It’s past midnight in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but my team and I are still out beneath the icy canopy of the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. With temperatures hovering below freezing, our breath comes out in great billows of steam. Our headlamps are trained upward, as the fire hoses cover the trees with ice, replicating the devastating ice storms that cause massive damage and power outages in New England.
This ambitious experiment will let us study how forests respond to ice storms – and how we can help the forests recover. What stresses forests stresses those of us living in and near them. This is why I became a forest ecologist.
As a Forest Ecologist at Hubbard Brook, I work with scientists from across the world to develop and implement large scale experiments like that of the ice storm, studying how forests react to drought, changing nutrient levels, and more. The forests protect our water quality, give us oxygen to breath, and harbor critical biodiversity. With our work, we can help both our forests and our communities adapt to a changing world.
Lindsey Rustad can usually be found deep in the forests of New England — whether she’s hiking, kayaking, fly fishing, or patiently studying how these majestic ecosystems work. As a forest scientist, she has spent over three decades conducting research to understand what makes forests tick. Her laboratory is the outdoors, and she is internationally recognized for her large and often daring experiments on forest soil warming, drought, acid rain, and even ice storms. Her passion is bringing together scientists, artists, and citizens to address some of the most vexing issues facing the world today.
Lindsey received a BA in Philosophy at Cornell University in 1980, an MS in Forest Science at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences in 1983, and a PhD in Plant Science in 1988 at the University of Maine. She is a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America and has received awards from the USDA Forest Service as a Distinguished Scientist. Lindsey lives with her husband Lou Zambello in Maine, where they raised their three children.
Make a salt crystal tree with Lindsey here.