University of Idaho - I Banner
A student works at a computer

VandalStar

U of I's web-based retention and advising tool provides an efficient way to guide and support students on their road to graduation. Login to VandalStar.

Graduate Students

Karen Heeter
Karen Heeter

Karen Heeter
Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Grant Harley

I am a dendrochronologist with background in botany, forestry, and ecology. My work at the Idaho Tree Ring Lab primarily involves climate reconstruction, fire history, and dendroecology of southern Utah and the interior northwest. Outside of research, I am actively involved in the prescribed and wild land fire communities. 

April Kaiser
Taking a sample from a 500+ year old preserved whitebark pine stump in the Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming.

April Kaiser
Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Grant Harley

I study dendrochronology (tree-ring research) specifically using wood anatomy cell measurements to reconstruct climates and ecological disturbances. This research helps us identify current climate trends in high resolutions to aid in predicting future climate changes.

Tree cellular structure
Cellular structure of a collected whitebark pine sample.
Daniel King
Excitedly preparing to dive ~3500 m aboard the HOV Alvin (pictured in the background) in order to take rock samples from the bottom of the ocean at ~13° N, mid-Atlantic ridge.

Daniel King
M.S. Candidate
Advisor: Dr. Eric Mittelstaedt

I study the physical processes that shape the seafloor at and around mid-ocean ridges. Through the use of numerical modelling, my research contributes to the better understanding of tectonic and magmatic events at extensional plate boundaries, as well as planetary surface evolution.

numerical simulation
Finite-difference, numerical simulation representing faulting and subsequent hill formation with varying magmatic accommodation at a slow-spreading mid-ocean ridge. Use QR code to access model animation and further info.
Mt. Hood
At Mt. Hood during Cascade Range Field Work.

McKayla Meier
Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Dr. Erika Rader

I study lava flow and water interactions through their petrology, geochemistry, and spectral characteristics. My research is an analogue study between Earth and Mars to better understand the past Martian environment by analyzing lava flows captured on Mars through remote sensing. By comparing lava flow and water interactions on Earth, we can apply the same concept to lava flows on Mars to search for surface water and by comparison the potential for life.

mafic lava thin section under the SEM
Vesicle Ducky in mafic lava thin section under the SEM
Alex Nagel
Alex Nagel

Alex Nagel
Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Tom Ptak

Alex is a human-environment geographer whose interests focus on the energy, water and climate change nexus. He has a background in both Human and Physical Geography and also completed a graduate certificate in GIS. His Ph.D. research will seek to engage in projects in the Northwestern United States and Latin America that look at renewable energy projects, water resource sustainability initiatives, and how climate change influences these issues.

Kari Odegaard
Kari Odegaard with ASD Halo visible near-infrared spectrometer at Hell’s Half Acre, Southeastern Idaho.

Kari Odegaard
M.S. Candidate
Advisor: Dr. Erika Rader

I use visible near-infrared spectroscopy from the field to identify variations in the glassiness of lavas. In the lab I use a scanning electron microscope to look at the crystals and composition of hand samples to get the percent crystallinity and compare it to the spectra. By relating these together, an increase in reflectance coincides with an increase in crystallinity. This same technique could be used on active lava flows or lava flows of different planets and moons.

Scanning electron microscope backscatter
Scanning electron microscope backscatter image of a Ross Flow sample (left) and Blue Dragon sample (right) with top 50 microns colored by mode. White is glass, black is vesicle, blue is plagioclase, green is olivine, red is oxide, purple is apatite.
Ty Reinemann

Ty Reinemann
M.S. Candidate
Advisor: Jeff Hicke

My research interest is the relationship between lodgepole pine and mountain pine beetle to better understand large scale insect outbreaks. I received a B.A. in Environmental Management and Protection at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Skye Swoboda-Colberg
Poster Presentation at the 2019 College of Science Student Research Expo, University of Idaho.

Skye Swoboda-Colberg
M.S. Candidate
Advisor: Dr. Felix Liao

I am a human geographer with a background in Geographic Information Systems, Python, and Data Analytics. I study the spatial distribution and accessibility of Emergency Medical Services for automobile crashes in Idaho. I received my B.A. degree in Spanish and Geography with a concentration in GIS from the University of Wyoming.

Road network map
Distribution of EMS Services, Road Network and Administrative Boundaries in Idaho.
Emily Thompson
Emily Thompson

Emily Thompson
Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Karen Humes

Emily is a geospatial scientist interested in GIS, remote sensing, and modeling of hydrological and agricultural systems in present and future climates. Currently, her research centers around quantifying and modeling the water-energy-food nexus in the Pacific Northwest with special focus on the Snake River Plain. Emily holds an M.S. in Geography with a concentration in physical geography and a B.S. in Geographic Information Science (meteorology cognate), both from the University of Oklahoma.

Haley Thoresen
Standing above the detachment fault associated with the Anaconda Metamorphic Core Complex during the 2020 summer field season.

Haley Thoresen
Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Cassel

I am researching the timing of the initiation of the collapse of the Western United States Cordillera using the basin record in southwest Montana and southeast Idaho. This is important because it not only gives us insights into how mountains are built and subsequently destroyed, but how changing topography affects climate and paleodrainage patterns.

Anaconda Metamorphic Core
Measuring section in the basin adjacent to the Anaconda Metamorphic Core Complex (in the background).
Zhe Wang with reptile
Zhe Wang

Zhe Wang
Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Dr. Haifeng Liao

My research interests are GIS with a focus on spatial modeling and remote sensing with a focus on digital image processing. My substantive interests include urban climate, urban forestry and land cover land use change. Currently, my research centers around urban tree canopy extraction using deep learning and quantifying the urban tree arrangement.

Zhe Wang
Zhe Wang Presenting Research on Urban Climate
Frank Wróblewski
Shaking hands with a robonaut at the Dexterous Robotics Laboratory, Johnson Space Center.

Frank Wróblewski
Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Dr. Erika Rader

I study the shapes and colors of planetary surfaces to analyze the differences between volcanic features in satellite imagery. My current research is an analogue study between Earth and Mars to map the spatial, structural, and spectral relationships of lava flows to determine how lava is represented differently depending on how it contacts water. By studying how water interacts with lava, I seek to understand how past climates of Mars and other terrestrial bodies have been preserved alongside their ability to sustain liquid water, habitability, and potential life.

THEMIS IR image of a lava flow
THEMIS IR image of a lava flow, Elysium Mons, Mars.
Erin Young-Dahl
Pausing to examine and reassemble a deer hoof while collecting samples in Salmon, Idaho.

Erin Young-Dahl
M.S. Candidate
Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Cassel

I’m researching the development of the northern Rocky Mountains, specifically looking at paleoelevations achieved during the early Eocene (~55-45 Ma) when the mountain range was at its highest. My paleoelevation estimates are determined using stable isotope paleoaltimetry of hydrated volcanic glass shards obtained from Eocene-age ignimbrites and ash-fall deposits. Coupled with high-precision Ar/Ar dates, these estimates reveal how much surface lowering has occurred since this time, in turn informing the mechanisms by which the mountains were built and destroyed.

Microscope image of a prepared tuffaceous sandstone
Microscope image of a prepared tuffaceous sandstone sample from Montana (10x magnification). Glass-bearing samples are processed to clean and isolate the glass, which is then analyzed with a mass spectrometer to obtain the hydrogen isotopic ratio dD of paleo-water trapped inside the glass shards.
Chloë Weeks
Chloë with Lone Mountain behind in Big Sky, MT where we collected a sample transect in Summer 2020.

Chloë Weeks

M.S. Candidate
Advisor: Dr. Jessica Stanley

I want to know if the evolution and approach of the Yellowstone hotspot has caused uplift in the surrounding regionswithin SW Montana. To accomplish this, I am collecting samples along transects of increasing elevations and analyzing apatite grains using (U-Th-Sm)/He and 4He/3He thermochronology in order to establish age-elevation relationships and identify any signs of uplift. Studying the timing and patterns of cooling will add to our understanding of the hotspot’s influence on landscape evolution in regions outside of its main path.

apatite grain
A particularly beautiful apatite grain
  • Ian Woodruff (MS)
    • Advisor: Jeff Hicke
  • Luke Bassler (MS)
    • Advisor: Elizabeth Cassel
  • Hailey Wilding (MS)
    • Advisor: Renee Love
  • Yoram Terleth (PHD)
    • Advisor: Tim Bartholomaus
  • Jennifer Rangell (MS)
    • Advisor: Thomas Williams
  • Yael Armando Deniz.Hernandez
    • Advisor: Eric Mittelstaedt
  • Bruno Belotti (PHD)
    • Advisor: Elizabeth Cassel/Tim Bartholomaus
  • Carlos Montejo (PHD)
    • Advisor: Jessica Stanley
  • Ian SpendLove (MS)
    • Advisor: Renee Love
  • Abhinav Shrestha (MS)
    • Advisor: Jeff Hicke

Department of Geography and Geological Science

Physical Address:
McClure 201

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3021
Moscow ID, 83843-3021

Geography: 208-885-6216
Geology: 208-885-6192