Matt Cocking

Graduation Year: 

Born and raised in southern Humboldt County, I have always felt a close connection to this region's natural and wild areas. My interests stretch across the wide array of ecosystems that exist on the North Coast and interior coast ranges of northern California. I am fascinated by the diverse history of natural and cultural resource management at different times in this region and how the mix of differing management beliefs and practices have helped shape the ecosystems across the North Coast that we see today. Of particular interest to me is the controversy in many circles of management regarding the role and use of fire in many regions in California. This interest brought me to the Cal Poly Humboldt Fire Lab where the effects of fire are examined in laboratory and field settings in Northwest California and other areas of the world. Since coming to the Cal Poly Humboldt Fire Lab I have focused my research efforts on understanding the effects of contemporary fire exclusion practices on fire-dependent California black oak ecosystems in northern California. My research investigates competition between encroaching, native conifers and declining, shade-intolerant California black oak, fire effects in conifer-encroached oak stands, and the potential for restoration and maintenance of retreating deciduous oak ecosystems in the region. To learn more about research conducted by the Cal Poly Humboldt Fire Lab visit: