Faculty Mentors

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John Albers

John Albers, part of the Atmosphere-Ocean Processes team at the NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory

John is a member of the Atmosphere-Ocean Processes team in the Physical Science Division at NOAA-ESRL. His research interests span a broad range of topics within the field of large-scale atmospheric dynamics including: stratosphere-troposphere coupling, subseasonal-to-seasonal climate prediction, and extratropical-tropical interactions. In addition, he also explores the effects of stratospheric trace constituents on tropospheric air quality, and the couplings between radiation, chemistry, and large-scale waves in the middle atmosphere.

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Lynne Albert

I am an enthusiastic Molecular microbiologist with 13+ years of industrial & laboratory research experience. I am currently focused on using my extensive background to teach Microbiology, Genetics and Astrobiology at Red Rocks Community College. This role allows me to continue to broaden my scientific knowledge and share that understanding with students.

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Kurt Anderson

My interests span a wide variety of topics at the intersection of theoretical, empirical, and applied ecology, and I have explored these interests in both aquatic and terrestrial systems. I am particularly interested in how populations and communities respond to environmental variation, both natural and human driven, and I use a mixture of mathematical and empirical approaches to understand processes that act across scales. We lab group has recently started exploring responses of freshwater communities to environmental gradients in the Niwot LTER.

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Pragallva Barpanda

CIRES post doc Pragallva Barpanda joined PSL's Atmosphere Ocean Processes team in September 2020 to work with George Kiladis, Stefan Tulich and Juliana Dias. Her main research focuses on better understanding the atmospheric interaction between tropics and extratropics in sub-seasonal timescale. In the future, she also wants to understand how climate change affects the tropical-extratropical interaction. After pursuing a Master’s degree in Physics from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, Pragallva received her PhD in atmospheric dynamics from the University of Chicago in 2020. Her PhD research focused on the dynamics of extratropical storm tracks in various timescales.

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Joseph Barsugli

Joe Barsugli is a research scientist at CIRES -- the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences -- at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and at the Western Water Assessment, a joint effort between NOAA and CU. Trained in climate theory and modeling, his current research focuses on improving the methods used for attribution of historical trends and events, and on understanding the causes of drought in the Western United States and the decline in Colorado River flows. He is passionate about connecting climate science with practitioners and technical staff who are informing planning for water and land management in the Colorado region, and connecting researchers to the problems faced by managers.

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Nels Bjarke

I am currently a Ph.D student at the University of Colorado Boulder and a research assistant in the field of hydrology. My research primarily focuses on the impact that climate change is having on water resources, specifically in alpine regions that hold a vital natural reservoir of water: snow.

Nels Bjarke completed his B.S. in Earth and Planetary Science in 2014 and M.S. of Earth and Planetary Science in 2019. Nels's previous research focused on climate variability and the impact of warming regional temperatures in the southwestern US on the relationship between snow-pack and subsequent runoff season streamflow. Currently, Nels is pursuing his Ph.D. in the Civil Engineering department at CU Boulder. His research at CU Boulder is focused on catchment-scale hydrologic modeling at the Niwot Ridge LTER site. Specifically, Nels is interested in investigating the efficacy of temporal and spatial meteorological infilling techniques for application in the DHSVM hydrologic model.


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Melissa Breeden

Melissa Breeden, part of the Atmosphere-Ocean Processes team at the NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory

CIRES researcher Melissa Breeden (she/her) joined PSL's Atmosphere–Ocean Processes Team in January 2021. Melissa develops real-time subseasonal forecast models of environmental conditions relevant to agriculture for regions important to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). Using a linear inverse model, she has developed a forecast model for sub-seasonal precipitation over Afghanistan, which will be implemented during the Afghan rainy season (November – April). Melissa also diagnoses sources of prediction skill, including ENSO and the MJO, for environmental conditions relevant to agriculture to bolster predictive understanding of Afghanistan's weather and climate. She next plans to develop forecasts for the Horn of Africa region.

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Ellie Browne

My group is primarily interested in developing instrumentation for measuring gases and aerosols in the atmosphere and in using this instrumentation to investigate how atmospheric processing affects the chemical composition of gases and aerosols. The group is specifically interested in organonitrogen and organosilicon compounds and investigates the fate of these compounds using laboratory and field measurements. Current work focuses on understanding the role of organonitrogen in new particle formation and growth, and in nitrogen deposition.

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Matthew Burgess

I am an Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies, with a courtesy appointment in Economics. My research focuses on economic growth futures and their impacts on the environment and society, mathematical modeling of human-environment systems, and political polarization of environmental issues. I use a combination of mathematical and computer modeling, data synthesis, and collaboration with stakeholders, in order to make conceptual advances and link them to practice.

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Sarah Child

I use historic remotely sensed data to better understand the changes outlet glaciers flowing through the Transantarctic Mountains, East Antarctica have withstood for the past 40-60 years. I focus on fluctuations in ice surface elevations and basal crevasse initiation at the grounding lines of glaciers. The rendered products from the historic data (e.g. DEMs) combined with 1D modeling constitutes one of the longest timelines ever produced of glacier behavior from remotely sensed data. My research's expanded temporal scale provides new insight into the external forces acting on these glaciers and whether the changes in ice dynamics are due to climate change or natural glaciological processes.

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Max Cook

Max Cook is a graduate student working with Dr. Jennifer Balch in the Department of Geography. His work focuses on the social and ecological impacts of wildfires in the western United States. Specifically, he is interested in using "Big Data", including remote sensing, to understand the impacts of extreme fires and identify possible mitigation strategies for create fire-resilient communities. Max received his BS from Colorado State University in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship in Natural Resource Management and GIS. He has spent 5 years working with The Nature Conservancy in Colorado and Utah as a Geospatial Analyst, where he continues to work on applied conservation issues. In his free time, he is an avid angler, biker, and backcountry skier.

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Ashley Dancer

I am an Air Force Veteran and current PhD student at CU Boulder in the Environmental Studies Department. I’m also on Denver’s Sustainability Advisory Board, Science and Research Committee. My research interests vary, but I’m currently focused on exploring possible economic and population growth futures and what these futures could mean for society, the environment, and geopolitics. I’m also interested in researching effective strategies for creating favorable environmental policy outcomes. I have experience in different qualitative social science methods and will be expanding my methodological skills to focus more on quantitative research methods and dynamic systems modeling.

I have a B.S. in meteorology, MBA in Sustainable Real Estate Development, and M.S. in Environmental Studies. The research that contributed to my Master’s thesis won a Food Studies International Award for Excellence in 2018. I was also awarded a 2021 Graduate School Diversity Recruitment Fellowship.

I currently live in Broomfield with my long-time partner, who is an electrical engineer. In my free-time, I enjoy practicing jujitsu, watching stand-up comedy, attending themed events (costumes required), listening to podcasts, and hitting the gym.

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Gijs de Boer

Dr. Gijs de Boer is a Research Scientist at the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and is an associate director of the Integrated Remote and In Situ Sensing (IRISS) program at CU. His research revolves around understanding the physics of the lower atmosphere and its interactions with the surface of the Earth, with a focus on high-latitude environments. This work includes analysis of data from long-term observatories and modeling studies, and has been strongly supported by internal efforts to develop and deploy uncrewed aircraft and other innovative observing capabilities in the lower atmosphere and upper ocean.

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Bri Dobson

Bri Dobson's current research focuses on nitrogen-containing compounds and new particle formation and growth in the atmosphere. They are using L-TOF-CIMS measurements taken at the Southern Great Plains site in rural Oklahoma to obtain quantitative measurements of amines in the region. They are also interested in the vertical distribution of particle nucleation within the planetary boundary layer at this site.

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Noah Fierer

Microbial ecology. Terrestrial ecosystem ecology. Microbial biogeography. Impact of global change factors on microbial communities and processes.

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Jonathan Henn

I am a Postdoctoral Researcher working with Marko Spasojevic and Katie Suding to characterize long-term change in alpine plant communities. Previously, I was a Postdoc with Anne Bjorkman at the University of Gothenburg on arctic plant responses and adaptation to climate change. I completed my PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Damschen Lab. I studied how functional traits can help explain plant responses to factors like climate change, species invasions, and changing disturbance regimes. Overall, my research focuses on these issues to improve the restoration and management of ecosystems under rapidly changing conditions. In addition to doing research, I actively work on developing effective mentoring, teaching, and outreach skills because I believe that scientists need to be effective mentors, teachers, and communicators to help cultivate the next generation of scientists and engaged citizens.

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Katya Jay

Katya is a Postdoctoral Scholar part of Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research and the Suding Lab. Her specialty includes plant ecology, climate change, and ecogeomorphology.

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Sebastian Kopf

Sebastian Kopf. Assistant Professor, Department of Geological Sciences

His research and teaching interests combine various aspects of the geological and biological sciences with the goal of understanding how microbial life has shaped the Earth’s surface chemistry in the past and how it continues to do so today. His research's current focus is primarily aimed at understanding (and reconstituting) environmentally relevant growth conditions and uncovering the physiological basis and environmental production of biological signatures (isotopic, molecular and mineralogical).

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Ryan Langendorf

I am an aspiring theoretical ecologist in both the Environmental Studies and Interdisciplinary Quantitative Biology programs working on theory and algorithms to infer causality in dynamic ecosystems from observational data. What does that actually mean? Well, I spend my time buried in equations and code, trying to improve the ways ecologists answer questions like “What role does the structure of a food web play in its stability and persistence?”, “What structures of competitive interactions best support restoration efforts?”, “In what ways can we infer dynamics of an unknown community from a heavily studied one?”, “What is the impact of species aggregation on predictions of community stability?”, “Do communities develop in predictable ways with regard to the way they are structured?”, and most importantly, “What are ecological interactions, and how can we realistically and usefully describe them?”. Answering these questions would not be possible without the collaborations and methodological exposure I have found in the IQ Biology program.

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Regina Leuty

Regina is interested in the fields of wildlife management and conservation biology. She is working with the Lambert lab, focusing on biological and observational data collection to aid in the further study of coyote populations within the Denver metro area.

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Anna Liao

Anna Liao is a scientific software engineer in the space weather group. She works on software cloud infrastructure for development of space weather product algorithms.

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Ben Livneh

Fellow of CIRES, Professor in Civil Engineering

Ben is a physical hydrologist, with primary research interests into how land cover and climate changes will affect water availability in the western U.S. Several recent projects have focused on drought within the Colorado River Basin, its drivers, and how changes in seasonal snowpack may impact our ability to predict the total amount of water available to us in the river.

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Adam Mahood

Adam Mahood is a post-doc in Jennifer Balch’s lab. He focuses on two things: broad-scale fire ecology research at the continental to global scale, and the response of plant communities to fire using remote sensing data to guide the collection of data on the ground. Adam got his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota in conservation biology in 2004, and his master’s degree at CU in 2017 in geography. In between, he worked seasonally for many years for anyone that would pay him to look at plants - usually the National Park Service. When he is not behind his computer, he enjoys biking, rock climbing, keying out plants and perfecting the art of cooking beet greens.

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Thomas Merchant

Research interests: Plant community, ecosystem ecology, and global change, plant-microbial interactions, data science.

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Annareli Morales

Dr. Annareli Morales performs research on precipitation over mountains and the physical processes involved with cloud and precipitation development using numerical modeling and observational datasets. Currently, she is developing a science plan based off the Study of Precipitation, the Lower Atmosphere and Surface of Hydrometeorology (SPLASH) 2021-2022 field campaign in the East River watershed in Colorado. The main theme of this research is understanding how well NOAA operational models can represent orographic precipitation and the associated mesoscale and microphysics processes. In addition to physical science research, Annareli is passionate about diversity, inlcusion, science communication, and public outreach.

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Sara Morris

Sara Morris is a NOAA Federal Research Scientist for the Physical Sciences Laboratory. Her scientific background is in climate and Arctic research. Her specialty areas are in Arctic ground heat fluxes – a critical component of the surface energy budget, of which spatial and temporal analysis of the ground heat flux demonstrates the impact of the term on Arctic melt, and research in ice mitigation strategies for Arctic instrumentation, specifically broadband radiometers, to investigate the impact of data lost in Polar Regions due to harsh weather conditions. Co-leading the De-Icing Comparison Experiment (D-ICE), her research focuses on improvements to radiation instrumentation capturing measurements in harsh Arctic environments, so that the scientific community can better account for discrepancies in the radiative term of the surface energy budget.

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Manoj Nair

Manoj is part of the NOAA GEOMAG team. His research interests include electromagnetic induction in Earth and oceans by external magnetic sources, electric and magnetic signals generated by the motion of sea water, equatorial ionospheric currents and fields, crowdsourcing Earth's magnetic data and analysis of ground and satellite magnetic data.

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Richard Saltus

Richard works with the NOAA GEOMAG team on an update to the EMAG2 global magnetic anomaly compilation.  The goal is to improve the resolution and reliability of the compilation to improve its applicability to geologic and tectonic interpretation.

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Katie Suding

I am a plant community ecologist working at the interface of ecosystem, landscape and population biology. My goal is to apply cutting-edge “usable” science to the challenges of restoration, species invasion, and environmental change. My research group and I work with a range of conservation groups, government agencies and land managers to provide evidence-based solutions that take into account biodiversity, human well-being, and management opportunities. We employ a combination of long-term monitoring, modeling and experimental approaches in settings that range from alpine tundra to oak woodlands to grasslands. Common themes include plant-soil feedbacks, functional traits, species effects on ecosystem processes, and non-linear and threshold dynamics. https://www.sudinglab.org/about-us

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Stefan Tulich

I am a Research Scientist III employed by CU/CIRES and working off-campus in the NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory. I received my BS in physics from the Univ. of Miami and my PhD in Atmospheric Science from Colorado State University. My research involves using observations and numerical models to improve understanding and prediction of large-scale tropical weather systems and their interactions with the extratropics. I live in Longmont with my partner and two kids, ages 14 and 12. If I'm not working, I'm usually out for a bike ride.

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Brandon Wolding

Brandon Wolding, part of the Atmosphere-Ocean Processes team at the NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory

Brandon Wolding began his work at NOAA PSL as a NOAA Climate and Global Change fellow in 2018, investigating the role of moisture in convective coupling. In August of 2020 he joined the Atmosphere-Ocean Processes team, helping develop process-oriented diagnostics aimed at improving model representation of organized tropical convection. His previous work includes examining how tropical-extratropical interactions will change in a warming climate, furthering understanding of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), and the role of air-sea interactions in the MJO. Brandon first worked for NOAA as an observer biologist aboard longline tuna and swordfish boats in the Hawaiian and American Samoan fisheries.

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Samuel Yevak

Sammy has been working the Niwot Ridge LTER Limnology group since his sophomore year of
undergraduate at CU Boulder. Over the years Sammy has been involved in many Niwot Ridge
LTER projects such as the pika survey, alpine plant biomass survey, megacosm experiment,
black sand experiment, gas sampling, and NADP sampling. His main research is focused on
alpine lakes and streams and how these systems respond to a changing alpine environment.
In his free time, you can find Sammy rock climbing, surfing, enjoying live music, camping, and
hanging out with his dog.

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Adam Younkin

As a curious student in academics, I worked in a wide range of laboratories including Exercise Physiology, Anatomy, Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Bioinformatics. Each one introduced a new facet of the world of Biology to investigate and appreciate. I am constantly driven to learn more about that world as well as utilizing that understanding to help society. My most desired opportunities in the future will certainly be along the lines of renewable resources, disease prevention, or teaching future scientists.

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