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Faculty Research

Explore just a few topics of research from our Geography and GIS faculty.  

  • Karen Barton

    Current research:

    1. Understanding youth and soundscape methodologies in natural parks and protected spaces.
    2. The role of farmers and ranchers in oil and gas development in eastern Colorado and Chihuahua, Mexico (ongoing).
    3. Farmers' roles in building the Great Green Wall of the Sahel (Fulbright Hays fellowship to Senegal).

    Upcoming research:

    1. Farmers' attitudes toward climate change in the  '51st" state (Spring 2017).
    2. Farmers and oil and gas development in Burma/Myanmar (Fulbright Scholarship Summer 2017).
  • James Doerner 

    Current Research:

    I am working on a 5-year research program in North Park, Colorado which is funded by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This is a collaborative effort with Professor Bob Brunswig (UNC Archaeology) that examines environmental and cultural changes in North Park during the Holocene. There are two primary goals of this research: 1) identify and record cultural resources to further our understanding of how those resources have impacted traditional cultural and archaeological landscapes; and 2) provide insights into the natural processes that have shaped the present-day landscape and to expand the spatial coverage of regional environmental change in northern Colorado.

  • Katherine Johnson

    Current Research: 

    Finalizing a book manuscript on the role of highways in American political development to be published by The Johns Hopkins University Press.  The book develops a new theory of how and why the US built the Interstate Highway system.

    Current Research:

    Developing a comprehensive statistical portrait of the City of Greeley and surrounding areas of Weld County in preparation for the city’s upcoming comprehensive plan, an exercise that will project economic and quality of life concerns out to 2040.    

  • Phil Klein 

    New projects:

    As a co-director of the AAG Center for Global Geography Education (CGGE) international collaboration project (since 2007), I’ve been recently involved with a related project called Geo-Capabilities. This is a collaborative effort between the Association of American Geographers and European Geography Association to promote professional development among school geography teachers in different countries through a series of online modules. Currently I am exploring ways to get Colorado teachers involved with this international opportunity.

    Ongoing projects:

    Continuing consultation work with Pearson Education, participating in design discussions for upgrades to its interactive mapping ancillary product for their introductory world and human geography texts. Working also with Dr. Diggs in the department to update and modify a set of online GIS activities on the historical geography of Colorado, aimed for use in upper elementary grades.

  • Jieun Lee 

    Video: How Affordable Housing Affects Mental and Physical Health
    Finding affordable housing in Colorado continues to make headlines and cause headaches for those who live in the state; however, UNC Assistant Professor of GIS Jieun Lee, Ph.D., is investigating affordable housing and physical and mental health issues using GIS-mapping techniques.

    Read the full story, and watch a video about this research.

    Dr. Lee was interviewed by The Colorado Independent on her recently published research on mapping where the lack of affordable housing intersects with mental-health needs in Colordo.  View the full interview.  "The interactive map will be used by public officials and lawmakers to more efficienty target services and funding" 

  • Chelsie Romulo

    Dr. Romulo's research spans several resource management contexts, but consistently seeks to understand what works and why to explain what contextual characteristics and policy or management strategies influence or correlate with natural resource management impacts and outcomes. To explain environmental impacts and responses to policy and management decisions, she combines social and natural science data in variable importance and causal inference models. These methods can be applied to many different management and policy situations and frequently make use of already existing data in new contexts. A former SESYNC graduate student pursuit member and Smithsonian-Mason Doctoral Fellow in Conservation, her dissertation research focused on community-based natural resource management in the Peruvian Amazon. Another aspect of her research interests delves into evaluating enabling conditions for payments for ecosystem services programs using big data machine learning models. 

    Investing in Watersheds to Prepare for Growing Urban Populations

    UNC Assistant Professor in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program Chelsie Romulo, Ph.D., recently had her article, "Global state and potential scope of investments in watershed services for large cities" published in the journal Nature Communications and appeared on a UNC podcast about the project.

    Learn more about Chelsie Romulo's Research

  • Jessica Salo 

    Open Street Map

    Humanitarian effort to create maps of areas in need, generally in less developed nations. I (Jessica Salo) organize a few mapathons a year with the help of others in northern Colorado.

    What’s the study about/what’s the goal?

    The process of mapping in OpenStreetMap is easy, interesting, a good way to connect with other humanitarians, and a great way to help the most vulnerable populations on Earth. Participants will add roads and buildings into OpenStreetMap using satellite imagery procured by the US State Department from Westminster-based DigitalGlobe. The resulting map data will be used by the international and local NGOs and individuals to better respond to crises affecting the area. No experience is necessary to participate in the mapathon, but participants should bring a laptop computer (Windows, Mac or Linux).

    Is research ongoing/coming up/just finished?

    This is an ongoing project, organized by Missing Maps, a group made possible by the American Red Cross, British Red Corss, Humanitarian OpenStreetMaps, and Doctors without Borders. Our events are open to the public and others can map any time from their personal computers.

    Tamarisk Identification

    Who is doing the research? (including, college/department): 

    Jessica Salo, Geography & GIS Department, Humanities and Social Sciences

    What’s the study about/what’s the goal?

    The study is designed to determine what satellite imagery detection methods are the most cost effective and accurate in identifying areas where there is rapid regrowth of an invasive species (tamarisk) in Western Colorado Rivers. The goal is to provide land management agencies with methods to determine where tamarisk is regrowing following defoilation.

    Is research ongoing/coming up/just finished?

    The research is ongoing, field work occurred in August 2016 and is being used to test the accuracy of several satellite imagery methods in detecting areas of refoliation.