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.

Marc Marean

Marc Marean is currently in his second year of his Master’s degree in Geography under the guidance and direction of Dr. David Wishart. Upon graduating in 2015, he became interested in the use of open source GIS for humanitarian purposes while working voluntarily for the United States Geological Survey, OpenStreetMap, Mapillary and Prosper. His cartographic work at Garmin in Kansas City and reflections of his upbringing in Bennington, Nebraska lend themselves to his current thesis research on population movements back to the Great Plains states and the correlation between urban landscapes, “The Silicon Prairie” and technology start-ups. Marc’s interests include rural and urban geography, migratory and displacement geographies, GIS, accessible spatial analysis and population studies. He is the Geography Student Organization Programmer and was selected for the ESRI Assistantship Program in San Diego for the summer of 2019.

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 Baker

Jim Baker is a doctoral student in Geography at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He takes a broadly cross-disciplinary view of critical human geography, approaching the social lives and relationships shared between discourses of place, urban space, mobilities, and (geo)political practice through spatial ethnography and visual methods. James earned his M.A. in Geography from University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he completed his Masters’ Thesis, “The Bloodshot Gaze of the Citizen,” deploying grounded theory to explore the post-Soviet commemorative spaces and affective visual discourses of Baku, Azerbaijan. Entering his third year of doctoral studies, James has published on topics as varied as contesting memes of Vladimir Putin in Russian LGBTQ+ protest tactics, the role of place in the visual construction of craft beer branding, and gentrification, sustainability and the social-material production of the contemporary skyline of London, UK. His most recent research, published in the American Association of Geographers journal GeoHumanities, uses a novel qualitative visual methodology (“scoping”) to interrogate claims to a “right to the city” across the social movement landscape of Thessaloniki, Greece. James is a recipient of a 2013 Critical Language Scholarship (Azerbaijan University of Languages, Baku), a Title VIII Grant to conduct research through the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center at University of Illinois, and is a participant in the 2019 Borderland Studies Summer School at the Center for Interethnic Relations Research in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

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.