University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Geography

Faculty - Shelly A. Rayback, Associate Professor

Shelly Rayback

Shelly A. Rayback, Ph.D. Associate Professor

  • Ph.D., University of British Columbia (2003)
  • C.V.
  • Office Hours Spring 2018: Mondays and Wednesdays 2:30 - 4:00 pm, and by appointment
Area of expertise

Biogeography, paleoclimatology, dendrochronology, climate change, isotopes, Arctic.

Contact Information

Professor Rayback is interested in the response of trees and shrubs to climate and other environmental changes across varying temporal and spatial scales. She uses dendrochronological (the study of tree rings) and stable isotope analysis techniques on long time series derived from arctic and alpine dwarf shrubs and from eastern North American tree species to understand the influence of climate on plant growth and reproduction, and to reconstruct climate. Her research takes place in the Canadian High Arctic, the Cascades of Washington, the Himalayas, and the Northern Forest of New England. Her current research focuses on reconstructing climate using stable carbon isotope ratio time series derived from both live trees found in old growth stands and logs salvaged from the bottom of lakes and bogs in New England. This work is being undertaken in partnership with the Environmental Stable Isotope Laboratory at UVM. Dr. Rayback also works with colleagues and graduate students in UVM’s Rubenstein School and the U.S. Forest Service to understand the remarkable growth surge of red spruce, changing forest productivity and the influence of pollution of forest health in the Northern Forest. Her research is funded by the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative and Northeastern States Research Cooperative.

Professor Rayback teaches the introductory physical geography course, Weather, Climate and Landscapes (Geography 040) each year. At the intermediate level, she offers courses in Biogeography 140 and Arctic Canada 153, and at the advanced level, she teaches field-based seminars in Advanced Topics on Global Change (Geography 244) including Dendrochronology and Paleoclimatology. Professor Rayback and her Dendrochronology 244 classes have partnered with The Nature Conservancy of Vermont and the University of Vermont's Community and University Partnership Office to reconstruct the environmental history of TNC’s LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area (2010) and Raven Ridge (2013) using tree rings and archival material. She received the CUPS Office Outstanding Service-Learning Faculty Award in 2011. Professor Rayback holds a B.A. in French and English from Wellesley College (1993), an M. A. in Geography from University of Texas at Austin (1997) and a Ph.D. in Geography from University of British Columbia, Canada (2003).