MSc, Environmental Monitoring, Modeling and Reconstruction, The University of Manchester, Manchester UK (2014)
BA, Environmental Science, Archaeology, Willamette University, Salem, Oregon (2011)

I am a Hawaiian-born, Pacific Northwest-trained dendrochronologist with an interest in historic landscapes, drivers of change, fire regimes, social-ecological resilience and conservation. For me, dendrochronology offers a unique window into the past that can be corroborated with other proxies and perspectives to gain a more holistic understanding of landscape history. I am happiest seeing the forest while being in and among the trees, and have recently begun exploring the First Nations’ perspective of and changing relationship to fire in the forests of British Columbia. I have a strong affinity for practical conservation and disturbance-based management that recognizes the often important role of humans in landscape dynamics.

PhD Thesis
Wildfire: Building Social and Ecological Resilience in the Williams Lake Community Forest, BC

Social-ecological resilience of forests in British Columbia (BC) is a key issue driving landscape management decisions, particularly where human communities and wildfire collide. Historically, fire had an important ecological and cultural role in the dry forests of BC, however, modern forest and fire management is often grounded on generic assumptions of these historical fire regimes. One example of this is prioritizing ecological goals while overlooking First Nations’ traditional relationship with fire. Through a collaborative research approach, this study uses a combination of dendrochronological (tree-ring) analysis and participatory action research to explore the historical fire regime at the 6000ha Ne Sextsine (Flat Rock) Block of the Williams Lake Community Forest (WLCF). This block is in the traditional territory of the Williams Lake Indian Band (T’exelc) and is managed for multiple cultural, ecological, social and economic values. The objectives of this research are to understand how different elements of the fire regime have changed over time, including: 1) the fire frequency and severity, 2) the spatial scale of fire and 3) the T’exelc relationship with fire. This proposed research will not only provide key insights into the historical fire regime at the WLCF, but through collaboration with the managing groups responsible for enacting change, including the T’exelc and the City of Williams Lake, will enable the development of more resilient forest ecosystems and communities.

Learn more about my research:
In a video for the National Post here
In my profile and presentation for the UBC Public Scholars Initiative
and, for a bit more about my story,
In an article written for the UBC Trek Alumni Magazine


Copes-Gerbitz, K., K. Arabas, E. Larson and Gildehaus, S. (2017)  A multi-proxy environmental narrative of Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) habitat in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Northwest Science 91(2):160-185.

Gildehaus, S., K. Arabas, E. Larson and Copes-Gerbitz, K. (2015) The dendroclimatological perspective of Willamette Valley Quercus garryana. Tree-Ring Research 71(1):13-23.