PhD Students

Chris Heckman

PhD Candidate

The Sierra snowpack, California’s largest reservoir of surface water, plays an integral role in the partitioning of water between stream flow and evaporation. My current research is in determining how climate change will shift the primary drivers of this partitioning, and in turn, what this could mean for predicting future vegetation health and water supplies in California.

My life outside of the lab revolves around playing in the outdoors! Things that put a smile on my face are carrying a backpack while wandering through the woods, climbing rocks, playing in thermals on my paraglider, and photographing the endless beautiful ways that light paints landscapes.

Email: checkman@bren.ucsb.edu

Office: Bren Hall, Laboratory 1001

Louis Graup

Phd Candidate

I am interested in how forests respond to climate change. The Sierra Nevada snowpack is threatened by “snow drought”, and my research attempts to understand how the snow-to-rain transition will modify patterns of vegetation water stress, with important implications for fire risk and water resource management.

When I’m not studying forests, I’m probably hiking through them. And if I’m not playing outside, I can usually be found playing piano or listening to music.

Email: lgraup@bren.ucsb.edu

Office: Bren Hall, Laboratory 1001

Website: www.ecophile.blog/about

Will Burke

PhD Candidate

My research focuses on understanding the impacts of fuel treatments on forests, water, and fire. Climate change impacts like larger and more frequent wildfires, increasing water demand, and more severe drought exacerbate the need for fuel treatments. I develop modeling methods to simulate the complex and interlinked effects of fuel treatments and treatment implementation to inform scientists and forest managers in California.

I’m originally from Seattle, WA, and attended Santa Clara University (BS), and then Indiana University (MS) before coming to UCSB. Beyond my interest in environmental science and modeling, I enjoy a variety of activities on and around the water, in particular sailing.

Email: wburke@ucsb.edu

Office: Bren Hall, Laboratory 1005

Website:  www.wdburke.com

Rachel Torres

Phd Candidate

My research interests broadly include urban ecohydrology and forestry. My dissertation will explore how urban trees and their ecosystem services are maintained during droughts in Southern California, and how future droughts will affect them, using new methods of integrating remote sensing data with RHESSys. I am interested in doing interdisciplinary work that can combine ecohydrology with environmental justice and urban water policy. 

Outside of research, I enjoy hanging out at the beach, swimming in the ocean, and just being outside.

Email: r_torres@bren.ucsb.edu

Office: Bren Hall, Laboratory 1005


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