Geography, Geology, and the Environment
Geography, Geology, and the Environment

Department Research

Dr. Burkhart, Patrick A.
Dr. Burkhart’s research currently involves interdisciplinary studies in Badlands National Park and pedagogic investigations of constructivism in undergraduate classrooms and techniques to foster collaborative undergraduate research.  The Badlands Working Group at SRU has been investigating a host of interdisciplinary questions since 1999.  To date, four faculty members and dozens of students have completed a half-dozen research expeditions, which have been funded by various SRU sources, Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America, and the NSF CETP-PA.  With a two week journey in May of 2006 to SD, WY, MT, and Roosevelt Park, ND our undergraduate collaborators have now amassed over 700 student-field-days.  A classification scheme has been proposed for pseudo-karst in the White River Badlands, radiocarbon dated paleosols to constrain ages of late Holocene pediment surfaces, cosmogenic dated ventifacts to elicit ages of modern prairie surfaces, examined species-area relationships of prairie 'islands' dissected as modern sod tables, and examined paleo and modern hydrology and hydrogeology.

Dr. Chen, Xianfeng
Dr. Chen's recent research interests focus on geological application of hyperspectral remote sensing and thermal remote sensing, as well as raster data based GIS modeling and remote sensing applications of land use/land cover.  Several undergoing researches are outlined below: (1) A rule-based system was developed to integrate hyperspectral optic data and multispectral thermal data for geological mapping. (2) A faculty-student research project, an object-based algorithm for mapping wetland landscape using high spatial resolution satellite imagery, is sponsored by PAHESS, 2007--2008. (3) A faculty-student research project granted by SRU: Automatic extraction of rock textural information using an object-based algorithm, collaborated with Dr. Michael Zieg. (4) Combining remote sensing and terrain analysis approach to link vegetation physiology to terrain attributes, collaborated with Dr. Yongxin Deng from Western Illinois University.

Dr. Hathaway, James T.
Dr. Hathaway’s research focuses on the economic geography of services from cultural/historical perspectives and on geography education.  He has published on topics including drinking places in Minneapolis-St Paul, drinking places in Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria, urban transport in Nigeria, outlet malls in the US, the use of novels in introductory geography courses, the attainment of geographic skills, and web design principles.  Dr. Hathaway has a sabbatical in 2007-2008, and he will investigate recent trends and patterns in the environmental sector that comprises environmental consulting, environmental organizations, remediation, and waste collection and treatment. He will pursue this investigation at several scales, including the Pittsburgh region, Pennsylvania, the US, and Canada.

Dr. Schiappa, Tamra
Dr. Schiappa's research interests include: Upper Paleozoic ammonoid and conodont biostratigraphy, development of the Early Permian (Cisuralian) time scale, stratigraphy and carbonate sedimentology. Specifically, I am focused on Upper Carboniferous to Cisuralian ammonoid and conodont taxonomy, biostratigraphy and stratigraphy of northern Pangaea.  My main research emphasis has been on Upper Carboniferous to Cisuralian ammonoid and conodont taxonomy and biostratigraphy of assemblages recovered from sections in Nevada and in the southern Ural Mountains, Russian/Kazakhstan.  These data have been used in the international effort to build the Permian time scale and have been essential in understanding the development of the western margin of North America and the assembly of Pangaea.

Dr. Smith, Langdon
Dr. Smith’s current research is exploring the idea of “wildness” as it relates to nature and outdoor experiences. He is particularly interest in identifying “wild” areas within the densely populated Eastern United States. While the West is well known for its national parks, designated wilderness areas and other wildlands, the “wild” areas that remain in the East are often overlooked. Some questions he hopes to answer: What is the relationship between wildness and roads? How does noise, such as from highway traffic or urban background noise, impact our experiences in nature? How many nearby people are acceptable? What is the relationship between biodiversity and a “wild” experience? Does our experience in nature have to involve strenuous or possible risky physical activities?

Dr. Snow, Julie
Dr. Snow and two students, Katie George and David Fujii, spent the summer studying the transport of air pollution from Asia to the United States.  Every day they climbed 3000 vertical feet to reach the summit of Mt. Bachelor where their air quality instrument was measuring the concentration of certain gases in the atmosphere.  This work was a collaborative research project with the University of Washington, Bothell, Oregon State University, and the United States Naval Academy (Mt. Bachelor Observatory, Oregon.  2007). 

Dr. Wang, Jialing
Dr. Wang’s research focuses on the application of remote sensing, GIS, and related geographic techniques to study land use change, urban growth, and environmental issues. Currently she is working on a project that investigates the impact of urban development on longleaf pine forests in the region of North Florida and South Georgia. In the summer of 2007, Dr. Wang and two students, Rose Iksic and Daniel Cannon, conducted a field trip of the study area to collect ground truth data.  

Dr. Zieg, Michael
Dr. Zieg's research involves the application of quantitative textural analysis to the reconstruction of physical processes involved in the emplacement and solidification of magma.  In particular, he is interested in relating the textures of igneous rocks to their cooling history, and using this relationship to decipher the injection history of mafic sills and dikes.  He is currently studying this problem in two field areas of particular interest: the 1.1 billion year old Midcontinent Rift in Nipigon, Ontario, and the 176 million year old Ferrar Dolerites of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica.  Both of these projects have included student contributions.


2005 Department of Geography, Geology, & the Environment
Created 17 February 2006 by Matt Batina, updated 19 February 2008 by Jialing Wang.
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Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment