Skip to main content

Stephan, Kirsten

Teaching Associate Professor of Forest Resources Management

Dr. Kirsten Stephan teaches a number of forest plant and ecology courses to both undergraduate and graduate students. Courses include Forest Ecology, Fire Ecology, Dendrology, Introduction to Plant Identification, and Tree Ecophysiology. Recently, Dr. Stephan and colleagues embarked on bringing forestry and natural resources curriculum to the middle and highschool classroom by introducing the topic to future and current Ag Ed and STEM teachers.

Dr. Stephan also conducts research. Her current focus is on the most diverse stratum in forests: the herbaceous layer. She studies the responses of this community to natural disturbance, herbivory, and forest management. Research interests also include the effects of forest management, fire, and land use on nitrogen and carbon cycling. Dr. Stephan enjoys working in forested ecosystems, including the Rocky Mountains, the Ozark Mountains and, since 2016, the Appalachians, but has also conducted research on the plant diversity of prairies and abandoned limestone quarries and element cycling in urban ecosystems.

Dr. Stephan earned a Master’s degree in Biology from Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Idaho. She was a Teaching Associate professor at Lincoln University in Missouri before joining WVU.


  1. GOLD Z.J., A.F.A. PELLEGRINI, T.K. REFSLAND, R.J. ANDRIOLI, M.L. BOWLES, D.G. BROCKWAY, N. BURROWS, A.C. FRANCO, S.W. HALLGREN, S.E. HOBBIE, W.A. HOFFMANN, K.P. KIRKMAN, P.B. REICH, P. SAVADOGO, D. SILVÉRIO, K. STEPHAN, T. STRYDOM, J.M. VARNER, D.D. WADE, A. WILLS A., AND A.C. STAVER. Submitted 10 Oct 2022. Greater herbaceous vegetation responses to experimental fire in savannas than in forests. Ecology Letters.

  2. STEPHAN K. AND J.A. HUBBART. 2023. Plant Community, and Soil and Microclimate attributes after 70 Years of Natural Recovery of an Abandoned Limestone Quarry. Land 12(1), 117;

  3. EISENHUT S.E., I. HOLÁSKOVÁ AND K. STEPHAN. 2022. Role of Tree Species, the Herb Layer and Watershed Characteristics in Nitrate Assimilation in a Central Appalachian Hardwood Forest. Nitrogen 3: 333–352. https://

  4. SMITH L. AND K. STEPHAN. 2021. Nitrogen Fertilization, Stand Age, and Overstory Tree Species Impact the Herbaceous Layer in a Central Appalachian Hardwood Forest. Forests 12(7), 829

  5. PELLEGRINI, A.F.A., T. REFSLAND, C. AVERILL, C. TERRER, A.C. STAVER, D.G. BROCKWAY, A. CAPRIO, W. CLATTERBUCK, C. COETSEE, J.D. HAYWOOD, S.E. HOBBIE,  W.A. HOFFMANN, J. KUSH, T. LEWIS, W.K. MOSER, S.T. OVERBY, B. PATTERSON, K.G. PEAY, P.B. REICH, C. RYAN, M.A.S. SAYER, B.C. SCHARENBROCH, T. SCHOENNAGEL, G.R. SMITH, K. STEPHAN , C. SWANSTON, M.G. TURNER, J.M. VARNER, AND R.B. JACKSON. 2021. Decadal changes in fire frequencies shift tree communities and functional traits. Nature Ecology and Evolution 5:504-512

Download CV