Faculty in four departments are affiliated with the Environmental Sciences Program and conduct research in a wide range of environmentally related areas. They provide research opportunities for Environmental Sciences majors and Honors students. Information on the research programs of affiliated faculty can be accessed via the links below. In addition, some faculty profiles contain brief descriptions of research projects that are particularly suitable for Environmental Sciences students.

 

Jonathan Adrain

Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Marc Armstrong

Marc Armstrong, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Geographical and Sustainability Sciences
David Bennett

David Bennett

Professor, Geographical and Sustainability Sciences

My research interests lie at the intersection of technology, policy, and science. While my work is squarely focused on geographic information science (GIScience), I am interested in the processes and the effects of environmental decision-making. Much of my research is done in the context of multidisciplinary teams and designed to understand the social and environmental tradeoffs associated with alternative policies.

Christopher Brochu

Christopher Brochu, Ph.D.

Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

I’m a vertebrate paleontologist and systematist who applies phylogenetic methods to understand biodiversity. I’m interested in the reciprocal light morphological, genomic, and fossil data can shed on the phylogeny, distribution, and diversity of groups throughout their evolutionary histories.

 

Shamar Chin

Assistant Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

My research entails using the skeletal remains of these microscopic algae, known as calcareous nannofossils, to understand the onset of climatic events such as extreme greenhouse conditions, more specifically, changes in the global carbon cycle. Studying these past climatic events is necessary because it helps us better understand the conditions that triggered global warming and climate variability, which we use to model future climates. Today, I am working on the transition from ‘hot greenhouse’ to ‘cool greenhouse’ climates using micropaleontological fossil data, statistical methods, paleoecological trends, and geochemical data from localities in the South Atlantic and Indian oceans.

Bradley Cramer

Bradley Cramer, Ph.D.

Advisory Committee Member
Associate Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

I try to understand the major biotic, chemical, and physical events that punctuate the history of our planet by throwing every tool and proxy at the problem as is possible.

Matt Dannenberg

Matt Dannenberg, Ph.D.

Advisory Committee Member
Assistant Professor, Geographical and Sustainability Sciences

I study past and present global change and its impacts on Earth’s ecosystems, at scales ranging from the regional (with a focus on dryland ecosystems of the western United States) to the global. The tools I use include remote sensing, dendrochronology (the science of tree rings), and empirical/process-based modeling.

Jeffrey Dorale

Jeffrey Dorale, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Emily Finzel

Emily Finzel, Ph.D.

Academic Coordinator, Environmental Sciences Program
Advisory Committee Member
Associate Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

My research focuses on sedimentary processes in modern and ancient depositional environments. One strand of my research involves deciphering the tectonic record contained within a stratigraphic section by integrating sedimentologic analyses, geologic mapping, detrital geochronology (U-Pb and Hf isotopes), mudstone geochemistry (rare earth elements), and heavy mineral and petrographic provenance analyses. More recently, we have started investigating geochemical proxies in marginal marine environments as proxies for environmental and paleosaline conditions, which has implcations for how fast coastlines move in response to climate change. My courses include Sedimentary Geology (required for the Geoscience B.S. and Environmental Geosciences B.S. and an elective for the Environmental Hydrosciences B.S.), Geologic Field Methods (required for Geoscience B.S. and an optional field course for the Environmental Geosciences B.S.), and Geologic Field Analysis (required for Geoscience B.S.). I also team-teach two upper-level undergraduate/graduate elective courses that alternate in the spring semesters: Mineral and Petroleum Exploration and Tectonics and Basin Analysis.

Andrew Forbes

Andrew Forbes, Ph.D.

Program Director, Environmental Sciences Program
Advisory Committee Member
Associate Professor, Biology

Students working in my lab study the evolution and ecology of insects. Projects can involve field work, insect behavior, taxonomy, phylogenetics, and genomics. I am always interested in having undergraduates in the lab, especially if you have an interest in evolution and/or insect diversity. Please email me if you think you may be interested in working with us.

Tori Forbes

Tori Forbes, Ph.D.

Professor, Chemistry

The Forbes research group focuses on understanding the reactivity of the actinyl oxo group under a range of conditions to develop means to control the chemical and physical properties of the actinide elements.

C Tom Foster

C. Tom Foster, Ph.D.

Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

I regularly teach EES:1050, one of the foundation courses in the ENVS curriculum that exposes students to a broad range of Earth processes that impact environmental science.  I also periodically teach courses that introduce environmental science students to programming techniques (Python, Visual Basic, Fortran) that are useful in their studies and research.  I’ve published research papers on a broad range of topics including petrology, tectonics, stratigraphy, bolide impacts and paleontology; presently, the goal of my main research efforts are to understand mineral reaction kinetics at high temperature and pressure. 

Jane Gilotti

Jane Gilotti, Ph.D.

Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

My research focuses on the architecture and composition of Earth's crust, particularly in areas of collision between tectonic plates. Fundamentals of structural geology and petrology are essential for understanding many environmental problems.

James Gloer

James Gloer, Ph.D.

Professor, Chemistry

Our research program is dedicated mainly to the discovery, isolation, and structure determination of novel biologically active natural products from fungi.  Many antibiotics, anticancer agents, and other important pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals in use today have been discovered through studies of the chemistry of bacteria and fungi.  

Stephen Hendrix

Stephen Hendrix, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Biology

Research in our lab over the last 20 years has focused on the community ecology and conservation of wild bees. We have shown that bee species richness, diversity, and abundance are directly and positively prairie preserves serve as a reservoir for wild bee diversity.  Furthermore, we have demonstrated that greater bee diversity leads to greater plant reproduction for important, out-crossing prairie plants.

Erin Irish

Erin Irish, Ph.D.

Advisory Committee Member
Associate Professor, Biology

Research in my lab focuses on addressing these questions: How is determinacy in shoot meristems achieved? What regulates the timing of determinacy? How is determinacy of the meristem related to differentiation of the shoot? How is determinacy coordinated among cells of the meristem? To address these questions, we have been examining shoot meristems during both vegetative and reproductive growth in two model species, maize and tomato. Some of our projects are outlined below.

Johna Leddy

Johna Leddy, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Chemistry

Our studies of magnetic field effects on chemical kinetics run from the fundamentals of theory and modeling through experimental demonstration and evaluation of effects in composite materials to implementation in technologies such as fuel cells and batteries.

Marc Linderman

Marc Linderman, Ph.D.

Advisory Committee Member
Associate Professor, Geographical and Sustainability Sciences

My research focuses on the interactions between dynamic human and natural systems. I use remote sensing and spatio-temporally explicit models to study these processes at spatial and temporal scales typically prohibitive for studies based on ground observations only. Currently, we are developing methods to better quantify the spatial arrangement and temporal dynamics of natural systems using time-series of remote sensing data and examining the interactions between socio-economic and biophysical systems that lead to these dynamics.

John Logsdon

John Logsdon, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Biology

My research interests are generally in the molecular genetic aspects of evolution with a focus on the origin and early evolution of eukaryotes and their genomes, and how they differ from prokaryotes.

Leonard MacGillivray

Leonard MacGillivray, Ph.D.

Our research is in the field of supramolecular chemistry - an area that bridges chemistry, physics, and biology through exploiting noncovalent bonds - as related to organic solids.

Bryant Mcallister

Bryant McAllister, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Biology

My research interests are in the field of evolutionary genetics, especially understanding processes occurring through or influenced by genome-level mechanisms. Active research projects in the lab use flies in the genus Drosophila for empirical studies combining molecular, cytological, and genetic approaches.

Bill McClelland

Bill McClelland, Ph.D.

Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

My primary interests in the fields of geochronology, economic geology, and tectonics center on understanding rates of tectonic processes active along convergent margins and the timing of tectonic and mineralizing events within major orogenic systems.

Susan Meerdink

Susan Meerdink, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Geographical and Sustainability Sciences

I work at the intersection of machine learning, remote sensing, and ecology to understand our functioning natural environment. The ability to capture high temporal, spatial, and spectral resolution imagery has advanced much more rapidly than algorithms for processing, visualizing, and interpreting these images. 

Jessica Meyer

Jessica Meyer, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Meyer’s Hydrogeology research group focuses on improving techniques for characterizing groundwater flow directions and rates in heterogeneous geologic materials like ice marginal glacial sediments and fractured bedrock. Our research is typically a collaborative effort done to support broader studies focused on a wide range of hydrogeologic problems. Dr. Meyer team teaches Fundamentals of Environmental Science (EES 1085), Hydrogeology (EES 4630), and Contaminant Hydrogeology (EES 4640). Dr. Meyer has also developed a comprehensive network of teaching wells and multilevel systems and collects and manages baseline hydrogeological data at the Ashton Prairie Living Laboratory to support experiential learning in her own groundwater courses and environmental science courses across campus.  

Maurine Neiman

Maurine Neiman, Ph.D.

Advisory Committee Member
Associate Professor, Biology

Our research program is relevant to scientists who use our snail study system as a model for ecotoxicology and host-parasite coevolution as well as those studying the causes and consequences of biological invasions.

 

Valerie Payré

Assistant Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

I am a planetary scientist with a strong interest in understanding the evolution of planetary bodies, with an emphasis on the Earth, Mars, and Venus. My work crosses several disciplines including igneous petrology and sedimentology to assess the surface and interior evolution of planets and environmental conditions in the past. I teach the Mineralogy class, which is one of the three Environmental Geosciences Foundation courses of the Geosciences Brown Track. 

David Peate

David Peate, Ph.D.

Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Research in my group primarily focuses on the study of volcanic rocks to understand how volcanoes develop and their potential impact on the environment. This research is done through detailed chemical analysis of rocks and minerals, using a comprehensive range of analytical techniques available in the University of Iowa MATFab facility (SEM and electron microprobe, XRF and pXRF, solution and laser ablation ICP-MS). I teach courses in Geochemistry and Analytical Methods that are electives for the Environmental Science major.

Mark Reagan

Mark Reagan, Ph.D.

Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

My research mainly focuses on the petrology and geochemistry of volcanic rocks.  

Heather Sander

Heather Sander, Ph.D.

Advisory Committee Member
Associate Professor, Geographical and Sustainability Sciences

My research centers combines field work, GIS, and ecological modeling to explore questions related to urban ecosystems.  To this end, my research interests are highly interdisciplinary, integrating the natural and social sciences to understand human-environment interactions with a particular focus on the utilization of spatial models and analysis techniques to better understand the relationships between urban human well-being, biodiversity, ecosystem structure and function, and land use

Betsy Stone

Betsy Stone, Ph.D.

Professor, Chemistry

Research in the Stone Group combines analytical, environmental, and organic chemistry with the objective of advancing our understanding of the chemical composition and sources of atmospheric particulate matter. We use chromatography and mass spectrometry to improve measurements of atmospheric pollutants and source apportionment techniques to link pollution to its sources.

 

Amy Strathman

Advisory Committee Member
Associate Professor of Instruction
 

Ben Swanson

Advisory Committee Member
Lecturer, Earth and Environmental Sciences

I am mostly focused on surface processes centered on rivers and streams (fluvial geomorphology).  Through academics and stream restoration positions, I have developed expertise in sediment transport, hydraulic modeling, surveying, aquatic ecology, environmental geochemistry, and Geographic Information Systems.  My current position focuses on teaching introductory courses and managing undergraduate research on plants, soils, and water (oh, my) at the Ashton Prairie Living Laboratory.

 

Kate Tierney

Advisory Committee Member
Lecturer, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Ingrid Peate

Ingrid Ukstins Peate, Ph.D.

Adjunct Associate Professor

My research involves utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding explosive volcanic systems - magma petrogenesis, eruption and emplacement mechanisms of both mafic and silicic pyroclastic deposits, and the holistic interpretation of volcanic stratigraphic sequences containing effusive, explosive and reworked volcanic material.

Frank Weirich

Frank Weirich

Associate Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences