Kim Steiner, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Forest Biology
  • Director of The Arboretum at Penn State
Kim Steiner, Ph.D.
301 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-865-9351


  1. B.S., Colorado State University (1970)
  2. M.S., Michigan State University (1971)
  3. Ph.D., Michigan State University (1975)

Academic Interests:

Silviculture and ecology of mixed-oak forests; tree growth and form; forest genetics.

Affiliated Programs:

Graduate faculty, Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology .

Courses Taught:


Professional Affiliation (recent and current):

Board of Directors (Vice-Chair and Chair), The American Chestnut Foundation

Board of Directors, Society of American Foresters

Committee on Accreditation, Society of American Foresters

Educational Policy Review Committee, Society of American Foresters

Advisory Committee, Purdue University Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center

Ecosystem Management Advisory Committee, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Silviculture and Timber Advisory Committee, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Editor, Northern Journal of Applied Forestry

Recent Research/Educational Projects:

Regeneration of Mixed-Oak Forests in the Central Appalachians. Almost one out of every ten American tree species is an oak, a group that comprises about 60 native species. Oaks are nearly ubiquitous and often dominant in eastern U.S. forests, where they have extraordinary importance both economically and ecologically – in the latter instance because of the large number of vertebrate and invertebrate species that depend upon oaks in whole or in part for sustenance. We have documented a decline in oak dominance in the East in recent decades, a worrisome trend that appears to have no precedent from pre-Columbian times until now. The main focus of my research is to understand these changes in forest composition and develop management tools that can be used to reverse or modify them. This work is based mainly on a longitudinal study of the development of over 50 forest stands from immediately before harvest and forward through the first two decades of regeneration and growth.

Restoration of American Chestnut. Penn State is a partner with The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) in breeding a blight-resistant American chestnut and (eventually) restoring the species to its former dominance in Appalachian forests. TACF's Northcentral Regional Breeding Coordinator is based here, and Pennsylvania's statewide breeding program is coordinated out of rented office space on campus. Although I have no direct involvement in these activities, I have applied my background in plant breeding and quantitative genetics in providing advice, guidance, and ultimately oversight to the national plan for breeding and restoration. From 2007 to 2012 I chaired the TACF Science Cabinet, and since 2012 I have been chair of the Board of Directors.

The Arboretum at Penn State. The Arboretum is an interdisciplinary teaching and research facility located on 370 acres of land bordering the main campus at University Park. My role in this project began in 1995 as chair of a committee of faculty and staff advocates for an arboretum at the University. I was appointed “director” in 1999 and charged with finding private funding for this project. In 2001 we successfully applied for grants to convert 1.1 miles of abandoned railroad bed to a bicycle/pedestrian path through the Arboretum property, and in 2005 we planted the Arboretum’s “witness tree.” There were other projects along the way, but the Arboretum did not truly exist until 2009 when Phase I was completed with the installation of a building and 25 acres of landscape and gardens. Since then a children’s garden has been added and a 6-acre prairie reconstruction begun. Planning is completed or underway for an education center, conservatory, planetarium, pollinators’ garden, bird garden, and fountain garden. To date, the University has raised over $17 million in private funding for the Arboretum.

Selected Publications

Abrams, M.D. and K.C. Steiner. 2013. Long-term seedling height growth and compositional changes following logging and wildfire in a central Pennsylvania oak forest. Castanea 78: 256-265.

Zenner, E.K., D.J. Heggenstaller, P.H. Brose, J.E. Peck, and K.C. Steiner.  2012.  Reconstructing the competitive dynamics of mixed-oak neighborhoods.  Can. J. For. Res. 42:1714-1723.

Fei, S., L. Liang, F.L. Paillet, K.C. Steiner, J. Fang, Z. Shen, Z. Wang, and F.V. Hebard. 2012. Distribution and climatic limits for chestnut (Castanea) species. Diversity Distrib. 18: 754–768.

Fei, S., N. Kong, K. C. Steiner, W. K. Moser, and E. B. Steiner. 2011. Changes in oak abundance in the eastern United States from 1980 to 2008. For. Ecol. Manage. 262: 1370-1377.

Zhang, Z., M. Schaub, J. A. Ferdinand, J. M. Skelly, K. C. Steiner, and J. E. Savage. 2010. Leaf age affects the responses of foliar injury and gas exchange to tropospheric ozone in Prunus serotina seedlings. Environ. Pollut. 158: 2627-2634.

Fei, S., P. J. Gould, M. J. Kaeser, and K. C. Steiner.  2010.  Distribution and dynamics of the invasive native hayscented fern.  Weed Sci. 58: 408-412.

Cha, D.H., H.M. Appel, C.J. Frost, J.C. Schultz, and K.C. Steiner. 2010. Red oak responses to nitrogen addition depend on herbivory type, tree family, and site. For. Ecol. Manage. 259: 1930-1937.

Fei, S. And K. C. Steiner. 2009. Rapid capture of growing space by red maple. Can. J. For. Res. 39: 1444-1452.

Fei, S. and K. C. Steiner.  2008.  Relationships between advance oak regeneration and biotic and abiotic factors.  Tree Physiol. 28:  1111-1119.

Steiner, K. C., J. C. Finley, P. J. Gould, and M. McDill.  2008.  Oak regeneration guidelines for the central Appalachians.  North. J. Appl. For. 25: 5-16.

Kaeser, M. J., P. J. Gould, M. E. McDill, K. C. Steiner, and J. C. Finley.  2008.  Classifying patterns of understory vegetation in mixed-oak forests in two ecoregions of Pennsylvania.  North. J. Appl. For. 25: 38-44.

Fei, S. and K. C. Steiner.  2007.  Evidence for increasing red maple abundance in the eastern United States.  For. Sci. 53:  473-477.

Gould, P. J., S. Fei, and K. C. Steiner.  2007.  Modeling sprout-origin oak regeneration in the central Appalachians.  Can. J. For. Res. 37: 170-177.

Gould, P. J., K. C. Steiner, M. E. McDill, and J. C. Finley.  2006.  Modeling seed-origin oak regeneration in the central Appalachians.  Can. J. For. Res. 36: 833-844.

Steiner, K. C. and J. E. Carlson, editors. 2006. Restoration of American chestnut to forest lands. Proceedings of a Conference and Workshop, May 4-6, 2004, Asheville, North Carolina. U.S. Dept. Interior Nat. Res. Rep. NPS/NCR/CUE/NRR 2006/001, 230 pp.

Fei, S., P. J. Gould, K. C. Steiner, and J. C. Finley. 2006. Aggregate height -- a composite measure of stand density for tree seedling populations. For. Ecol. Manage. 223: 336-341.

Diskin, M., K. C. Steiner, and F. V. Hebard. 2006. Recovery of American chestnut characteristics following hybridization and backcross breeding to restore blight-ravaged Castanea dentata. For. Ecol. Manage. 223: 439-447.

Zaczek, J. J., K. C. Steiner, C. W. Heuser, Jr., and W. M. Tzilkowski. 2006. Effects of serial grafting, ontogeny, and genotype on rooting Quercus rubra cuttings. Can. J. For. Res. 36: 123-131.