Current graduate students in Geography

MA Students

Will Helmer

Will Helmer is a first-year master's student studying historical geography. Will received two BAs from Concordia University in Seward, NE; one in history and one in geography. His senior capstone for his history major studied the link between African-American filmmaking and entrepreneurship in the early Twentieth Century. At the 2019 Nebraska GIS/LIS Symposium, he presented a map of the county-level distribution of sites on the National Historic Register. While at Concordia, he was a member of the speech and debate team. His favorite event was extemporaneous speaking, and he participated in several national tournaments. He is interested in studying historical geography for his master's at UNL. He enjoys reading, film, and the outdoors.

Morgan Ryan

Morgan Ryan received a B.S.Ed. in Secondary Social Sciences with minors in History and Geography from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Morgan has spent numerous hours volunteering in the community of Lincoln, primarily working as an after-school health and wellness coach at elementary and middle schools. Through his experiences volunteering, Morgan has developed a love for community-based research. His thesis is slated to focus on the role of place and socioeconomic status on quality of education in Lincoln, Nebraska. Additionally, Morgan has spent a significant portion of his time researching the impacts of food deserts at the household level in Lincoln, Nebraska. Morgan has a multitude of interests within the field of geography, but his primary focus is critical geography, cultural geography, and the geographies of education. Morgan has produced maps for publication in Great Plains Quarterly, coded web maps for the Great Plains Rocky Mountain Regional Geography Meeting at UNL and serves as the GTA for GIS labs which use QGIS and ArcPro. Morgan currently is the Geography Student Organization President (2020-2021) and is a representative in the Graduate Student Association. If you have any questions regarding his role in either organization, please contact Morgan.

Carissa Dowden

Carissa Dowden is a second year MA student studying cultural and historical geography under the direction of Dr. Rebecca Buller. She received her BA in Public History and Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and graduated as part of the Ronald E. McNair Scholar class of 2019. At Eau Claire, she studied the semiotic landscapes of welcomingness, Wisconsin dairy history and geography, and Chippewa Valley folk music heritage. Her history capstone paper, "Queen Cow and the Eau Claire Rule" won the Miller Prize for Outstanding History Papers. For her public history capstone, her interview with Nate Sorenson about his DIY Punk venue, which aired on WDRK Converge Radio, won the second-place award for News Series/Documentary (Radio) from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. Her master's research is currently titled, "Cultural landscapes of commemoration and memorialization of Nebraska's mythic rural west." She draws her enthusiasm for learning about history and geography from reading both the Little House on the Prairie and Magic Treehouse series as a child, and her professors at UWEC who supported her curiosity about the world. She is currently the Geography Student Organization vice president and treasurer, as well as a graduate student representative for the Rural Geography Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers. In her free time, she likes to sew her own clothing, play video games, and hang out with her cat Tiger.

PhD Students

Alex Mohr

As a pre-doctoral student in geography at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Alex Mohr is pursuing a third career. Alex first earned an A.S. in zookeeping while working as a school theater tech and then enjoyed a career as a zookeeper. Next, Alex pursued an undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Nebraska-Omaha while working as a lab technician. Geography having provided a natural convergence of varied interests; Alex went on to earn an M.A. at UNO as well. In all careers, there was some element of teaching, whether it was in Zoo Camp, training employees, being a teaching assistant in both geography and geology, or as an adjunct teaching World Regional Geography. This is where Alex wants to focus: getting students interested in learning more about cultural and regional geography, human environmental geography, and how everything relates to everything.

Christy Hyman

Christy Hyman is a PhD student in the Program of Geography at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Her research focuses on African American efforts toward cultural and political assertion in the Great Dismal Swamp region during the antebellum era. Hyman also examines the attendant social and environmental costs of human/landscape resource exploitation in the Great Dismal Swamp. Hyman uses Critical GIS to observe to what extent digital mapping can inform us of the human experience while acknowledging phenomena deriving from oppressive systems in society threatening sustainable futures. Christy’s dissertation is tentatively titled, “Contested Space: Mobilities, Networks, and the Pursuit of Freedom in the Great Dismal Swamp.”

Jim Benes

Jim Benes is a PhD student under the direction of Dr. Paul Hanson and human-environment relations are what he finds most compelling. For his master’s research, he focused on Quaternary paleoecology and fire history in alpine environments derived from lake sediment cores. While his doctoral research is still taking shape, he aims to find out more about fire history and related ecological and human interactions in Nebraska and the Great Plains. He is drawn to the complexity surrounding climate change and the human relations regarding adaptation strategies, both past and present.

Glenn Humphress

Glenn Humphress is a Ph.D. candidate in Geography with wide-ranging interests in science, technology, geography, and history. He has applied his diverse interests and education - a B.S. in Zoology with a minor in Anthropology and a M.A. in Geography, both from the University of Kentucky – to a broad spectrum of projects within the academic and private sectors. One of his favorite professional accomplishments is cartographic work being published in A Companion to the Swiss Reformation co-edited by UNL historian Amy Burnett and Swiss historian Emidio Campi (Brill, 2016). Glenn’s dissertation research is extending Clark Archer’s analysis of what temporal trends and spatial patterns in presidential election results indicate about party support with a similar analysis of voter registration using Kentucky as a test area. Glenn has been involved in post-secondary teaching for over 25 years and is currently on the faculty at Southeast Community College where he tries to build students’ interest in geography and spatial science through a variety of courses and activities. Another favorite accomplishment is adding a field trip component to the Physical Geography labs at SCC to get students out of the classroom and experiencing geography in settings around Lincoln. When not engaged in teaching or research Glenn can be found with his family, training in martial arts, or fishing at a lake…sometimes all three at the same time.

Iksoon Choi received a bachelor's degree in Russian from the Korean Military Academy in 1991 and served in the Korean military for around 30 years until June 2019. He worked in the department that developing and maintaining the IMINT (Imagery Intelligence) collection systems for a large part of his military life. After that, from Aug 2019 to June 2021, he studied the MBA at Bellevue University in Nebraska.

"Geography is a subject that I have been wanting to study for a long time. Most of the work I did in the military had something to do with geography. The fields I am interested in are GIS and Remote Sensing. Especially I am interested in change detection in geospatial, such as modeling that can intuitively recognize changes in the AOI (Area of Interest) by effectively merging the information obtained from the imagery collecting system into legacy data."

Iksoon Choi
Heather Bloom

Heather Bloom is a first-year Ph.D. student in Geography at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Bloom graduated from UNL with a Bachelor of Science degree in Textiles, Clothing and Design and News-Editorial Journalism. In completing a Master of Arts in Journalism from UNL, the thesis, “The Ignored Disease: The AIDS Epidemic 1981-1987” (2003) focused on the response of the Reagan Administration, The New York Times and the Omaha World-Herald to the AIDS crisis. For a Master of Science in Urban Studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the thesis "Alternative Methods for Identifying Groups of Neighborhoods to Support the Development of Alliances in Omaha, Nebraska" (2005) focused on statistical methods and physical geography to group neighborhood associations into neighborhood alliances to create stronger political organizations.

Bloom previously worked at the Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and most recently on the 2020 Census, analyzing data and increasing participation in low-response census tracts in Omaha and rural Nebraska. Bloom's focus is on urban geography, land-use planning, and geographic disparities in race, ethnicity, gender, and social class.

Kwang il Yoo (Jason) is a Ph.D. student in the Geography department. He earned his master’s degree in Geographic Information Science and bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. He is passionate about geo-visualization. Especially, he creates web-maps for environmental, human, and medical-related topics to let ordinary people easily access and understand the complex dataset. He was also involved in the Covid-19 Open Visualization (COViz) project that aims to combine traditional cartographic principles with innovative map forms and easy-to-use animation/interaction components. He is excited to continue to research geo-visualization in different topics. In the future, he hopes to work on projects that inspire people with innovative and brilliant maps.

Kwang Yoo