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Roger studies how vegetation recovers from major disturbances. Since 1980, he has developed one of the most comprehensive programs to study primary succession, focused on Mount St. Helens. He has studied primary succession on volcanoes throughout the world, as well as other forms of succession on dunes and glacial forelands. These studies led to the publication of \"Primary Succession and Ecosystem Rehabilitation\"" with L. R. Walker. They have demonstrated the importance of stochastic factors and landscape effects on the course of succession and have important implications for restoration of damaged ecosystems."
Roger studied at the University of California (Ph. D. 1968) and has been at the UW ever since. His graduate work involved detailed studies of allelopathy, studies that he continued in Washington and in Australia. He had conducted pioneering vegetation ecology studies in forests, marshes, and subalpine meadows before the eruption of Mount St. Helens compelled him to undertake research that has dominated his career. This research has taken him to Australia, England, Japan, Russia, Iceland, and Sicily. He has published over 100 papers and has collaborated with colleagues from Russia, Japan, China, India, The Netherlands, Norway, Iceland and Italy, as well as from Australia, Canada, and the U.S. His work continues to be funded by the National Science Foundation, most recently with a 5-year LTREB grant (2006-2010) and an OPUS grant (2011-2014). The Mount St. Helens permanent plot study is now the longest continuous study of primary succession in the world and has provided many valuable insights for restoration.
Roger will retire soon and is not accepting graduate students.