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Vietnam and Honey Fuel Undergrad Research International Cookstove Research by Dr. Gregory Simon and GES Students Featured in "CU Denver Today" 

Vicki Hildner
University Communications
September 21, 2016 

The most recent issue of "CU Denver Today" features international cookstove research led by Dr. Gregory Simon, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences (GES).  The research, funded by the National Science Foundation, investigates the efficacy of cookstove programs in two states across India.  Five students from the MA in Applied Geography & Geospatial Science are assisting Dr. Simon with data collection and analysis, which has resulted in their gaining cross-cultural fieldwork experience and the chance to collaborate directly with a faculty member. Results of the research could potentially redirect how millions of dollars are being spent on sustainable global development.

Vietnam and Honey Fuel Undergrad Research 

Vicki Hildner
University Communications
April 27, 2016

The beekeeper Next time you’re shopping for raw, unfiltered Colorado honey and decide the hefty price tag is well worth it, think about senior Ashley Bouck and CU Denver’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). When you learn what Bouck discovered during her UROP-funded research, you may put that jar back on the shelf.

The sediment analyzer   Olga Serenchenko spent two years studying sediment cores from Halong Bay in North Vietnam without ever imagining she would someday visit the country she was studying. She started as Briles’ student as a sophomore and transitioned into a role as lab assistant doing analysis of sediment cores to support Briles’ research reconstructing vegetation and history in North Vietnam. “Vietnam has such a long history of human occupation,” Serenchenko said. “Analyzing sediment cores tells you about the past—how did people live, what did the land look like and how did humans impact that landscape?”

Read the rest of the article here. 


Anna Parker Solverson, MS in Environmental Sciences student, was selected for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Outstanding Graduate Student Award. We are thrilled for this recognition of her hard work while in the program.  Congratulations to Anna and all of our other Fall 2015 Graduates!

 Parker Award.JPG


Ben Wise contributed to the CU Denver "Today" newsletter on the topic of the new Colorado State Water Plan. "As a graduate student at CU Denver‘s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, I recently took part in the Water Diplomat Work Study Program hosted by the One World One Water Center. Working with a group of students from across the state, I had the chance to speak with experts involved in managing Colorado’s water resources, learn about the water-related challenges our state will face in coming years and study the new Colorado State Water Plan. This was a great opportunity for us to apply what we have learned in our studies to a prevalent, ‘real-world’ issue." Read the rest of the essay here.​


"To me, “Learn with Purpose” reflects our student body really well. Part of the reason I value teaching on this campus is that we have a very diverse student population, particularly at the undergraduate level. Further, if I ask a class, “How many of you are working to be here?” a pretty substantial proportion raise their hands; they are working to pay their tuition. While I went to a traditional undergraduate university, I worked my way through school as well and so I can relate to investing in one’s own education. When you say something like “Learn with Purpose,” you want to be here." Read the rest of the essay here.​ 


GES graduate student Zara Hickman is taking a new approach to funding her research. Hickman works with Dr. Christy Briles in her Paleoecology, Palynology and Climate Change Laboratory Hickman's interest is in glaciers, and the aim of the project is "to understand how climate change influences the frequency of avalanches during the last four millennia." Learn more about her project, approach, and explanation of expenses, visit this link.​ 


Dr. Gregory Simon, Associate Professor in Geography & Environmental Sciences, was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant for $200,000 to examine the influence of carbon financing on improved cookstove projects in India. As Principal Investigator, Dr. Simon will make several trips to India over the next few years to collaborate with local organizations in the Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The project  "Financing Strategies and Reducing Carbon Emissions from Cookstoves" will advance previous sustainable development research and present opportunities for graduate student research. This project builds on a recent award winning paper: "Current Debates and Future Research Needs in the Clean Cookstove Sector", which was awarded the 2014 AKN Reddy Award for best paper accepted for publication in the Journal Energy for Sustainable Development.​


Tera Del Priore won the Association of American Geographers Paleoenvironmental Specialty Group 2015 Masters Paper Presentation Award for her presentation titled “4000 Years of Environmental Change in Central Colorado: A Paleoecological Perspective.” The presentation was a summary of Tera’s thesis that she successfully defended on reconstructing disturbances in subalpine forests using proxy evidence preserved in lake sediments from Taylor Park west of Buena Vista, CO. 



Master of Science in Environmental Sciences student Anna Parker Solverson received the 2015 M. Gordon “Reds” Wolman Graduate Student Research Award from the Geomorphology Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers.

The Wolman Graduate Student Research Award includes a monetary grant to assist Anna with completing her thesis research.  The award is made through a competitive process that includes review of a research proposal submitted by Anna to the awards committee.  Anna’s thesis focuses on the geomorphological and ecological responses in mountain river channels following the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire.  With the leadership of Dr. Anne Chin, She is developing new conceptual and interdisciplinary frameworks to assist environmental managers in restoring burned ecosystems.  Peter Anthamatten also guided Anna’s research design as a member of her thesis committee and wrote in support of Anna’s application to the AAG specialty group.
(Left to right): Dr. Carol Harden, Distinguished Career Award recipient; Anna Parker Solverson; Dr. Anne Chin
(Left to right): Dr. Carol Harden, Distinguished Career Award recipient; Anna Parker Solverson; Dr. Anne Chin


Elizabeth Clay (MS in Environmental Science) will be participating in the "Wonder Women Students of STEM" (WiSTEM) panel on April 17th from 12:30pm-1:30pm in the Student Commons Building.  She was selected to participate on the panel based on her past and current STEM related activities and the abstract she submitted to the 2015 CU Denver Research and Creative Activities Sympos


WiSTEM is a student organization that works to promote and foster education and careers of women in a science, technology, engineering, or math fields.  

Elizabeth has been an intern for over a year with the City of Denver working on their Climate Change mitigation plan. The abstract she submitted to Research & Creative Activities Symposium deals with her current research on forest fragmentation and land cover/use change in Mexico.


Jeannette Rodriguez, an undergraduate Geography major, has been selected for an internship this spring with the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. She will be a social media intern on Team Teach, part of National Geographic’s Education and Children’s Media Marketing. Jeannette will be responsible for sourcing and creating content to support the mission “to inspire, illuminate and teach” geography. To learn more about National Geographic Society internships, please visit this website.​



CU Denver GES students attended the Joint Meeting of the Southwest and Great Plains-Rocky Mountain Divisions of the Association of American Geographers in Al​buquerque and did an exceptional job showing off their work!
Undergraduate Student Poster Awards: 
1st Place (Issamar Pichardo & Jeannette Rodriguez) Understanding Latino Community Recovery after the September 2013 Colorado Flash Floods, Issamar Pichardo, Jeannette Rodriguez, Deborah Thomas, Andrew Rumbach, Lily Lizarraga, Waverly Klaw, David Lizarraga, Leah Cole, Jeremy Nemeth, and Carrie Makarewicz

3rd Place (Denise Swack, Erica Reynolds, Filiberto Morales, and Dillon Riebel) Body Mass Index (BMI) Mapping and Community Engagement, Denise Swack, Erica Reynolds, Filiberto Morales, Dillon Riebel, Peter Anthamatten, and Deborah Thomas

Other Notable Activities: 

Laura Ferre presented a paper. 

Erin Jaynes and Anna Gibson each presented a poster. 

Anna Gibson earned a spot on the regional Geography Bowl team. 


Associate Professor and Director of the MS Environmental Sciences Program Frederick Chambers and Senior Instructor Amanda Weaver of Geography and Environmental SciencesBriles.jpg
(GES) are now working on STEM initiatives with Prospect Valley Elementary, in Jefferson County. They initiated conversations with the school in early 2014, after a successful year of programs at 5 Fridges Farm (a CU Denver research-site in Wheatridge) involving installation and monitoring of Chambers’ online weather stations in 2013-2014,  and the second year of Weaver’s Sustainable Urban Agricultural Certificate program. The two decided to engage the nearby elementary school, and in Spring of 2014 organized an open-house between GES and Prospect Valley Elementary to discuss possible STEM based-activities to conduct with elementary students. After much guidance and encouragement from the school’s principal, Mike Collins, and other Jefferson County school officials, the first curricular connections between GES and the elementary school began during the fall semester 2014.  Prospect Valley third grade teachers, Christine Hoxie and Sherry Becker, organized a third and fourth grade girls STEM club and connected with Weaver to schedule visits from female science faculty.  This fall both Christy Briles (Assistant Professor of GES) and Weaver are leading activities on palynology and geographic technologies, respectively.  GES hopes to expand the program between Prospect Valley Elementary, 5 Fridges Farm, and faculty and students in GES as interest spreads among the elementary schools’ teachers, students, and parents.



Laura Ferre, previous graduate of the Bachelor in Geography program and current CU Denver Public Health graduate student, entered her paper into the competition at the Association of State Dam Safety Officials Conference. ​Potentials for use of Social Vulnerability Assessments to Aide Decision Making for the Colorado Dam Safety Branch, ​which was written with assistance from our Dr. Deborah Thomas and the Colorado Chief of Dam Safety Bill McCormick, ​was selected as one of the top three papers at the conference. Congratulations, Laura!
 Laura Ferre at the Association of State Dam Safety Officials Conference
Left to right: Vinoth Muthia (ASDSO student outreach committee co-chair), Laura Ferre, Beena Ajmera, 
Peter Nicholson (ASDSO student outreach committee co-chair), Brittany Lewis (ASDSO student outreach coordinator), Daniel VandenBerge​