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Graduate Student Research

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EES electronic theses and dissertations since 2020:

EES electronic theses and dissertations before 2020:

Graduate Student Research Spotlight

Hannah Wolf, Ph.D. Student

Hannah’s research studies windstorms in the Arctic, and use Bayesian statistical methods to use various meteorological parameters to estimate the probability of severe wind gusts. Using data collected from the ESRL lab in Utqiagvik, Alaska, she models the relationship between temperature, hourly mean wind speed, and bulk Richardson number with the number of minutes in the hour that exceed instantaneous wind speeds of 10 m/s, winds above which can cause damage to infrastructure and unsafe conditions for bowhead whale hunting. For her master’s thesis, she aims to create a multiple regression model and an interactions model to evaluate the probability of wind gusts above that threshold, and for her Ph.D. she aims to add a time series predictive model to estimate how the frequency and/or intensity of these windstorms might change over time as a result of rising temperatures in the Arctic. She works with Dr. Ralf Bennartz.


Kat Turk, Ph.D. Candidate 

Kat’s work studies the trace fossil record of the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition (~540 million years ago) from southern Namibia to discern the role the evolution of early ecosystem engineering behaviors — specifically bioturbation — may have played in facilitating the Cambrian explosion. Her research encompasses fieldwork in Namibia, experimental work in Germany using modern bioturbating organisms, and computational work via agent-based simulations of Ediacaran-Cambrian seafloors. Kat was recently awarded a “Respekt & Wertschätzung” Scholarship from the DAAD Foundation in Germany to fund her research. She will be working with the Division of Actuopalaeontology at Senckenberg am Meer in Wilhelmshaven from May-August 2022 to run experiments studying the chemical and physical impacts of burrowing marine fauna on their environments.

Sarah Williams, Ph.D. Candidate

Sarah’s research is centered around the probabilistic physics of sediment particle motions over Earth’s surface, both in rivers and on hillslopes. She is particularly interested in two-dimensional particle spreading and the effects these random-walk motions have on descriptions of sediment transport and bed evolution. She conducts laboratory experiments involving high-speed imaging of moving particles to better quantify the mechanical basis for particle-scale diffusion and plans to incorporate her findings into a more formal theory as part of her dissertation. Though grounded in the desire to understand how fluvial bedforms evolve over time and space, Sarah’s work has also been concentrated on filling the gap in our understanding of randomness and its role in geomorphic processes. She draws heavily on ideas from probability, statistics, and her background in physics to simplify the diffusion problem to its most essential elements while acknowledging the inherent variability in particle transport.

Bryce Belanger, Ph.D. Candidate 

Bryce’s research focuses on reconstructing past climate change using speleothems, which are mineral deposits that grow in caves over time. He uses geochemical techniques to better understand how precipitation changed during warm periods in earth’s past. Bryce has conducted field work in Wyoming, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Philippines, and has focused specifically on reconstructing Holocene precipitation in the northern Rockies using two speleothems from Titan Cave, Wyoming. He also works to develop new geochemical recorders of past climate in speleothems using experimental techniques, most recently traveling to the University of Waikato in New Zealand to further investigate the “triple oxygen isotope” proxy in speleothems.