Julie Commerford is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography.
Julie’s research focuses on disentangling the drivers of ecosystem change in North America throughout the last 10,000 years. She uses a variety of field, laboratory, and geospatial techniques in her work, including analyzing pollen and other proxy data in lake sediments. She is currently working on a multi-year pollen monitoring project that aims to quantitatively evaluate modern-day drivers of grassland vegetation change (such as human disturbance, fire, and climate). With that knowledge, we can achieve better-informed interpretations of how grassland ecosystems responded to past changes.
This fall, she is teaching a new course called The Local and Global Biosphere (Geog 31). The course examines the spatial and temporal patterns underlying the distribution of the Earth’s living organisms as well as the biological and physical processes responsible for these patterns. Students in the course participate in a number of field-based activities; including measuring ecological diversity on Observatory Hill, coring trees on Oak Hill to determine stand age and growing conditions, and assessing water quality and its implications on diversity in Occom Pond and the Connecticut River. In Winter 2017, she will teach Life in the Anthropocene (Geog 8). In Spring 2017, she will teach The Natural Environment (Geog 3) and Global Climate Change (Geog 5).