Kristen Brubaker

Kristen BrubakerAssociate Professor of Environmental StudiesChair, Environmental Studies

Joined faculty in 2012

PhD, Forest Resources, Penn State University, 2011 
MS, Geosciences, Mississippi State University, 2006
BS, Secondary Education, Penn State University, 2003

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Contact Information

451 Pulteney StreetPhone (315) 781-3445

Scholarly Interest

Forest Ecology

Remote Sensing

Critical Zone Science


My research lies at the intersection of forestry, landscape ecology, and eco-hydrology. Overall, what my research all has in common is that I use spatial data to better understand ecosystems, and potential human impacts on ecosystems. My primary area of focus has been utilizing LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) data, a type of remote sensing data, to explore the relationship between forests and landforms/geology. Remote sensing, and LiDAR specifically, permit us to observe forests and other ecosystems without physically being there. Forests are an important part of our landscape, and provide many ecosystem services, ranging from improving biodiversity, providing wood and other forest products, and carbon sequestration. I am particularly interested in answering interdisciplinary questions that explore how terrain, soil, and water availability influence patterns of forest community and structure, and understanding how properties of forests, such as tree height or forest biomass, vary spatially. 

Courses Taught

ENV-203 Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems

ENV-200 Environmental Science

ENV-310 Advanced GIS

ENV-207 Environmental Statistics


Styers, D.M., Schafer, J.L., Kolozsvary, M.B., Brubaker, K.M., Scanga, S.E., Anderson, L.J., Mitchell, J.J. and Barnett, D., 2021. Developing a flexible learning activity on biodiversity and spatial scale concepts using open‐access vegetation datasets from the National Ecological Observatory Network. Ecology and Evolution. In press.

Brubaker, K. and Cosentino, B. 2021. Forest Structure and Biomass in Post‐Agricultural Forests: Lessons Learned with New Spatial Tools. Applied Vegetation Science. In press.

Brubaker, K., Q. Johnson, and M. Kaye. 2018. Spatial patterns of tree and shrub biomass in a deciduous forest using leaf-off and leaf-on LiDAR. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 48(9):1020-1033.

Cosentino, B. J., K Brubaker. 2018. Effects of land use legacies and habitat fragmentation on salamander abundance. Landscape Ecology. 33(9):1573-1584.

Hall, E., B. Martin, K. Brubaker, and C. Grant. 2018. Predatory morphological adaptation in Micropterus salmoides (largemouth bass) in response to geographic divergence: Reexamining body morphology using modern technologies. Marine and Freshwater Research. 69(9):1480-1485

Buonaccorsi, V. P., J. Malloy, M. Peterson, K. Brubaker, and C. J. Grant. 2017. Landscape genomic analysis of brook trout Salveninus fontinalis in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian region. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 146(3): 485-494.

Brantley, S. L., R. A. DiBiase, T. A. Russo, Y. Shi, H. Lin, K. J. Davis, M. Kaye, L. Hill, J. Kaye, D. M. Eissenstat, B. Hoagland, A. L. Dere, A. L. Neal, K. M. Brubaker, and D. K. Arthur. 2016. Designing a suite of measurements to understand the critical zone. Earth Surface Dynamics 4: 211-235.

Harpold, A. A., J. A. Marshall, S. W. Lyon, T. B. Barnhart, B. A. Fisher, M. Donovan, K. M. Brubaker, C. J. Crosby, N. F. Glenn, C. L. Glennie, P. B. Kirchner, N. Lam, K. D. Mankoff, J. L. McCreight, N. P. Molotch, K. N. Musselman, J. Pelletier, T. Russo, H. Sangireddy, Y. Sjöberg, T. Swetnam, and N. West. 2015. Laser vision: lidar as a transformative tool to advance critical zone science. Hydrology and Earth System Science 12(1): 2881–2897.

Grant, C. J., A. B. Weimer, N. K. Marks, E. S. Perow, J. M. Oster, K. M. Brubaker, R. V. Trexler, C. M. Solomon, and R. Lamendella. 2015. Marcellus and mercury: Assessing potential impacts of unconventional natural gas extraction on aquatic ecosystems in northwestern Pennsylvania. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A 50(5): 482-500

Grant, C. J., J. M. Graves, A. K Lutz, J. M. Oster, and K. Brubaker. 2014. What are brook trout hiding? Elevated mercury concentrations in brook trout relative to co-habitating brown trout. In R. F. Carline and C. LoSapio (editors), Looking back and moving forward: Proceedings of the wild trout XI symposium, Bozeman, MT, pp.


Brubaker, K. M., S. E. Johnson, J. Brinks, and L. Leites. 2014. Estimating canopy height of deciduous forests at a regional scale with leaf off, low density LiDAR. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing 40(2): 123-134. 

Brubaker, K. M., W. L. Myers, P. J. Drohan, D. A. Miller, and E. W. Boyer. 2013. The use of LiDAR terrain data in characterizing surface roughness and microtopography. Applied and Environmental Soil Science 2013: 1-13.

Zenner,E. K., J. E. Peck, K. Brubaker, B. Gamble, C. Gilbert, D. Heggenstaller, J. Hickey, K. Sitch, and R. Withington. 2010. Combining ecological classification systems and conservation filters could facilitate the integration of wildlife and forest management. Journal of Forestry 108(6): 296-300.


Kashong Conservation Area