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Dr. Lee Benda

Dr. Lee Benda's research has focused on understanding how spatial patterns of landscape disturbances (fires, storms, landlides, debris flows, and floods) are organized by interactions among climate, topography, river network geometry and spatial scale, beginning this work in the 1990s with Tom Dunne.

Lee's related interests involved developing general prinicples about how the stochastic nature of erosion and sediment supply (and in-stream wood supply) influence fluvial geomorphology and formation of aquatic and riparian habitats. In the last decade, Lee, with his colleagues, has focused on building a community-based landscape analysis system (NetMap) which is designed to strengthen resource management and conservation planning in agencies, NGOs, universities across the Pacific Northwest Region and beyond.

Dr. Dan Miller

Dan first appreciated the utility of science from first-hand experience with basic physical laws – conservation of momentum in particular (in a brief career as a teen drag racer) – which led to an undergraduate degree in Physics in 1979. Dan then went on to three years in the Peace Corps in Nepal building drinking water systems. Watching months of effort laying pipe disappear one after another in landslides led Dan to graduate school in geology. Following four years at the University of Hawaii studying seismology (MS), Dan moved to Seattle to work with Tom Dunne in geomorphology. Towards the end of Dan's graduate student career (PhD), he was workiing in the broad and interdisciplinary field of earth systems dynamics, or landscape dynamics.

Since early 2000, Dan has focused on designing state of the art computer programs designed to unravel the mysteries of landscapes. These programs underpin the system of NetMap's Digital Landscapes and Analysis Tools.


Kevin Andras

Kevin Andras received his B.S. in Geology from UCLA, and moved on to study tectonic geomorphology at Humboldt State University.  After completing his M.S. degree, with a thesis on topographic response to uplift at the Mendocino Triple Junction, he began working on the NetMap system of Digital Hydroscape and Analysis Tools. Kevin's focus is on database development and programming interfaces for NetMap tools.

In his spare time, Kevin enjoys skiing, hiking, playing guitar, and converting large woody debris into electric guitars.


Dr. Sam Litschert (Collaborator) 

During her first career as a sailor, Sam encountered geomorphology in action: eroded sediment from disturbed hillslopes and roads washed out into the cerulean waters of the Caribbean to suffocate  nearby coral reefs and mangrove stands, damaging habitat and aquatic life. With those experiences on the edges of her consciousness, she returned to school and during an MS in GIS and remote sensing (Colorado State University, 2002), she encountered Dr. Lee MacDonald who had students measuring and modeling the exact same sediment and hillslopes. Not willing to let that kind of coincidence float by, Sam worked with Dr. MacDonald as her advisor and received a Ph.D. in watershed science from CSU  in 2009.  Her research focus shifted westward to spatially explicit prediction of cumulative watershed effects in forested watersheds with field work in the Sierra Nevada of California.

Sam’s postdoctoral work continued to combine geospatial modeling with environmental disturbances as she modeled the environmental effects of wildfire and climate change for the Southern Rockies Ecoregion. Outside of research, Sam enjoys time with her husband and two dogs, hiking, running, cycling, and dabbling with anything to do with wool and other fibers – dyeing, felting, knitting, and spinning.

Paul Bigelow (Collaborator)

After graduating from U.C. Santa Barbara, Paul began his geology career by evaluating EPA Superfund sites related to contaminated groundwater. Paul returned to graduate school at Humboldt State in the mid 1990s to study geomorphology with Dr. Andre Lehre.  While finishing his thesis on channel bed scour and fill processes, Paul worked part time for Earth Systems Institute on various watershed related projects. Paul later moved to Mount Shasta to work full time on various sediment and wood budgets, on NetMap development, and to conduct research on the effects of episodic erosion and sediment supply on aquatic habitat. In his spare time, Paul likes to draw and sculpt the human figure from life and grow delicious fruit trees, as well as occasional fly fishing.

Carol Coho

Carol’s interest in geomorphology began when she discovered the writings of William Morris Davis and the concept of the peneplain while an undergraduate student at Pennsylvania State University.  After graduating with a degree in Earth Science, she accepted a commission in the NOAA Corps and spent the next six years of her life floating on various research vessels navigating and deploying mooring arrays for El Nino prediction.  She returned to graduate school at the University of Washington and furthered her inquiries in geomorphology, particularly on physical processes of low-order mountain channels of the Pacific Northwest and received her M.S.E. Carol has been primarily responsible for quality control of data sets and many other technical tasks. She enjoys spending time with her children and outdoor activities of all kinds.

Lynne Miller

Lynne Rodgers Miller is a geologist and ESI's Business Manager. After undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Classical Languages (Amherst College, ’81), and a stint working in the Hawai’i State Legislature, she developed an interest in environmental science and policy. A volunteer expedition building pig fences in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park steered her towards geology, and she emerged from the University of Hawai’i several years later with an MS in Geology and Geophysics, and a husband, Dan Miller.

Since settling in Seattle, Lynne has worked as a geologist for a geotechnical firm, for King County, and for the University of Washington. For the past twenty years, she has worked as a consultant on watershed analyses in Washington, but now focuses on research related business affairs. Lynne's spare time activities include chatting, bicycling, backpacking, and cross country skiing. 

Dr. Jon Callahan (Collaborator - Mazama Science)

Jonathan Callahan, president of Mazama Science, is pleased to be collaborating with ESI on  development of web-based data visualization tools.  Jon acquired his  degree in Germanics from Washington University in St. Louis and was later admitted to the Chemistry department at the University of Washington in Seattle. Jon took full advantage of the nearby climbing and skiing opportunities while working on his thesis modeling Nuclear Magnetic Resonance experiments.

After graduating with a Ph.D. in 1997, and not willing to move away from the Pacific Northwest, Jon took his computer skills a few miles bike ride away to NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory where he worked on software for analysis and visualization of large oceanographic datasets.  He left NOAA in 2007 to found Mazama Science and has since had contracts with NOAA, NASA, EPA and the USFS as well as several private companies and non-profits. Jon is a Tufte-inspired data visualization junkie and he and his company are committed to the goal of making data from all fields more accessible and easier to interpret.