Student Projects

Student Research

In support of interdisciplinary student training, the GCSC offers research grants to eligible graduate students. These funds are awarded in support of thesis-related research that broadens a student’s disciplinary focus into a new interdisciplinary direction. Grantees present their research at our annual Environment and Sustainability Research Symposium.

Projects that have been supported by GCSC Graduate Student Research grants are listed below.

Evan Kipnis Geology and Geophysics Are changes to surface halite linked to shallow brine aquifer geochemistry at the Bonneville Salt Flats?
Jordan Herman Biology Breeding Birds and Climate Change: Can Nest Type Provide Shelter From the Storm?
Sabrina McNew Biology Does climate mediate the tolerance of Galapagos mockingbirds to invasive nest flies?
Andrew Bartlow Biology The Effect of Pinyon-Juniper Invasion on Parasite Communities in the Great Basin
Ian Summers Communication This land is your land? The role of social identity within land disputes
Joshua Mueller Geography Paleotempestology of the British Virgin Islands
Kate Magargal Anthropology People and Fire in Prehistory in the Upper Escalante Watershed, Utah
Alexei Perelet Mechanical Engineering Exploration of the microclimate over structured sparse canopies using area averaged measurements from large aperture scintillometry
Joyita Roy Chowdhury Economics Cooperation and Water Resource management: Experimental Evidence from villages affected by natural disasters in rural Odisha, India
Maria Groves Geography An Ecological and Climatic Reconstruction of Range Creek Canyon, Utah
Casey Duncan Geology and Geophysics Development and Deployment of a Low-Cost Multispectral Camera and UAV
Leah Campbell Atmospheric Sciences Mountain Effects on Precipitation in the Chilean Andes

Ralph Burrillo Anthropology δ18O Variability in Water Sources and Plant Cellulose on Elk Ridge, Southeast Utah: Data Collection for Models of Environmental Adaptation on the Prehistoric Colorado Plateau
Logan Frederick Geology and Geophysics Assessing Sedimentary Records of the Quimsacocha Region of Ecuador for Potential Paleoclimate Analysis
Tyler Huth Geology and Geophysics High resolution soil CO2 and soil water isotope profiles from Torrey, Utah
Cornelia Rasmussen Geology and Geophysics Environmental effects of bolide impacts during the Late Triassic
Joyita Roy Chowdhury Economics Poverty Traps, Risk and Natural disasters: Micro evidence from rural Odisha, India
Rose Verbos Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Weather and outdoor recreation: A weather dependency framework and an exploration of outdoor recreationists’ perceptions of weather dependency
Amanda Bertana Sociology Doctoral Dissertation Research: Environmentally Induced Migration
Leah Campbell Atmospheric Sciences Mountain Effects on Precipitation in the Chilean Andes
Megan Moser Parks, Recreation and Tourism Understanding Potential Visitor Responses to the Possible Recession Of Exit Glacier At Kenai Fjords National Park
Katherine Schide Geology A Geomorphic Study of Transgressive Deposits and Local Climate Change in Late Pleistocene Lake Bonneville
Nicole Torosin Anthropology A comparative study of human and howler monkey Toll-Like Receptor 7 under the selective pressure of yellow fever virus
Danielle Ward Geography Laser Diffraction Analysis of Range Creek Canyon Sediments
Chris Zajchowski Parks, Recreation and Tourism Valley flight: Normative standards for alpine recreation during air pollution events

Ralph Burillo collects samples.

Ralph Burillo collects samples.


Ralph Burrillo Anthropology 18O Variability in Water Sources on the Colorado Plateau: Preliminaries to Stable Isotope Models of Prehistoric Irrigation.
Vanessa Chavez Geography Ciénega Activity and Climate Responses for a Desert Wetland in Baja California.
Mark Chynoweth Biology “Human-wildlife conflict in eastern Turkey: gaining perspective from community surveys”
Mohd Yusuf Jameel Geology & Geophysics Deciphering the source of carbon in the anthropogenically modified rivers of the Great Salt Lake basin
Patrice Kurnath Biology Chill Out – Microclimate Use by Mammalian Herbivores Challenged with Temperature and Toxins
Kate Magargal Anthropology Fetching Firewood: Access to fuels as a constraint for prehistoric settlement
Nathan Miller Mechanical Engineering An Experimental Study of Block-scale Particle Dispersion in Grape Vineyards
Emily Schulze Biology Hidden Water Worlds of Red Butte Canyon
Tracy Maezumi Geography Neotropical Climate, Vegetation, and Fire Histories on Local and Regional Scales
Tracy Maezumi Geography Identifying the extent of Human Landscape Modification in the Bolivian Amazon
Crystal Tulley-Cordova Geology & Geophysics Recording the North American Monsoon in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah
Megan Walsh Civil & Environmental Engineering Using Remote Sensing, GIS, and Field-Collected Data to Determine Erosion and Sedimentation Effects of the Oil & Gas Industry in the Uinta Basin
Kathryn White Parks, Recreation & Tourism A Spatial Analysis of Rock Climbers in Indian Creek, Utah


Jerry Schneider deploys an ozone monitor in the forest canopy (photo by Christian Ziegler).

Evan Buechley Biology Conservation agriculture: A study of birds, ecosystem services, and the ecology of Ethiopian coffee farms.
Vachel Carter Geography “Forest Disturbance Regimes in the Uinta Mountains”
Kendra Chritz Geology & Geophysics “Uncovering isotopic indicators of monsoon-induced terrestrial ecosystem change in eastern Africa.
Youcan Feng Civil & Environmental Engineering Study of Stormwater Volume Captured and Evapotranspiration using a Small Automated Lysimeter Constructed on the University of Utah Marriott Library Green Roof.
Mohd Yusuf Jameel Geology & Geophysics Modeling Basketmaker II diets through stable isotope analysis of modern indigenous flora: field collection
Michael Lewis Anthropology Modeling Basketmaker II diets through stable isotope analysis of modern indigenous flora: field collection.
Zachary Magdol Civil & Environmental
Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Red Butte Garden.
Timothy Price Mechanical Engineering “Enhanced Atmospheric Turbulence Measurement System”
Gerald Schneider Biology Assessing Trends in Anthropogenic Ozone within an Urban-influenced Tropical Forest and Examining the Effects of O3 on the Foliar Chemical Landscape.
Hilary Sgalitzer Parks, Recreation & Tourism Sustainability: Understanding Travelers’ Motivations to Donate to Conservation.
Paul Thomas Geology & Geophysics Barrier Complexes in the Deep Creek Mountains, UT as G.K. Gilbert’s “Intermediate Shorelines” of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville.
Tracy Maezumi Geography Neotropical Climate, Vegetation, and Fire Histories on Local to Regional Scales.
Crystal Tulley- Cordova Geology & Geophysics High Frequency Monitoring of Stream Water Isotopes in Red Butte Creek.

Sarah Knutie

Sarah Knutie

Sarah Knutie Biology Predicting long-term effects of an invasive parasite: quantifying the observer effect.
Tracy Maezumi Geography Neotropical Climate and Fire Histories on Local to Regional Scales.
Ann Bryant Geography Reflectance characteristics of dust in snow: in situ data informing remote sensing retrievals.
Maria-Jose Endara Biology Towards sustainable insect management in agroforestry: The relevance of host plant defensive traits and phylogeny in determining herbivore host choice in the speciose Neotropical tree genus, Inga.
Becky Hollingshaus Geology & Geophysics Quantification of reservoir characteristics in areas of groundwater discharge – A Hydrolic Study in the Red Butte Canyon Research Natural Area.
Patrice Kurnath Biology Turning up the heat:Investigating the effects of climate change on liver metabolism in herbivorous mammals.
David Lubbar Mathematics Anistropic AC Measurements of Sea Ice.
Greg Maurer Biology Sensitivity of soil carbon cycle processes to mountain snowpack variability.
Nathan Miller Mechanical Engineering An Experimental Study of Fungal Spore Dispersion in Grape Vineyards.
Erin Spear Biology Phytopathogens as determinants of tree species distributions across a rainfall gradient.
Johanna Varner Biology Too hot to trot? Factors promoting pika survival in a time of global change.
Jennifer Watt Geography “Bark beetle outbreaks and the role that vegetation plays in their disturbance ecology”
Brett Wolfe Biology The determinants of drought response in tropical trees.
Carina Maron Biology Do southern right whales need to eat krill in order to reproduce successfully?

Global Changes and Society Project-based Course

GCSC Fellows and other graduate students and others have the opportunity to engage in a unique interdisciplinary course, “Global Changes and Society” (SUST 6000). Offered in the spring, this project-based course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to research related to global changes and sustainability. In this course, students from different disciplines Identify a theme or focus area, begin to learn the language and approaches of other disciplines around the theme, explore perspectives and approaches of different stakeholders, and develop a team project.

Read about the projects from each class at the links below:

Environment and Sustainability Research Symposium

Held every spring, the symposium provides a great opportunity for students from across campus to synthesize and present their research in a poster session. Presenters from past years are listed here.

Air Quality Scholars

The Air Quality Scholars program, sponsored by the Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, the Sustainability Office, and the Global Change and Sustainability Center, provides scholarships, training, and engagement opportunities to U of U undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in understanding and improving air quality.


The GCSC also engages in partnerships that provide undergraduate students with training and mentoring that will help prepare them to address the complex challenges of sustainability and the environment, working in interdisciplinary teams, where data sharing, collaboration, and communication are essential.