Forestry Graduate Student Spotlight – Clarice Esch

Clarice Esch, PhD candidate works with soils in both Michigan and Hawai'i.

Clarice Esch

Hometown: Somerset, KY

Degree: PhD Forestry

Advisor: Rich Kobe

Expected Graduation: December 2020

Why forestry?

Coming from my undergraduate studies in horticulture, I was excited to explore forests because they’re managed (or unmanaged) in a range of ways and have incredible structural complexity. Since trees are long-lived, many generations of different species are coexisting in a given forest and this leads to loads of interactions above and below ground that I find fascinating.     

Research focus:

My research focuses on interactions between trees and soils and their effects on nearby vegetation. In Michigan forests, I’ve focused on how long certain ‘soil signatures’ can persist after a tree is gone. While in Hawai'i, my research became applied to forest restoration as I studied interactions between a native tree, Acacia koa, soils, and introduced pasture grasses.   

Career plans:

I’m not sure where I’d like to end up long-term, but I plan to keep applying and growing my skills as a forest ecologist. 

Advice for new forestry students?

Keep exploring and delve into the different facets of forestry. You can study everything from human dimensions to forest pathogens and so many fields intersect in interesting ways. 

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