Faculty Expertise

USU faculty are distinguished in teaching and scholarship. Our faculty include some of the world’s most accomplished scholars. Here you will find a few of the profiles of faculty that excel in the fields of land, water and air.


Karen Beard

Karen Beard

Expertise: community/ecosystem ecology, invasion ecology, and conservation

Office: NR 356, Lab: NR 317

Dr. Karen Beard’s research focuses on how changing landscapes influence species interactions and ecosystem functioning. Her research is often done in the context of the effects of non-native species and/or climate change. She has been working on the Hawaiian Islands to understand how non-native frogs influence the communities and ecosystems where they are invaded. The focus is on understanding their role in the food web, and how this influences ecosystem processes, such as nutrient cycling rates and plant productivity. She has also conducted research in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska on how the timing of seasonal events, including bird migration, influences species interactions and ecosystem processes.

For more information on Dr. Beard, visit her page.

Tal Avgar

Tal Avgar

Expertise: ecological and evolutionary causes and consequences of animal movement behaviour

NR 320

Professor Tal Avgar is an Assistant Professor of Movement Ecology, Department of Wildland Resources and Ecology Center. His focus is on ecological and evolutionary causes and consequences of animal movement behaviour. Ultimately, movement behaviours of individuals translate into the fundamental elements of population dynamics: spatiotemporal patterns of emigration and immigration, survival, and reproduction. The premise behind his research is that quantitative understanding of the processes underlying animal movement behaviours is essential, not only as means to identifying ecological needs and interactions at the individual level, but as a mechanistic key to emerging population and community patterns.

Professor Avgar’s research goal is to develop mechanistic understanding of the drivers of animal movement behaviour across ecological landscapes, and to use this understanding to interpret and predict spatiotemporal patterns of organismal abundance.

For more information on Professor Avgar, visit his page.

Patrick Singleton

Patrick Singleton

Expertise: Travel Behavior Analysis, Active Transportation, Walking & Bicycling, Health & Transportation, Physical Activity, Safety & Security, Transportation Planning, Travel Demand Modeling, Public Transit, Autonomous Vehicles, Transportation & the Built Environment

ENGR 231

Dr. Patrick Singleton is an assistant professor in transportation. His research spans the areas of travel behavior, transportation planning, and travel demand modeling, specializing in walking and bicycling.

For more information on Dr. Singleton, visit his page.

Jessica Schad

Jessica Schad

Expertise: rural communities, natural resource sociology, & survey methodology

Old Main 216C

Dr. Schad’s research examines the impacts of natural resource-related trends or events on social interaction and perceived quality of life within different types of rural places at both individual and community levels. For instance, her research has focused on how the rapid expansion of unconventional oil and gas development in the Bakken oil field impacted residents’ daily life, social interactions at the community level, and attitudes toward continued oil and gas development. She has also studied patterns in natural amenity-led migration in the Intermountain West and how such trends contribute to community-level conflict over local development issues.

Dr. Schad also studies how social factors, processes, or structures play a role in attitudes and behaviors towards natural resources. She has examined how sense of place, land tenure, and social networks, for example, relate to soil and water conservation practice adoption and persistence among different types of agricultural producers and landowners in the U.S.

For more information on Dr. Schad, visit her page.

Paul C. Rogers

Paul Rogers

Expertise: human impacts on vegetation, aspen ecosystems, lichen biomonitoring, environmental science

BNR 371

Dr. Rogers holds a B.S. and M.S. in geography from Utah State University and University of Wisconsin – Madison, respectively. His doctorate is from Utah State University in Ecology. Dr. Rogers prime area of study has been human impacts on vegetation in the western United States. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 16 years conducting monitoring activities and publishing results from the Interior West of the U.S. Dr. Rogers was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia (2014) and was awarded a Fulbright Specialist scholarship to Mendel University, Czech Republic (2017). His ecosystem monitoring research has taken him around the U.S., as well as to Canada, Europe, Africa, and Australia. He is currently working on issues related to disturbance ecology and wildlife impacts/benefits to aspen ecosystems. He has published more than 50 professional and technical papers and appeared in media print, video, and online content more than 100 times.

Rogers is also reaching out to general audiences with numerous magazine, newsprint, extension, and blog writings. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Environment & Society, a USU Ecology Center Associate, and the Director of the Western Aspen Alliance. He has taught Introduction to Environmental Science, Environmental Problem-Solving, Natural Resource Monitoring, and Planet Earth for honors students as well as more than 30 professional workshops. Paul recently appeared in the MacGillivray-Freeman IMAX Film "Into America's Wild" (2020), which is and adventure-science movie intended to encourage women, indigenous persons, and youth to pursue outdoor activities and careers in research.

For more information on Dr. Rogers, visit his page.

James Lutz

James Lutz

Expertise: science-based conservation and management

NR 214

Dr. Lutz is the T.W. Daniel Associate Professor of Forestry at Utah State University. He is the principal investigator for three large, Smithsonian-affiliated forest dynamics plots in California, Washington, and Utah. Dr. Lutz studies the ecosystems of western North America to contribute to science-based conservation and management of our natural resources in the face of changing climate and demography. My interests include the demography and spatial patterns of primary forests, especially the causes of tree death, and how fire shapes old-growth forest communities.

For more information on Dr. Lutz, visit his page.


Courtney Flint

Courtney Flint

Expertise: natural resource sociology, community resources & engagement, interdisciplinary ecosystem science, mixed methods

Old Main 216G

As a natural resource sociologist and community resource specialist, the focus of Dr. Flint’s work is on how people relate to the natural environment and natural resources, how they make sense of changes and vulnerabilities in their landscapes, and their capacity for collective action. Her research provides sound data to support local decisions on land use, natural resource management, and community well-being.

She works closely with researchers from physical and engineering sciences as well as with people beyond the scientific realm in order to address complex social-environmental changes. Her current research and engagement efforts focus on understanding the role of river and watershed organizations in regional sustainability and on measuring individual and community wellbeing to support local decisions and planning. She serves as chair of the Sustainable and Healthy Communities Committee for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Board of Scientific Counselors and is a member of the National Academy of Science Committee on Advancing a Systems Approach to Understanding of the Earth.

For more information on Dr. Flint, visit her page.

David Tarboton

David Tarboton

Expertise: Director of Utah Water Research Laboratory. Expertise in the area of surface water hydrology, water resources, modeling, hydrologic information systems, and snow. Lead the development of HydroShare, a system for sharing hydrologic data and models. Developed and supports open source software including the Terrain Analysis using Digital Elevation Models package

UWRL 221

Dr. Tarboton is the Director, Utah Water Research Laboratory, and a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Utah State University. His teaching and research focuses on connecting in the development of online content in support of active learning in hydrology. Dr. Tarboton’s research is in the area of surface water hydrology at the disciplinary interface between hydrology and information technology. His focus is on advancing the capability for hydrologic prediction by developing models that take advantage of new information and process understanding enabled by new technology. He strives to advance understanding through research that synthesizes modeling and numerical analysis with field observations and hydrologic information systems. This is motivated by the problems faced by hydrologists being multi-faceted requiring the integration of information from multiple sources and the need to advance and tailor computing systems to the needs of hydrologists to pursue the general understanding needed to advance physically based hydrologic prediction.

He led the development of HydroShare (www.hydroshare.org), a hydrologic information system for sharing hydrologic data and models operated by the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. HydroShare is a platform for users to share and publish data and models in a variety of flexible formats, and to make this information available in a citable, shareable and discoverable manner in support of transparent and reproducible science. Hydroshare also includes tools (web apps) that can act on content in HydroShare providing users with a gateway to computing and analysis. He also work on terrain analysis for hydrology, terrain stability mapping and stream sediment inputs, geomorphology, stochastic and nonparametric statistical methods in hydrology, and snow hydrology.

His group has developed and supports open source software packages implementing many of the research capabilities developed. This includes the Terrain Analysis using Digital Elevation Models (TauDEM) package for derivation of hydrologic information from digital elevation models, and the Utah Energy Balance snowmelt model.

For more information on Dr. Tarboton, visit his page.

Bethany Neilson

Bethany Neilson

Expertise: collection of data sets fundamental to numerical modeling and identification of dominant heat and mass fate and transport mechanisms, quantifying groundwater/surface water interactions and the associated influences on instream water quality and temperature regimes

UWRL 303, ENGR 223
435.797.7369 or 435.797.2772

Dr. Neilson is a Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) with a dual appointment with the Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL). She currently serves as the CEE Water Division Head and the director of the Logan River Observatory.

Dr. Neilson’s efforts have spanned desert rivers, arctic river systems, low gradient agricultural rivers, high gradient mountain streams, and highly regulated river reaches. More recent research efforts have expanded to landscape processes and connections to riverine environments. Current research includes understanding the role of groundwater/surface water exchanges on instream temperatures and carbon fluxes in areas of continuous permafrost; instream temperature, nutrient, and habitat responses to the development of beaver dam complexes; groundwater/surface water exchange influences on heat and nutrient transport in highly regulated river reaches; and temperature controls in regulated canyon-bound rivers.


However, a key focus of my current research is understanding the complexities of mountain hydrology in the context of the Logan River watershed. Due to the large amount of data collected as part of the Logan River Observatory (https://lro.usu.edu), there are a variety of ongoing research projects in the area. In the karst, mountainous portion of the watershed, projects include understanding groundwater exchanges and influences on longitudinal solute trends, investigating methods for quantifying snow depth variability by combining bare-earth and snow-on LiDAR data, and combining processed-based snow modeling and machine learning models to predict baseflow variability. In the valley portion of the watershed, efforts include quantification and classification of lateral inflows from urban and agricultural portions of the watershed and temperature responses to various riparian and water management scenarios. Additional efforts include quantification of micro-plastic transport from pristine portions of the watershed to urban centers.

For more information on Dr. Nielson, visit her page.

Christopher Lant

Christopher Lant

Expertise: ecosystem services, human appropriation of net primary production, virtual water, food-energy water nexus

NR 201B

Dr. Christopher Lant joined Utah State University’s Quinney College of Natural Resources as Professor and Head of the Department of Environment and Society in 2014 after 26 years as a Geographer at Southern Illinois University including 12 years as Executive Director of the Universities Council on Water Resources. Dr. Lant’s work has focused on water resources, the water-food nexus, environmental and agricultural conservation policies, publishing over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, mostly in collaboration with a dozen Ph.D. and over two dozen Master’s advisees.

His work has focused on policies that can reduce polluted run-off, restore wetlands, promote ecosystem service provision, and add wind energy as a 21st century “crop.” He has also published on water footprint analysis and virtual water trade. A recipient of over $10 million in research and program development funding, his recent work on NSF’s Coupled Natural and Human Systems and Innovations in Food-Energy-Water Systems (INFEWS) programs has focused on projecting the likely geographic response of the crop belts to climate change, human appropriation of net primary production, and the ecological inter-dependencies it generates through trade.

For more information on Dr. Lant, visit his page.

Matt Yost

Matt Yost profile

Expertise: water, crop, and soil management practices that promote resiliency to weather variation and changing climate

AGRS 325

Dr. Yost is a native of southern Idaho where he was raised on a dairy farm. After completing his PhD at the University of Minnesota in Applied Plant Sciences, he spent four years doing postdoctoral research in the U.S. Midwest. He is currently an Assistant Professor and Agroclimate Extension specialist in the Plants, Soils, and Climate Department. He conducts and manages long-term water optimization research in Logan, Vernal, and Cedar City, Utah. He also manages an on-farm research program that includes nearly 20-30 research trials in various parts of Utah each year. He is the current director of USU CROPS, which is a team of 25 extension experts conducting dynamic crop production outreach. He has authored numerous journal and extension articles on research dealing with water optimization, nitrogen management, precision agriculture, soil conservation, and bioenergy crops.

For more information on Dr. Yost, visit his page.

Kelly Kopp

Kelly Kopp profile

Expertise: landscape irrigation efficiency, turfgrass water and nutrient dynamics, smart irrigation technologies, water efficiency programming

AGRS 334

Dr. Kopp is a Professor and Extension Specialist in the Plants, Soils & Climate department at Utah State University (USU), where her research efforts are focused on landscape water conservation, irrigation efficiency and technologies, and the enhancement of urban ecosystem services. She conducts applied research on plant selection, with an emphasis on lower water use grasses, as well as the implementation of water-saving irrigation technologies to complement more basic research efforts developing water balances for ornamental landscapes.

Her past work has emphasized the sustainability of ornamental landscapes, which may require fewer inputs, without compromising landscape functionality or aesthetics. However, beyond the concept of sustainability lies the potential for urban landscapes to be resource-positive contributors to urban and suburban ecosystems. Her current research takes a life-cycle analysis approach to identifying the landscape designs and management practices that will characterize resource-positive landscapes for the state and region.

Dr. Kopp also conducts extensive outreach efforts through her role with USU Cooperative Extension. She is the Director of USU's Center for Water Efficient Landscaping and is board member and past president of the Utah Water Conservation Forum. From 2007-2016, she served on the board of directors of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, an international organization promoting all aspects of water efficiency, and has continued service to the Alliance as chair of the organization’s Water Efficiency Research Committee.

She works directly with many federal, state, and municipal agencies toward achieving water use efficiency in the state of Utah, the Intermountain West, and beyond.

For more information on Dr. Kopp, visit her page.

Patrick Belmont

Patrick Belmont profile

Expertise: understanding of how landscapes and rivers change over time and the implications for water quantity and quality, flood risk, water resource management, and ecosystem health

NR 210C

Dr. Belmont is a hydrologist and geomorphologist. His research has advanced understanding of how rivers and landscapes evolve over decades to millennia and the implications for water quantity and quality, flood risk, water resource management, and ecosystem health. Much of his current work focuses on predicting the impacts of climate change, with an emphasis on how continued increases in wildfire are likely to impact water supply and fish populations in Utah and the Intermountain West.

Dr. Belmont obtained his PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences at Lehigh University in 2007 and spent two years as a post-doctoral researcher in Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Minnesota prior to starting at Utah State University. He spent the 2016-2017 academic year in residence at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He currently serves as Head of the Department of Watershed Sciences.

For more information on Dr. Belmont, visit his page.

Niel Allen

Niel Allen profile

Expertise: irrigation management practices and technologies, opportunities for cooperation that mutually benefit agriculture, domestic, commercial, municipal, industrial, energy, and environmental water users, multiple disciplines that utilize or impact water

ENGR 227

Dr. Niel Allen received a BS and MS from Utah State University in Agriculture and Irrigation Engineering and a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Idaho. Dr. Allen worked in the irrigation business for five years, eight years with Cooperative Extension, and 19 years with consulting engineering firms. His objective is to provide information to water users and managers to help solve water and irrigation problems and manage water resources in Utah. During his career, he’s had opportunities to work with water managers, attorneys, and water users in the resolution of complex water allocation and water rights conflicts.

For more information on Dr. Allen, visit his page.


Randal Martin

Randal Martin

Expertise: air quality and air pollution control

UWRL 309, ENGR 220

At USU, Dr. Martin teaches classes related to air quality and air pollution control. He has led or collaborated on air pollutant research which has included, among other studies, investigations in to the composition, sources, and photochemical formation of PM2.5, wintertime ozone formation in Utah’s oil and gas regions, the atmospheric behavior and sources of gas-phase ammonia, on-road vehicular emissions, air pollutant emissions from agricultural crop and animal production facilities, regional transport of air pollutants over the Colorado Plateau, and biogenic emissions of various hydrocarbons.

For more information on Dr. Martin, visit his page.

Simon Wang

Simon Wang

Expertise: climate data analysis, climate dynamics and prediction, interdisciplinary climate study, weather processes and extremes, air quality and fire meteorology

AGRS 342

Dr. Wang studies the dynamical linkage between climate variability and the land systems, including water resources and air quality issues. He also studied climate extremes and is the editor of the first monograph on Climate Extremes with the American Geophysical Union. His research has appeared in scientific journals such as Nature Climate Change, Science, Journal of Climate, etc. with over 140 publications. He and the Utah Climate Center developed a 30-day forecast for northern Utah’s infamous winter temperature inversion events that trap air pollution.

For more information on Dr. Wang, visit his page.

Edwin Stafford

Edwin Stafford

Expertise: market diffusion of renewable energy, clean technology, and green products; sustainable entrepreneurship; "green marketing" strategy and message framing; sustainable transportation; air pollution outreach and social influence (the Inconvenient Youth effect)
Utah High School Clean Air Marketing Contest

EBB 304

Edwin R. Stafford, Ph.D., is a professor of marketing whose research and expertise center on sustainable entrepreneurship and the marketing of renewable energy, clean technology, green products, and sustainability issues. His most recent research and outreach have centered on the annual Utah High School Clean Air Marketing Contest (with Dr. Roslynn Brain McCann, USU Extension Sustainability), which focuses on engaging teens about Utah’s air pollution, persuasive marketing messaging, and their social influence on their parents and family about taking action to preserve Utah’s air quality (also known as the “Inconvenient Youth” effect). This initiative has been featured in a variety of business and news outlets, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Guardian, Air Quality News, the Deseret News, Tree Hugger, and PBS Utah.

Dr. Stafford’s applied research strives to make a difference in business practice, policy, and society, and he maintains a strong education outreach focus aligned with USU’s land grant mission to serve the state of Utah. Through grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Marriner S. Eccles Foundation, Ed worked to help kick-start the wind industry in Utah, which resulted in published research, education outreach, and two peer-reviewed research documentary shorts, “Wind Uprising” (2010) and “Scaling Wind” (2013) with his colleagues Cathy Hartman (emeritus, Utah State University) and Michelle Nunez (GreenTech Films). These documentaries have been screened across the country. Ed has mentored many USU/Huntsman School students to pursue careers in renewable energy and clean technology, and they’ve been recruited by such agencies and firms as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Intermountain Wind & Solar, Wasatch Wind, Enel Green Power – North America, and ENYO Energy.

For more information on Dr. Stafford, visit his page.

Janice Brahney

Janice Brahney profile

Expertise: transport nutrients, freshwater ecosystems, watershed hydrology, water quality

NR 350

Dr. Janice Brahney is an Assistant Professor at Utah State University. She received her doctorate from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in Environmental Biogeochemistry. She holds an MSc degree in Earth Science and a BSc degree in Environmental Science, both from Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada. Her research sits at the nexus of several critical zone disciplines and includes three primary themes, 1) the atmosphere as a vector for material transport to aquatic ecosystems, 2) climate change effects in mountain environments, and 3) the cause, effect, and mitigation of water quality impairment. She has received over $2M in research grants from a range of federal, state, and international agencies, including the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Utah State Division of Water Quality, Canadian Provincial Parks, the US Forest Service, and US Geological Survey. Much of Dr. Brahney’s work has produced results with far-reaching implications for policy, land-use regulation, and ecosystem monitoring. Her work has been cited in the IPCC and has received considerable attention from the media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, Scientific American, and NPR. Dr. Brahney is currently an associate editor for Freshwater Science.

For more information on Dr. Brahney, visit her page.

Roslynn McCann

Roslynn McCann profile

Expertise: application of effective marketing and communication techniques to enact pro-environmental behavior change, permaculture design as a climate change adaptation and mitigation framework, barriers, successes, and opportunities in offering climate change programming within the United States’ Cooperative Extension system

Moab Education Center

Dr. Roslynn Brain McCann is a Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist in the Department of Environment and Society, College of Natural Resources at Utah State University. She uses conservation theory, communication techniques, and social marketing tools to foster environmental behaviors in the areas of land (conservation, reducing, reusing and recycling), air (quality and climate change), food (consuming locally with a focus on CSA’s and farmer’s markets), water (quality, quantity, water resilient landscaping), and energy (efficiency and renewable energy). Roslynn also teaches communicating sustainability, helps facilitate the National Extension Sustainability Summit and the Utah High School Clean Air Marketing Contest, runs a national database of sustainability-focused Extension programs, and is the coordinator for Utah Farm-Chef-Fork, the USU Permaculture Initiative, and Sustainable You! kids’ camps.

For more information on Dr. McCann, visit her page.

Seth Lyman

Seth Lyman profile

Expertise: atmospheric measurements, atmospheric instrumentation, atmospheric analysis

Bingham Center 138R

Dr. Seth Lyman directs Utah State University’s Bingham Entrepreneurship & Energy Research Center, located in Vernal, and is a Research Associate Professor in USU's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He has a doctoral degree in Environmental Science and Health, and his expertise is in atmospheric measurements, instrumentation, and analysis. Research at the Bingham Center focuses on the environmental outcomes of energy production, especially air quality impacts from oil and gas development. Dr. Lyman and his colleagues at the Bingham Center have carried out projects to quantify emissions of organic compounds from various oil and gas sources, understand the conditions that lead to wintertime ozone production in the Rocky Mountain region, and develop computer models of atmospheric emissions and air quality.

For more information on Dr. Lyman, visit his page.

Kimberly Hageman

Kimberly Hageman profile

Expertise: Quantification of organic contaminants in environmental matrices (air, water, soil, organisms). Investigation into fate, transport, and impacts of these chemicals using field and lab studies, and chemical fate modelling.

ML 281

Associate Professor Kimberly Hageman obtained a PhD in Analytical Chemistry at Oregon State University in 2003. She held a faculty position in the Department of Chemistry at University of Otago in New Zealand from 2006 to 2018. She then joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Utah State University. Dr. Hageman’s research group studies semi-volatile air pollutants. These chemicals enter the atmosphere where it is warm, travel long distances with the winds, and then deposit back to earth surfaces where it is cold. Many of the semi-volatile pollutants are problematic because they are also both long-lived and toxic to humans and wildlife. Many of the commonly used pesticides, as well as flame retardants and other industrial compounds, fall into this category. Due to their ability to travel long distances through the atmosphere, these chemicals have been found in high mountains and in the Arctic, in other words -- far from where they are used or produced.

Dr. Hageman’s group uses air sampling and gas chromatography to determine the concentrations of semi-volatile pollutants in air at various locations. Concentrations are measured near sources, such as agricultural fields, to determine the degree to which different semi-volatile pollutants enter the atmosphere. In addition, concentrations are measured in remote alpine and arctic areas to determine how far they travel through the atmosphere. Dr. Hageman’s group also conducts chemical fate modelling to predict the behavior of these chemicals under different environmental conditions. For instance, their models are used to determine how the amount that enters the atmosphere varies as the temperature, humidity, and wind speed change. They also conduct field studies and modelling to determine how long semi-volatile pesticides remain on leaves before entering the atmosphere or degrading – this is important for the protection of beneficial insects, such as bees, as well as for determining how long pesticides are active against pest insects.

For more information on Dr. Hageman, visit her page.