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The World, Your Classroom

Geosciences students in Hells Canyon

Learning in the Field in Hells Canyon

Boise State students and faculty are conducting research both near and afar. Ready access to some remote areas of Idaho is allowing geosciences students to explore the geology of Hells Canyon as part of their capstone GEOS 482 Geology Field Camp class this summer. Alongside professor Mark Schmitz, they are collecting and analyzing data as well as utilizing topographic maps and aerial photographs to solve field problems. Their field work is interspersed with office and lab time in and around Boise.


Curlews in Site

Long-billed Curlew in flight

Boise State University’s Intermountain Bird Observatory is studying Long-Billed Curlews in the Intermountain West. The grasslands-breeding shorebird is iconic, lanky and in decline.

Bird Nerd license plate

Researchers aim to estimate population numbers, assess habitat components critical for survival and successful reproduction, and use satellite transmitters to explore the migratory patterns of curlews breeding across the Intermountain West.

Students observing Curlews


Students gather with Brand at Mount St. Helens.

Inside the Crater of a Volcano 

Brittany Brand, an assistant professor in Boise State’s Department of Geosciences, took a team of 17 undergraduate and graduate students to Mount St. Helens, located 50 miles from Portland, Oregon. Mount St. Helens is best known for its 1980 eruption — the deadliest and most economically destructive eruption in the United States — that killed 57 people and destroyed 250 homes. But Brand and her team of students were not deterred. The group camped four nights and spent three 10-hour days in the field, hiking about 25 miles, including into the crater of the volcano. The team from Boise State also brought volcanology experts from across the globe to study with them on the dusty trails in the shadow of the volcano. 

Tracking Jungle Cats in Gorongosa

Easter points out a paw print

Easter points out a leopard print.

Boise State graduate biology student Tara Easter was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to continue her work studying the preservation of leopard populations in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park. Last summer, she set up field cameras that detected the first leopard in the area in over 20 years.

“We were elated to confirm the presence of leopards – this is a species not yet detected inside the park’s borders since recovery efforts began following Mozambique’s civil war,” Easter said.

This discovery sparked her current research assessing what human and natural factors constrict or encourage leopard movement in the area – such as buildings, roads and different types of habitat.