Research Team

Dr. Jianglong Zhang, Lead, Associate Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of North Dakota

Dr. Jianglong ZhangDr. Jianglong Zhang, Associate Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of North Dakota

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Research Description: Dr. Zhang’s research for the Center of Regional Climate Studies team focuses on studying regional climate/weather from satellite and ground-based observations as well as numerical modeled data. His research team has also been involved in evaluating the impact of regional climate on agricultural production as well as feedbacks of agricultural-based land use and land change on the regional climate and environment.

Dr. Frank Bowman, Co-Leader, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of North Dakota

Dr. Frank BowmanDr. Frank Bowman, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of North Dakota

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Research Description: Within the Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS), the Bowman research group is focused on the impact of climate and land use change on atmospheric aerosols and air quality. We are conducting laboratory chamber experiments to study the physical and chemical transformations that occur when emissions from agricultural crops, diesel engines, and oilfield activities are emitted into the atmosphere.  In particular, we are exploring how changes in particle composition due to condensation and coagulation affect cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activation that influences cloud formation. We are also performing WRF-Chem modeling studies of the Northern Great Plains to investigate linkages between surface emissions, atmospheric chemistry, aerosols, and clouds.

Dr. Crystal Alberts, Associate Professor, Department of English & Director, UND Writers Conference, University of North Dakota

Dr. Crystal AlbertsDr. Crystal Alberts, Associate Professor, Department of English & Director, UND Writers Conference, University of North Dakota

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Research Description: Although Dr. Alberts’ own research focuses on post-1945 American literature and culture, including digital humanities, her role with the Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS) is to assist the team with communicating their research findings to a broader audience, with a particular emphasis on those non-scientists beyond the walls of academic institutions.

Dr. Paul Barnhart, Assistant Professor of Biology, Dickinson State University

Dr. Paul Barhart, Assistant Professor of Biology, Department of Natural Sciences, Dickinson State University

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Research Description: Dr. Barhart’s research centers on the impacts of agricultural landuse changes and their influences on bat behaviors. Very little is known about how climate change will impact volant, noctural species such as bats; in fact, little work has been done on bat habitat use in agriculturally dominated landscapes. Due to potential threats facing bat populations, his work will assess habitat use, current distributions, predatory behaviors, and species abundance of bats in these ephemeral agricultural landscapes. The information gathered by his work will lay the foundation for the conservation of bat species as their habitat use changes on agricultural landscapes in the face of climate change.

Aaron Bergstrom, High Performance Computing Specialist, Computational Research Center, University of North Dakota

Aaron Bergstrom, High Performance Computer Specialist, Computational Research Center, University of North Dakota

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Research DescriptionSince 2006, Aaron has worked as the High Performance Computing (HPC) Specialist for the University of North Dakota (UND) Computational Research Center. In this position, he consults with faculty and students on the use of local and national HPC (aka supercomputing) and visualization resources, including the Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS). Aaron also serves as the UND Campus Champion and the Region 3 Campus Champion (ND, SD, MN, IA, WI, IL) for national HPC resources available through XSEDE. Previously, Aaron served as the Computer Visualization Manager for the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Archaeology Technologies Laboratory. He received a Masters of Science in Social Science from NDSU in 2007 where he specialized in 3D graphics and other computer applications in archaeology.

Stacie Blue, Instructor, Environmental Science, Turtle Mountain Community College

Stacie Blue, Instructor, Environmental Science, Turtle Mountain Community College

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Research Description: Beginning in the spring of 2017, Turtle Mountain Community College students will learn about research methodology, climate studies, and reviewing scientific journal articles. The students will develop a realistic plan, create a project timeline, and conduct their research on climate fluctuations, with a focus on the natural resources of the Turtle Mountain area, in the summer of 2017.

Dr. Eric C. Brevik, Professor of Geology and Soils, Dickinson State University

Dr. Eric C. Brevik, Professor of Geology and Soils, Department of Natural Sciences, Dickinson State University Email Research description: The role of Dr. Brevik and his research team within the Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS) is investigating the effects of soil management changes on the agroecosystem and feedbacks related to shifts in climate. Dr. Brevik’s role specifically is investigating the impact of management changes on soil organic carbon and nitrogen stocks. This in turn is related to potential greenhouse gas emissions related to agricultural management practices.

Dr. Xuefeng (Michael) Chu, Associate Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, North Dakota State University

Dr. Xuefeng (Michael) Chu, Associate Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, North Dakota State University

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Research Description: Within the Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS), the Chu research group focuses on topographic analysis and hydrologic modeling at both regional and local scales. The ultimate goal of the research is to develop an integrated hydrologic modeling (IHM) system supported by hydrological and meteorological databases and remote sensing observations across spatial and temporal scales. Specific research topics include: land surface delineation and topographic characterization, quantification of depression-dominated overland flow dynamics, hydrologic monitoring and field data collection, watershed hydrologic modeling, and model calibration and validation.

  • Watershed hydrologic and environmental modeling
  • Overland flow and infiltration
  • Integrated modeling of flow and multi-phase contaminant transport in surface and subsurface environments
  • Non-point source pollution and environmental assessment
  • Groundwater modeling and management
  • Development of hydrologic and environmental modeling software

Dr. Andre DeLorme, Professor, Science Department, Valley City State University

Dr. Andre DeLormeDr. Andre DeLorme, Professor, Science Department, Valley City State University

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Research Description: Dr. DeLorme is a professor and the Chair of the Science Department at Valley City State University.  He came to VCSU in 1996 and has developed the VCSU Macroinvertebrate Lab as a basis for his undergraduate research efforts.  The focus of the lab is on collecting and identifying different aquatic invertebrates as an indicator of aquatic health.

Dr. DeLorme’s focus with the Center for Regional Climate Studies involves documenting an array of aquatic biota found in North Dakota rivers and streams to establish a solid baseline of data for studies of shifts in climate.  To document, understand, and possibly mitigate these changes it is important to determine past and current fauna of North Dakota water bodies and to set up long term practices for documenting future changes.

Dr. Lauren Dennhardt, Assistant Professor, Science Department, Valley City State University

Dr. Lauren Dennhardt, Assistant Professor, Science Department, Valley City State University
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Research Description: Dr. Dennhardt’s research focuses on how prairie plant populations may be changing due to shifting climate.  As the number of growing degree days increase in our region, a new climactic niche has formed in our prairies in the early spring and late fall.  This niche is typically occupied by invasive grass species with little competition from other species.  The Dennhardt lab is testing whether southern ecotypes of native grass species can fill this new niche and compete with invasive grass species.  Ultimately, this research may help mitigate biodiversity loss.

Dr. Anne Denton, Professor, Department of Computer Science and Operations Research, North Dakota State University.

Dr. Anne DentonDr. Anne Denton Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Operations Research, North Dakota State University.

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Research Description: The Denton research group focuses on big data approaches for assessing the impact of climate on agricultural output.  Two aspects of this problem are of particular interest, 1) quantifying the effect of climate variables on plant growth, and 2) establishing the impact of climate on soil health.  These relationships are of direct relevance to farmers, and they also contribute to quantitative scientific ethics indicators such footprints.  Temporal data mining techniques and generalizations of multivariate correlation analysis are developed for evaluating attribute selection and preprocessing of climate variables as they relate to plant growth.  Geospatial approaches, including newly introduced multi-scalar, window-based techniques, enable inferences on soil health from remotely sensed imagery, and allow tracking the impact of climate variables over time.

Carrie Ann Duafala, Land Grant Director/Instructor, Natural Resource Management, Cankdeska Cikana Community College

Carrie DuafalaCarrie Ann Duafala, Land Grant Director/Instructor, Natural Resource Management, Cankdeska Cikana Community College

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Research Description: Duafala’s research team is focused on improving ways to remediate areas after oil spills, through the use of a cost-effective biological method. We are researching the effectiveness of the mushroom mycelium to detoxify the contaminated substrate as well as the rate of detoxification. Currently we are performing all experiments in a laboratory setting, but have plans on expanding to a more natural setting. This method will hopefully provide a cost effective way to clean up smaller crude oil spills that happen around drilling sites and crude oil pipeline malfunctions.

Dr. Erin Gillam, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, North Dakota State University

Dr. Erin Gillam, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, North Dakota State University.

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Research description:  The main focus of Dr. Gillam’s research for the Center for Regional Climate Studies is understanding how global climate change may impact the ecology of bats in the Great Plains.  Specifically, Dr. Gillam and her students are using field data on the roosting ecology of two species – the little brown bat and the federally threatened northern long-eared bat – to understand roosting habitat preferences and how the availability of such preferred habitats may change under different predictive climate change models.  The Gillam lab works closely with other CRCS researchers, such as Mandy Guinn and Dr. Paul Barnhart, who are also asking questions about the biology of bats in the northern Great Plains.

Mandy Guinn, Instructor, Department of Environmental Science, United Tribes Technical College

Mandy Guinn, Environmental Science Instructor, Department of Environmental Science, United Tribes Technical College

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Research Description: Professor Guinn’s research interests are focused on understanding North Dakota Bat Ecology as it relates to agro-economics and basic biology.  Over the past several years, she has worked on projects ranging from understanding bat behavior in communal roosts, determining genetic distinction of species, and using genetic analysis to identify bat diet.  As a member of the Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS), Professor Guinn has focused on the economic importance of bats in agricultural systems.  We are looking at the ecological services provided by bats and the economic relief they provide in agricultural systems to extrapolate the impact of the disappearance of bats (due to climate shifts, habitat destruction, and fungal infections), on the financial model of the North Dakota agricultural industry.

Dr. Kerry E. Hartman, Academic Dean, Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College

Dr. Kerry E. Hartman, Academic Dean, Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College

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Research Description:

Dr. Ashley Hutchison, Assistant Professor, Co-Training Director of the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program, Department of Counseling Psychology and Community Services, University of North Dakota

Dr. Ashley Hutchison, Assistant Professor, Co-Training Director of the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program, Department of Counseling Psychology and Community Services, UND

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Research description: Dr. Ashley Hutchison is an Assistant Professor in Counseling Psychology and came to UND in 2013. She has been involved in the translation of the CRCS scientists’ research to school curricula for 5th and 8th grade students in rural and frontier areas of North Dakota. Along with Dr. Cindy Juntunen, she coordinates the evaluation of whether or not these innovative curricula and its lessons affect students interests, self-efficacy, and intentions to pursue science or environmental science fields later in students’ career development trajectories, such as high school or college. Grounded in Social Cognitive Career Theory and the Theory of Planned Behavior, this project aims to better understand the mechanisms that contribute to increases in rural students’ engagement with science, and to reduce barriers in rural areas to pursuing STEM careers.

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Dr. Cindy Juntunen, Dean, College of Education & Human Development/Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, Department of Counseling Psychology and Community Services, University of North Dakota

Dr. Cindy Juntunen, Dean, College of Education & Human Development/Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, Department of Counseling Psychology and Community Services, University of North Dakota

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Research Description: Dr. Juntunen’s research in Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS) consists of two parts.

First, she is the lead researcher on the human factors component, examining how agricultural producers make decisions about land use. In the first phase of that research, we conducted a series of interviews and focus groups in order to identify the clusters of factors that emerged as salient for North Dakota farmers and ranchers. From this initial study, three major themes relevant to the goals of the CRCS emerged: Stewardship, Ambivalence about Climate Pattern Change, and Market/Economic Factors.

Based on that first phase of research, we are contacting farmers and ranchers across the state to assess the impact of environmental beliefs and stewardship beliefs on land use decision-making. This data collection, using a combination of large-scale surveys and individual interviews, will continue throughout the award period.

In the second research component, Dr. Juntunen works with Dr. Ashley Hutchison to assess the impact of educational interventions, derived from both the CRCS and Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS) research clusters, on self-efficacy and interest in STEM topics among elementary, middle, and high school students in the state. In this effort, we are partnering with the NATURE program to evaluate the impact of Sunday Academy trainings. In addition, we have created partnership with a variety of rural schools in the state to assess the impact of 5th and 8th grade activities.

Dr. Aaron Kennedy, Assistant Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of North Dakota

Dr. Aaron Kennedy, Assistant Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of North Dakota

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Research description: Aaron’s research is focused on exploring the fidelity and trends of weather events (thunderstorms, snowstorms, etc.) in historical and future climate simulations.  Because these phenomena are difficult to observe and simulate, innovative techniques such at neural networks and dynamical downscaling are used to advance this research.  Output from these projects will be provided to the watershed and crop modeling components of CRCS.

Michael Parker, Instructor, Pre-Engineering/Math, Cankdeska Cikana Community College

Mike ParkerMike Parker, Instructor, Pre-Engineering/Math, Cankdeska Cikana Community College

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Research Description: Parker works as part of Carrie Duafala’s research team and is involved with bioremediation of oil contaminated soils utilizing the higher fungi as a detoxifying agent. He was a commercial mushroom producer and has extensive experience in clean room culture work and propagating mycelium which they use in their work.

Dr. David C. Roberts, Associate Professor, Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics, North Dakota State University

Dr. David C. Roberts, Associate Professor, Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics, North Dakota State University

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Research Description: Dr. Roberts studies the economics of agricultural land use change in North Dakota, including the effects of climate and weather on crop selection decisions throughout the state. Rapid conversion from small grains-based agriculture to corn-soy rotations since the mid-1990s, especially in southeastern North Dakota, makes the state an ideal location for investigating how unique climate conditions have interacted with market forces during the intervening years to influence how farmers behave. Dr. Roberts currently supervises two graduate students funded by the CRCS to conduct research in this topic area.

Dr. Joshua Steffan, Assistant Professor Biology and Agriculture, Dickinson State University

Dr. Joshua Steffan, Assistant Professor Biology and Agriculture, Dickinson State University

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Research Description: Dr. Steffan’s research project involves documenting the changes that occur to soils under different land-use management. Specifically, he is interested in how the soil microbial communities change as conservation reserve program land is but back into production agriculture. Since soil is the world’s foremost source for carbon storage, the carbon content in soil plays a role in climate change. The overall goal of my project is to examine total ecosystem changes, especially with regards to soil carbon and microbes, as they relate to different land uses and how these different land uses impact local and/or regional climate.

Dr. Xiaodong Zhang, Professor, Department of Earth System Science and Policy, University of North Dakota

Dr. Xiaodong Zhang, Professor, Department of Earth System Science and Policy, University of North Dakota

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Research Description: Within the Center for Regional Climate Studies, Dr. X. Zhang’s group is focused on monitoring and assessing the water quality of aquatic environments, identifying the drivers of the changes, and developing predictive knowledge of possible future changes.  The areas of interest include lakes, wetlands and coasts; the approaches involve field observations, remote sensing and modeling. Dr. X. Zhang’s personal research focuses on studying the interaction between light and aquatic environments, and then inferring information about dissolved and suspended matter in the water.

Dr. Haochi Zheng, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth System Science and Policy, University of North Dakota

Dr. Haochi Zheng, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth System Science and Policy, University of North Dakota

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Research Description: Dr. Zheng’s academic interests are environmental and natural resource economics, as well as ecological economics with a specific emphasis on the institutions and mechanisms that guide human behavior in natural resource use and management. Some of her recent research topics include: land-use change related to biofuel production, economic valuation of ecosystem services, reforestation policy in developing countries, and behavior change on recycling and energy use. 

As part of the CRCS team, Dr. Zheng studies the impacts of climate variation on regional agricultural production, land use, and its feedback to ecosystem services. She is interested in questions, such as how market, policy, and environmental forces affect crop production and individual landowners’ decision-making on land use and management. She is also concerned with what policy instruments can improve both economic efficiency and environmental sustainability by taking into account of all private and social costs.

Dr. Zheng joined UND in 2010 after finishing completing her PhD in Agricultural and Applied Economics with a Conservation Biology minor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She received her BA in International Economics from Fudan University, China, and completed her M.S. in Economics at Yokohama National University, Japan.

CRCS is a multi-disciplinary organization that sharply focuses the expertise of its core research faculty on issues that surround climate and the Northern Great Plains region.

The Center for Regional Climate Studies research team includes researchers from educational institutions across North Dakota: