Dendrochronology Intensive Summer Course (DISC) 2024

Every tree has a story to tell. Dendrochronology is the study of natural and human processes that are recorded in the annual growth rings of trees. This tree-ring record is archived thanks to the remarkable preservation qualities of wood, and across the wide geographical distribution of trees. Through the science of dendrochronology, a broad range of ecological, climatic, geological, and cultural phenomena can be reconstructed and analyzed with high spatial and temporal resolution.

What is DISC2024?

Participants will learn fundamental Dendrochronology concepts and be introduced to its rich interdisciplinary nature. In addition, they will hone their skills in track-specific techniques. All tracks will include a fieldwork component and cover sample collection, sample processing, data analysis and will culminate in a project presentation. Ample opportunities to network and interact with participants in other tracks, as well as Invited speakers, are an important and integral part of DISC. 

This year, the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (LTRR) is offering three dendrochronology tracks - all in person, for its intensive summer course. The Dendroarchaeology track will be conducted in-person and will be led by Drs. Ron Towner and Nick Kessler. The Dendroecology track will be led by Dr. Paul Sheppard. And finally, the Dendroclimatology track will be led by Dr. David Frank.

Read on for more details about each of the tracks!


This track will emphasize the process of conducting Dendroarchaeological research from start to finish. During this course, participants will collect, analyze and interpret archaeological tree-rings. Participants (undergrads, grads, professionals) will learn the most accurate and precise dating method used by archaeologists via lectures, laboratory exercises, and field work. The centerpiece of this track is the field trip - a tour through multiple archaeological sites in Arizona. Participants will embark into the field after first receiving instruction in the basics of dendrochronological method and theory. Upon returning from the field, participants will prepare, crossdate and interpret dendroarcheological samples collected during the field trip. Lectures will be presented by course instructors as well as leading tree-ring scientists, including Jeffrey S. Dean and Charlotte Pearson.

The field work for this track will involve camping for a few days, so bring your tent, sleeping bag and other camping gear if you have it (gear can be rented if you don't have it).


In this track, the field instruction will include site and tree selection criteria for dendro projects (fire history, stand dynamics), learning how to collect high-quality tree cores and possibly cross sections from fallen logs, and proper care and maintenance of the equipment. Samples collected in the field will be processed in the wood shop and lab and further analyzed during the remainder of DISC.

The field work for this track will involve camping for a few days, so bring your tent, sleeping bag and other camping gear if you have it (gear can be rented if you don't have it).


This track will emphasize the application of tree-ring data to the reconstruction of climatic and hydrologic time series. With guidance, students will design and conduct a mini-research project that includes 1) assembly and quality control of data, 2) tree-ring standardization, 3) climate signal identification, 4) climate or streamflow reconstruction, and 5) climatological interpretation of reconstructions with the aid of time series and statistical methods. 

This track will include both field and lab work. For the field portion, we will update classic precipitation-sensitive tree-ring sites in the Southwest. In the lab, we will mount and prepare cores for measuring. In-person participants will work with these tree-ring samples for their mini-research project. The field work for this track will involve camping for a few days, so bring your tent, sleeping bag and other camping gear if you have it (gear can be rented if you don't have it).

(Please note that the live-online dendroclimatology track has been cancelled.)

Who should attend?

All in-person tracks are open to students with some knowledge of dendrochronology, including undergraduate students, graduate students and professionals.

Specific inquiries regarding the suitability of this course should be directed toward Lead Instructors - Dendroarchaeology: Drs Ron Towner and Nick Kessler; Dendroecology: Dr Paul Sheppard; and Dendroclimatology: Dr David Frank.

Registration & Fees

To register, please fill in this form. In-person course fees (May 13 – May 31) are $1000 for students and $1200 for professionals. All fees must be paid by May 1, 2024. Fees do not include room and board. If you are interested in on-campus housing options, please indicate so on the registration. 

On-campus housing is limited so please register and indicate this option as early as possible

Please contact Skye Bennett ( to set up payment by check or wire transfer. If you are interested in taking this course for University of Arizona credit, please send us an email at


On-campus housing (basic dorm rooms) are $42/night for a single and $38 for a double. There are also many vacation rentals near the University. We are happy to assist in finding a suitable place for you. 

Course dates

May 13 through May 31, 2024.


For more information

For general inquiries, send us an email at or check the website For more specific questions about in-depth analyses, contact Lead Instructors - Dendroarchaeology: Dr. Ron Towner,; Dendroecology: Dr. Paul Sheppard,; Dendroclimatology: Dr. David Frank,

Photos from previous DISC courses

Stefan Klesse