unique characteristics. Forest Service scientists found that Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and aerial photography data closely matched fuels estimates made by ground crews.

Instrumented towers set up within and in the vicinity of prescribed fires in the New Jersey Pine Barrens provide critical meteorological and air quality data for validating smoke prediction tools.  Nicholas Skowronski, Forest Service

Fireflux Experiments Improve Safety of Prescribed Burns in the New Jersey Pine Barrens

Year: 2011

Predicting the effects of smoke from low-intensity prescribed fires on local air-quality is being made easier by new tools developed by Forest Service scientists. These tools are now being validated through data collected from fuels, meteorological, and air quality monitoring networks set up near and within prescribed fires in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The tools and observational data from this project help fire and forest managers in planning for prescribed burns to minimize adverse air-quality impacts in the vicinity of the burns.

Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data showing the cover of understory vegetation a 1 to 2 meter height before and after prescribed fire in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. <b>Green</b> indicates < 10 % cover, and <b>red</b> indicates > 40% cover.  The area covered by the figures is 9 km<sup>2</sup>.   Forest Service

Hazardous Fuel Assessments Using LIDAR and Field Measurements

Year: 2010

Lasers, in what is termed Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems, are being used by NRS researchers Nicholas Skowronski and Kenneth Clark to measure forest structure and canopy fuel loading at the Silas Little Experimental Forest in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

A prescribed fire conducted in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.  NRS-06 researchers are measuring the recovery of carbon and water cycling following fire and insect defoliation in forests in the Pine Barrens. Forest Service

Carbon and Water Cycle Recovery Patterns After Disturbance in Forest Ecosystems

Year: 2010

The recovery of carbon and hydrologic cycling following two major disturbances in pine and oak-dominated stands in the New Jersey Pine Barrens---invasive insect defoliation and fire---are being measured by NRS scientists Kenneth Clark and Nicholas Skowronski.

Last modified: Friday, October 17, 2014