UO River Group Member Updates, 2013 – 2014

The University of Oregon River Group has grown substantially and has been very active over the past year. The River Group is an informal research group that meets weekly to discuss river-related research and coordinate river-related classes and research projects. Most of the students in the group are graduate students in the Department of Geography, but the group also interacts with people in such other departments such Geological Sciences, Planning, Public Policy and Management, and Environmental Studies. The group hosted river-related seminars with scholars such as Gary Brierley, Frank Magilligan, and Joe Wheaton.

Pat McDowell led a large group of undergraduate and graduate students to the Middle Fork John Day River in northeastern Oregon for several weeks to conduct inventory and monitoring work in support of restoration activities by a multiagency group. Pat also published “Geomorphology in the Late Twentieth Century” in the Treatise on Geomorphology. She also presented a poster on the Middle Fork work at the IAG meeting in Paris in August.

Mark Fonstad had a busy year. Along with his regular editor duties at the Annals of the AAG, he also edited this year’s published special issue on “Geographies of Water”. This past summer, Mark and several graduate students conducted river process observations in the Cascades near McKenzie Bridge, Oregon. He gave several invited presentations including one at the AGU, the University of Illinois, and also to an international online audience as part of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science (CUAHSI). He published a paper on cellular automata modeling in geomorphology in the new 14-volume Treatise on Geomorphology. Mark and Bruce Rhoads organized this year’s special session in honor of Will Graf at the AAG meeting in Tampa: “The Natural and Human Structuring of Rivers and Other Geomorphic Systems”, which will become a special issue in Geomorphology next year.

Andrew Marcus has moved up the ranks from Associate Dean to Acting Dean to Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences during the past year. As such, Andrew hasn’t been able to participate fully in the UO River Group activities this year, though he is active on committees, and has managed to get to the Oregon Coast Range with Helen Beeson to look at stream habitats and has been active giving lectures on the production of the Atlas of Yellowstone.

Adriana (Didi) Martinez received her Ph.D. in the summer of 2013 and is now an assistant professor of Geography at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Her doctoral research centered on the mutual relationships between riparian vegetation and stream channel dynamics in the Sprague River, Oregon. Since starting her new position, Didi has been building up her research lab and field equipment as well as planning a project with Suzanne Walther (PhD., U. of Oregon 2011, now an assistant professor at Utah Valley University) on the effects of two impoundments along the Provo River, Utah.

Jane Atha finished her Ph.D. in the summer of 2013 and is now the Watershed/Lead Entity Coordinator of the Chehalis Basin in Washington. Her dissertation revisited Dick Marston’s 1980 study of large wood and stream morphology dynamics in the Oregon Coast Range over a thirty-year period. In addition to her watershed coordinator duties, she has given lectures on her dissertation research to the Washington Department of Ecology as well as the USGS.

Sarah Praskievicz has finished her dissertation on impacts of climate change on the hydrology and fluvial geomorphology of snowmelt-dominated rivers in the interior Pacific Northwest and will graduate with her Ph.D. in June. She has accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Alabama.

James Dietrich is in the final leg of his doctoral research work centering on developing advanced topographic monitoring techniques for riverscape science. Last year, James was Outstanding Paper Award winner at the AGU for his work on mapping land and water surface topography with instantaneous structure from motion. Starting this fall, James will be a postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth where he intends to work on river restoration and monitoring research in collaboration with other researchers including Frank Magilligan.

Polly Lind (Doctoral student) spent several weeks split into multiple trips conducting research on the Rio Pacuare, a high-energy tropical mountain watershed in Costa Rica. The research has been both exhilarating and logistically challenging; with the scale of fluvial forms considerably larger than what students focus on for fieldwork, and with the added complications of poisonous snakes and frogs hiding in the tall riparian vegetation. Polly’s work centers on sediment transport of (very) large boulders to and from huge channel bars, and on how the river geomorphology may be affected by upstream land use changes. Her work has been helped by an NSF DDRI grant and a GSA Doctoral Student Research Award. Polly also presented her research results at the IAG meeting in Paris.

Matthew Goslin (Doctoral student) has become fascinated by a native riparian plant, the torrent sedge (Carex nudata), that has exploded in abundance throughout the Middle Fork John Day River, Oregon following the removal of cattle grazing and appears to be altering channel morphology, facilitating the complexity that is a goal of restoration work in this river.  His work attempts to integrate fluvial geomorphology and ecology toward understanding how river dynamics drive the sedge’s distribution and how, in turn, the sedge may influence the evolution of the river. His proposed research garnered the AAG Reds Wolman Student Research Award (at the PhD level), and he also presented research findings to the Ecological Society of America meeting in Minneapolis.  In addition to focused work in the Middle Fork John Day River – repeated topographic surveys, bank erosion monitoring – Matthew has explored rivers throughout Oregon sampling for the sedge, and he will expand his sampling into northern California this coming summer.

Doctoral student Swagata Goswami has been using Landsat imagery to understand the watershed scale morphometric controls on the lateral mobility of the Gangetic tributaries along North-Central Himalayas. A major part of her research focuses to track and comprehend the dynamics of the Kosi megafan between the Himalayan front and the Ganges. In addition to trips to India and teaching large online Natural Environment classes this past year, Swagata has also recently passed her comprehensive exam.

Helen Beeson (Masters student) spent a great amount of time in the field this past year, first with geomorphic change mapping in Oregon’s Painted Hills, then doing her own field research in the Oregon Coast Range, and then doing high-resolution river habitat mapping in the Cascades. This past year, Helen won the AAG Reds Wolman Student Research Award (at the Masters level) as well as a GSA Research Grant for her proposed research: “The Influence of Deep-seated Landslides on Valley Width and In-channel Geomorphic Features in the Oregon Coast Range, USA”. This month she has successfully completed her thesis, and she will be beginning doctoral work in the Department of Geology and the Desert Research Institute at the University of Nevada – Reno this coming fall.

Jenna Duffin, a first-year Masters student, helped Pat McDowell conduct stream surveys in the Middle Fork John Day basin in the summer of 2013. She plans on using change detection techniques and geomorphic theory to understand the efficacy of restoration activities in the John Day watershed.

Trevor Langston, also a first-year Masters student, spent the summer working with the USGS’s hydroecology of flowing waters project. Trevor is in the research design phase of his planned research in the dynamics of erosion and sedimentation in the Upper Willamette River, Oregon.

Sarah Proctor (Masters student) also helped Pat McDowell conduct stream surveys in the Middle Fork John Day basin in the summer of 2013 and is gearing up for her own summer field work using remote sensing to understand the mutual evolution of river channels and riparian vegetation communities in the South Fork Toutle River after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980.

Eli Tome (Masters student, Environmental Planning and Policy) has just started his work at the university of Oregon, and in his own words he wishes to “help rural communities blend policies that help develop their economy, while simultaneously working to preserve the natural environment. I’m particularly interested in developing policies that recognize the connection of terrestrial and aquatic environments within watersheds, and how people interact and rely upon these natural systems.”

Andrew Dutterer (Concurrent Masters student, Environmental Studies and Community & Regional Planning) guided a group of 11 undergraduate students in the Environmental Leadership Program through field research on the McKenzie River, Oregon. Pollyanna Lind assisted in this research that was done in partnership with the McKenzie Watershed Council. Andrew’s own research has focused on collaborative management processes directing a basin-wide salmon restoration monitoring project on the Middle Fork of the John Day River, where he assisted Professor Pat McDowell in field research in the summer of 2013.

The University of Oregon River Research Group page is now under construction

Greetings everyone, Mark Fonstad here. Over the next days and weeks I will be building up the functionality of the group’s web site and adding content to it. Please let me know if you have ideas for improving the design and content of this site. My initial plans are to building in menus for different pages, such as one for all the various people that have passed through the group’s doors. I’d also like to add general information about the group and its activities so that we can use it for promotion. Finally, I’ll be looking for some very short (like one paragraph + one picture) blurbs from group member’s research travels so that we can get some recent activities up and visible. My ultimate goal for this site is that it will become something that I alone am not directly in charge of, but rather it is a place where group members can themselves come to add or modify information as time passes.