My Students Past and Present

Amanda Manzanares (Current)

Mandy (front left in the photo) did her MA thesis on conceptions that introductory college students have about mineral identification. She is now in our Educational Psychology doctoral program and funded under our NSF NGCI grant (see Science Education and Teaching Projects). Mandy was also a coauthor on a paper I published that focuses on what students know before they enter our college-level introductory geology courses (See Anderson and Manzanares, 2018 in Publications)

David Lahowetz (Current)

David is an undergraduate geology student at the University of Northern Colorado, and he is working with Dr. David Crown and me to determine the viscosity of lava flows on Mars by looking at the amplitudes and spacings of compressional ridges evident in high resolution images and digital elevation models. Our goal is to make enough progress in the Fall of 2020 so he can present results of his work at the 2021 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

Davitia James

Davitia finished her MA thesis in 2019, and presented the results of her work at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. At this same conference, she was awarded a presitigious Lunar and Planetary Science Institute Young Career Award, given only to the top few percent of all graduate students presenting at this conference. Davitia conducted field work with me in Hawaii, and in the Mojave Desert of California, landed an internship at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, and is now a PhD student at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. Below is a link to a press release on her LPI Young Career Award, as well as another press release on her work helping raise money for her home country of Dominica after hurricane Maria.

Below is a link to Davitia’s thesis, along with some press releases focusing on her work.

Katie Nelson

Katie was my undergraduate research assistant and McNair Scholar, and did her research on LiDAR scanning of the Kilauea Lava Lake surface. Katie presented her work at the International Union of Geology and Geophysics (IUGG) in Montreal, Canada in 2019, and is now a graduate student at Michigan Technological University, as well as a graduate research intern at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. In addition to the work Katie did with me, she also landed an internship working on volcano geophysics in the Canary Islands, and more recently had some of some work she did in Costa Rica featured in the Washington Post

Amy Burzynski

Amy worked on a project that used a form of artificial intelligence call “self organizing maps” to compare the thermal patterns present on the surface of the Kilauea lava lake to eruption variables such as degassing and seismicity. The idea is to be able to simply look at the pattern the lava lake is displaying and instantly know something about the volcano’s behavior. Amy published this work (see Burzynski et al., 2018 in Publications and

Amy also invented a low-cost method for studying the lava lake surface through the thick gas plume that typically obscures the surface of the lava lake. Amy was recipient of the USGS Jack Kleinman Award, given to the top volcanology students in the country (

Below is a link to an interview Amy provided to our UNC Media department –

Adam Lewinter

I could probably devote a couple of pages to my highly motivated and accomplished former graduate student Adam. Immediately prior to arriving at UNC, Adam was involved in an amazing project that received worldwide acclaim (including an Emmy award, as well as Sundance and Academy Award nominations). If you haven’t seen Adam’s work in Chasing Ice, take the time to do so. It’s amazing work –

Adam did his masters research on the Overlook crater and lava lake at Kilauea volcano, using LiDAR to study the growth of the crater and short-term fluctuations of the lava lake surface. We just had a paper from this work accepted in a special volume of the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research on the 2018 eruption of Kilaeua, and it should be published near the end of 2020. Adam received a number of awards for his work at UNC, including the Graduate Dean’s Citation for Excellence. He also was the recipient of the USGS Jack Kleinman Award, given to the top volcanology students in the country (

Below are some links for the work Adam did on Chasing Ice, and on his UNC research.

More to come!!!

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