UMaine Polar Geophysics Team

We have a great team at the University of Maine within CCI and ECS who are focused on a range of topics related to Polar geophysics. We are working on collaborative projects focused on glaciology, glacial geology, geomorphology, permafrost & periglacial environments. Our team members have conducted research in Alaska, Canada, South America, Antarctica, and Greenland over the last few years. The team uses a range of field geophysical methods, airborne and satellite remote sensing data, and numerical modeling to answer their questions. This incredible group is also heavily invested in science education. I will be the first to admit that I learn more from this incredible group of talented people than they learn from me. See below to learn more about each team member, and if you are interested in joining our team, please feel free to reach out to any of us!

Scott Braddock joined us at UMaine in 2012 as an MS student (Advisor: Dr. Brenda Hall), originally hailing from Central Connecticut State University. Scott and I met just prior to his UMaine MS on the Juneau Icefield Research Program. Scott returned to UMaine in 2018 to work with Brenda and I on a combination of glacial geology and glaciology projects and he is closing in on completing his PhD as part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. Scott uses an incredible range of paleoclimate proxies and geophysics to understand glacier and ice sheet change. Scott’s specifically is funded to help determine the overall stability of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, a glacier which is at risk of catastrophic collapse, thereby influencing much of the rest of West Antarctica. Along with his fieldwork, Scott is a phenomenal advocate for the next generation, actively engaged in supporting both undergraduate and high school education. He helped lead the first year of a new Upward Bound field experience program in Alaska during the summer of 2022 for low income and what will be first generation college students. Scott also co-led a NSF-funded Polar STEM Conference in Alaska and a NSF-funded Radar Conference through UMaine recently, putting his many skills to use for the broader community. I recommend a read of his most recent Nature Geoscience paper about the Holocene history of Thwaites Glacier and reach out to him with questions!
Emma Erwin joined UMaine in 2020, initially for a MS degree. However, Emma’s skills and passion for science, glaciers, teaching, and answering difficult questions led her quickly into working on a PhD instead. Emma already has an undergraduate degree from Middlebury College in Physics and a MS in Secondary Education from Johns Hopkins University. She also actively works as a field instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), having run courses in Alaska, the continuous U.S. New Zealand, and Patagonia. Emma works closely with the Army Cold Regions Research & Engineering Lab on her research which is focused on developing snow and ice numerical models coupled with geophysical ground-truth observations. Emma is also highly dedicated towards teaching and supporting high school and undergraduate students, helping to design and teach the new Upward Bound high school curriculum this past summer! Check out her website here to learn more about her research and adventures! If you want detailed explanations on radar or numerical modeling, definitely ask Emma!
Renee Clavette commenced her PhD at UMaine in the fall of 2022 after completing her undergraduate degree at UMaine and MS degree at Georgia Tech (Advisor: Dr. Winnie Chu) looking at Autonomous Phase Sensitive Radar data from Greenland. Renee is from Maine and brings her passion for geophysics to her PhD research where she will be working to understand the subglacial hydrology of the Juneau Icefield for a NASA project we are working on with colleagues from NASA JPL, University of Washington, and University of Tennessee-Knoxville. We are excited to have Renee join us back at UMaine with her ApRES skills and she has already become involved in a range of lab activities including co-teaching some undergraduate field courses along with her TA duties. If you are keen to learn about surface and subglacial linkages of glaciers, reach out to Renee!
Mikaila (Kailey) joined us after the unfortunate pandemic delayed her capstone experience at JIRP. Instead, we worked together on a project remotely for a year before we decided she was making fantastic progress could easily turn the project into a phenomenal MS project at UMaine. Kailey has since been with us for a season on JIRP as a student, a second season helping to teach high school students and undergrads on JIRP, and a participant on a Mount Logan expedition (which included an incredible geophysical ski traverse 60 km down the upper Seward Glacier in Kluane National Park). Kailey departs for Mount Waesche in West Antarctica in November for a 2 month field season to help a team recover Subglacial bedrock samples, collect shallow ice core samples, and collect additional geophysics data. These samples and data will be used to determine prior ice surface low-stands across West Antarctica. Kaileys primary MS research is focused on studying changes in firn volume across the Juneau Icefield and ultimately upscaling that across coastal Alaska and Canada. If you are keen to learn more about Juneau Icefield snow and firn, reach out to Kailey!
Erin joined us in the fall of 2022 as a high school teacher at Edwards Little High School, Maine. She has over two decades of experience teaching in high school classrooms, bringing a tremendous skill set to the team including secondary education teaching experience, knowledge on how to connect with students, and how to make science relatable and understandable. Erin completed her undergraduate degree from the University of Maine at Farmington and beyond her teaching duties she has become an active Polar STEM member through her participation in several Polar programs. She has worked hard to bring Polar studies back to her classroom. Erin is also a talented professional photographer, using her skills to capture the magic of people and the natural world we live in. Her research is focused on how we can better teach Polar STEM material in secondary education classrooms. If you are keen on developing secondary education curriculum that works, Erin is a great person to chat with! I also definitely encourage those interested in photography to check out Erin’s website!
Keegan joined us in the fall of 2022 from the Northwest Coast of Canada after completing her B.S. in Environmental Sciences and Geomorphology, working as an Environmental Consultant for a few years, and also participating in JIRP for a season in 2019. Keegan is particularly keen to apply the skills and knowledge she gains from her MS research to the communities of British Columbia (BC). BC faces a range of environmental risks such as flooding and drought, landslides, fires, changing snowfall, and more. Each of these threats can significantly impact the natural ecosystems and local communities of BC. For her MS research, Keegan is working to improve snowpack (and associated water volume) predictions from available remote sensing and ground-based snow observations in Alaska and western Canada. Keegan is also becoming heavily involved in our education initiatives for undergrads at UMaine, already helping to co-lead field experiences for our students! IF you are interested in learning more about the impacts of changes in snow and water across Alaska and Western Canada, reach out to Keegan!
Ian joined us at UMaine from Williams College where he received his degree in Geosciences. Ian is a true “tinkerer” in electronics, programming, radar, side scan sonar, seismology, and more. For his MS research, Ian has been applying much of this technology to understanding post Laurentide ice Sheet retreat, erosion, and sedimentation processes in Maine. He also spent a season working in Allan Hills of Antarctica where some of the oldest ice on Earth exists. Ian’s role on that project was to expand our understanding of the subglacial bedrock topography of the area via the collection of more ground-penetrating radar data. Allan Hills is one study location in a major national collaboration to find the oldest glacier ice on Earth. The project, called Coldex, will likely result in the acquisition of the longest-term ice core climate records on Earth. Ian also took a hiatus from his graduate degree at UMaine to pursue an incredible opportunity to work with Raspberry Shake which resulted in a well-cited paper in the journal, Science, about the reduction in seismic noise due to the pandemic. Lastly, Ian has helped process some incredible data from the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration from colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey to help us select a subglacial bedrock drilling location near Thwaites Glacier. He has built multiple scripts to process GPR data as well… Ian truly is a jack of many trades. Find out more about Ian at his website!
Jon completed dual B.S. degrees in both Oceanography and Earth & Climate Sciences from the University of Maine in 2020. He took a short hiatus from UMaine, only to return in 2021 to commence using deep learning techniques to map spatial and temporal variability of snow and firn thickness across the Juneau Icefield from geophysical, remote sensing, and climatological datasets. Jon has developed a talent for python programming and deep learning techniques and he is close to defending his MS in October of 2022. We are excited to announce that Jon has also commenced his PhD research at the University of Washington working with Dr. Daniel Shapero and Dr. Eric Steig on climate and glacier numerical modeling. With Kailey, Jon also completed JIRP in 2021, participated in the same Seward Glacier geophysical traverse in 2022, and also helped co-teach the budding high school program in Juneau during the summer of 2022. We look forward to watching Jon’s future successes with our colleagues at the University of Washington and beyond!