Kristi Backe

Global Change Fellow Alumna | Department of Entomology | North Carolina State University

2015 – 2016 Global Change Fellow

Where are they now?

Kristi is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Entomology at North Carolina State University.

Statement of Purpose:

I am a graduate student in Steve Frank’s lab in the Department of Entomology. I study plant-insect interactions in cities. Trees provide important services by reducing air pollution and blocking solar radiation, and the trees in cities need to withstand high temperatures, drought, and insect outbreaks. Climate change is exacerbating these problems, and I am interested in developing new strategies to support healthy urban forests.

Description of Research:

My research focuses on how the urban environment influences the health of trees in cities. I use GIS maps of urban forests to identify broad-scale patterns in tree condition related to temperature, impervious surface, and vegetation cover. I also conduct on-the-ground studies about how insect abundance and diversity are related to tree health in the warmest areas of Raleigh. My research addresses Science Theme 4: Ecological Research and Modeling in the SECSC Science Plan. Urban trees influence the distribution and survival of animals, mitigate warmer temperatures associated with urban heat islands, and provide measurable benefits for humans. By studying how trees respond to increased temperature, it is possible to identify strategies that can mitigate the effects of a changing climate on tree health and survival.

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