Scientists & Staff

Laura B.

Laura Blackburn

Natural Resources Specialist
180 Canfield Street
Morgantown, WV, 26505
Phone: 304-285-1510

Contact Laura Blackburn


Current Research

As a Natural Resources Specialist with the Northern Research Station's Communications and Science Delivery team, Blackburn serves as a technical advisor and subject matter expert. Blackburn's role is to assist with science delivery, production services and public affairs for this team. With a strong background in both Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and USDA Forest Service research, Blackburn will use geospatial products to assist Forest Service scientists in disseminating their research to a broader audience. In addition, Blackburn will serve as a liaison between scientists in the Northern Research Station and the Communications and Science Delivery Team.

Research Interests

Laura Blackburn is passionate about conservation and breaking down the barriers between Forest Service research and the general public. Blackburn seeks to use geospatial technology to highlight Forest Service research, providing information to land managers and the public in a format that is both pleasing to the eye and easy to understand.

Past Research

Blackburn served as the West Virginia geospatial coordinator for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) from 2020-2022. Her position was housed in the state office soils unit where she provided GIS and GPS support for all West Virginia USDA-NRCS employees. She implemented a Technology Committee to roll out mobile data collection across the state. She also used remote sensing techniques to identify karst depressions in the limestone regions of the state.

Before joining NRCS, Blackburn supported Forest Service research from 2005-2020. She worked as Operations Research Analyst and Statistical Assistant for the Northern Research Station in a unit that focused on invasive species research. Blackburn's latest study applied ecological niche modelling - using MaxEnt software - inputting occurrence data and environmental variables to predict habitat suitability. These predictive models are useful in both ecology and conservation with applications to the study of biological invasions and the impacts of climate change.

Blackburn, Laura M.; Elkinton, Joseph S.; Havill, Nathan P.; Broadley, Hannah J.; Andersen, Jeremy C.; Liebhold, Andrew M. 2020. Predicting the invasion range for a highly polyphagous and widespread forest herbivore. NeoBiota. 59: 1-20. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.59.53550.

Education

  • Ball State University, M.Sc. Biology, 2001
  • Purdue University, B.S. Forestry & Wildlife Management, 1997

Professional Experience

  • GIS Specialist, Natural Resources Conservation Service 2020 - 2022
  • Operations Research Analyst, USDA Forest Service 2009 - 2020

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Last modified: Wednesday, July 27, 2022