Dendrochronology Intensive Summer Courses (DISC)

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.
The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (LTRR) is offering three concurrent short courses in dendrochronology, convening May 18 - June 5, 2020. Students will select a specific course based on their preferred discipline, including dendroclimatology, dendroecology, or dendroarchaeology. Many of the lectures and activities are cross-cutting and include all students together. The three groups will separate for the latter half of the course to conduct fieldwork and focus on specific research projects.
The three-week intensive courses will introduce students to theory, laboratory and field techniques, and current research in each subfield. Courses will be based at the LTRR with field trips to sites in the Southwest region. Lectures will be presented by course instructors and other leading LTRR scientists. Course readings are drawn primarily from the published literature. Classes are designed for graduate students as well as faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and working professionals with suitable backgrounds as well as advanced undergraduate students in related fields. Contact course instructors (see below) for prerequisites.

Course sections and instructors:

  • Dendroclimatology: Ramzi Touchan (
    • Students will work collaboratively to build tree-ring chronologies for the purposes of climate reconstruction. 
  • Dendroecology: Kiyomi Morino (
    • Students will work work collaboratively on fire history and/or forest age-structure analyses, with additional studies also possible (e.g., reconstruction of defoliation events).
  • Dendroarchaeology: Ron Towner (
    • Students will work collaboratively to a build a time series of peel dates on culturally modified trees.

All students will be versed in the principles of dendrochronology, and will gain hands-on experience in field sampling, sample processing, crossdating, measuring, quality control, and analyses. Each group (or subsets of the groups) will present their findings from the course at the end of the DISC session. We will work to bridge between course sections to assess the relationships among climate, fire, and human land-use.

The 2020 course syllabus is not yet available but the 2019 course syllabus and schedule can be found here:


There are two ways to enroll in the course: (1) Enroll directly through the Tree-Ring Lab or (2) Enroll for 3 transferable credits through the University of Arizona

The cost for direct registration through the lab is $1,300. Please contact Skye Bennett ( to set up payment by check or wire transfer.

Taking the course for credit requires registering through the University Of Arizona, and the cost is estimated at ~$1,650. The university sets the tuition rate, which will be posted in April. If you would like to enroll for credits, please contact Kiyomi Morino ( and the course instructor for assistance.

Note that registration does not include your expenses for travel, lodging, and meals while staying in Tucson. Registration does cover the costs of our 4-day field trip to northern New Mexico during the first week of the course.

To begin registering for DISC, please fill out this form:

Courses are currently enrolling. Please check for availability.


The course begins at 8:00 am on Monday, May 18, 2020. Plan to arrive in Tucson on Sunday, May 17. The course ends at 5:00 pm on Friday, June 5, and will be followed by an informal celebration. Plan to depart no earlier than Saturday, June 6.

TravelThe nearest airport is Tucson International Airport (TUS):  Once in Tucson, taxi services and shared-rides (Uber/Lift) are easy to find and can take you anywhere. The Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, AZ is 2-hours away, and shuttles are available to Tucson. See Please be advised that flights to Phoenix are generally less expensive than to Tucson.

Lodging: In the past, some students shared a house/apartment rental through Airbnb. There are many options so it's best to find these with your group or on your own. If you would like to explore this option, let Kiyomi Morino know, and she can help with finding housemates. Finally, there are numerous hotels within walking distance of campus at a range of price-points. Some offer US Government rates in case your housing is covered by a Federal agency. If none of the above options seem suitable for you, please let Kiyomi know, and she'll do her best to help you find accommodations.


Please email Kiyomi Morino ( with any questions or concerns.

Photos from previous DISC courses

Stefan Klesse