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Alumni Updates

We encourage you let us know what is going on in your geography world (pun intended) and your life! Write us an e-mail, or dyer@ohio. edu, or note, Department of Geography, Clippinger Labs 122, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701. Please indicate if you would like us to include a paragraph or two about you here on our Web site and in our next quarterly mini-newsletter and the annual Geogram. Please include your graduation year and degree received.


Dennis Houmard, MSES 1975
I retired in March 2006 as Enterprise Systems Architect from the USDA Forest Service after 32 years of federal service, including 26 with the Forest Service, 3 with the National Park Service, and 3 with DoD. I also worked 3 years for Ohio DNR. I now operate East Hill Technologies LLC, a part-time IT consulting business, specializing in federal sector work. My wife Sue (BSED '75) teaches middle school science and plans to retire in 2010. We are both in our 24th year as part-time ski instructors at Snowshoe, and I also work part-time as a fly fishing guide. Sue has gotten into equestrian sports in a big way (never take up a hobby that eats!!!) and I still do a lot of long-distance cycling. We reside in Elkins, WV. My email is or (Received 01/2010)

George John (Thomas) Drobnock, MA 1979
Since graduation I have been active as a planner for Huntingdon Borough (1996). Free time has allowed me to pursue other interest in astronomy, archaeology, and geography that include research into very low frequency radio signatures for meteor entry into the upper and lower atmosphere (1992-2005), the "Meteor Beliefs Project: Year of Meteors", with Alastair McBeath and Andrei Dorian Gheorghe including the connection between John Brown and meteor imagery and related articles with the International Meteor Organization (IMO), assistance to the National Gallery (2011) in identification of a Thomas Moran painting and the Juniata Valley (Pennsylvania) (2006-2010), identification of prehistoric fish weirs in the Juniata Valley through Huntingdon County (2005-2006), and the development of guidelines locally for introduction of public art into a community (2004). The most recent work has been the initiation of archaeology at the French and Indian war fort site of George Croghan at Fort Shirley and the development of an over lay map of warrant tracts related to the fort and 18th century traders in the Aughwick (Huntingdon County, Pa) Valley. And not to forget the assistance in construction of a wood fired ceramic kiln known as an anagama and development of a ceramic glaze based on recycled glass. (Received 1/2013)

Martin Hudson, MA 1982
After leaving Ohio University I took a job with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntington, WV in which my first major project was determining optimal flows from Summerville Reservoir to enhance whitewater recreation. Being a native of Utah, I had to get back west to an area with "heroic" landscapes. I ended up in Portland, Oregon and in 1999 became the Chief of Planning for the Portland, Oregon Corps of Engineers District. In that position I managed a team of engineers and scientists in developing projects for navigation, ecosystem restoration, water supply, flood control, salmon recovery, and recreation. After 8 years, I joined Corps' Northwestern Division. In my current job I am the senior policy and planning lead for the Planning, Environmental Resources and Fish Policy and Support Division at the Division office. I currently provide technical and policy guidance to Seattle District, Portland District, Walla Walla District, Omaha District, and Kansas City District - essentially those Districts in the watersheds of the Columbia and Missouri Rivers. My passions include duck hunting, running rivers, traveling and fly fishing. During the fall and early winter I spend my time in the estuaries and wetlands of the Pacific Northwest. When I am not at work or in the field, my wonderful bride and I enjoy spending time together either traveling, running rivers in our drift boat (a whitewater dory), or searching out, tasting, and collecting handcrafted wines of the Northwest. (Received 07/2011)

Michael Ley, BA 1982
I completed my Geography degree at Ohio University on the military's "BOOTSTRAP" program, focusing on Cartography. As a serving Army Intelligence Officer, a degree in Geography fit well with my Intelligence-related duties. My follow-on assignment was to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, AZ where I tested Electronic Warfare and Airborne Radar systems. In 1985 I studied at the Defense Mapping School, Fort Belvoir, VA where I completed the Mapping, Charting and Geodesy Course and was awarded Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 21C, Topographic Engineer. I was then assigned to Combat Support Coordination Team 3 (CSCT 3), Yong-in, South Korea where I served as the Intelligence Collection Manager for the U.S. Army Liaison team. Because of my degree and prior testing experience I was also placed on a special DMZ surveillance team. Also, and just prior to departing for South Korea, I was able to work with the United States Military Academy (West Point) Geography Department and the Geography Department at Georgia Tech University and obtain the first computer generated 2D / 3D GIS package used in Korea. Upon my return to Fort Huachuca I was designated an Operational Test Officer and served as the Intelligence Corps' liaison to the Engineer Corps and their Digital Topographic Support System (DTSS), a tactical mapping and distribution center housed by two 5-ton trucks. In 1990 I retired from active duty and during the next twelve years worked on a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), military Intelligence training support packages, and computer systems. In 2003 I served as lead developer for the State of South Carolina Intelligence Fusion Center then in September 2005 I took a position in Jacksonville, FL with the U.S. Marine Corps as an Antiterrorism Officer and Intelligence Coordinator. In this capacity on a daily basis I employ my GIS training. One recent project was the development of a quick reference guide (with maps and satellite imagery) for 61 foreign ports. This publication proved of value when USMC assets deployed to Haiti following the earthquake.
I will always remember the professionalism and friendliness of the Ohio U. Geography faculty, especially Dr. Hugh Bloemer who served as my chief mentor and an individual I continue to maintain contact with. As most of my family continue to reside in Athens, I visit nearly every year. I welcome the opportunity to discuss my training and experiences with faculty and students alike. Go Bobcats! (Received 09/2010)

Mike Kukral BS 1982, MA 1986, MSES 1987
I have been the only professor of Geography at the highly ranked engineering college Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, since 1999. In additional to offering all the various courses in geography, I have taken our students on field studies to Central Europe several times. During the '89 Velvet Revolution in Prague, I conducted my dissertation research while on a Fulbright scholarship and am happy to return to that majestic city whenever I can. Next week (July 2012), however, I will be going to Moi and Egerton universities in Kenya and have dreamed of this since classes on Africa with Ted Bernard. Along with three colleagues, we will be establishing programs for our students to work at rural schools and bring solar lighting there if feasible and desirable. Time to get packing! You can be sure I will be taking in as much of the Rift Valley as possible. This fall I will be spending a sabbatical on the coast of Oregon. It is great to be an Ohio geographer. (Received 07/2012)

Robin Rhodes Crowell, BS 1992
After leaving OU, I went on to live in Anchorage, AK and teach geography at a charter school. I then moved and received an M.S.Ed. from the State University of New York at Potsdam. I have lived in the Potsdam, NY (way up near the Canadian border) area for 15 years. I now teach ESL (English as a Second Language) to international students and also teach at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY (teaching American students who might go on to live abroad and teach English). I have two daughters, ages 8 and 12, and my husband and I have a small hobby farm in the foothills of the Adirondacks. We have renovated a pre-civil war farmhouse. My family and I just returned from China and I have been lucky enough to also travel to Italy, Rwanda, Spain and others. We also own an international Fair Trade shop and gallery in the heart of Potsdam, NY. (Received 12/2011)

Steven Sushka, BS 1996
Over the last 12 years I have worked in Photogrammetry, GIS and Enterprise Asset Management. I started with Woolpert, Inc. in '98 producing DOQQS for USGS. In '01 I switched to Woolpert's GIS department and got involved in geodatabase design and enterprise ArcSDE implementations. I then started implementing and integrating Cityworks, a GIS-centric CMMS by Aztec Systems Inc., in '04 and earned my GISP Certification in '08. I currently work out of my home in Carmel, Indiana for Azteca Systems as Cityworks Support Rep. (Received 06/2010)

Mark Fonstad, MA 1997
After finishing my MA at Ohio, I went on to do a Ph.D. in Geography at Arizona State University, then a post-doctoral fellowship at Montana State University. In 2001 I began a tenure track faculty position in the Department of Geography at Texas State University. I have just recently joined the faculty of the Department of Geography at the University of Oregon, where I teach courses such as hydrology, remote sensing, and the physical geography of Oregon. For the past two years, I have been the Environmental Sciences Editor of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, and I am also editing a special volume of that journal on the subject of water. I am currently the Chair of the Geomorphology Specialty Group of the AAG. Research-wise, I have spent the past decade helping to build a new science: the remote sensing and simulation of riverscapes, and it has been quite a ride. My field work has been in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, Yellowstone (Received 12/2011)

Clark Earick, MA 1997
Clark's diverse leadership background in business aviation includes fractional, FAR Part 135 on-demand charter, and global FAR Part 91 private corporate flying. As Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Delta Private Jets, Clark is responsible for developing strategic business relationships, corporate strategy and product development. He actively serves the business aviation community as an advisory board member for ARGUS International, Inc. and the Ohio University Department of Aviation as well as membership on the NBAA Corporate Aviation Management Committee and Vice Chairman of the NATA Air Charter Committee. (Received 02/2012)

Thomas Oaks, BS 1997
I graduated from OU in 1997 with a BS in Geography and an Environmental Studies Certificate. After graduation I attended Towson University in Towson, Maryland and received my MA in geography with emphasis in Environmental Geography. I am currently working as a GIS Analyst and Technical Marketer for ESRI in the Washington DC office. (Received 02/2011)

Mari (Costea) Johnson, BS 2000
I work as an assistance dog instructor for the national non-profit organization, Canine Companions for Independence. I have been with them 11+ years now, after moving to Orlando, FL in 2000. I am married and have an almost 6 month old son. While I'm not necessarily working in the field of geography or meteorology, I'm known on our campus as 'staff meteorologist', and when there are big weather events threatening the area, other staff members usually come looking for me for a forecast. (Received 02/2012)

Tony Mathys, MA 2001
I am at the University of Edinburgh, where I work in research and research support in the area of geospatial metadata/standards, geoportals and data repositories for UK academia. I can thank the OU geography department for that! Then again, being considered an expert on geospatial metadata and standards is not exactly glamorous, but someone has to do it! I'm sure it's introduced and emphasized in your entry level GIS courses. (Received 12/2011)

Jillian Buckholz, BS 2002                      
Upon leaving OU the summer of '02 after graduation, I took an extensive road trip across the country and ended up in Chico, CA. I started the Geography & Planning MA degree there and graduated in '05 after writing my thesis, "Energy Policy in the California State University System: A Geographic Analysis of Policy." Essentially, my study was about one energy policy for 23 institutions and whether or not that was effective regarding energy efficiency. Upon graduation I landed a position at Chico State as their sustainability officer, the first position of its kind in the CSU. I stuck it out for about 3 years and then moved over to The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) where I was working primarily on the development of the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) as the STARS Program Coordinator. STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. AASHE just recently underwent a re-organization and I was kept on as the AASHE Senior Programs Coordinator. Instead of working just with STARS, I now help oversee the development of all AASHE Programs. I reside in upstate NY. (Received 09/2012)

Amelia Costanzo, BS 2003
I left OU and ended up working in the same job I held over all breaks during college for a year afterward. I realized I needed a more specialized skill set to achieve my professional and personal goals. That's when I enrolled in the Masters of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) program at Ohio State. That program really set me up for some amazing experiences. I continued on to hold a Village Planner position in the Florida Keys. A strong social network brought me back to Columbus where I've now been for 5 years, working for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. The connection between what I learned in the OU geography program and the expansive curriculum in the MCRP program at OSU is uncanny. I would encourage students to consider pursuing a similar degree and would be happy to talk with them through a mentoring program or other means. (Received 12/2011)

Scott Deaner, MA 2004
I've been teaching Geography at Owens Community College in Toledo, OH since August of 2008 and I absolutely love it! I am the sole Geographer in the college's Social and Behavioral Sciences Department. I enjoy working with a lot of first-generation college students, like myself, and exposing them to the world of geography. I've expanded our course offerings since I've gotten here so that now we offer 3 courses: Human Geography, Geography of the US & Canada, and World Regional Geography (Human and US & Canada are also offered as web courses). I'm not only the college's only full-time geographer, I'm the only geographer period, so I teach them all. Owens has around 20,000 students and is situated about halfway between University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University – the main campus is called the "Toledo campus" but we're really located in the suburb of Perrysburg (Owens also has a Findlay, OH campus; and Learning Centers in downtown Toledo and Maumee, OH). Most of our students tend to transfer to UT or BGSU, however, I did send one of my former students, Toni Smith, to OU in Fall for the International Studies (Africa) program. Personal news: Terri [Fofrich] Deaner (BS '03) and I were married in June of 2005, in Galbreath Chapel! (Received 12/2011)

Rob Vaghini, BS 2004

Since graduating in 2004 as an Env. Geography Major I have found my way to working with the Great Basin Institute a non-profit in Nevada, as the Associate Director of the Nevada Conservation Corps. (Received 01/2012)


Nicole Parrish (Baylor), BS 2005
I began working at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp in 2012 as a Research Intelligence Analyst at the National Air & Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) on Wright-Patt AFB. I provide analysis to solve military and intelligence problems and conduct source intelligence research and analysis to support projects and operations for customers in the US intelligence community. I have also been working for the Advanced Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) since 2011 as a GIS course instructor in the Analyst Boot Camp program, a 10-week program designed to provide students with the necessary tools to be successful analysts in the Intelligence Community. I recently received ATIC's 2012 Distinguished Instructor Award. I also aid ATIC's Center for Law Enforcement Analysis and Training (CLEAT) with GIS related issues. In 2011 I competed my Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Crime Analysis from Tiffin University and later that year completed a Certificate in Advanced Technical Intelligence from ATIC. I spent 7 years at Woolpert, Inc. ending my career there as a Geospatial Intelligence Analyst Task Lead producing high resolution vector data for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Serving in the Intelligence Community has been a great and rewarding opportunity and I would be happy to talk with anyone interested in pursuing that avenue! Feel free to contact me (Received 02/2013)

Matt Peters, BS 2005
Since leaving OU, I have participated in an SCA internship ('05-'06) collecting field data for the LANDFIRE project in CA, MT, and WA. After which I began to work for the US Forest Service in Delaware, OH as a GIS contractor. Our main research is the potential impact of climate change on bird and tree species of the eastern U.S. ( I have also contributed to a Risk map of Emerald Ash Borer in OH and MI. Currently, I am pursuing a Masters in Applied Biological Sciences at Arizona State University, while continuing my contract with the USFS. Research for my thesis involves modeling Ponderosa Pine habitat in AZ from 1890 to present and to 2100, exploring possible shifts in the distribution. I contribute most of my success to the Faculty of the Department and the quality of the GIS program. (Received 05/2010)

Colin Bryant, BS, 2007
I am currently a GIS Technical Lead working for CAE, USA in Orlando, FL and have been in this position since February 2010. Our work includes GIS data manipulation and creation in order to build simulation databases for the US Army. We combine imagery, elevation, vector, and raster data into real world simulation environments. These simulation environments are training our soldiers for aircraft, artillery, infantry, and IED detection. Before this, I worked at Harris Corporation in Melbourne, FL upon graduation doing Imagery Processing and Analysis on a contract from the NGA. My newest venture is a consulting practice that specializes in site selection for growing small to medium size firms. We can analyze any location at the local, state, or even federal level relative to the customer's needs. We have access to several detailed demographic datasets and can help businesses looking to expand a detailed set of locations to choose. You can locate us on the web at . If you have any questions feel free to contact me anytime at (Received 01/2011)

Jay Rauschenbach, BS 2007
Right after school, I moved to Denver Colorado and worked in a GIS capacity for three years. More recently, I moved to Washington DC in the fall of 2010 to complete my Master's in Urban & Regional Planning with a focus in environmental planning and policy; which I started in Colorado and finished in winter 2011. And so presently, I have been working for eight months as a Park Planner for the Fairfax County Park Authority ( in the metro DC area. (Received 04/2012)

Jonathan Brauer, BA 2008
After completing my undergraduate degree in Geography (BA 2008), I stayed at OU to complete my Masters in Environmental Studies (2010). After graduation, I completed an internship with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in the Water Quality and Industrial Surveillance Division. As a intern, my responsibilities included assisting in water chemistry sampling, fish and macroinvertebrate surveys, and using predictive modeling to determine water quality at public swimming areas in Cleveland. After my internship ended, I was hired by Lawhon and Associates, an environmental consulting firm based in Westerville, Ohio. As a field technician, I conducted stream surveys and wetland delineations statewide and monitored air quality at a solid waste landfill in NE Ohio. I was hired by the ODNR Division of Mineral Resources Management in the spring of 2011 as a mineral resources Field Inspector. My duties included overseeing the oil and gas drilling process to ensure compliance with state laws. Although I enjoyed my time as a field inspector, my true interest lies in water resources, and in the fall of 2011 I accepted a full-time position as an Investigator with the NEORSD Water Quality and Industrial Surveillance Division. As an Investigator, I am responsible for conducting environmental assessments (fish, macroinvertebrates, water chemistry sampling) in support of NEORSD's NPDES permit, and investigating environmental disruptions within our service area. (Received 02/2013)

Eliza Thrush, MA 2009
Over the last year I have been lucky to have been hired by Lawhon & Associates, an environmental consulting company in Westerville (Columbus area). I work on NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) documentation, stream and wetland assessments, environmental site assessment screenings, and do some GIS work. I find the skills I learned in the Geography Department to be useful and vital to my job. (Received 12/2011)

Michelle Corrigan, MA 2010
I recently returned from Edinburgh, Scotland, where I was Geoff Buckey's teaching assistant for Edinburgh: City & Environment. It was a great experience and I hope to return with a new group of students next summer. I currently work as an AmeriCorps/ComCorps Service Member for Live Healthy Appalachia, an Athens-based organization working to improve the health and wellness of Appalachia. I serve as the Program Coordinator and implement a hands-on cooking and nutrition curriculum in 20 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms throughout Athens County. The ComCorps program is a great start for those interested in health education, with a strong focus on obesity prevention. (Received 01/2012)

Ryan Fliehman, BS 2010
I am still at the University of Arizona working on completing my master's in Hydrometeorology. I have completed my third semester and have one more to go until graduation. Currently my thesis and research work is under a Dept. of Energy grant with Dr. Francina Dominguez, which is focused on identifying the pros and cons of the WRF weather model we use here. We want to identify if the model is properly forecasting the extreme precipitation events that lead to flooding in Southern Arizona. Under the grant I have all of my school expenses paid and receive stipends that total to near $21,000 per year. With the completion of this topic of research I will have be ready to graduate in May 2012. Currently I am also working at the National Weather Service office here in Tucson through the SCEP program, which is a paid federal internship, which allows me to complete 640 hours of work prior to graduation and then be transitioned into a full time employee after graduation. I hope to stay here in the Tucson office for a couple of years and then try to make it back to the Charleston, WV office that forecasts for WV and Southeastern Ohio. So things on this end of the country are going pretty good for me. I know myself and other graduates that were in my major have had similar success with graduate school and with our potential employers of the NWS. I can attribute this strongly to the Meteorology program at OU and the guidance we received from the professors in the department. With the help I obtained from them, I was able to receive a great post undergraduate education that will help me throughout my career with the National Weather Service wherever it may be in the country. (Received 12/2011)

Marina Islas, MA 2010
I'm a first year doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin, working with Dr. Rebecca Torres as a research assistant under her NSF grant. My work in Coyolillo was a small part of a larger project on" Rural Transformation & Latino Transnational Migration". I will be using the preliminary data that I collected from Coyolillo to fuel my dissertation proposal and will likely be traveling to Chicago, IL, and Monroe, NC to follow up with family members of my informants in order to take a multi-sited approach to understanding migrant experiences. This semester I'll be working on transcribing and analyzing my interviews with hopes of teasing out specific issues (there was so much going on in that town!) that I can focus on for my dissertation. Also, I'll be working on two manuscripts drafts with Rebecca as part of an independent study I am taking with her. As far as my thesis is concerned, I will be presenting at AAG in February and hope to have a book chapter submitted (based on that presentation) to Janet Momsen for her new Gender and Development manual by Spring. I'll also be a discussant in the "Researching and Improving Geography Graduate Education for STEM Careers" session at AAG. So, as expected, life of a doctoral student has been incredibly busy (and keeps getting busier) and I couldn't be happier! (Received 01/2012)

Erin Pierce, MA 2010
I'm currently an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Greenway through the Appalachian Coal Country Team. A great program that I am happy to discuss with interested undergrads and grads! (Received 12/2011)

Brandon Rudd, BS 2010                      
I have graduated from my program at Delaware and am now employed by the Montgomery County Planning Commission in Montgomery County, PA (Philadelphia suburbs) as a Community Planner. I work on comprehensive plans, zoning and subdivision ordinances, site plan reviews, and various other plans and studies for municipalities in the county. (Received 09/2012)

Colby Tisdale, BS 2010
I found a job with a company called Arbor Metrics Solutions. I work for a utility company in northwest Indiana planning vegetation management for overhead power lines. I use a GIS program to geographically place permits and make a digital plan of the tree work that needs to be done around power lines for reliability and safety. If there are any OU Geography students who might be interested in this line of work, I can give them some more information or direct them towards possible job openings. (Received 12/2011)

Dana Dorsey, BS 2011
I have been volunteering with a community development organization in Columbus called PACT, Partners Achieving Community Transformation, for the last nine months. PACT is a partnership between Ohio State University, The City of Columbus, the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority and the stakeholders of the Near East Side (here is a link to the website I am very excited about this project because it is developing the neighborhood I grew up in and did my expo project on! As a result of my dedication and volunteerism I have been given an AmeriCorps Vista with the project and will be developing a youth council and a volunteer core for the organization. I will also get a chance to observe the planning process and assist with workshops that include members of the planning team and various community members and leaders. The Vista position lasts for one year and my service begins next week. (Received 07/2012)

Sara Flecher, BS 2011
I am attending the University of South Carolina and I am absolutely thrilled with the program! I am working as a Research Assistant for Dr. April Hiscox - who uses a Lidar to collect data about sugarcane smoke plumes resultant from sugarcane burning techniques in Louisiana. My project is developing an application that models the smoke plume so that it can be used by farmers in Louisiana to decide what day is best to burn their sugarcane fields based on atmospheric conditions. I also am doing a project regarding CyberGIS—which I am presenting in NYC at AAG. This semester I have been focusing on GIS-based modeling and CyberGIS, but next semester I will be taking another Remote Sensing class with Dr. John Jensen, so I'm glad to have taken Dr. Lein's classes already to help me through. (Received 11/2011)

Lauren (Maransky) DiBenedetto, BS 2011
I began work in May 2012 at The Energy Cooperative in Newark, Ohio. This is a utility cooperative that provides electric, natural gas, and propane to rural areas of East Central Ohio. My title is GIS Technician and I use the skills I learned at OU to create an ESRI based map of The Energy Cooperative's gas pipeline system. They were using paper maps and an AutoCAD system that had no coordinate system (very frustrating!) so I think once the ESRI based maps are completed the gas division will find the maps much easier to use. I also recently got married in August of 2012. I married another 2010 OU graduate. His name is Michael DiBenedetto and he graduated from the Russ College of Engineering and now works at Miba Bearings in McConnelsville, Ohio. (Received 09/2012)

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