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Chair's Update

Dear ##First Name##,

 

Welcome to the Spring 2020 UM geosciences newsletter!

 

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in, and we are keen to stay connected with our geosciences community and to share some of the exciting achievements of our students and faculty. This spring, amidst the challenges of COVID-19, we converted to remote learning and operations, including a fantastic online geosciences seminar with great speakers from around the country, development of virtual labs and field trips and our first-ever online departmental graduation ceremony.

 

Our faculty have spent a great deal of time over the last year-plus strategically thinking and planning for the future, in the context of a program review. Those efforts have clarified and highlighted not only what we do — providing a top-notch geosciences education to our students and integrating them into cutting-edge, globally significant research — but also our need to effectively communicate our work. We are squarely in the vanguard of our evolving field, combining traditional geology, geophysics, and hydrologic, climate, and other environmental sciences; deep-time to modern perspectives; and applications ranging from natural hazards, to ice-sheet dynamics, to petroleum geology. Yet our external reviewers have consistently highlighted that we are profoundly under-resourced, from student support to faculty staffing.

 

We’ve had a lot of change in the department in the last few years. We’ve welcomed two new staffers: Karie Hyslop and Indy Singh — they are gems! We’ve also bid farewell to Christine Foster, Loreene Skeel, Jim Staub and Aaron Deskins. Rebecca (Becks) Bendick has taken a leave to become the president of UNAVCO, a prestigious leadership position in earth sciences.

 

For those of you that don’t know me — I’m a geomorphologist and have been on the faculty here for 13 years, including serving as chair for the last two years (initially as co-chair with Becks Bendick). My research focuses on understanding sediment fluxes through watersheds and rivers, with applications to dams, ecosystems and humans, and my students and I are currently working in western Montana and Colombia. I, along with many of our graduate students and faculty, am heavily involved in UM BRIDGES, an interdisciplinary, NSF-funded program focused on the nexus of water, energy and food systems.

 

We continue to support our students with your help. We are now awarding two new student scholarships through the UM Foundation: the DeDominic Geoscience Scholarship and the NewFields Environmental Geoscience Scholarship. Congratulations to our scholarship recipients! Generous gifts such as these are critical for enabling student success, supporting our efforts to prepare students for geoscience careers and helping us sustain a dynamic, rigorous, high-profile program.

 

In this time of financial uncertainty at UM, and globally, your support via funds donated to the UM Foundation (e.g., using the Geosciences Department Unrestricted Fund) will be greatly appreciated and will allow us to continue and build upon the types of achievements in scholarship and research you’ll read about in this newsletter.

 

Please reach out to us, we’d love to hear from and stay connected with you!

 

Best,

Andrew Wilcox

Chair and Professor

Department of Geosciences

College of Humanities and Sciences

 

Faculty

Hilary Martens

Greetings Geosciences alumni and friends! Last fall, I had a wonderful and stimulating experience teaming up with colleagues at ETH-Zurich to develop methods for modeling the response of a 3D Earth to surface loading by the ocean tides and other fluids. We use observations of the interactions between the solid Earth and its fluid envelopes to infer information about Earth's crust and mantle structure.

 

I look forward to welcoming Baleigh Doyle (incoming Ph.D.) and Courtenay Duzet (incoming M.S.) in fall 2020 to work on geodesy and seismology projects, respectively. I am also excited to share that we offered a new course this spring introducing undergraduate students to the research process; each student designed their own research question and project plan, and it was great fun to see the students gain confidence in their ideas and proposals.

 

I also congratulate Cody Norberg and Bryana McKay for completing undergraduate research projects with me this year, as well as Andrew Keene (M.S., 2019) and Ellen Smith (M.S., 2020) for completing their master's degrees! You rock!

Senior Bryana McKay (B.S. 2020) services a seismic station from the UM Seismic Network near Lincoln, Montana.  We are still detecting aftershocks from the M5.8 Lincoln earthquake in July 2017.

Cody Norberg presenting his research at UMCUR 2019 pictured with advisor Hilary Martens.

Rebecca Bendick Kier (Becks)

I am currently on leave from UM Geosciences to serve as the president of UNAVCO.  This organization supports geodesy research and education in the U.S. by providing instrumentation and data services for measurements of the Earth.

 

I’m still working on earthquake mechanics and tectonics, with recent new work on using the solid Earth to measure snowpack loading.  My students and I are collecting data for these projects in East Africa and the western U.S.  

 

I have also developed a new undergraduate class for education students that gives them a foundation in physics and earth science.

Becks, Keynote Speaker, Women in STEM lunch

Joel Harper

Traveling between instrumented sites on the Greenland ice sheet.

I’m still working in Greenland, although my primary focus has shifted up into the cold and wind of high elevations. We spent the last two years installing a sensor network in 100 m boreholes spaced along an 80 km transect. With travel shutdown this summer, it's touch-and-go whether we make it back to our stations to recover data before they are buried forever by snowfall. Teaching climate courses keeps me on my toes; so much new to learn each year to stay current in such rapidly evolving science. My son is now old enough that we rarely travel with him to his ski races, but there is nothing more stressful than watching them live online.

Jim Sears

I enjoyed a sabbatical leave in Newfoundland, where my wife Debra and I geo-toured the fabulous rocky headlands of the island from coast to coast, stopping occasionally to have fresh halibut.

 

I also worked with Luke Beranek at Memorial University in St John's to collect samples for detrital-zircon dating to (successfully) test for pre-Pleistocene river connections from the Labrador Sea to Montana.

Debra and Jim at Mistaken Point, Newfoundland, World Heritage Ediacaran fossil site.

Payton Gardner

Dan Forsland (B.S. 2020) gets his hands wet installing fiber-optic cable to detect thermal signatures of groundwater discharge in the Clark Fork River near Frenchtown, as part of a cooperative project between Silixa, Missoula County and UM.

The UM Hydrogeology Lab which I lead continues to grow - with three master's and two Ph.D. students and an incoming post doc.  We are currently researching groundwater flow and transport in the intermountain west from the mountain block to the alluvial aquifer.  Active projects include: 1) using groundwater age tracers to improve predictions of uranium transport at the DOE Legacy Management site in Riverton, Wyoming, 2) using vertical deflection of the Earth’s surface to estimate watershed scale hydrologic loads in the Selway-Lochsa drainage of northern Idaho, and 3) investigating bedrock recharge in upland hillslopes at the Lubrecht Experimental Forest.

Above: M.S. student Kimberly Bolhuis downloads pressure transducer data in the North Fork Elk Creek drainage - Lubrecht Experimental Forest.

 

Right:

Ph.D. student Nick Thiros measures water quality on Wind River in Wyoming.

Marco Maneta

The Maneta family in the Spanish Pyrenees in 2017.

The Regional Hydrology Lab has had lots of exciting events since the last newsletter and we have advanced our research program with new projects and the successes of my students. In spring 2017, I spent a fruitful sabbatical semester working with collaborators at the Spanish Research Council in Zaragoza, Spain, on statistical methodologies to analyze drought events.

 

In addition to our ongoing work on forest hydrology and on the water-food nexus here in Montana and the western U.S., last year we started a new exciting collaborative project (led by the University of Aberdeen) to evaluate the impact of land use change on tropical hydrologic systems in Costa Rica.

 

I am also proud that in the last two years, two M.S. students graduated from our lab and four new students joined it. I also became an associate editor for Hydrological Processes Journal, lost my shaving razors during the pandemic, and became a fervid ukulele believer. I feel very fortunate and proud to be part of UM and be surrounded by so many talented colleagues and students.  

Julie Baldwin

I am currently serving as assistant dean for the College of Humanities and Sciences as well as continuing my own research focus on the integration of textural, chemical and in situ petrological and geochronological data sets to reconstruct physical conditions, timescales and tempo of metamorphic processes.

 

My projects are largely field-based, although I have a strong interest in utilizing modern computational tools (including Thermocalc, Perplex and Theriak-Domino) to reconstruct the burial and exhumation histories of mountain belts. My research projects have ranged in timescale from the Archean, examining the old roots of mountain belts, to the modern U.S. Cordillera, looking at more recent mountain-building processes. Current field areas are in the northern panhandle of Idaho (Priest River and Clearwater complexes), the Bitterroot Range south of Missoula and in the Precambrian Laramide uplifts of southwest Montana.

 

I also have been the lead instructor and co-PI for a K-8 teacher professional development program in the physical sciences as part of the Big Sky Science Partnership (BSSP), an NSF-funded Math & Science Partnership program.

Marc Hendrix

I'm presently involved in three principal areas of research:

1) Sedimentary record of Mesozoic and Cenozoic tectonism in the northern Rocky Mountains

2) Sedimentary archives of Pleistocene and Holocene climate change in the northern Rocky Mountains

3) Sedimentary architectures, sequence stratigraphy and petroleum geology of Upper Cretaceous strata in central Montana

Nancy Hinman

My current research in geochemistry involves studying biosignature preservation in extreme environments. I have continued to teach geochemistry, oceanography, and a global water writing course, and I will be on sabbatical in 2020-2021!

 

Student Highlights

Claire Rawlings Gilder, one of our graduate students, has been awarded a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation and a Glacier National Park Conservancy-Jerry O’Neal Research Fellowship.

 

She has a project site near Glacier National Park on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Claire studies fluvial geomorphology, specifically the feedbacks and relationships between the surface features of a river, the groundwater system interacting with it and the vegetation surrounding it. By studying how changes to any of these parts affect the system as a whole, she hopes to improve river management and restoration practices through better prediction of river response to change.

Claire is part of the UM BRIDGES program.

This program trains future leaders to connect policy and science to support our food, energy and water systems through interdisciplinary collaboration and improved science communication skills. She said the program brings biophysical and social scientists together to better tackle complex problems and then translate that science more effectively to meaningful policy.

Amanda Kotila is our choice for this year’s President’s Outstanding Senior Award, an honor conferred each year to exemplary graduating seniors across campus for their academic accomplishments. Amanda was born in Washington and raised near Kalispell. Amanda transferred to UM, drawn to the interdisciplinary studies of earth and atmospheric systems, after an injury led to her discharge from the United States Air Force Reserve.  She graduated this year with a B.S. in geosciences. She intends to continue to study surface-atmosphere interactions, contribute to the understanding of earth’s climate systems and promote student excellence and well-being.  Her poster presentation for this year’s University of Montana Conference on Undergraduate Research (UMCUR) was chosen as the best for the physical sciences category.

 

Visit Understanding Drought: An Investigation Using Principal Component Analysis to see her presentation.

 

 

Taylor Miranda has been selected as Flathead Lake Bio Station’s Environmental Sensor Network intern.  She will be working with FLBS personnel on two environmental sensor networks (LakeNet, RiverNet), both of which collect weather and groundwater data, to continue long-term data collection from lake and riverine settings on Flathead Lake and the Nyack Floodplain in Northwest Montana. The sensor networks use Campbell Scientific CR1000 dataloggers and radio telemetry to transmit the data from six lake and seven riverine sites to an FLBS server where the data is housed, and Taylor will be responsible for visiting these off-site locations to perform weather station maintenance, sensor calibration, and data logger troubleshooting.

Mason Perry, a Ph.D. student studying active tectonics around the globe, has been awarded a Bertha Morton Scholarship.  

 

Bertha Morton was a Helena native who left a large part of her estate to the UM Foundation because she desired to encourage and help serious students obtain an education here.

 

Bertha Morton fellowships and scholarships have subsequently become our most prestigious awards for graduate students. The Graduate School awards approximately 20 scholarships annually.

Postdoc Ellen Knappe and Ph.D. student Mason Perry get the GPS unit installed just right

AAPG IBA Competition

Every year, our graduate students represent our department by competing at the AAPG-IBA competition.  

 

This year’s team included Brianna Crenshaw, Casey Kleppel, Andrew Nordberg and Kory Talcott and they finished third at the AAPG Rocky Mountain Regional competition.

 

Congratulations to these students for their hard work and for admirably representing UM geosciences, we are proud!

2020 AAPG/IBA team: Brianna Crenshaw, Casey Kleppel, Andrew Norberg, and Kory Talcott (from left to right).

Congratulations to our 2020 Scholarship Recipients

 

Robert and Eleanor Weidman Scholarship in Geology: Brenna Hatch, Wendell Elliot

DeDominic Geoscience Scholarship Endowment: Taylor Miranda

NewFields Environmental Geoscience Scholarship: Brenna Hatch

Geosciences Student Research: Gina Belair, Chloe Boucher, Casey Kleppel

 

Recent Alumni Additions

Class of 2017

Mariah J Forbes, B.F.A. (GEO Minor)

Raymond C Dierdorf, B.S.

Melinda M Horne, B.S.

Carson S Lord, B.S.

Ross P Monasmith, B.S.

Sofronio C Propios, B.S.

Patrick A Schick, B.S.

Conor P Sheehy, B.S.

Eric D Simpson, B.S.

Kalah C Statz, B.S.

Matthew B Thomas, B.S.

Shane S Fussell, M.S.

Benjamin H Hills, M.S.

John P Zupanic, M.S.

 

Class of 2018

Aidan R Stansberry, B.A. (GEO Minor)

Alicia I Leggett, B.A. (GEO Minor)

Jeffrey A Abbott, B.S.

Robert W Bazo, B.S.

Norland R Hagen, B.S.

Bailey E Hook, B.S.

Ryan J Kangas, B.S.

Casey L Kleppel, B.S.

Tanner R Pedretti, B.S.

Brandon A Roose, B.S.

Charles A Sneddon, B.S.

Chandra L Vitale, B.S.

Samuel J Box, M.S.

Nora J Dwyer, M.S.

Derek J Goble, M.S.

Nathan M La Fontaine, M.S.

Megan A Mave, M.S.

Caelan E Simeone, M.S.

Isabellah V von Trapp, M.S.

Patrick M Wurster, M.S.

Caitlyn E Florentine, Ph.D.

Class of 2019

Sarah L Williams, B.A. (GEO Minor)

David A Ankenbauer, B.S.

Noah B Clayton, B.S.

Ella E Dartman, B.S.

Danielle R Driver, B.S.

Dakota R Pyles, B.S.

Megan M Russell, B.S.

Nicholas J Capille, B.S.

Andrew P Keene, M.S.

Rosemary C Leone, M.S.

Ellen M Smith, M.S.

Sara Stotter, M.S.

Ian R Thomsen, M.S.

Richard R Trippe, M.S.

Robin T Welling, M.S.

Ellen A Knappe, Ph.D.

 

Class of 2020

Levi Brosmore, B.S.

Daniel W Forsland, B.S.

Maia Fuchs, B.S.

Maxwell F Hannah, B.S.

Anthony M Joyce, B.S.

Amanda J Kotila, B.S.

Bryana D McKay, B.S.

Luke H Fisher, M.S.

Jordan T Gilbert, M.S.

Brian J Stampe, M.S.

Donors

2017

Daniel Adams

Richard and Betty Berg

Brent Bergmiller

William and Catherine Beyer

Fredrick and Diane Bodholt

James Burdett

James and Charlene Castro

C. Carey and Peggy Cossaboom

ConocoPhillips Matching Gift

Scott and Jerry Cunningham

D.A. Davidson

Peter and Cathy Dea

Dea Family Foundation

Joseph DeDominic and Anita Powers

Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund

Danny Gallegos

William Gierer

John and Donna Grotzinger

Kristin Gunckel

Stanley and Ann Harrison

Barry and Vicki Henderson

John Herrlin

James Horn

Adolf and Eileen Honkala (deceased)

William Hood

Donald and Shirley Hyndman

John Jens

Ron Kieckbusch

Marcia Knadle

Michael and Lorrie Koski

Kootenay Silver Inc

Timothy LaTour

Dave Leppert

James Lippert

John Locher

Thomas and Jody McClellan

Thomas Michalek

Natalie Morrow

Christopher Murray

Sonia Nagorski

NewFields Companies, LLC

Karla Norvell

John and Judith Nold

Mike and Julie Nolan

The Nolan Family Trust

Kathleen Ort

Matthew O'Brien

Andrew Rorick

George Shurr

SM Energy

James and Nell Staub

Carl Swisher

Joni Taylor

Lane Coddington and Darci Thorsrud

Eleanor Weidman

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Michael Whalen

Barbara Williams

 

2018

Charles Dalby and C. Austin

William and Catherine Beyer

Fredrick and Diane Bodholt

Stephen Buckley

James Burdett

Christopher Casas

James and Charlene Castro

Doreen Chaky

ConocoPhillips Matching Gift

D.A. Davidson

Peter and Cathy Dea

Dea Family Foundation

Joseph DeDominic and Anita Powers

William Desormier

Stephen Dodd

Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund

Danny Gallegos

John and Donna Grotzinger

Kristin Gunckel

Hall Guttormsen

Stanley and Ann Harrison

Scott and Cora Helm

Barry and Vicki Henderson

John Herrlin

William Hood

James Horn

Donald and Shirley Hyndman

Peter Johnson

Juliette Jordan

Michael and Lorrie Koski

Russell and Joy Kucinski

Stephen Lemoine

Dave Leppert

Thomas Lisle

Kenneth Manchester

Alice Marsh

Mary Marshall

Barbara Martens

Roger Martens (deceased)

Thomas and Jody McClellan

Marvin Miller

Timothy Mrdjenovich

NewFields Companies, LLC

Mike and Julie Nolan

The Nolan Family Trust

Kathleen Ort

Aaron Penvose

Anna Phelps

Stephen Porder

David Quattlebaum

Andrew Robinson

Andrew Rorick

John Saracco

George Shurr

Gary Sorensen

James and Nell Staub

Michael and Debbie Stickney

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Michael Whalen

Gary and Nancy Wood

Allan Wylie

2019

Charles Dalby and C. Austin

Richard and Betty Berg

William and Catherine Beyer

Fredrick and Diane Bodholt

James Burdett

Stephen Buckley

James and Charlene Castro

Christopher Casas

Doreen Chaky

Chevron Humankind

ConocoPhillips Matching Gift

Peter and Cathy Dea

Dea Family Foundation

Joseph DeDominic and Anita Powers

William Desormier

EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc.

ExxonMobil Foundation

Michelle Foster

Danny Gallegos

John and Donna Grotzinger

Victor Guevara

Kristin Gunckel

Stanley and Ann Harrison

Scott and Cora Helm

John Herrlin

William Hood

James Horn

Peter Johnson

Ron Kieckbusch

Mark Koffler

Russell and Joy Kucinski

Dave Leppert

James Lippert

Kenneth Manchester

Charles Maynard

David and Wendy McGee

Creta McGuire

Robert McGuire (deceased)

John McIntosh

Marvin Miller

Christopher Murray

NewFields Companies, LLC

John and Judith Nold

Orrin Pilkey

Stephen Porder

David Quattlebaum

Andrew Rorick

George Shurr

SM Energy

Gary Sorensen

Marea Spentzos

Carl Swisher

Charles and Linda Swift

Lane Coddington and Darci Thorsrud

Michael Jahraus and Jill Tipton

Glen and Cathy Wyatt

James Weiser

Michael Whalen

Gary and Nancy Wood

 

2020

Richard and Betty Berg

Fredrick and Diane Bodholt

Matthew O'Brien

Christopher Casas

Doreen Chaky

ConocoPhillips Matching Gift

D.A. Davidson

D.A. Davidson

Peter and Cathy Dea

Dea Family Foundation

Joseph DeDominic and Anita Powers

Glenna Drake

EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc.

Danny Gallegos

John and Susan Gibbs

John and Donna Grotzinger

Thomas and Victoria Harman

Stanley and Ann Harrison

Scott and Cora Helm

John Herrlin

James Horn

John Horner

Donald and Shirley Hyndman

John Jens

Peter Johnson

Marcia Knadle

Russell and Joy Kucinski

Patricia Laughlin

Dave Leppert

James Lippert

Kenneth Manchester

Barbara Martens

Jeff Mauk

Jean McDonough

NewFields Companies, LLC

Brian Nixon

Mike and Julie Nolan

The Nolan Family Trust

John and Judith Nold

Kathleen Ort

Orrin Pilkey

Stephen Porder

Michael Pottinger

Andrew Rorick

Bruce and Colleen Sanford

George Shurr

SM Energy

Phyllis Snow

Carl Swisher

Dru and Judy Willey

Gary and Nancy Wood

Allan Wylie

Martin Yates

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