Kirsten de Beurs

Dr. Kirsten de Beurs has a background in remote sensing research with a strong understanding of the effect of institutional changes on the land surface, in particular in dryland regions. She has a Masters degree from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands focused on biometry and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Since the start of her Ph.D. in 2002 she has worked on several NASA-funded projects. For her Ph.D. she investigated the effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union on land surface changes, first in Kazakhstan and subsequently in other Central Asian states. During her first post-doc she investigated the effects of war and drought in Afghanistan, and researched changes in the central Eurasian grain bel. During her second post-doc she was part of a project investigating the effect of gypsy moth defoliation in Mid-Atlantic forests. Since starting as an assistant professor first at Virginia Tech in August 2007, and then at The University of Oklahoma, she has extended her research to agricultural drylands in the Sahel as well as agricultural regions in European Russia. She is an author on 25 manuscripts and PI on a large NASA Land Cover Land Use Change project investigating land abandonment in Russia and climate change: “Land Abandonment in Russia: Understanding Recent Trends and Assessing Future Vulnerability and Adaptation to Changing Climate and Population Dynamics”. She currently advises four PhD and one MSc student.  

Kirsten de Beurs Curriculum Vitae

Jason Julian

Dr. Jason Julian is an Environmental Geographer and Earth Systems Scientist who investigates landscape changes and ecosystem processes across broad scales, with a focus on water resources and human-environment interactions. He is a Fulbright Senior Scholar (New Zealand) and co-Director of the Landscape Land Use Change Institute. His formal training is in Geomorphology, Hydrology, and Landscape Ecology. Past projects have included land cover effects on watershed runoff, downstream effects of dams and dam removal, modeling light availability and primary production in rivers, headwater channel mapping, riverbank erosion, agricultural impacts on river ecosystems, bio-geomorphic feedbacks in rivers, and historical urban development trends in South-Central U.S. Currently funded projects include “Land Management Impacts on Water Quality in New Zealand across Political Boundaries” and “Incorporating Ecological Costs and Benefits into Environmental Flow Recommendations for Oklahoma Rivers.” Future work will likely involve analyzing land use/land cover changes and their impact on natural resources across broad scales.  Dr. Julian is now an Associate Professor at Texas State University, where he teaches courses on Water Resources.  In his spare time, Jason enjoys outdoor activities with his family, including hiking, kayaking, and tennis.  He is also an avid traveler, witnessing how humans are transforming landscapes but also taking great pleasure in seeing the natural wonders of the world.

Jason Julian Curriculum Vitae

Jennifer Koch

Dr. Koch received her Ph.D. in Environmental Systems Engineering from the University of Kassel, Germany, where she developed an application of the LandSHIFT land-use and land-cover change model for the Jordan River region. Dr. Koch also holds a Diplom (Univ.) in Geoecology from the University of Bayreuth, Germany, where she studied ecological modeling and agricultural ecology. Before joining the University of Oklahoma, she was involved in several interdisciplinary research projects such as the Forest, People, Fire project, which focused on interactions, dynamics and adaptation in fire-prone landscapes of the eastern Cascades of Oregon or the GLOWA Jordan River project, which provided scientific support for sustainable water management in the Jordan River region. Dr. Koch’s primary research interest is in the development of integrated approaches for modeling and analysis of coupled human-natural systems with applications for natural resource management, conservation planning, and sustainability solutions. For this purpose, she applies a set of different approaches such as integrated environmental simulation models (agent-based, cellular automata, system dynamics, process-based), modeling of land-use changes on various spatial scales, participatory modeling and scenario development, and alternative futures analysis. Dr. Koch is also involved in the Oklahoma NSF EPSCoR project, were she works on spatially explicit, integrated modeling of land-use and land cover change in Oklahoma under climate variability and change.

Jennifer Koch Curriculum Vitae


Todd Fagin

Dr. Todd Fagin is a geographer, biogeographer, and landscape ecologist whose interests range from mapping individual occurrences of a species to historical landscape reconstructions. Dr. Fagin currently holds a split appointment at the University of Oklahoma, serving as both an instructor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability and post-doctoral fellow at the Oklahoma Biological Survey.  Current research projects include the development of a new statewide land cover dataset for Oklahoma; geostatistical approaches to mapping Public Land Survey witness tree data; resiliency, vulnerability, and land use/land cover change in the southern Great Plains; management history and land use practices in the National Grasslands; development of a protected areas database for the state of Oklahoma; and approaches to GIS education.  Other areas of interest include species distribution modeling, vegetation classification standards, historical and contemporary vegetation mapping and analysis, land use/land cover change, and all things GIS.  Prior to returning to his alma mater, Dr. Fagin served two years as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Oklahoma State University and worked as a GIS consultant in the private sector.  In addition to teaching several classes at the University of Oklahoma and managing a database of Oklahoma’s rare species, he serves as an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City Community College, teaching several GIS-related classes.


Braden Owsley  has a B.A. in Geographic Information Science (2014) from the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability at OU.  His interests include Remote Sensing and land use change, particularly in the Great Plains region of the US.  He is currently working with LLUCI to study land management impacts on regional ecosystems in New Zealand using remote sensing techniques. He is also working on a NASA funded project investigating change in long image time series.


Pradeep Adhikari is a Hydrologist and PhD student in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sustainability at OU. He has a M.S. in Environmental Science (OU), where he studied relationships between climate change and water resources in Asia and Africa. His current research focuses on climate change, land cover change, and food security in West Africa.



Ioannis Kamarinas is a Hydrologist and PhD student in the Department of Geography at Texas State University. He has a M.Sc. in Environmental Science (University of Michigan-Dearborn), where he examined the effects of climate change on water quantity in California watersheds, using hydrological models coupled with IPCC scenarios. His current research focuses on land cover/use changes in New Zealand, their impacts on river water quality, and cross-scale interactions.

Aparna Bamzai is a PhD student in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sustainability at OU.  She has a Masters in Environmental Management (Duke University), for which she examined global trends in the distribution of precipitation events using the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis II and CPC Merged Analysis of Precipitation datasets.  Her current research interests lie in vegetation-climate interactions, particularly in the ability of vegetation to seasonally regulate the amount of moisture available in the free atmosphere.  Aparna also works as the Technical Coordinator for the South Central Climate Science Center.

Darrel Kingfield is a PhD student in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sustainability at OU.




Graham Daly is a PhD student in the Department of Geography at Texas State University. He has a M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado at Denver and a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His current research focuses on using an Ecosystem Services perspective to manage water resources at municipal levels.



Kristen Newcomer is working towards her M.S. in Geography at Texas State University, with interests in applied water resources and fluvial geomorphology.  Kristen’s research examines the effects of climate, land cover change, flooding, and flow regulation on sandbar morphology along the Red River, with a focus on sustainable habitat flows for the endangered Interior Least Tern.

Laura Holtzman is a M.A student in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sustainability at the University of Oklahoma. She has her B.S in Meteorology & Math from the University of Miami. She is beginning to learn about trends and trend analysis and eventually using remote sensing data to search for breaks in trends and methods to best analyze them.


Samantha Abbott is a geoscientist and M.S. student in the Department of Geography at Texas State University. She has a B.S. in Geology from the University of Texas at Austin and spent three years working for an environmental consulting company in Austin, TX before returning to school.  Sam’s research explores the cross-scale interactions between land cover/land use, climate, and surface water quality in the Manawatu catchment on the North Island of New Zealand.


Nick Wilgruber was an EPA NNEMS Fellow and MA student in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sustainability at OU (MA, 2014). Nick’s research addresses land use effects on stream ecosystems. He investigated (1) how best management practices (BMP) can be used to mitigate negative effects of urban land use on streams, and (2) developing a decision support tool that identifies high priority areas for BMP placement in central Oklahoma.

Chelsea Mikle was an EPA NNEMS Fellow working towards her M.A. in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sustainability at OU (MA, 2014). Her research used Remote sensing and GIS to investigate relationships between land use and environmental resource management. Chelsea created a decision support tool that prioritizes the type and location of low impact development (LID) and best management practices (BMP) to improve water quality/quantity in urban watersheds. Chelsea currently works with Glacier National Park and the Browning School District in Montana to help with the development of a partnership between the school district and the park.

Dong Yan was a PhD student in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sustainability at OU (PhD, 2014). His dissertation research focused on the impacts of land use and climatic changes on grassland ecosystems, particularly (1) How has large-scale vegetation restoration influenced grassland dynamics in China’s Loess Plateau? and (2) Is Cheatgrass (Bromus Tectorum L.) invasion into mixed-grass prairie of Oklahoma facilitated by drought? He is currently working as a postdoc in South Dakota State University.

Trung Tran (PhD, 2013) was a student in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sustainability at OU. His research uses advanced geospatial tools to understand land-use/land-cover change and its relationship with environmental change. His dissertation focused on (1) the impact of landscape heterogeneity on land cover classification and (2) the spatiotemporal pattern of forest disturbance in southeast Oklahoma.

Anthony Ryan was an undergraduate in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sustainability at OU pursuing a B.S. in Geography (BS, 2014). His interests involve biogeography and GIS applications pertaining to flora, fauna, aquatic, and invasive species. Anthony previously developed a Least-Cost Path prediction model in ArcGIS to show the path of growth of the Kudzu Vine (Pueraria lobata) in the United States. He also worked with the Oklahoma Natural Heritage Inventory to map and document Oklahoma’s private and state conservation lands for a GAP Analysis that is run by the USGS. Anthony is currently self-employed.

Jessica Walker was a PhD student in the Geospatial and Environmental Analysis Doctoral Program at Virginia Tech. Jess successfully defended her dissertation in the fall of 2012. Her research focuses on the use of Landsat and MODIS for the analysis of dryland vegetation phenology. She is currently a postdoc at South Dakota State University focussing on land surface phenology changes around urban areas. Jessica currently works as a Mendenhall Fellow for the USGS Western Geographic Science Center in Tucson (AZ).

Allisyn Hudson – Dunn was a MSc student in the Department of Geography at Virginia Tech working with Dr. Kirsten de Beurs. Allisyn is a field researcher at heart with a strong motivation for the conservation of Earth’s biodiversity. Her thesis focused on the analysis of land surface phenology in mountainous regions and was published in Remote Sensing of Environment in 2011. Allisyn is currently employed at USGS’s Eastern Geographic Science Center.

Rana Jawarneh (PhD, 2012) was a student in the Dept of Geography & Environmental Sustainability at OU. Her dissertation focused on physiographic influences on urban growth patterns across the South-Central United States. She is now an Assistant Professor in the Dept of Geography at Yarmouk University (Jordan), where she investigates landscape changes in semi-arid regions with a focus on drivers/impacts of urbanization and land degradation. Rana is currently an assistant professor at Yarmouk University in Jordan.

Madeline Dillner (BS in Environmental Sustainability, 2013) was an undergraduate in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sustainability. Her Honors Thesis, titled Historical Development in Southeast Oklahoma, used primary and secondary data sources to identify historical drivers of development in the region. Her other research interests include urban planning and green architecture.


Collaborators at Oklahoma University:
Sterling Evans, Professor, History
Bruce Hoagland, Professor, Oklahoma Biological Survey / Geography and Environmental Sustainability
Yang Hong, Associate Professor, School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Sciences
Renee McPherson, State Climatologist, Oklahoma Climatological Survey
Aondover Tarhule, Associate Professor, Geography and Environmental Sustainability
Caryn Vaughn, Professor, Zoology and Biological Survey
Charles Warnken, Associate Professor, Regional and City Planning
Xiangming Xiao, Professor, Botany and Microbiology

Collaborators at Texas State University:
Jennifer Jensen, Assistant Professor, Geography
Kimberly Meitzen, Assistant Professor, Geography

External Collaborators:
Molly Brown, NASA
James Campbell, Virginia Tech
Rob Davies-Colley, NIWA, New Zealand
Martin Doyle, Duke University
Andrew Elmore, UMCES Appalachian Lab
Robert Gardner, UMCES Appalachian Lab
Suzie Greenhalgh, Landcare Research, New Zealand
Geoffrey Henebry, GISCE, South Dakota State University
Grigory Ioffe, Radford University
Rana Jawarneh, Yarmouk University, Jordan
Paul Mayer, EPA, Oklahoma
Tatyana Nefedova, Russian Academy of Sciences
Adam Riggsbee, RiverBank Ecosystems
Emily Stanley, University of Wisconsin
Phil Townsend, University of Wisconsin
Anton Vrieling, University of Twente
Christopher Wright, GISCE, South Dakota State University
Randy Wynne, Virginia Tech