The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The LTRS


History of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science

1993 to 2000

May 1993: Sally Horn becomes attracted to the idea of coring trees as well as lakes and attends the North American Dendroecological Fieldweek at Mountain Lake Biological Station near Blacksburg, Virginia, with students Charles Lafon and Diana Wolfram. Sally and Henri meet for the first time.

January 1995: Sally Horn and student Lisa Kennedy collect initial tree-ring samples in the Dominican Republic.

August 1997: Jim Speer begins his Ph.D. research. Under Ken Orvis, Jim conducts a massive research program to understand mast ecology from tree rings for oaks at numerous sites throughout  the southern Appalachian Mountains.

1997-1999: Jim works with Ken and Sally to acquire equipment and space for lab work in dendrochronology at the University of Tennessee. Jim oversees the lab and instructs other students in field and laboratory techniques.

1997-1999: Ph.D. student Charles Lafon (with help from Jim) conducts dendroecological research in the southern Appalachians analyzing ice storms as important disturbance agents.

1998-2000: Sally Horn, Ken Orvis, Jim Speer, and Lisa Kennedy collect tree-ring samples at several sites in the Dominican Republic.

May 2000: Charles Lafon receives his Ph.D. from the Department of Geography. Congratulations, Charles!

2000

August 2000: Henri Grissino-Mayer joins the faculty in the Department of Geography. The formalizing of a laboratory dedicated to tree-ring science begins.

December 2000: Five masters' thesis projects are soon underway: Michael Armbrister (fire ecology of Table Mountain pine), Jake Cseke (tree-ring studies of gap dynamics), Beth Atchley (dendroecology of Torreya taxifolia), Daniel Lewis (fire history of kipukas in New Mexico), and David Mann (dendroarchaeology of the Swaggerty blockhouse).
2000-2001: Rooms are outfitted, equipment is purchased, duties are assigned, and projects organized. The tree-ring lab is in full swing...

2001

April 2001: The lab receives its first substantial grants from the Joint Fire Science Program for $28,000 and $30,000, to study fire regimes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and El Malpais National Monument.

May 18, 2001: While in the field at El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico *, the laboratory gains its name, the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science.

July 2001: Henri Grissino-Mayer, Paul Sheppard (Arizona), and Malcolm Cleaveland (Arkansas) travel to England to help date violins in the Ashmolean Museum and at the Royal Academy of Music.

August 2001: First organizational meeting attended by Henri Grissino-Mayer, Sally Horn, and Ken Orvis, with students Kevin Anchukaitis, David Mann, Daniel Lewis, Beth Atchley, Jake Cseke, Bill Reding, and Michael Armbrister.

Fall 2001: Jim Speer receives his Ph.D. from the Department of Geography. Congratulations, Jim!

Fall 2001: The LTRS begins a collaborative project with members from the Department of Geological Sciences, Dr. Claudia Mora and graduate student Dana Miller, through the UT's Global Environmental Change Research Group. Oxygen isotopes + hurricanes + tree rings... oh my.

November 2001: Henri Grissino-Mayer, Paul Sheppard (Arizona), and Malcolm Cleaveland (Arkansas) announce to the world that the "Messiah" violin was contemporary with Stradivari.

2002

May 2002: We're proud to report that Michael Armbrister, David Mann, and Bill Reding completed their master's theses, the first produced by members of our lab.

June 2002: We're also very proud to report that Kevin Anchukaitis has joined the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona to work on his Ph.D.

August 2002: Charles Lafon of Texas A&M and Henri Grissino-Mayer receive the lab's first major grant of $280,000 to investigate the fire history of Table Mountain pine in central Virginia. Go, team.

October 2002: New Ph.D. student Georgina Wight joins the LTRS. Her dissertation research will involve reconstructing the fire history of Table Mountain pine stands in Virginia.

November 2002: Sally Horn, Ken Orvis, and Henri Grissino-Mayer initiate dendroecological research on the island of Abaco in the Bahamas. Seriously. Really. The Bahamas...

2003

 January 2003: The LTRS receives its second major grant, $153,000 from the NSF, from a masterful proposal organized and co-written by Ken Orvis. AND, the grant provides our first funded Research Technician, Daniel Lewis.

January 2003: We initiate new research using oxygen isotopes to reconstruct monsoon variability in the American Southwest with student Whitney Nelson.

June 2003: The LTRS receives its third major grant, $150,000 from the NSF, to analyze oxygen isotope ratios in tree rings to study past hurricane activity, with Dr. Claudia I. Mora as co-principal investigator.

July 2003: Daniel Lewis receives his master's degree studying the fire regimes on kipukas in El Malpais National Monument, while Jake Cseke receives his master's degree studying gap phase dynamics from tree rings in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

August 2003: We welcome three new graduate students to the laboratory, Evan Larson (M.S.), and Alison Miller (M.S.), and David Mann (Ph.D.) who rejoins us after a year in Afghanistan serving his country.

Fall 2003: Our lab continues to grow quickly as we welcome two new graduate students to the laboratory, Joe Henderson (Ph.D.) and Chris Underwood (M.S.).

2004

 March 2004: We begin investigating Abraham Lincoln's log cabin in Hodgenville, Kentucky, to assess its authenticity based on tree-ring analyses. This research is soon featured on the History Channel.

May 2004: We say goodbye and congratulations to Beth Atchley for completing her master's degree, investigating the declining Torreya taxifolia in northern Florida.

August 2004. We also welcome Michelle Pfeffer, a talented undergraduate major, who will be conducted her senior honor's thesis research in our laboratory!

November 2004: The LTRS continues to bring in grants from the Tennessee Historical Commission, the Suwannee River Water Management District, and Wake Forest University.

December 2004: We initiate new research collaborating with Scott Schlarbaum and Stacy Clark in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, analyzing butternut decline in the Appalachians.

2005

April 2005: Evan Larson is awarded the Robert G. Long Outstanding Graduate Student Award from the Department of Geography! Congratulations Evan!

April 2005: More good news: David Mann is awarded the Outstanding Teaching Associate Award from the Department of Geography, while Georgina Wight is awarded a Student Publication Award. Congratulations David and Georgina!

April 2005: Henri D. Grissino-Mayer was presented the Chancellor's Award for Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement, one of only two faculty members so awarded from the entire university.

April 2005: Yet another award! We are proud to report that Georgina Wight is awarded a prestigious Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation! Congratulations, Georgina!

Summer 2005: The LTRS initiates new research projects funded by the National Science Foundation (2 projects), the Tennessee Historical Commission, the USDA Forest Service, The Hermitage (Nashville), and Tannenbaum State Park (NC), totaling over $50,000!

September 2005: We formally say goodbye to Evan Larson. Evan spent just two years in our lab and in that time completed his master's thesis on fire history of whitebark pine, earned a minor in environmental policy, and earned a very prestigious EPA STAR Fellowship to continue his research at the University of Minnesota. We'll miss you, Evan.

October 2005: We welcome two new graduate students, Jessica Brogden (M.S.) and Lisa Wilkins (Ph.D) to the LTRS. Welcome! (and good luck!)

December 2005: More student grants! We are proud to report that David Mann is awarded a prestigious Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation! Congratulations, David!

2006

February 2006: On February 21, we are all deeply saddened and shocked to learn that our own Michelle Pfeffer passed away from leukemia. She was an integral part of our lab for nearly a year and a half, helping out on numerous fieldtrips and demonstrating her stewardship of the Earth. We will never forget your lesson to us: "I am myself and what is around me; if I do not save it, it will not save me."

April 2006: More Awards! Georgina DeWeese is presented a Student Publication Award, Chris Underwood is presented the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, and Georgina DeWeese and Joe Henderson are presented Exceptional Professional Accomplishment awards! Congratulations everyone!

April 2006: We're proud to report that Chris Underwood has been awarded a prestigious GK-12 fellowship through a grant to Dr. Sally Horn and Dr. Ken Orvis from the National Science Foundation.

May 2006: The LTRS receives another large grant, this time from the Joint Fire Science Program, for $300,000. Collaborators include Dr. Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, Dr. Charles W. Lafon of Texas A&M, and Dr. Sally P. Horn. The grant will support graduate student Lisa LaForest for three years.

May 2006: We say good-bye to Joe Henderson who completed a masterful dissertation on the climate and fire history of longleaf pine. Joe, you brightened up our laboratory with your expertise and wit. The lab will never be the same without you.

June 2006: At the 7th International Conference on Dendrochronology held in Beijing, China, Henri D. Grissino-Mayer was presented with an Outstanding Service Award!

2007

 February 2007: We also say a fond farewell to Chris Underwood who successfully defended his master's thesis, which involved reconstructing past climate from western junipers in central Oregon. We'll miss you, Chris! Luckily for us, Chris will be entering our Ph.D. program working with Dr. Sally Horn on soil charcoal analyses!

February 2007: Congratulations to Georgina DeWeese who was recently hired as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the University of West Georgia beginning in Fall 2007!

April 2007: Alison Miller successfully defended her master's research project on the fire history of Abaco Island in the Bahamas. We will miss you, Alison, and hope you have a great career ahead of you at ExxonMobile in Houston!

April 2007: More awards! Georgina DeWeese received a Student Publication Award, Lisa LaForest received the Exceptional Professional Promise Award, David Mann received the Outstanding Teaching Associate Award, while Jessica Slayton received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant award. Congratulations all!

July 2007: Georgina DeWeese joined us in Fall 2002 and we're proud to report she successfully defended her dissertation, turned it in to the Grad School, and has started her new job at the University of West Georgia. We'll miss your wry sense of humor, Georgina!

August 2007: We welcome Ian Feathers (B.A. Tennessee) who brings a wealth of expertise and field experience to the lab. Welcome!

December 2007: David Mann was a mainstay in our lab for over 7 years, since my arrival here in 2000. We're pleased to announce that Dave completed his Ph.D. degree and is now an Ensign in the Meteorology and Oceanography Command of the United States Navy! Now, I don't know who to route for, Army (Dr. Joe Henderson) or Navy (Dr. David Mann)!

2008

 March 2008: We're pleased to welcome Christine Biermann to our laboratory! She comes to us from Sally Horn's lab via the State University of New York in Geneseo! Welcome Christine!

April 2008: At the Department's annual awards ceremony, Jessica Slayton and Maggie Stevens received Student Publication Awards, while Christine Biermann and Ian Feathers received Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards. Congratulations all!

April 2008: We're very proud that our own Philip White was awarded the Michelle D. Pfeffer Outstanding Senior Award in our department! Phil is now on his way to Appalachian State University where he will work with Saskia van de Gevel and Pete Soule.

April 2008: Henri D. Grissino-Mayer received the Department of Geography's Outstanding Teaching Award.

April 2008: Henri D. Grissino-Mayer was chosen to receive the Team Excellence Award from the Department of Human Resources and the Office of Disability Services!

August 2008: We welcome three new graduate students to the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science: Monica Rother from Willamette University (and recipient of a Graduate School Fellowship this year), Grant Harley from the University of South Florida, and our first international student, Yanan Li from China. Welcome to the lab, you guys!

August 2008: Monica Rother is awarded a very prestigious J. Wallace and Katie Dean Graduate School Fellowship, one of only 20 awarded university wide!

August 2008: Grant Harley is awarded a NSF Fellowship through our GK-12 Earth Science Program!

December 2008: More grants for graduate student research! Daniel Lewis is awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant from the National Science Foundation!

2009

 March 2009: Monica Rother goes nuts! She is awarded a $3,600 Summer Research Assistantship from UT's Office of Research, a $39,000 grant from the National Park Service, and then is awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, worth $120,000! Congratulations, Monica!

April 2009: We're very proud that our own Ruby Munoz was awarded the Michelle D. Pfeffer Outstanding Senior Award in our department!

April 2009: Henri D. Grissino-Mayer received the Department of Geography's Outstanding Teaching Award.

April 2009: At the Department's annual awards ceremony, Lisa LaForest received a Student Publication Award, while Lisa LaForest and Grant Harley received Exceptional Professional Promise Awards! Monica Rother received an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Congratulations all!

April 2009: Congratulations to Christine Biermann, who received the Department of Geography's Robert G. Long Outstanding Graduate Student Awards (M.S.), the most prestigious award the department offers!

May 2009: Nancy Li is awarded a Best Master's Proposal Award by the Biogeography Specialty Group of the AAG! Congratulations, Nancy!

June 2009: We say good-bye to Christine Biermann, one of the most accomplished students ever in our lab, and wish her well in the Ph.D. program at Ohio State University!

July 2009: We spend three weeks at El Malpais National Monument and the Cibola National Forest, collecting samples for both Monica Rother, assisted by graduate students Hunter Terrell, Ryan Foster, and Nancy Li, undergraduate assistants Niki Garland, Sarah Jones, and Kevin Russell, and GK-12 teacher Ann McGhee. Probably the best field trip ever!

August 2009: Grant Harley is awarded a second-year NSF Fellowship through our GK-12 Earth Science Program!

October 2009: Sally Horn and Henri Grissino-Mayer initiate a new project investigating past changes in vegetation using both tree rings and sediment cores in the Florida Keys, funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This will make up the Ph.D. project of Grant Harley.

2010

 January 2010: Grant Harley is awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant from the National Science Foundation! $12,000 will go a long way!

February 2010: We say a sad but happy good-bye to Ian Feathers, who spent nearly three years in our lab as both an undergraduate and graduate student. He recently completed his master's thesis and wish him well in his new job in Alabama!

February 2010: We initiate a new project working on posts extracted by the Florida Museum of Natural History from the Fountain of Youth archaeological site in St. Augustine, Florida. How cool is that? Undergraduate student Niki Garland will be working on this project.

March 2010: Sally Horn, Henri Grissino-Mayer, Grant Harley, and Desiree Ketteringham spend a week on Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys, extracting sediment cores from four ponds. Lotsa mud and poisonwood!

April 2010: At the Department's 2010 annual awards ceremony, Lisa LaForest, Kevin Patrick, and Grant Harley received Student Publication Awards! Congratulations all!

April 2010: We're very proud that Monica Rother received the 2010 Robert G. Long Outstanding Graduate Student Award (M.S.). Congratulations Monica!

April 2010: Yet another major award! Congratulations to Niki Garland who received the 2010 Michelle D. Pfeffer Outstanding Senior Award! Niki makes the 4th student from our lab to win the award in the five years!

April 2010: They keep rolling in! We're very proud that Sarah Jones and Jennifer White were selected to serve on the Dean's Student Advisory Committee for the College of Arts and Sciences! Congratulations Sarah and Jennifer!

June 2010: Team Metopium (Grant Harley, Henri Grissino-Mayer, Niki Garland, Ann McGhee, and Becki Stratton) spends 10 days collecting samples in the Florida Keys. Poisonwood and heat indices of nearly 110 degrees dominated!

July 2010: Sally Horn will serve as the Director of the new Initiative for Quaternary Paleoclimate Research funded by the University of Tennessee's Office of Research. Both the Laboratory of Paleoenvironmental Research and the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science will play vital roles.

July 2010: Team Tatanka (Niki Garland, Henri Grissino-Mayer, Grant Harley, Sarah Jones, and Clint Wayman) spends 12 days at El Morro and El Malpais National Monuments in New Mexico collecting samples for both Niki's and Sarah's future masters research.

July 2010: And so the cycle goes... we say a sad goodbye and fond farewell to Monica Rother who completed her M.S. degree this summer. She will now be working on her Ph.D. with Tom Veblen at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Don't forget your roots, Monica!

August 2010: We welcome two new members to the laboratory, Niki Garland (B.A. 2010, University of Tennessee) and Alex Pilote (B.S. 2010, Tennessee Tech University). Welcome, you guys!

August 2010: The laboratory and Dr. Glenn Tootle, our colleague in Civil and Environmental Engineering, are awarded a $167,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to reconstruct the hydroclimatology of the Upper Colorado River Basin! Go team!

November 2010: We're proud to report that Jessica Slayton has completed and successfully defended her M.S. thesis on fire history in Idaho! Congratulations, Jessica!

December 2010: More graduate students graduating! We're pleased that Nancy Li has successfully defended and turned in her master's thesis, which investigated climate response and stability in Southeastern U.S. tree species. Congratulations, Nancy!

2011

January 2011: Two successful grants to report! Our lab has been awarded $7,500 from the Western National Parks Association to conduct research at El Malpais National Monument, and the National Science Foundation is providing us with $279,000+ to fund the North American Dendroecological Fieldweek for the next five years!

February 2011: We welcome our first international visitor to the LTRS, Adjunct Assistant Professor Nesibe Kose of the University of Istanbul, Turkey, who will be working and collaborating with us through November! Welcome, Nesibe!

April 2011: Congratulations to Sarah Jones who received the 2011 Michelle D. Pfeffer Outstanding Senior Award! Sarah makes the 5th student from our lab to win the award in the last five years!

April 2011: More awards! At this year's departmental awards ceremony, Grant Harley, Niki Garland, and Lisa LaForest received Student Publication Awards, while Grant Harley received the Outstanding Teaching Associate Award. Congratulations all!!!

June 2011: We spend a fantastic, smoke-filled (thanks to the Arizona wildfires) three weeks in New Mexico (again), collecting samples for graduate students Alex Pilote and future graduate student Sarah Jones, assisted by Grant Harley, Niki Garland, and Nesibe Kose. We were fortunate to be assisted by Ross Alexander, Dorothy Rosene, and Kristin de Graauw of Indiana State, and Pixi O'Rielly of Phoenix, Arizona!

August 2011: At this year's North American Dendroecological Fieldweek in Blacksburg, Virginia, LTRS members were prominent, including Henri Grissino-Mayer and Grant Harley (Group Leaders) and Niki Garland (Assistant Group Leader).

August 2011: We welcome three new members to the laboratory, Sarah Jones (B.A. 2011, University of Tennessee), Dorothy Rosene (B.S. 2011, Indiana State University), and Alex Dye (B.S. 2011, IUPUI). Welcome, you guys!

November 2011: Henri Grissino-Mayer and students Grant Harley and Alex Dye, drive to Fredericksburg, Virginia, to collect samples from an 1855 timber crib dam that once spanned the Rappahannock River and was used by troops during the Civil War!

2012

 April 2012: Grant Harley, Alex Dye, Chris Petruccelli, and Henri Grissino-Mayer travel to Berryville, Virginia (near the border with West Virginia) to take cores and collect cross sections from logs used to construct two 18th century houses.

April 2012: Sadly, Alex Pilote officially leaves the LTRS after completing his M.S. degree in less than two years. He will enter the Ph.D. program in Plant Biology at the University of Georgia this August. Good luck, Alex! We'll miss having you in our lab!

April 2012: More awards! At this year's departmental awards ceremony, Grant Harley received a Student Publication Award, while Alex Pilote, Dorothy Rosene, and Sarah Jones all received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards. Congratulations all!!!

April 2012: Congratulations to Grant Harley who received the 2012 Robert G. Long Outstanding Ph.D. Student Award for his many accomplishments during his four years in our program! Congratulations, Grant, from all of us in the LTRS!

May 2012: Another one of our lab family members leaves us, as Grant Harley has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. Grant truly elevated our lab to even greater heights. He will be greatly missed by all of us!

June 2012: Henri Grissino-Mayer serves as a co-Group Leader at the North American Dendroecological Fieldweek held at the Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico, accompanied by laboratory assistant, Maria Owens.

August 2012: We welcome two new lab members! Lauren Stachowiak is an incoming Ph.D. student and comes to us from the University of Pennsylvania, while Liz Schneider enters our M.S. program, coming to us from the University of Oregon! Welcome, you two!

August 2012: We are very pleased to announce that incoming Ph.D. student Lauren Stachowiak has been awarded the prestigious J. Wallace and Katie Dean Fellowship from the University of Tennessee's Graduate School!

December 2012: Our very own Sarah Jones has been awarded a very prestigious and  highly competitive internship to work with the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C. during spring 2013. Congratulations, Sarah!

December 2012: The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science is awarded a grant to investigate the construction history of two historic structures at the Wynnewood State Historic Site in Castalian Springs, Tennessee!

2013

 January 2013: We welcome yet another new graduate student to our tree-ring lab family! M.S. student Maegen Rochner (B.S. 2012, Indiana University-Southeast) will be the first student in our group to use dendrogeomorphology in her research!

January 2013: As we welcome new students, we must say a sad good-bye to Niki Garland who completed requirements for her M.S. degree, and was a valuable member of our lab for three and a half years. Her energy and commitment will be greatly missed!


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