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Science Committee

Barger, Nichole | Belnap, Jayne | Boettinger, Janis | Brunson, Mark | Duniway, MikeMiller, Mark | Schupp, Eugene | Veblen, Kari


Dr. Nichole Barger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, as well as the Science Committee Chairperson for the Canyonlands Research Center. Her research program in arid lands ecology addresses the role of climate and land-use as drivers of biotic change on the Colorado Plateau. Her work ranges from small-scale work on biological soil crust communities to understanding regional distributions of plant communities. In addition to her work on the Colorado Plateau, Dr. Barger has conducted research in Central America, South America, Hawaii, China, and more recently South Africa. 

Dr. Jayne Belnap has been a Research Ecologist with the Department of Interior since 1987 in Moab, UT.  She received her PhD from the Botany and Range Department at Brigham Young University, and was the class valedictorian.  Since then, her work has focused on how different types of land uses can affect the stability and fertility of ecosystems in dryland regions, and in finding ways to use these lands in a sustainable fashion.  She also studies the linkages between soils and plants, including what factors make plant communities susceptible to invasion by exotic plants.  She travels extensively throughout the United States, training federal, state, and private land managers on best management practices for rangeland ecosystems.  The results of her research have led to major changes in management of large tracts of these lands.  Dr. Belnap's expertise on rangeland management is sought from countries around the world, including South America, Mexico, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, China, Siberia, Australia, and Iceland. 

Dr. Janis L. Boettinger is a Professor of Soil Science; Department of Plants, Soils, and Climate; College of Agriculture; Utah State University.  She represents the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station in the Utah, Western, and National Cooperative Soil Survey programs.  Primary interests are predicting soil distribution using remotely sensed and topographic data, and soil-vegetation-landscape interactions in rangeland and forest ecosystems.

Dr. Mark Brunson is a Professor in the Department of Environment and Society at Utah State University.  His research combines methods of the social and ecological sciences to understand questions about how human behaviors interact with ecological processes and patterns to affect environmental and human conditions.  He holds a PhD in Forestry from Oregon State University, but since coming to Utah State in 1992 his work has occurred primarily in rangeland ecosystems.

Dr. Mike Duniway is a Research Ecologist with the USGS in Moab, Utah.  He received a PhD in Soil Science from New Mexico State University and worked as a Research Soil Scientist with the USDS-ARS Jornada prior to coming to the USGS.  His primary interests are in soils and soil processes in arid and semi-arid ecosystems, and the interactions between environmental and land-use drivers, vegetation, soils and geomorphology.  Much of Dr. Duniway's research efforts have centered around properties and processes that moderate plant available water, including plant-soil feedbacks, soil quality, and soil morphology.  He seeks to provide information for land managers and owners to facilitate sustainable land-use activities, and works closely with BLM, NPS, NRCS, and DOD land managers.

Dr. Mark Miller is the Chief of Resource Stewardship & Science for the National Park Service, Southeast Utah Group (including Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments), in Moab, UT.  His interests focus on the dynamics of rangeland ecosystems in relation to land-use activities, climate, and soil-geomorphic properties.  Research applications include ecosystem assessment and monitoring, adaptive management, and ecosystem restoration.  Before assuming his current positions with NPS in 2010, he worked for 7 years as a research ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and was previously employed as an ecologist for LGL Alaska Research Associates, the Bureau of Land Management, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the National Park Service's Northern Colorado Plateau Inventory and Monitoring Network.


Dr. Eugene W. Schupp is a Professor at Utah State University, Logan, UT.  He is affiliated with the Department of Wildland Resources, the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Ecology Center.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1987 with an emphasis in evolutionary ecology of plant reproduction in tropical forests.  Presently, his primary focuses are on: (1) limits to plant recruitment in Mediterranean shrublands, Piñon-Juniper woodlands, and Sagebrush Steppe communities, especially on the early life history stages from pollination and seed set to successful seedling establishment, and (2) restoration ecology of degraded shrublands-grasslands.

Dr. Kari Veblen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Wildland Management at Utah State University.  Her research focuses largely on the ecology of grassland, shrubland, and savanna rangeland systems in the western US and eastern Africa.  Specific research foci include livestock-wildlife-plant interactions, plant community ecology, and restoration ecology.  Her research occurs predominantly on multi-use landscapes (either public or private) that are managed simultaneously for wildlife conservation and sustainable livestock production.  Most recent work has focused on the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts, USA, and the Laikipia District of Kenya, with new work on the Colorado Plateau.