Faculty Spotlight -
Jessie Clark, PhD -
Jessie Clark joined the department in fall 2014, trading in the rain and fir trees of the Northwest for the sun and sage of the high desert. Prior to UNR, she worked for two years at the University of Oregon as an instructor and advisor of undergraduate studies. She completed her PhD in Geography in 2012 at the University of Arizona. Jessie is a political geographer, and her dissertation research, funded by the National Science Foundation, focused on issues of security, development, and women in Kurdish Southeast Turkey. She spent a month in Turkey this past summer conducting reconnaissance work for a new project on youth and community. She teaches the introductory human geography course in addition to more specialized classes and seminars on political and cultural geography and is currently organizing the Spring Colloquium series on "Cities" (check out our schedule of speakers online in the Spring). She also serves as the Pacific Coast Regional Councilor for Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geography honor society.
Kerri Jean Ormerod, PhD -
Kerri Jean Ormerod is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Cooperative Extension Program Leader in Water, Climate, and Drought Hazards. Dr. Ormerod's primary area of expertise is human-environment interactions, specifically political ecology, sanitation, and socio-cultural components of risk perception. Her research typically explores how science, law, and technology interact and adapt to changing social values regarding water governance. Recognizing the complexity of these issues, she employs Q Methodology to examine why people disagree over 'what to worry about' in the pursuit of sustainable futures. Q Methodology relies on quantitative techniques and qualitative theory-laden interpretation to investigate different ways of thinking about an issue. Dr. Ormerod has used this innovative methodology to examine social values surrounding potable water recycling operations, which are commonly derided as toilet-to-tap. These projects can be quite controversial because they transform municipal wastewater (i.e., sewage) into drinking water by applying a series of technologically advanced water treatment processes.
Student Spotlight -
Doctoral Student Spotlight - Anna Patterson
Master Student Spotlight - Stephanie Fruend
Master's student Stephanie Freund, in the Geospatial Lab of Dr. Jill Heaton, is researching the abundance and diversity of biological soil crusts in two vegetation zones of a mountain range in west-central Nevada, where soil crust research is largely absent. Part of her work was presented at the World Congress of the International Association of Landscape Ecologists in Portland, Oregon in July. After traveling to Boise, Idaho in the spring to spend a day identifying specimens with soil crust authority Dr. Roger Rosentreter, she completed her field work over the summer. This work was partially funded by an award from the department's Mountain & Desert Research Committee. Stephanie also served as President of the Geography Graduate Club in Fall 2014, during which she took part in coordinating the first on-campus field trip for Peavine Elementary 1st graders as part of Geography Awareness Week. The field trip included a tour of the Keck Museum and a map and compass activity that was implemented the previous 3 years by current club President Anna Patterson. In Spring 2015, she coordinated a graduate student brown-bag series to provide an avenue for students to practice defense and conference presentations.
Bachelor Student Spotlight - Walter Brediger
Walter Brediger came to UNR's Geography department after several years of professional life in Seattle. Since coming back to academic life, he has become a regular fixture at many Mackay School and Geography events. Although a non-traditional student, Walter provides evidence that returning to school later in life also brings with it valuable and practical skills. He currently serves as the vice-president of the undergraduate Geography Club.
Through his minor in Journalism, he is able to hone his design and creative talents which he will be bringing to bear for a second year as the teaching assistant of our Cartography course. Likewise, as the marketing and design student worker in the Mackay School, Walter helps to coordinate and promote career fairs and professional events with the Director of Career Development, but also works to promote the earth science majors at UNR through print material and social media. Recently he started working with Dr. Thomas Albright on a collaborative research project with Dr. James Wilson in the School of Community Health Sciences to analyze and map the spread of selected epidemics and infectious diseases. Walter looks forward to graduating in May 2016.
Crystal Kolden never intended to become a professor, especially not in Geography. After taking her bachelor's degree in history at Cornell University, Kolden moved west to California and became a wildland firefighter with the US Forest Service near Lake Tahoe. A few years into her stint with USFS, she realized something wasn't quite right about the job.
"It didn't make sense that we were suppressing fires in the middle of nowhere, in ecosystems that had evolved with fire. I decided there had to be a better way to manage public lands."
She ended up applying to the UNR graduate program in Geography as a back-up plan. "The primary person working on wildfire in the Great Basin was in the Natural Resources department, but he was retiring and not taking on any more graduate students. He pointed me to Scott Mensing as an alternative advisor." The back-up plan turned out to be a serendipitous choice. After taking GIS and remote sensing courses in Geography, Kolden realized her true interest was to study wildfires through remotely sensed data. In serving as a teaching assistant under Dr. Mensing in the Introduction to Physical Geography course, she also found a love of teaching. After finishing her master's degree at UNR, Kolden received her doctorate in Geography from Clark University. As a doctoral student, she worked full-time for the US Geological Survey, conducting research on wildfires in Alaska. In 2011, she became an assistant professor in the geography department at the University of Idaho, where she directs the Pyrogeography Lab.
Now, her summers are filled with field work and keeping up with the current wildfire season, while winters are spent analyzing and interpreting satellite data, and teaching. "It's something that only a geographer can do, and UNR shaped who I am today tremendously," she said. "I enjoy my research, but I also love inspiring undergrads to embrace geography, the way Scott and the late Gary Hausladen did for me as a grad student."