Nuclear and Renewable Energy in Idaho and the American West

Aya is working on a two part project focusing on non-fossil fuel energy in the American West and its human and environmental impacts. She is studying communities and landscapes surrounding nuclear energy testing, research, and waste storage in the Snake River Plain of Idaho. Since 1949, southeastern Idaho has been the U.S.’ center of nuclear Read more about Nuclear and Renewable Energy in Idaho and the American West[…]

Capturing Outdoor Recreation and Ecological Patterns along a Multiple Use Mountain Stream

Outdoor recreation opportunities fuel important Intermountain West economies, satisfy cultural needs, and uphold nature connectedness. Similarly, mountain freshwater ecosystems promote the development and recruitment of flora and fauna. When considered together, recreation ecosystems comprise natural areas with varying levels of human and (non) human use. Some of the chief drivers shifting more visitors into stream-lined Read more about Capturing Outdoor Recreation and Ecological Patterns along a Multiple Use Mountain Stream[…]

Who Cares?—Sam Wilson

I was explaining my research to someone recently and the proceeding conversation got me thinking. When I described my project and where it was going to be conducted (see project description here) I got a response that I had yet to encounter. The woman I was speaking with asked me ‘who cares about sagebrush?’. At Read more about Who Cares?—Sam Wilson[…]

Reflecting On a Summer in the San Luis Valley – Kathleen Voight

During the several months of interviews I conducted, I met with ranchers in work trucks, in hay barns, and in farm shops. I accompanied ranchers setting up fence, moving cattle, hauling round bales, checking sprinklers, and packing plant samples. We chatted over kitchen tables and on back porches, sharing meals and sharing stories. In addition Read more about Reflecting On a Summer in the San Luis Valley – Kathleen Voight[…]

A Night of Astronomy—Uthara Vengrai

The astronomer walks up to the podium and everyone goes quiet. There are probably 80 people sitting in this amphitheater at 10:30 PM, waiting to be toured through the sky. We’re at a star party at the McDonald Observatory around 30 miles outside of Marfa, TX. Tonight, this astronomer will guide us, help us see Read more about A Night of Astronomy—Uthara Vengrai[…]

Exotic annual forbs present restoration challenges on natural gas well pads—Damaris Chenoweth

Restoration of natural gas well pads is plagued by invasion from annual forbs and grasses. Exotic annual forbs particularly are well suited to the sandy, salty, disturbed soils found on natural gas well pads in the Upper Green River Basin of southwestern Wyoming. While conducting research this summer on well pads in the Upper Green Read more about Exotic annual forbs present restoration challenges on natural gas well pads—Damaris Chenoweth[…]

Sampling soils in an ancient lake—Damaris Chenoweth

Some days our soil auger hits a layer of shale and instead of retrieving messy handfuls of sandy soil, we hear the dreaded grinding of steel on rock. We accept the disappointment of a missing data point because the alternative is to litter the ground with small holes to find a penetrable spot. Around 50 Read more about Sampling soils in an ancient lake—Damaris Chenoweth[…]

What is the Difference Between a Crop and a Plant?—Julia Jacobson

A few months ago, during one of my first interviews of the summer, I was trying to discern how farmers’ experience of farming varied from crop to crop. For example, what is different about farming tomatoes versus, say, potatoes? I wondered if farmers favored certain crops — or certain methods — and if that might Read more about What is the Difference Between a Crop and a Plant?—Julia Jacobson[…]

A Future of Ranching in the San Luis Valley, Colorado

By area, livestock grazing is the single largest land use across the San Luis Valley, across the state of Colorado, and across the United States. While livestock producers are not often seen as conservationists in environmental spaces, ranchers steward private and public landscapes that provide ecosystem services and support plant, wildlife, and human communities across Read more about A Future of Ranching in the San Luis Valley, Colorado[…]

Reconciling Conservation and Conservatism in Cattle Ranching—Kathleen Voight

Much of my research involves talking to ranchers, who are often older, often male, and often conservative. I receive names and phone numbers through word of mouth, knowing many ranchers may not have cell service at their home, may not text, or may not want to speak with someone pursuing a Master of Environmental Science Read more about Reconciling Conservation and Conservatism in Cattle Ranching—Kathleen Voight[…]

Global change effects on soil greenhouse gas exchange and carbon storage along a temperature gradient in the North American Central Grasslands

Most ecosystem and earth-system models predict soil organic carbon losses from temperate grasslands as temperatures increase. However, the magnitude of that loss is uncertain and the influence of other global change factors on the temperature sensitivity of decomposition remains poorly understood. Uthara’s research explores how historical temperature regimes interact with global change factors (i.e., warming, Read more about Global change effects on soil greenhouse gas exchange and carbon storage along a temperature gradient in the North American Central Grasslands[…]

Modeling Radiation Use Efficiency in Big Sagebrush Understory

Sam’s research focuses on gathering field data to pair with remotely sensed imagery to then model a physiological plant trait called radiation use efficiency. Radiation use efficiency is the proportion of incoming solar radiation that is converted to biomass. Decreases in efficiency of plants has been shown to correlate with stress and decreased production and Read more about Modeling Radiation Use Efficiency in Big Sagebrush Understory[…]

Changing Agriculture in a Changing Climate: Exploring Farmers’ Responses to Climate Change via Multispecies Ethnography

Across the Southwestern United States, the already pervasive effects of climate change foreshadow a stark future for farmers. While there is substantial quantitative research regarding the impacts of climate change on agriculture, there is minimal qualitative research to ground abstract statistics in the lived experiences of farmers. Julia’s master’s research aims to understand how farmers Read more about Changing Agriculture in a Changing Climate: Exploring Farmers’ Responses to Climate Change via Multispecies Ethnography[…]