News & Events

In Memoriam:  Dr. Chris Field

Professor Emeritus of Geography, Chris Field passed away in summer 2013.  He was born in 1931 in Mexico, and raised in the Andean highlands of Argentina and in northern California.  Chris completed a baccalaureate degree from Stanford University, and a doctoral degree from UCLA. In 1963, Chris Field joined the UM Geography faculty, and both as an inspirational professor and later as chairman, he significantly influenced the character of the department. He emphasized environmental, cultural, and historical perspectives aligned with the so-called "Berkeley School" of geography associated with Carl Sauer.  He had an insatiable appetite for travel (Latin America, Africa, Pacific, and more) and reading.  Since his 1989 retirement from the University of Montana, Chris Field devoted time to issues of social justice and to environmental concerns and organizations - notably the Five Valleys Land Trust.  Our department has closed the book on an important chapter.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Chris Field.

Faculty Spring 2013 News

This spring Geography took an afternoon to celebrate the contributions of Dr. Jeffrey Gritzner to our Department.   Dr. Gritzner had announced his retirement earlier this year, but he will continue to be active in our program, including teaching two courses in the 2013-14 school year. In addition, he will continue to head the ongoing Earth Restoration Project, and have more time for travel and other activities.

After several years of dedicated leadership, Dr. Sarah Halvorson's term as Department Chair has come to an end.  As part of the rotation of chairpersons, Dr. Christiane von Reichert has agreed to serve the next term as Department Chair.  Our warmest thanks to both ladies for their service!!

We are thrilled to announce that Ms. T.H. Diep Dao will be joining the Geography Department this coming fall to teach GIS after defending her dissertation at the University of North Carolina - Charlotte.  Diep's specialties include big data, spatial data mining, network analysis, and GPS, and she has studied in Vietnam, Australia, and Canada.  We hope everyone will join us in giving her a warm welcome!

Spring 2013 Events

Once again, a Geography student mentored by Dr. Sarah Halvorson has received a Fulbright Award to study abroad! Congratulations to Sophia Albov, who will spend next year in Helsinki and Joensuu, researching her project "Organic Agriculture in the Shadow of the Arctic Circle: The Case of Finland."   In addition, Sophia received a student scholarship from the Finlandia Foundation and a Delta Gamma Graduate Fellowship to help support her activities.  Way to go Sohia!

Geography students received a number of scholarships this spring. Mr. Caleb Pan received one of the new UM MontanaView Remote Sensing Scholarships for his thesis research, "Inventory of Mongolian Glaciers for the Global Land Ice Measurement from Space (GLIMS) Program."   Ms. Alma Pacheco, received Forestry's Zuuring/MAGIP GIS scholarship for her thesis research, "Mapping European brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) habitat connectivity in montane environments of the northern Iberian Peninsula, 1990 to 2006."

The rain held off for Graduation this spring, and Geography celebrated with many students and their families. Over 49 students received their BA, BS, MS degrees, and GIS Certificates.   Mortar Board awards went to Anthony Thompson - Planning, Verena Henners - Physical Geography, Jill Stoeckl - BA, Sandy Burch - BS, and Harry Brennan - Gamma Theta Upsilon (International Geography Honorary Society).   Carlyn Anderson received the Faculty Award for her contributions to our Department during her time at UM.   The Bockmuehl Scholarship was awarded to Benjamin Bledsoe and Michael Capozzoli received the Kain-McKay Scholarship

Once again, a number of UM Geography faculty and students presented at the Association of American Geographer's Annual Meeting in Los Angeles this year. Sophia Albov, Benjamin Brewer, and Kayde Kaiser, along with faculty Heather Almquist, Sarah Halvorson, Anna Klene, Kevin McManigal, Christiane von Reichert, and Dave Shively participated and presented in a variety of panels, posters, and talks.

Geography had a number of students involved with UM's annual Conference on Undergraduate Research and Graduate Student and Faculty Research Conference which take place of sequential days in April.  Harry Brennan, Sandra Burch, Jake Koplen, Jill Stoeckl, Anthony Thompson, and Caleb Pan all presented research talks or posters.  Thanks to all for participating!Lowell kayaking

Recent geography undergraduate, Lowell Chandler, hasbeen selectedfor an Internship atNational Geographic in Washington, DC this spring.  Lowell graduated last spring with a dual major in Geography and Environmental Studies, and is a member of GTU (theInternationalGeography Honor Society) and the Golden Key International Honor Society.  He’ll be working with NG’s Education Foundation and Alliance Networks supporting geo-education in the US.  Congratulations Lowell!

New Search for Tenure-Track Assistant Professor

The Geography Department is happy to announce that we are searching for a new Assistant Professor in GIScience.   This position serves as the heart of the Department’s and University’s established GIS & Cartography program.  Our new hire will have an enthusiastic vision to lead this program into the future.  We seek candidates with a strong background and training in the technical and conceptual aspects of geospatial technologies.  Review of applications will begin 10 January 2013.  See for full description, qualifications, details, and to apply online. 

Fall 2012 News

UM Geographers, Dr. Tom Sullivan and graduate students Sophia Albov, Alex Pichacz, and Mace Wescott, were recently featured in an article in the Missoulian for their work helping to design the new park in Hellgate Canyon.  Check it out here.

UM-related folks sweep MAGIP’s GIS Day 2012 Online Map ContestALL of the winners have UM ties including current employees (Mike Sweet - Forestry's GIS guru) and collaborators (Van Shelhamer who works with us through MontanaView and does great education outreach on GPS, GIS, and RS throughout the state) and former students (Casey Wilson & John Driessen both employed in Missoula doing GIS).  Congratulations to all of them!!  Check their maps out here.  1st Place:  Watch Missoula Grow (Casey Wilson); 2nd Place:  Lubrecht Forest Nordic Ski Trails (Mike Sweet); 3rd Place Tie:  Land Cover Exploration after Forest Fires (Van Schelhamer) and Missoula, MT Trails (John Driessen).

Dr. Irena Mrak, an avid mountain climber and geographer from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, has received a Visiting Fulbright Scholarship to visit the Geography Department this fall to work on her project in collaboration with Dr. Ulrich Kamp: Geomorphic Dynamics and Natural Hazards in Mountains of Slovenia since the Last Glacial Maximum: The example of Mount Kosuta (Karavanke Range).

Geography Graduate Colloquium Fall 2012

Click here to view our Geography Graduate Colloquium Schedule! Every Tuesday, 3:30PM, Stone Hall 217.


Summer 2012 News

Dr. Sarah Halvorson and Nicky Phear (Coordinator of the Climate Change Studies Program) raced as a duo at the 24 hour mountain bike race in Spokane last May. They competed in a division with mostly men - 22 teams total - and got third place overall.  There was no separate podium for the women, so they just had to beat the men to a spot.  They did 21 total laps, 15 miles each lap.  This was just one of a series of Sarah's cycling victories this summer.  Way to go!!

New Faculty Hire

The Department would like everyone to join us in welcoming Mr. Kevin McManigal as our new Lecturer in GIS and Cartography and GIST Certificate Coordinator!  Kevin was hired into a new line created by the Provost to teach courses in GIS for both the College of Forestry and Conservation's Department of Forest Management and the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Geography in support of our joint Certificate in Geographic Information System Sciences and Technologies.  As part of his duties, Kevin will coordinate the GIS offerings between our departments that contribute to the Certificate and advise GIS Certificate students who are not Forestry or Geography majors.  This role will allow Kevin to continue his relationship with UM, as he completed his MS in Geography here in 2011 and has taught GIS courses for us over the last several semesters.  Prior to coming to UM, Kevin completed his undergraduate degree in Geography at Humboldt State University in California and he worked as a professional cartographer for Adventure Cycling Association among other organizations.  Congratulations Kevin!

Spring 2012 Faculty and Student Awards

Graduate student, Joe Milbrath's poster "Image analysis of land-cover change within peat fens along the Rocky Mountain Front: 1937-2009," presented at the Intermountain GIS Conference in Kalispell, was awarded 2nd Place in the Student Research Poster contest. He was presenting this work because he had won MAGIP's Higher Education Scholarship last year and had to present his results to them at this year's conference. Way to go Joe!

Faculty Affiliate, Dr. Zack Holden, gave a presentation on a research grant he has with Geography at the Annual Symposium of the US International Association of Landscape Ecology in Providence RI. Dr. Anna Klene was a co-author on the talk and also on a research poster presented at the International Polar Year "From Knowledge to Action" Conference in Montreal.

Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong, a Geography M.S. alum, who is working on a Ph.D. at Western University in Ontario, Canada, recently received funding from the Africa Initiative Graduate Research Program to confront critical issues facing Africa. "The graduate research program offers bright, up-and-coming scholars on Africa an opportunity to take their research to the next level. Supported students deepen their on-the-ground experience and apply their research in new, cross-continental settings. With this second round of grants, we're building toward an increased capacity in Canada-Africa research collaboration by fostering important ties with leading researchers and experts in the field," said Erica Dybenko, Africa Initiative program manager.  His supported project is entitled, Food security and smallholder farmer adaptation to climate change in Ghana's Upper-West Region. The research applies a political ecology lens to food security and climate change adaptation in Ghana, and is grounded in development geography and human-environment interactions, rural livelihood security, global environmental and economic change and tropical agricultural systems.

Dr. Ulrich Kamp has received an extension of his research fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He will be working during summer 2012 at the Institute of Geographical Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, focusing on glacier monitoring in the Mongolian Altai Mountains.

GReaT Lab monitor, Matthew Schroeder has been nominated for Student Employee of the Year 2012!  Congrats, Matthew!

The Geography Department is pleased to announce that Peter Bordokoff has been selected for a U.S. Graduate Student Fulbright Award for 2012-2013 to the Republic of Georgia. His research project, entitled "A Geographic Perspective of Climate Change Adaptation in Georgia," will explore perceptions of climate change, its associated impacts, and the development of adaptation strategies in the Caucasus Mountains. Along with his faculty advisor Sarah Halvorson, he will be collaborating with Associate Professor Dr. Ia Iashvili from the Department of Geography at Akaki Tsereteli State University in Kutaisi, one of UM's partner universities in the Caucasus region. Peter is the fourth geography student to receive a Fulbright award in the past four years. Congratulations Peter!

Ms. Nancy Forman-Ebel, Administrative Associate for the Department of Geography, will be recognized this year for reaching thirty years of continuous service at The University of Montana. Her significant achievement will be celebrated at the UM Employee Recognition Day Reception on Friday, April 20, 2012. Congrats Nancy!

Anthony Thompson, a junior in the Community and Environmental Planning Program in Geography, received a fellowship from the Montana Water Center to help support him as he studies the Columbia River Treaty review and negotiation process between the United States and Canada under the direction of Dr. David Shively. Anthony was the only undergraduate student to receive a fellowship award from the Center which made eight other awards to Montana graduate students. Big congratulations Anthony!

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Christiane von Reichert was selected to receive the 2012 John Ruffato Memorial Award. The $3,500 award was established to encourage and recognize UM faculty who impart practical, applicable principles into their teaching and to solidify the interdependent relationship between local businesses and The University of Montana. Dr. von Reichert was chosen because of her work on socio-economic and demographic analysis, including research on return migration to rural communities, and her practical hands-on teaching which helps students gain the knowledge and skills needed to move into professional positions in the private and public sector. The John Ruffatto Memorial Award will be conferred at UM's Charter Day, 16 Feb 2012, which celebrates the University's founding and special faculty and community members who have contributed to UM's mission. Congratulations!!

Dr. Sarah Halvorson, Chair (left), and Dr. Christiane von Reichert (right) celebrate at the ceremony.

Winter 2012 News

In a joint effort by the University of Montana and Glasgow High School, a new book published by the University of Montana Press entitled "Glasgow and Valley County, Montana" celebrates the area through high school student essays and both professional and amateur photography. Senior Lecturer Rick Graetz and his wife Suzie spearheaded the book project starting in 2007, in an effort to bring the University out into the communities of Montana. Congratulation, Rick!


Undergraduate senior Kevin Kent spent a semester studying Geography in Tasmania.  Here's a link to the letter he sent home to us earlier this semester describing his adventures.


Fall 2011 Events

The Department of Geography is thrilled to announce that we have been given permission to conduct two national searches for faculty to support and enhance our GIS programs.  The first is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Cartography and GIS following Dr. Wilson's retirement in 2010.  The second is a new Cartography and GIS Lecturer, jointly offered with the College of Forestry but housed in Geography, which will strengthen our successful GIS Sciences and Technologies Certificate, which is offered in collaboration with Forestry as well.  The Lecturer will also serve as Coordinator for the Certificate program, which has been graduating about 20 students each year.  We look forward to reviewing applications beginning late this fall!

Congratulations to Dr. Ganapathy Narayanaraj, GIS Lecturer, who successfully definded his doctoratoral dissertation in Geospatial Science and Engineering this fall at South Dakota State University!  Way to go!!

Fall 2011 Faculty and Student Conferences

Graduate student Molly Smith presented her poster, "An Assessment of Drought Climatology, Vulnerability, and Mitigation in the Clark Fork River Basin of Montana" at the 2011 Annual Montana Water Conference "Montana's Water Resources: Adapting to Changes in Supply and Demand," October 6-7, in Great Falls, Montana.  It was hosted by the Montana Chapter of the American Water Resources Association and the Montana Water Center.

Dr. Christiane von Reichert and graduate student Joseph Husar gave research presentations at the joint 2011 meeting of the Rural Sociological Society (RSS) and the Community Development Society (CDS) in Boise, Idaho, July 28-31.  Dr. von Reichert's talk focused on "Return Migrants and Their Impact on Rural Communities."  Joe Husar presented findings from his thesis "Rural Community Vitality: The Cases of Fort Benton, Montana and Watford City, North Dakota."

Dr. von Reichert spent part of September and October 2011 as a Visiting Scholar at the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the USDA in Washington, DC.  While in DC, she participated at the October 3-5 Conference on Rural Wealth Creation and Livelihoods, sponsored and organized by the ERS, the Ford Foundation, and the Aspen Institute.  She was one of the inivited speakers and presented her research findings on "How Return Migration Helps in Building Rural Wealth."  She also participated at the "Idea Market," and attended the White House Rural Council Session.

November 1st, the Water Year 2011 Summary and Water Year 2012 Climate and Water Supply Outlook meeting is being convened by the Clark Fork Task Force.  For more information see their Brochure.

 Spring 2011 Faculty and Student Conferences

A record number of students and former students presented at the Association of American Geographer’s Annual Meeting in Seattle this April.  Ryan Arthun, Kevin Barnett, Thor Burbach, Michael J. Ewald, Kevin McManigal, Ann Piersall, Shane Thurlo, Chris Walter, and Dusty Waltner, along with faculty Dr. Jeffrey Gritzner, Dr. Sarah Halvorson, Dr. Ulrich Kamp, Dr. Anna Klene, Dr. Christiane von Reichert, Dr. David Shively, and Dr. Thomas Sullivan all participated.  Former students presenting included Brandon Krumwiede - currently teaching for us at UM, Michael Church - Fulbright Foundation, Jacob Petersen-Perlman - Oregon State University, Russell Fielding* - UNC, Chapel Hill, Jessie Reynolds - Northwestern Energy, and Tamara Wall - Desert Research Institute.  In total, UM gave at least 17 presentations and posters.  Dr. Halvorson organized a panel on “Teaching about High Asia."  Dr. Kamp’s students won the Mountain Geography Specialty Group award for the second year in a row!  Kevin McManigal won the 2011 Mauna Kea Student Presentation Award for his presentation on “Retracing the 1910 Carruthers Royal Geographical Society Expedition to the Turgen Mountains of Mongolia: Reconstruction of a Century of Glacial Change."  The award includes $100.  Congratulations Kevin!

Geography had a variety of students involved with UM’s 10th annual Graduate Student and Faculty Research Conference.  Shah Faisal Khan, Dusty Waltner, and Molly Smith presented talks, while Ryan Arthun, Mary Buford, Fuad Bukhari, Josh Hazard, and Charles Hoadley, presented posters.  Ryan Arthun and Mary Buford’s poster on “Exploring the Potential for Geographic Transportation Modeling to Improve Food Bank Resource Distribution in Montana” and Charles Hoadley’s poster “Creating an Image, Shaping a Destination in Northern Peru” both won an Outstanding Graduate Student Poster award and prizes of $100.  Dr. Thomas Sullivan participated by chairing a session and Dr. Christiane von Reichert served as session chair, judge of abstracts, presentations, and posters.  Thanks to all for participating and congratulations!

Dr. Anna Klene and a number of co-authors presented a poster on temperature measurements inside Inupiat ice cellars in Barrow, AK, at the North Slope Science Initiative Workshop in Barrow and at the Climate Change: Indigenous Peoples and Adaptation Symposium here at UM.

Spring 2011 Faculty Awards

Dr. Anna Klene and Dr. Christiane von Reichert have both been awarded a year-long sabbatical for the 2011-2012 school year.   Dr. von Reichert will spend much of the fall in Washington DC for her research.  Dr. Klene is refusing to disclose her location but says she will be curled up somewhere with her laptop when she isn’t in the Arctic doing fieldwork.  Congratulations!

Dr. von Reichert received a 2011-2012 University Small Grant Award to support fieldwork on the migration experience of Georgians (from the Southern Caucasus) to Germany.  This work is in collaboration with Dr. Ia Iashvili from Tbilisi and Kutaisi State Universities, who has been a Visiting Scholar here at UM several times.

Spring 2011 Student Awards

The international geography honorary society Gamma Theta Upsilon held their annual induction ceremony this spring and inducted 10 new UM students into GTU.  These folks have maintained at least a 3.3 and are eligible for a variety of scholarships and have their own peer-reviewed journal, The Geographical Bulletin.

The Geography Department gives out several awards and scholarships each spring.  This year, Harry Brennan was awarded the Kain/McKay Scholarship.  Allison Pak was awarded the Geography Faculty Award, and Skye Faulkner was awarded the Harold W. Bockemuehl Scholarship.  For more information on Geography’s scholarships and awards click here.  Congratulations to you all!

Our Mortar Board Outstanding Seniors from this graduating year’s class include Jodell Lepley in Community & Environmental Planning, Jamie Anderson in the B.A. in General Geography, Cody Harris in the B.S. in General Geography, and Frederick Snyder-Manetti in Gamma Theta Upsilon.  Congratulations to all of our Graduates!

Molly Smith won the $1000 Donald Willems Scholarship for research in water resources from the MSAWWA and MWEA towards educational expenses.  She also received the Montana Water Center Student Research Fellowship.  Way to go Molly!

Joe Milbrath was awarded the $1000 Montana Association of Geographic Information Professionals (MAGIP) Higher Education Scholarship for next year to work on his thesis looking at environmental change in fens along the Rocky Mountain Front over the last 80 years.  In addition, he will get free registration to the Intermountain GIS Conference in Kalispell next spring to present his results.  Great job!