Profile in 2013 Tahoe Summit Report

Earlier this summer, in preparation for the recent 2013 Tahoe Summit, I was among a handful of UNR faculty to be interviewed about our research and teaching as they relate to the Tahoe Basin.  It was fun to get to talk a bit about birds, citizen science, topography and climate interactions, and our conservation motivations — even if Tahoe itself is only a small fraction of the pixels we look at.

The 2013 Tahoe Summit Report has come out and a link to the feature is below.    (Wonder if keynote speaker V.P. Al Gore read the report?)


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Project HEAT kicks off amid record setting heat wave

Project HEAT logo

Design: Giancarlo Sadoti, Tom Albright/UNR

Today we welcomed 21 students participating in the Dean’s Future Scholars (DFS) program for a 2-week workshop we organized with the Raggio Research Center (RRC).

Dubbed Project HEAT (hot environments, animals, and temperature), the workshop will provide students hands-on scientific experiences organized around the theme of temperature: How temperatures vary in space in time, why temperature matters for animals and humans, how they cope with extreme temperatures, and the various ways scientists measure and analyze temperature data.  Fittingly, the workshop began as Reno (and much of the Western US) experienced record-setting heat.  We were mostly inside today.  However, the students did get to experience the heat later in the afternoon as they practiced GPS navigation, which we’ll need later in the workshop when students carry out their own mini research projects involving micro temperature sensors.

Slated to run for the next three summers, the workshop is the centerpiece of the educational component of our NASA-funded Desert Birds New Investigator project that began earlier this year.  Its all hands on deck at LCB for this workshop and it is great to also be working with DFS as well as with Jacque Ewing-Taylor and our outstanding graduate research assistant Kerry Howard.


Project HEAT participants celebrate finding a geocache as they learn about GPS navigation. Photo: Tom Albright/UNR.
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LCB is now on Twitter

Follow us @AlbrightLCB

Not on Twitter yet?  Probably a good idea to join:

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Summer field techs

We are seeking up to two 2-month summer field technicians (with funding beginning mid-June 2013) to assist in research related to American pikas, alpine ecosystems, and landscape climatology.  The technicians will work in a team to travel to remote locations in Nevada and Oregon to retrieve, replace, and re-deploy microclimatic sensors and record observations of field conditions.   Applications preferred by Friday 31 May but if you missed that, send it in anyway!

For more detailed info, see below:

Field research/technician opportunity

We are seeking up to two 2-month summer field technicians (with funding beginning mid-June 2013) to assist in research related to American pikas, alpine ecosystems, and landscape climatology.  The technicians will work in a team to travel to remote locations in Nevada and Oregon to retrieve, replace, and re-deploy microclimatic sensors and record observations of field conditions.  Although breathtakingly scenic, accessing these locations is physically demanding, often requiring sustained hiking in remote, rocky, high-elevation locations.  Work will involve driving in a 4WD vehicle for up to tens of miles on unmarked dirt roads per day and then day-hiking or backpacking (often without a marked trail) to locations 1-12 miles from the vehicle, and arriving at exact sensor locations, which can be up to 900 m in elevation above the vehicle.  Equipment and instruction in field techniques and safety practices will be provided.  The technicians will be based in the Laboratory for Conservation Biogeography at the University of Nevada, Reno, and work with Erik Beever (U.S. Geological Survey) and other collaborators. There may be opportunities to continue involvement with this and related research.


Please see qualifications below and, if interested, provide 1) a resume, 2) a cover letter addressing these qualifications and your ‘fit’ to the position, and 3) contact information for three or more individuals who can verify your qualifications.  Please send the materials (subject: “UNR field tech”) or any questions to Thomas Albright ( talbright [at]; 775-784-6673).  Materials will be continuously accepted, but responses are encouraged by 31 May 2013.



–       Ability to hike on rockslides with a medium to moderately heavy backpack in rugged, high-elevation areas.

–       Familiar with navigation by maps, compass, and GPS

–       Comfortable working and camping in remote backcountry locations; solid decision-making in these contexts

–       Critical-thinking skills, attention to detail, and positive attitude

–       Valid U.S. driver’s license with good driving record.


Desirable qualifications:

–       Experience in collection of field data and identification of Great Basin plant species

–       Interest in ecology, wildlife, climate, physical geography, and scientific research

–       GIS, remote sensing, and statistics for applicants interested in research



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Giancarlo awarded NASA Space Grant Fellowship!

GiancarloEggsCroppedCongratulations to Geography/LCB Ph.D. student, Giancarlo Sadoti for being awarded a Spring 2013 research fellowship from the Nevada NASA Space Grant Consortium.  Giancarlo’s proposal focused on the complementary application of data from ground-based weather stations and thermal remote sensing to modeling the responses of breeding birds to temperatures encountered during and prior to egg-laying. Giancarlo proposed the use of a diverse set of historic and modern bird datasets collected by naturalists, biologists, and citizen scientists in these models.  Giancarlo hopes his research can help managers and conservationists better prepare for the ways birds will response to the increased frequency and severity of anomalous temperatures expected under climate change.

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Welcome Denis Mutiibwa — new LCB postdoc

I’m very pleased to welcome Denis Mutiibwa, who is starting as a postdoc this January.


Chief among the projects Denis will be working on is a new NASA-funded activity characterizing thermal stress in birds in the Southwest using remote sensing data, instrumental observations, and modeling.

Originally from Kampala, Uganda, Denis earned a Ph.D, major Engineering, Masters in Statistics and Biological Systems Engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Bachelor’s degree from Alexandria University-Egypt.

His general research interests include:

  • Assessing the impacts and trends of climate change on ecosystems and hydrological processes.
  • Detection of anthropogenic signals on climate change.
  • Determining the impact of Land Use/Land Cover changes on Climate Change.
  • Remote sensing-based partitioning and estimation of surface energy fluxes and crop coefficients.
  • Time Series and Spatial analysis of climate and hydrological data.

And outside of research, Denis likes playing guitars, playing soccer, and supporting the Huskers!

We’ll see if we can make him a Wolf Pack fan as well.

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A grad student’s perspective on a trip to Xinjiang, China

[by Giancarlo Sadoti]

Tom and I recently returned from a week-long trip to Urumqi in the Xinjiang Province of China where we attended the International Symposium on Invasive Plants and Global Change. The meeting was organized by the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, the Chinese Academy of Sciences Key Lab of Biogeography and Bioresource in Arid Lands, the Xinjiang Agricultural Institute, and the University of Nevada, Reno. Attendees were supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the United Nations Development Programme. UNR graduate students were also supported by the Graduate Student Association.

The meeting featured international collaborations and independent research on plant invasions from the U.S., China, Australia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. U.S. researchers came from UNLV, BSU, BYU, USGS, USDA, Rutgers, NCSU, and NAU. A number of U.S.-China collaborations were strengthened or born during the meeting and promise to result in research helpful to resource management in both countries.  Both Tom and I presented research related to cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), an annual grass particularly invasive in the Great Basin of North America. The meeting schedule allowed interested participants to attend two days of field trips into the Junggar Basin desert east of Urumqi and into the forested foothills of the Tien Shan mountains south of Urumqi.  These trips let us poke around looking at plants – some native to Asia but invasive in North America – and a number of birds new to most of us from the U.S.

This was my first trip to China and Tom’s fifth (and his third to Xinjiang). Urumqi is the most inland city in the world. For a sense of its remoteness, it took us an additional four-hour flight from Beijing across massive deserts to reach Urumqi (on top of the 12-hour flight from San Francisco). While residents of many Chinese cities have seen Americans for decades (or longer), Urumqi is still remote enough that our party got plenty of stares when out in public. Despite the dominant Han culture, Urumqi is still a crossroads for a diverse group of central Asian cultural groups, making for great people-watching and a diverse cuisine. Both in and outside Urumqi, I was struck by the pace of development. An increase in income and population has led to a boom in building construction and traffic in the city, while the demand for energy has led to development of huge surface coal mines and the construction of new coal-fired power plants. It will be interesting to see how Xinjiang attempts to responsibly develop its future, much as it will be here in the U.S.


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