There are a variety of research topics with which I have been involved, but they are all related to understanding natural systems for the purpose of managing resources and environmental concerns. My current work focuses on digital soil mapping.

Soil Landscape Structure

Working to improve landscape-scale soil maps for degree of erosion/deposition, redoximorphic processes, and carbon storage. Methods to achieve these goals have centered on the use of data mining techniques to identify spatial structure with multi-scale parameters. This project is being conducted as a member of the Soil Landscape Research Institute at ZALF.

Soil Particle Size Analysis

As part of the work for Dr. Schaetzl’s Soil Geomorphology Lab, we measured particle size (using laser diffractometry) on a lot of soil samples in support of loess distribution studies across Michigan and Wisconsin. This caused us to think about how to quantitatively approach standards of precision and quality control.

Also in this research, we needed to deal with the problem of bioturbation mixing the loess with the sandy till or outwash below it. When two sediments of different particle size are mixed, the result is usually a bimodal particle size curve. I put together a method to cut out the larger particle size peak and ‘reconstruct’ the original particle size distribution of the smaller particle size peak.

Methods developed during these projects are documented in my publications and Excel macros for implementing them are available in this site’s section for analysis tools.

Wetlands for Water Quality

Predicting the potential impact of wetlands for improving water quality, particularly for nitrate removal, is dependent upon the amount of the contaminant the wetland will receive and the hydrologic loading rate. I estimated these impacts with spatial analysis of landscape characteristics for the extent of the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River watersheds. This work was conducted as part of Dr. William Crumpton’s wetlands research lab.

In addition to the project report listed in my publications, I contributed to this project’s article published on page 183 of these conference proceedings:
Allen, A.W., and M.W. Vandever (eds.). 2005. The Conservation Reserve Program: planting for the future. Proceedings of a National Conference, Fort Collins, Colorado, June 6-9, 2004. Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5145. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center. 248 p. Available online.

Spatial Grid Model for Estimating Nitrate Load

Developed and tested methods for estimating nitrate concentrations and yield.

Delineation of Noncontributing Areas

Developed and validated a procedure for identifying landscape areas where runoff is not connected to the drainage network by surface flow.

Carbon Sequestration

My part was to take very detailed color readings of soil samples. Those color readings were then compared with carbon content to determine if color could be used as an accurate indicator of carbon content. I also helped with various other soil property tests.

Under the direction of Dr. Lee Burras’ Lab

Watershed Modeling with SWAT

The SWAT model has been rolled into what is now known as BASINS from the EPA. Jerry Neppel was charged with applying this model to the Rathbun watershed in Iowa. I helped decipher the GIS end of things and calibrate the model.

Under the direction of Dr. Richard Cruse’s Lab & Jerry Neppel.

Switchgrass Production (Biofuel)

I was purely grunt labor for this project. My task was to hand harvest the switchgrass within a portable square which I placed over the sample area.

Under the direction of Dr. Charles Brummer’s Lab & Dr. Rocky Lemus.