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Forest Service Scientist Dr. Sean Parks honored with Presidential Early Career Scientist Award

Posted date: July 23, 2019

Researching wildfire, changing fire regimes, and landscape connectivity

Sean Parks
Sean Parks

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - On July 2, U.S. Forest Service-Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) research landscape ecologist Dr. Sean Parks was honored with the 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for his research related to wildfire science.

The Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.

“We want to congratulate Dr. Sean Parks for being recognized at the highest level for his contributions to forest science and management,” said Dr. Susan Fox, Director of the Forest Service’s Aldo Leopold Wilderness Institute and Parks’ supervisor. “He conducts high-impact, relevant and applicable studies that advance our understanding of the role wildfires play in shaping our landscapes.”

Dr. Parks’ research is in the field of landscape ecology, which is the study of spatial pattern and processes in landscapes, including those related to human activities and natural disturbances, such as wildfire. Designated wilderness and other protected areas provide Parks with the perfect laboratory for much of his research which focuses on three broad topics: 1) how do past wildfires affect future wildfire size and severity, 2) how will climate change influence wildfire regimes and vegetation patterns, and 3) how do fire and climate interactions affect the regrowth and regeneration of forests.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized as one of the 2019 PECASE awardees and to be able to provide information to our land management agencies to improve the management of our public lands and the health of our forests,” said Parks.

Established in 1996, the PECASE acknowledges the contributions scientists and engineers have made to the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and to community service as demonstrated by scientific leadership, public education, and community outreach.  The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates the PECASE with participating departments and agencies. For a complete list of the 2019 PECASE winners, please visit:

Dr. Parks will receive his award during a special ceremony on July 25, 2019 in Washington DC. You can learn more about Dr. Parks at

The Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) is one of seven units within the U.S. Forest Service Research and Development. RMRS maintains 14 field laboratories throughout a 12-state territory encompassing parts of the Great Basin, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and the Great Plains. RMRS also administers and conducts research on 14 experimental forests, ranges and watersheds and maintains long-term research databases for these areas. While anchored in the geography of the West our research is global in scale. To find out more about the RMRS go to You can also follow us on Twitter at




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Jessica Brewen
Public Affairs Specialist