Faculty & Staff

The Michigan Tech GlobalWatershed GK-12 Fellows program currently includes the following MTU faculty and staff.
Click a link to read about a faculty or staff member.


   
 
         
  Nancy Auer
Associate Professor

Role in the program:
Co-primary investigator, project management team, faculty advisor 2010-2012

Education:

  • PhD: Michigan Technological University, 1995

Specific interests:

  • Fish Biology
  • Zooplankton Ecology
  • Limnology
  • Conservation Biology

Dr. Auer conducts field studies with aquatic organisms, such as fish feeding, reproduction, habitat and survival studies. Among the species studied are sturgeon, lake herring, and lampreys. Reproductive success of both beneficial and deleterious species depends upon proper habitat condition and food availability.

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  Brad Baltensperger
Chair of the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences,
Professor of Geography

Role in the program:
Co-primary investigator, project management team

Education:

  • PhD: Clark University, 1974
  • B.A.: University of Nebraska, 1969

Specific interests:

  • Public perception of environmental issues
  • Natural hazards
  • Environmental history

As chair of Michigan Tech's Division of Teacher Education, Dr. Baltensperger directs MTU's teacher certification and teacher professional development programs, which have certified over 900 secondary teachers in mathematics and the sciences. Besides the National Science Foundation (NSF) funding for the GK-12 GlobalWatershed program ("Global Watershed: Integrating Rural and Global Perspectives with Research and Technological Awareness"), Dr. Baltensperger has helped to secure funding for numerous projects in the past several years, including:

  • NSF Noyce Scholarship program, which has provided scholarships for 24 undergraduate STEM majors and 12 STEM professionals to become certified to teach science and/or mathematics
  • NSF MSP "Michigan Teacher Excellence Program," which supports curriculum reform, teacher professional development, and the creation of teacher leaders in Earth Science education
  • NSF Geoscience Education ("Increasing Expertise in Earth Science Education"), which supports development of Earth Science MS track and Earth Science teacher certification for science teachers

 

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  Alex Mayer
Professor of Geological and Environmental Engineering and
Director, Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society

Role in the program:
Primary investigator, project management team

Education:

  • PhD: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1988
  • B.S.: Brown University, 1981

Specific interests:

  • Human-biophysical interactions in water systems
  • Water resources management and modeling
  • Groundwater flow, transport, and remediation

Dr. Mayer enjoys cross-disciplinary research, education, and outreach related to water issues. Dr. Mayer's research includes computational, field, and laboratory studies. The primary geographic settings for this work are the Laurentian Great Lakes and northwest Mexico.

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  Linda Nagel
Associate Professor

Role in the program:
Co-primary investigator, project management team

Education:

  • PhD: Forestry, University of Montana, Missoula, 2000
  • M.S.: Natural Resource Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, 1997
  • B.S.: Biology, Chemistry Minor, South Dakota State University, Brookings, 1994

Specific interests:

  • Forest vegetation dynamics
  • Silviculture of the Great Lakes region
  • Invasive plant species in forested ecosystems
  • Silviculture in an uncertain climate future

Michigan Tech is situated among expansive and diverse forest types and ownerships, encompassing a medley of demands on forest resources. Disturbances and forest vegetation dynamics are the foundation of silviculture; they allow for creative solutions to complex management and conservation issues.

Dr. Nagel's research is driven by broad scientific questions, including landscape-level assessment of invasive species and multiple-scale quantification of forest structures in a changing environment. Silviculture is applied forest ecology, and requires creativity in concert with proficiency in ecological and technical arenas. Education in natural resources in a fluid and technologically accelerating world requires unique instructional approaches, and societal demands require a comprehensive integration of ideas and concepts.

Her teaching philosophy centers around active student learning both in the classroom and in the field. Her mission is to provide students with fundamental knowledge, and cultivate their curiosity and critical thinking skills so that they can ask good questions and know where to find answers in the future.

"I believe in the power of asking good questions."

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  Shawn Oppliger
Director of the Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education

Role in the program:
Co-primary investigator, project management team, instructor, and GK-12 liaison

Shawn Oppliger has served as the director of Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education since 1998 and the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative since 2007. The Western UP Center provides teacher and student programs to school districts in Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw, Gogebic, and Ontonagon counties of Michigan. The Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative involves teachers and students from 15 schools and over 40 community partners in environmental stewardship projects in the Lake Superior watershed.

Michigan Tech's Educator's Academy and Copper Country Association of School Boards have recognized Shawn for her service to public education. Shawn has her B.S. and M.S. in Biological Sciences from Michigan Technological University, and secondary science and math teaching certification. Shawn's role in the Global Watershed project is to coordinate the professional development of the participating teachers and graduate fellows, support the teacher- graduate fellow cohorts in their work in schools, act as the liaison between participating schools and Michigan Tech, and serve on the project's leadership team.

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  Joseph Bump
Assistant Professor

Role in the program:
Faculty advisor 2011-2013

Education:

  • Ph.D.: Forest Science, Michigan Technological University
  • M.S.: Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming
  • B.S.: Biology with Honors Thesis, University of Michigan

Specific interests:

  • Animal-ecosystem links

The ecological significance of a species is a story worth telling. Telling such stories has required working among the fields of population biology, community ecology, and ecosystem science. Understanding the relationship between species and ecosystem processes is important because it critically informs management decisions and conservation science. I value and have used experimental, empirical, and theoretical approaches in my research. My preference is to develop robust empirical approaches that are designed for long-term data collection, and use field experiments to test specific hypotheses generated from empirical data.

I believe personal appreciation, public support, effective management, and conservation start with the understanding of animal-ecosystem relationships. Yet, pure science does not necessarily result in immediately useful applications. I am comfortable with ecological theory, value restoration and conservation efforts, and aim to do work that reduces the gap between the two.

"Nature loves to hide" - Heraclitus

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PHOTO
FORTHCOMING
Paloma Peñuelas Félix
Coordinator of "Clean Hermosillo" program at Colegio Muñoz.

Role in the program:
Facilitator between MTU and Colegio Muñoz in the Global Watershed Workshop.

Education:

  • B.A.: Information Technology, Technological Institute of Hermosillo, Hermosillo Sonora, México.

Paloma Peñuelas Félix is currently working at the Educative Institute "Colegio Muñoz" as the coordinator of the program "Clean Hermosillo". She loves to work with kids and teenagers on the environmental education field by applying and innovating projects that transcends in actual education. She participates in the Global Watershed Workshop program as a facilitator between MTU graduate student and the fellow teacher from Colegio Muñoz, Sonora, México.

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  Kathy Halvorsen
Associate Professor

Role in the program:
Project management team, faculty advisor 2010-2012

Education:

  • PhD: Forest Resource Management, University of Washington, Seattle, 1996
  • M.S.: Environmental Science, State University of New York, Syracuse, 1992
  • B.S. Political Economy of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley, 1989

Specific interests:

  • Sociology of natural resources
  • Natural resource and environmental policy

Dr. Halvorsen has a joint appointment with the Department of Social Sciences and the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. She specializes in natural resource policy and sociology.

Her current research focuses on the policy and cultural modeling aspects of bioenergy development and climate change mitigation. She also work on various water quality policy issues, especially within the Great Lakes region and in Latin America.

She has published scientific articles on topics including cellulosic ethanol development, wetland mitigation policies, public participation in environmental decision-making and the regulation of onsite sewage systems around the Great Lakes. She has also studied organizational change within the USDA Forest Service.

"The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences." - Al Gore

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  Mary Hindelang
Forest Ecologist

Role in the program:
Consultant for the Global Watershed Science GK-12 Project

Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Wisdom into Watershed Science and Education

Education:

  • PhD: Michigan Technological University, Forest Science, Wildlife Ecology, 1996
  • MS: Central Michigan University, Science and Health Education, 1984
  • BS: Wayne State University, Psychology/Pre-Med, 1975

Specific interests:

  • Wildlife Physiological Ecology
  • Predator/Prey Dynamics
  • Winter Ecology and Cryosphere Science
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Wisdom
  • Science and Health Education GK-12

Dr. Hindelang enjoys collaborative ecological research and education across diverse areas including wildlife habitat needs, human/wildlife interactions, wilderness conservation, winter adaptations, wilderness medical issues, and development of inquiry based science curricula.

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  Casey Huckins
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

Role in the program:
Faculty advisor 2010-2012

Education:

  • Ph. D.: Michigan State University, 1996

Specific interests:

  • Community ecology of riparian systems, lakes, and streams
  • Biology and functional morphology of fishes

As a community ecologist Dr. Huckins is interested in the species interactions and environmental conditions that influence the distribution and abundance of organisms. Specifically, his laboratory specializes on the population and community ecology of fishes and aquatic macroinvertebrates in aquatic systems. Recent projects conducted by his research group have been focused on aquatic communities in Lake Superior tributaries and riparian systems. Common themes represented in his research include the functional morphology of aquatic organisms and the relationships among these organisms, land use, and habitat conditions. They also seek to understand the roles and effects of introduced species on native fishes and their rehabilitation.

His research program is currently focused on two primary areas 1) the ecology and rehabilitation of coaster brook trout (coasters) in Lake Superior and 2) the relationships among riparian communities (fish and macroinvertebrates), local habitat features, and land use in riparian systems.

In one project on coasters (brook trout that utilize Lake Superior as adult habitat), he and his graduate students are studying the ecology and population structure of the remaining coaster population known to be reproducing along the south shore of Lake Superior. The sister research project on brook trout addresses the ecology of brook trout in tributaries along the Keweenaw Peninsula and is coupled with an ecological evaluation of a coaster rehabilitation program being implemented by the Michigan DNR with the assistance of the Copper Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

The other major focus of research that he and his graduate students are currently conducting addresses the associations among the history of land use such as selective logging in watersheds of the Upper Peninsula, aquatic habitat, and the community and trophic assemblages of aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish.

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  Carol MacLennan
Associate Professor

Role in the program:
Faculty advisor 2011-2013

Education:

  • Ph.D.: Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
  • M.A.: Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
  • B.A.: History, University of California, San Diego

Dr. MacLennan works in the fields of environmental anthropology and history. Her research currently includes studies on the historical effects of large scale industrial development (cane sugar plantations and mining enterprises) on landscapes and human communities. She also conducts ethnographic research on contemporary questions of pollution, regulation, and toxics in industrial communities. Her published work includes books and articles on the sugar industry in Hawai`i, mining communities in New Mexico and Michigan, and health, safety, and environmental regulation. She actively mentors students in environmental policy and industrial archaeology graduate programs at Michigan Tech.

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  Amy Marcarelli
Assistant Professor

Education:

  • PhD, Utah State University
  • BA, Colgate University

I am an ecosystem ecologist who studies biogeochemical cycles and linkages between physical, chemical and biological structure and function in watersheds. Linking these often requires understanding the underlying structure of microbial, algal, and animal communities. I am also working to place concepts of food webs into a broader ecosystem context by merging measurements of ecosystem production and food web pathways. Therefore, my research occurs at the interface of ecosystem and community ecology. I enjoy research that is both fundamental and applied, and have explored the interface between academia and management in projects examining the effects of salmon marine-derived nutrients on stream-riparian production and the effects of land use and habitat degradation on nutrient cycling and export from rivers.

One benefit of an academic career is the synergy between an active research program and undergraduate and graduate education. I currently teach undergrad and graduate courses in Limnology and Ecosystem Ecology, as well a professional development seminar for graduate students called The Scientific Profession where we cover topics related to grant writing, publishing, jobs, work-life balance, ethics, and gender issues, among many others.

Recent Publications:

  • Bechtold HA, Marcarelli AM, Baxter CV & Inouye RS. 2012 (In press). Effects of N, P andorganic carbon on stream biofilm nutrient limitation and uptake in a semi-arid watershed.
    Limnology and Oceanography.
  • Mineau MM, Baxter CV, Marcarelli AM & Minshall GW. 2012. An invasive riparian tree reduces stream ecosystem efficiency via a recalcitrant organic matter subsidy. Ecology 93:1501-1508.
  • Scott JT, Marcarelli AM. 2012. Cyanobacteria in freshwater benthic environments, pp 271-289 in The Ecology of Cyanobacteria II: Their Diversity in Time and Space, Ed. Whitton BA,
    Springer, Dordrecht.
  • Marcarelli AM, Baxter CV, Mineau MM & Hall RO. 2011. Quantity and quality: unifying food web and ecosystem perspectives on the role of resource subsidies in freshwaters. Ecology 92: 1215-1225.
  • Hopkins JM, Marcarelli AM & Bechtold HA. 2011. Ecosystem structure and function are complementary measures of water quality in a polluted, spring-influenced river. Water Air and Soil Pollution 214: 409-421.
  • Marcarelli AM, Van Kirk RW & Baxter CV. 2010. Predicting effects of hydrologic alteration and climate change on ecosystem metabolism in a western U.S. river. Ecological Applications 20: 2081-2088.

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  Wayne D Pennington
Professor of Geophysical Engineering and
Chair of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Role in the program:
Faculty advisor 2012-2014

Education:

  • PhD: Geophysics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • MS: Geophysics and Geology, Cornell University
  • AB: Geology and Geophysics, Princeton University

Specific interests:

  • Oil and gas exploration and development
  • In situ response of earth materials to changes in stress and saturation
  • Earthquake hazards and community resilience

The career of Dr Pennington has spanned academics, industry, and government through positions at the University of Texas and Michigan Tech, nine years with a major oil company's research center, and one year in Washington DC as a Jefferson Science Fellow with the US Agency for International Development and the US Dept of State . His primary research activity has been in the response of earth materials to changes in stress and other conditions, a discipline which finds applications to oil and gas development, induced seismicity (from water reservoirs, fluid injection into the earth, and other driving forces), and earthquake risk reduction, particularly in developing countries. He also serves as President (2012) for the American Geosciences Institute, a federation of 50 professional societies together representing 250,000 professional geoscientists.

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  Thomas Pypker
Assistant Professor

Role in the program:
Faculty advisor 2012-2013

Education:

  • PhD, Forest Micrometeorology and Ecohydrology, Oregon State University
  • MS, Natural Resource Management, University of Northern BC
  • BS, Geography and Environmental Science, McMaster University

One my most rewarding moments while conducting research occurs when I begin to see how two seemingly unrelated components of the environment affect one another. My research focuses on improving our knowledge of how biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem interact to affect the exchange of matter and energy between plants and the atmosphere.

The ultimate goal of my research is to improve our knowledge of how changes in climate and/or land-use will affect ecosystems and water resources. My research uses state-of-the-art techniques (e.g. sap flow, stable isotopes, micrometeorology) to reveal patterns and processes at scales ranging from the leaf to the ecosystem. Current research projects include: carbon and water dynamics in peatlands and the effect of emerald ash borer on the hydrology and ecology of black ash swamps.

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PHOTO
FORTHCOMING
Maria Esther Gutiérez Varelaori
Teacher

Role in the program:
Facilitator between MTU and Colegio Muñoz in the introduction of the Global Watershed Workshop.

Education:

  • B.A.: English Language Teaching, University of Sonora, Hermosillo Sonora, México.

María Esther has worked in the teaching field for 5 years, being English language and Science for elementary students her focus teaching in Sonora, México. Being an English language teacher and also Science has given her the opportunity not also to teach the language to her students but also to teach them Science subjects related to health, ecosystems, how human beings relate and affect the environment and create in them an interest on research by going further on student's insights in order to develop better citizens. She participated in the introduction of the Global Watershed Workshop as a facilitator between MTU graduate student and the fellow teacher from Colegio Muñoz, Sonora, México.

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  Lori Witting
Teacher Professional Development Coordinator in the Department of
Cognitive and Learning Sciences, MTU

Role in the program:
Administrative assistant

Lori has been working at Michigan Tech for over nine years in teacher professional development. She has been involved with the GK-12 program since July of 2009.

 

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