Welcome, new Geography faculty members


We are pleased to welcome the following faculty members to the Geography department:

img_7700Kelly Caylor comes to UCSB from Princeton University, where he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Environmental Studies Program. At UCSB, he is the Director of the Earth Research Institute and Professor of Ecohydrology in the Department of Geography and the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Kelly received his PhD in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia.

Kelly’s research seeks to develop improved insight into the way that land use and climate change are interacting to affect the dynamics and resilience of global drylands. His primary research sites are in sub-Saharan Africa, where he is focused on understanding the vulnerability of pastoral and subsistence agricultural communities to current and future changes in hydrological dynamics.

Professor Caylor conducts research at a number of spatial and temporal scales; from small-scale experiments during individual rainfall events all the way up to continental-scale analyses of climate trends. A major focus of his research is the development of new methods to improve the measurement and prediction of ecosystem water use efficiency. Professor Caylor has served on the editorial board of Water Resources Research, the Journal of Gophysical Research – Biogeosciences, Vadose Zone Journal, Environmental Research Reviews, and Environmental Research Letters.  He was a recipient of an Early Career Award from the NSF, and was the inaugural recipient of Early Career Award in Hydrological Sciences given by the American Geophysical Union (AGU). https://caylor.eri.ucsb.edu/

Although previously a life-long resident of the eastern US, 20 years of conducting research in water-limited ecosystems makes southern California feel very familiar. When he’s not in the office or in the field, Kelly enjoys hiking, camping, and “simply messing about in boats” with his wife and son.

liz-chrastil Liz Chrastil studies human path integration, spatial memory, and large-scale navigation in complex environments.  Her work examines both navigational behavior and how the human brain supports that behavior. She has conducted experiments using both fully immersive virtual reality and fMRI neuroimaging techniques to understand how humans process self-motion information when navigating without landmarks.  Applying those same techniques to landmark-based navigation, she has investigated how active and passive navigation affect learning a new environment. In her work, Liz has also found large individual differences in navigational abilities. She works to uncover the source of these abilities and hopes to someday help the navigationally-challenged. Her research interests include spatial cognition, spatial neuroscience, navigation, cognition and behavior, and perception and action. http://geog.ucsb.edu/~chrastil/

Liz received her PhD from Brown University and did her postdoctoral work at Boston University. She also received an MS in biology from Tufts University and a BA from Washington University in St. Louis.  She is joined in Santa Barbara by her husband Berney, who is also a researcher, and her cat Tobus, an aspiring academic. When she’s not getting people lost in hedgemazes, Liz likes to hike, dance, play board games, and travel.

vena_chuVena Chu Vena’s research employs geospatial technologies and field observations to study Arctic hydrologic systems in a changing climate, particularly to understand Greenland Ice Sheet hydrology from snow to sea. She has participated in 10 field campaigns to Greenland to study rivers on land and on ice, and has also conducted fieldwork to study water quality in the Salton Sea.

Vena started at UCLA pursuing Economics and Accounting degrees, but was intrigued by glacier environments though a Geography field course in the High Sierra. After completing the BA in Geography and Economics, and working in public accounting for a year, she was lured back to UCLA where she earned her MA and PhD degrees in Geography. She was then a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the UC Berkeley Department of Geography, and she is now excited to complete her tour of UC Geography departments here at Santa Barbara. http://www.venachu.com/

qinghua-dingQinghua Ding is a climate scientist who studies the extent to which future climate changes can be predicted on a very broad range of timescales from months to years. He carries out both diagnostic and modeling studies, using observations and numerical models of the ocean, atmosphere, and their coupled system. He currently serves as editor of Advance of Atmospheric Science, and associate editor for Journal of Climate. His research and teaching interests include: tropical-extratropical teleconnection, large-scale atmosphere/ocean interaction, polar climate variability, paleoclimate, climate change, seasonal prediction, coupled climate modeling.

He received his Ph.D from the University of Hawaii in 2008. His Ph.D work was to understand the Asian monsoon variability over the last 60 years and its linkage with global circulation variability. In 2010, he started to work at the University of Washington as Research Associate on developing an isotope-enabled global climate model and understanding recent climate change in the Arctic and Antarctic from the perspective of climate dynamics. He found that the recent warming trend in the Arctic and Antarctic is partly attributed to tropical SST-related natural variability. He joined the Polar Science Center in 2014 and accepted a faculty position at UCSB in 2016. For future research, his focus is on exploring polar-lower latitude connection in the past 1000 years by using atmosphere-ocean-ice fully coupled GCMs, isotope-enabled GCMs and paleo-climate proxy data. The ultimate goal is to provide more reliable future projections of polar climate response to anthropogenic climate forcing.

nick2Nick Nidzieko joins the department from a prior academic appointment at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory.  He is a coastal physical oceanographer whose focus is on mixing and transport processes in estuaries and coastal shelf seas. The goal of his research is to improve understanding of how physics affects coastal ecosystems. He brings to UCSB a REMUS 600 autonomous underwater vehicle, a highly capable observational platform for autonomous, adaptive measurements in the coastal ocean. His prior teaching includes a graduate-level  course on mixing and transport in the coastal environment, and he will be teaching GEOG 149 Channel Islands this Winter and developing a new course on transport processes of coastal pollutants this spring.

Originally from the other end of the Bight (San Diego), Nick received a PhD and MS in Environmental Fluid Mechanics at Stanford University, and a BS in Marine Biology at UCLA. After a postdoc at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and several years in Maryland, he is happy to be back in Southern California.