Principal Investigator

Daniel Griffin, PhD | ORCID | Google Scholar | Twitter | Instagram

Dan is a faculty member in the Department of Geography, Environment & Society and is affiliated with the Center for Dendrochronology, the Quaternary Paleoecology minor program, the Undergraduate Honors Program, and the AISOS Lab. He teaches courses on biogeography and climatology. Griffin's research has been consistently supported by external and internal grants, with funding sources from the National Science Foundation, the NOAA Climate and Global Change Program, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the University of Minnesota.

Prospective students interested in joining the group are encouraged to reach out after reviewing information at the bottom of this page. I welcome the opportunity to discuss possibilities for postdoctoral research, including competitive funding available through the University of Minnesota.

Graduate Students

Matthew Trumper

Trumper is a MA student with research interests in biogeography, dendroclimatology, biogeochemistry, and multivariate numerical data analysis methods. His graduate thesis research is embedded within our larger, collaborative NSF project on North American winter climate extremes. Prior to joining our graduate program, Trumper worked with NOAA researchers at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab. As an undergrad at UMN and in the Griffin Lab, Trumper's research was focused at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve with supported from the NSF REU and the UMN UROP programs.

Sandy Wong

Wong is a current MA student in Geography. She is interested in climate change, drought extremes, and related effects on tree growth in oak woodlands. Prior to joining the lab group, she obtained a BSc in Earth System Sciences and Geography from The University of Hong Kong. Sandy's undergraduate thesis focused on the relationship between drought and tree resilience in the Tibetan Plateau.

Undergraduate Students

Grace Hansen

Hansen is a University Honors Program sophomore working towards a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering. From Spring 2020–2021 Hansen worked as a research assistant in the lab group, with a primary effort of developing image visualization and data I/O tools for DendroElevator. Grace's efforts have been supported by the UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. In the 2022–2023 year, Grace is spearheading a industrial systems analysis of tree-ring data processing in the lab group.

Grace is also involved with a number of extracurricular leadership and sports activities. She is Director of Programs for the UMN Student Robotics Group and currently serves as President for the Green Girls STEM Foundation, a nonprofit that serves STEM diversity through grants and scholarships fundraising for women from historically underrepresented groups. In 2021, Hansen was recepient of the UMN President’s Student Leadership & Service Award.

Amital Shaver

Shaver is a University Honors Program student working towards a B.S. in Biochemistry with a minor in Dance and another in Creative Writing. Amital spent the summer of 2022 in Alaska working on a wildland fire and fuels reduction crew with the Alaska Female Fire Core in collaboration with the Student Conservation Association and the National Park Service. Amital started working with the lab group in Fall 2022.

Rachel de Sobrino

de Sobrino is a University Honors Program student working towards a B.S. in Environmental Geography with a minor in Sustainability Studies. Rachel is developing her senior honors thesis on climate change and old-growth forests at a site in Pennsylvania, where she conducted fieldwork as part of her 2022 summer internship with Dr. Neil Pederson of Harvard Forest. She has been a regular instructor at the Minnesota Debate Institute, engaged with the Women's Environmental Institute Farm in Minnesota, and Tamales y Bicicletas, a southside Minneapolis environmental justice organization. Rachel started working with the lab group in Spring 2020.

Jessica Thorne

Thorne is working towards a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering concentrating on environmental sustainability and a minor in computer science focusing on big data. She's interested in curbing climate change from a big business standpoint. Since mid-Spring 2020, Thorne has worked as a member of the lab group, analyzing tree ring data and developing a number of user data acquisition tools for DendroElevator. Her efforts have been supported by the UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.


2021 - Daniel Crawford

Crawford completed a MA in Geography in the summer of 2021 with the support of a Graduate Research Fellowship from the College of Liberal Arts and a grant to Griffin from the National Science Foundation. His thesis leveraged Quercus macrocarpa samples from the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve to investigate questions of vessel area variability and tree hydraulic allometry. Previously, Crawford earned B.S. degrees in Environmental Science and Geography at the University of Minnesota. His work on climate, music, and science communication has been featured widely, including in this video by CLA. He now works as a research scientist in the Environment & Natural Resources Institute at the University of Alaska.

2020 - Siiri Bigalke

Bigalke completed a MA in Geography in the summer of 2020. Her thesis research focused on the emergence of a "new" winter season temperature regime in Minnesota. Her interests have grown to encompass climate system dynamics, human-environment interactions, and climate services with a stakeholder orientation. In Fall 2020, Siiri began a PhD program in climate science at Utah State University in the lab group led by Professor Simon Wang. Siiri earned a BA in Environmental Science & Policy from Smith College.

2020 - Jack Dougherty

Dougherty is a junior pursuing a B.S. in Economics and anticipates graduation in Spring 2021. His interests include energy and agriculture policy, international relations, and the politics surrounding climate change. In his free time he enjoys playing trombone in the University of Minnesota Marching Band. In the lab Jack assists with core mounting, surface preparation, and imaging. Dougherty began working in the lab in Summer 2018.

2020 - Elizabeth Spencer

Spencer is a sophomore pursuing a B.S. in Plant Science with minors in horticulture, genetics, and agronomy and is expected to graduate in the Fall of 2022. Elizabeth is interested in sustainable agriculture, air quality, and water pollution. In her free time she loves to cheer on Gopher Athletics, especially football, softball, and hockey. In the lab, Elizabeth helped with tree ring data collection and polishing wood samples.

2019 - Tanner Johnson

Johnson completed a B.S. in Environmental and Ecological Engineering in May 2020. His research interests include forests, remote sensing, and natural resources management. In summer 2018, Tanner worked at the University of Georgia in Athens with support from the NASA DEVELOP program. Tanner worked in the lab from Fall 2016 through Spring 2019.

2019 - Daniel Ackerman

Ackerman completed a PhD in Ecology, Evolution & Behavior in 2019. His dissertation research focused on climate change and vegetation in arctic tundra, in addition to modeling the volume and effects of nitrogen deposition for watersheds at the global scale. Dan's work was supported by a NSF GRFP and in summer 2018, he worked with Scientific American as a AAAS Mass Media Science Fellow. Dan is an active science journalist and you can check out a bunch of his writing here. Dan earned a BA in Environmental Studies from Carleton College.

2018 - Kate Carlson

Carlson is a University Honors Program alumnus who completed a B.S. in Geography in Fall 2018. She is focusing on Geographic Information Science, database management, and web development. Her work to develop a web GIS for the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve has been supported by the UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Kate began working in the lab in Fall 2016 and went on to pursue graduate studies in Geography at the University of Colorado Boulder.

2018 - Malik Nusseihbeh

Nusseihbeh completed a B.S. in Computer Science in Fall 2018. Malik is interested in advanced computing technologies and development. He has been key for our group's project to bring high-resolution image analysis to the web, and his work was supported by the UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Malik began working in the lab in Summer 2017.

2018 - Erin Jones graduated with honors and a B.A. in Geography and another B.A. in English. With her focus in human geography, her senior thesis was supervised by Kate Derickson, and was focused around land tenure, environmental policy, and political ecology in coastal Florida. Erin worked in the lab from Fall 2015 through Spring 2018, with a focus on wood anatomy, microtome specimen preparation, and she was a longstanding participant in Ackerman's dissertation project on shrub dendroecology. She was supported by the UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

2018 - Madison Sherwood graduated with honors and a B.S. in Geography and went onto a job working in GIS with the City of Minneapolis. Her Senior Thesis was on time series analysis of historical aerial imagery for Cedar Creek, and she has been utilizing the Minnesota Historical Aerial Photography Online resource. Madison worked in the lab from summer 2016 through spring 2018 and was supported the UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

2018 – Jacob Arndt graduated from the MGIS program in 2018, and went on to a job at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In summer 2017, Jake worked at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory with support from the NASA DEVELOP program. Jake's research interests include climate, ecology, land cover change, and computer science. He specializes in remote sensing, development, GIScience, and climatology. Jake is also a phenomenal dendrochronologist, and worked in the lab group from Summer 2016 through Spring 2018.

2017 – Whitney DeLong graduated from our MGIS program in 2019. She is an expert with advanced geospatial technologies, including terrestrial laser scanning, point cloud processing, and GIScience. She worked in the lab as a graduate RA during Fall 2017, and was supported by funding from the University of Minnesota OVPR

2017 – Kelly Popham completed her B.S. in Biology with highest honors in Spring 2017. She worked in the lab from Spring 2015–Spring 2017, and was supported by the UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

2016 – Talia Anderson completed her B.S. in Geography and B.A. in Spanish Studies with highest honors in Spring 2016. She worked in our lab from Fall 2014–Spring 2016, and was supported by the UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and a Talle Family Scholarship. She was profiled by the UMN in this video. She went on to work for the USFS in Puerto Rico. In 2018, Talia participated in research with Duncan Christie and his collaborators in Chile with support from the Fulbright Foundation. She is now a Ph.D. student with Kevin Anchukaitis in the School of Geography at the University of Arizona, where she earned a master's degree in May 2020.

2016 – Danny Schwalen is completing his Management Information Systems degree in the Carlson School. He worked in the lab from Spring 2015–Spring 2016 and his work was supported by the UMN Undergraduate Research Scholarship program.

2016 – Ethan Van Offlen completed his B.S. in Geography in Spring 2017. He worked in the lab in Fall 2017 and his work was supported by the UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

2016 – Lucas Veitch completed his B.S. in Economics in Spring 2016 and is now enrolled in a graduate program at Harvard. He worked in the lab from Spring 2015–Spring 2016 and his work was supported by the UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

Griffin Advising Overview Statement

Personally, I am in science for the fun, the learning, the travel, and the relationships. My primary career goals are to do timely and high quality science with good people, and to pay forward the mentoring and education that catalyzed my enthusiasm and career.

Graduate Student Opportunities

One new graduate student position may be available starting in Fall 2022.

December 15 is our one and only annual grad application deadline. Those admitted enroll in courses in the subsequent fall semester. Some students begin fieldwork in the summer prior to their first academic year.

The Geography graduate program offers excellent opportunities for student research and training in environmental science. We have a strong track record of mentoring, matriculating, and placing students in academic and non-academic positions. Some students conduct research related to their faculty advisors' projects while others develop projects autonomously. Students routinely pursue coursework and committee participation from researchers in programs across campus including Center for Dendrochronology, Minnesota State Climatology Office, Quaternary Paleoecology Graduate Program, Forest Resources and Management, Earth Sciences, Soil Water Climate, and Ecology Evolution Behavior.

Admission to the UMN Geography graduate program is highly competitive. Prospective applicants interested to work with Griffin should correspond in advance of the deadline and are encouraged to send an email with a brief statement of research interests, near and long-term career goals, and curriculum vitae.

Graduate students in our program are typically offered funding packages that include tuition and benefits, a living stipend, and eligibility for competitive fellowships and grants through the department, college and university. Our students are funded through various mechanisms, including teaching assistantships, research assistantships, fellowships, or some combination therein.

Funding typically covers two years for the MA and four years for the PhD (five years if applying directly from undergrad). Applicants with highly competitive GRE scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation may be considered for fellowship funding from the College of Liberal Arts. All application materials must be received by December 15 in the year prior to admission.

Undergraduate Student Opportunities

We have a superb group of undergraduates in the lab, and are occasionally looking for bright, motivated students to join. We prefer to bring students in at the Freshman or Sophomore level. Undergrads typically begin in an internship-like capacity, possibly for an Honors Program experience, or for directed research credits. After a semester or two with experience and proven interest, a number of our students have been successful in securing their own funding through the competitive Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. In other cases, if students have proven adept and productive with lab work and if project/funding needs exists, some students go on to grant-paid positions. Students with sufficient experience may go on to complete their senior project or honors thesis in the lab group. Interested students are encouraged to email with a statement of interest and a few suggestions for available meeting times. Students are also encouraged to follow up if they do not receive a response to the first message. In other words, keep yourself on our radar.


GriffinLab & Minnesota Dendro CollectiveDepartment of Geography, Environment & Society UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA