Outside portrait of KC with shoulder-length brown hair wearing a light green sweatshirt.

KC Cushman

KC joined ORNL in 2023 as a Liane B. Russell Fellow in the Ecosystem Processes Group and Environmental Sciences Division. KC is a forest ecologist broadly interested in understanding variation in forest structure and function across space and time. Her research is motivated by the importance of forests for understanding and predicting global cycles of carbon, water, and nutrients. KC's research combines remote sensing measurements (terrestrial, airborne, and spaceborne lidar; photogrammetry; imaging spectroscopy; synthetic aperture radar) and field-based observations (forest plots) to understand how organismal mechanisms affect landscape-scale processes. 


In her Distinguished Staff Fellowship project, KC uses lidar and radar remote sensing tools to study how tree biodiversity influences disturbance recovery in Southeastern US forests. KC is also a member of the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments–Tropics Project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER).

2023 - present: Distinguished Staff Fellow, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

2022 - 2023: Postdoctoral Fellow, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

2020 - 2022: Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

2012 - 2014: Research Intern, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

2020, Ph.D.; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Brown University

2018, M.Sc.; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Brown University

2012, B.A.; Biology, Engineering (minor), and Mathematics (minor); Swarthmore College

Advisory Board, New Phytologist

Early Adopter, NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) Mission

Ecological Society of America

American Geophysical Union

Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation