Sara Brown

New Mexico Highlands University

Phone: (505) 454-3320



Faculty Information


Ph.D. University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming   Ecology
Minor: Environment and Natural Resources (2011)

M.S. Washington State University, Pullman, Washington
Environmental Science and Regional Planning (2009)

B.S. Willamette University, Salem, Oregon
Major: Environmental Science   Minor: Political Science (2001)

Background: I grew up in a small, rural town in western Oregon where I developed a passion for forested ecosystems. From 1997-2007, I worked for a variety of federal land management agencies in fire suppression and management. Most recently, I worked for the USDA Forest Service as a smokejumper, parachuting into remote wilderness forest fires. During my time working in fire suppression, I became aware of the importance of integrating scientific research into fire management.  Due to these realizations, I have become strongly drawn to applied fire ecology questions.

Research Interests: My applied research investigates how anthropogenic disturbances impact natural disturbance cycles and alter pre-European ecosystem function. I explore and answer these ecological questions across broad spatial scales, and in diverse systems.  My current research focuses on: 1) Fire/carbon interaction questions such as how large are carbon emissions from the typical fire in the montane forest, 2) Pinyon/Juniper encroachment questions that try to understand how and where encroachment has happened in northern New Mexico and, 3) Reconstructing fire history in Pinyon/Juniper woodlands.

Travel: I have been fortunate enough to travel overseas and experience various cultures in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South and Central America.  Travel is an important component of a well-rounded education.




Brown, S.H., Reich, R.M., Burke, I.C., Gill, R.A., Carroll, M.S. Modeling the spatial distribution of lightning fires on two national forests. International Journal of Wildland Fire. (In Review/Corrections/Re-submission to same journal as of June 2010).

Brown, S.H.
, Burke, I.C., Lauenroth, W., Schlaepfer, D.R. The impact of prescribed fire and soil water content on soil respiration in the montane forest of the Colorado Front Range USA.  Plant and Soil. (In Review as of December 2010, rejected, will re-submit.)

Brown, S.H
., Burke, I.C., Lauenroth, W., Tinker, D.B. Quantifying aboveground carbon emissions during wildfire in the montane forest of the Colorado Front Range, USA. Forest Ecology and Management. (In Review/Finishing Corrections as of Sept 2011.)

Brown, S.H
., Brown P.M., Burke, I.C., Lauenroth, W. Examining atmospheric emissions of pre and post European settlement fires in the montane forest of the Colorado Front Range, USA. (In Prep.)



Professional Presentations
Oral presentation
, Ecological Society of America, Austin TX (Aug.) “Quantifying carbon emissions from pre-European and contemporary wildfires CO, USA”
Oral presentation, Annual Front Range Student Symposium at CSU (Feb.) “Quantifying aboveground carbon emissions during wildfire in the montane  forest of the Colorado Front Range, U.S.A.”  ***First Place Oral Presentation

Departmental seminar Final Dissertation Research  (Nov.) “The impact of fire and fire mitigation on forest carbon Storage
Oral presentation, Ecological Society of America Pittsburgh, PA.  (Aug.) “Quantifying aboveground carbon emissions during wildfire in the montane forest of the Colorado Front Range, U.S.A.”
Oral presentation, Annual Front Range Student Symposium at CSU (Feb.)
“Modeling the Spatial Distribution of Lightning Fires on Two National Forests”

Poster presentation–EPSCORE meeting for UW Program in Ecology: “The Impact of Wildland Fire, and Fire Mitigation on Forest Carbon Storage” (Nov.)

Oral presentation, Annual Front Range Student Symposium at CSU (Feb.)
“Wildfire and Harvest, Interactions on Two National Forests.”



Instructor/Outreach/Community Service 


  • Workshop Note-taker: Bark Beetles in the Intermountain West—Univ. of WY
  • Member, University of Wyoming, Department of Botany—
  • Conservation Biology Faculty Search Committee.
  • Wyoming State Science Fair Judge, University of Wyoming
  • Women in Science Conference Panel Member—University of Wyoming


  • Community presentation about “Smokejumping” Laramie, WY Rotary Club
  • Community presentation about “Smokejumping” Laramie, WY Kiwanis Club
  • Bark Beetle Research Day: Outreach for Governor of Wyoming


  • Forest Management and Biomass Symposium, Colorado State University


  • Instructor/co-instructor of wildland fire courses through the U.S.D.A.
  • Forest Service Incident Command System



New Mexico Highlands University 

FOR 200. Teaching Forestry Field Practices
FOR 405.  Wildland Fire Management
FOR 425. Field Safety Practices
FOR 620. Fire and Climate Change