Maegen Rochner, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor


About Me

I am a geographer and dendrochronologist (tree-ring scientist) teaching and conducting research as a professor of geography at UofL. My past and current research has focused on the use of tree-ring data to reconstruct past climate and environmental conditions. More specifically, my dissertation research used tree rings in relic and living whitebark pine and Engelmann spruce to investigate climate change and disturbance in the Beartooth Mountains of Northwest Wyoming. My master’s thesis research used tree-ring evidence to reconstruct the history of a debris slide scar on Mt. Le Conte, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I also enjoy research in dendroarchaeology, or using tree-ring patterns to date historic frame structures, log cabins, canoes, and most anything made out of wood. I have assisted my colleagues in other fields of dendrochronology, including fire history studies, climate reconstruction, ecology, stand dynamics, and more. More broadly, I also specialize in geomorphology, biogeography, and climatology. 

As a tree-ring scientist in Louisville, I am interested in initiating local research projects focused on (1) urban forests and their responses to climate change and urban heat islands, (2) tree-ring dating of local historic resources, such as cabins, buildings, and artifacts, (3) pollution and invasive species, and (4) spatial differences in tree species and ages used in urban forests and parks (socioeconomic influence?). I envision projects in Cherokee and other metro parks, as well as in Jefferson Memorial Forest and Bernheim Research Forest. All of the above projects could foster collaboration with specialists from other departments, such as Urban and Public Affairs, Anthropology, History, Biology, and more, as well as with local officials and community organizations. Such research could easily be incorporated into project-based learning in a variety of courses, as well as into original research projects conducted by undergraduate and graduate students.

More recently, I have begun to investigate research opportunities in the realm of Critical Physical Geography, more specifically research that examines (1) perceptions of iconic and disappearing species and the valuation of some species over others, and (2) stakeholder-scientist communication and collaboration.

In my spare time, I enjoy escaping for "mountain therapy" as often as possible. I also enjoy camping, fishing, biking, kayaking, exploring, traveling, and trying new things. I have an associate’s degree in Culinary Arts, so I’m also a foodie who loves to try new foods and beverages around the city of Louisville and beyond. In addition to my love for the outdoors, I also have an avid interest in science writing and photography.

Research Interests

Climate and Environmental Change
Mountain Environments
Forest Ecosystems
Urban Forests
Human-Environment Interactions
Tree-Ring Science and Applications in Climatology, Ecology, Geomorphology
Tree-Ring Dating and Archaeology
Critical Physical Geography