Personnel

Dr. John All - Executive Director

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Dr. John All is a geoscientist whose life has been devoted to exploration around the world as he examines how climate change and resource management interact to impact communities and the biosphere in mountainous regions.  He is currently a Research Professor in the Department of Environmental Science at Western Washington University, as well as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the American Climber Science Program.

Dr. All is interested in expanding the understanding of climate change impacts on the biosphere and identifying ways in which resource management can inform climate change adaptation more broadly.  He began his career with a focus on exploring the Colorado River Delta and Sierra Madre of northern Mexico as part of his PhD research.  He studied similar environmental issues in southern Africa in the Okavango Delta and helped map the greater Chobe River system.  Although Dr. All found these remote locations compelling, his heart has always been in the mountains leading him to new work in the Himalaya, Andes, and other mountain regions. Dr. All has carried out research on five continents from deep caves to tropical rain forest, deserts and the world’s highest mountains including Mt. Everest and numerous other noteworthy peaks across the world. He uses his JD to examine policy responses and inform local conservation decision-making.

Dr. All has a paraglider pilot’s license, is a certified SCUBA rescue diver, and spent several years with search and rescue teams.  He has been part of several rugby championship teams, was a semi-pro volleyball player in graduate school, and won two National Championship medals in American Decathlon in high school.  He is a snowboarder, skier, mountain biker, long distance sea kayaker, and caver who has mapped caves all over the world.  He has traveled to over fifty countries and lived for more than a month in 16 of them.  Dr. All is a Lifetime Fellow of the Explorers Club in New York City, a member of the IUCN Mountain Protected Areas Network, a Committee Member for Geology and Geography with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for the past 11 years, on the American Alpine Club’s Conservation Committee. He has co-lead ACSP expeditions to Peru (2012-2019), Costa Rica (2014) and Nepal (2014, 2019).

Dr. Rebecca cole - Research Director

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Dr. Rebecca Cole is the director of the Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica (Organization for Tropical Studies) and is also research faculty at University of Hawaii-Manoa. Rebecca has extensive experience working in remote areas of Central and South America where her research examines ways to restore degraded ecosystems and develop sustainable land management strategies. Rebecca grew up exploring in the mountain rainforests near her home town on Costa Rica's southern frontier and later extended those explorations to the mountains of the American west and the Andes of South America. She has competed in a wide variety of sports and holds several US Collegiate National Championship titles in Nordic Skiing. She earned her PhD at the University of California at Santa Cruz testing ways to restore rainforest to degraded lands in Costa Rica and traveling to remote indigenous villages to understand how reforestation could improve local livelihoods. 

Dr. Carl Schmitt – Science Advisory Committee Chair

Dr. Carl Schmitt is a Project Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  At NCAR, Carl’s work centers on the properties of ice cloud and snow particles.  The results of his research are used to improve weather forecasting and climate models and understand factors causing the rapid retreat of mountain glaciers.  His research has taken him on extended campaigns to the North Slope of Alaska, the Svalbard Islands, mountain tops in Peru and Bolivia, and on aircraft research flights globally. Carl is leading the ‘black carbon’ initiative for the ACSP, a research project that is drawing international interest.

Carl has been an athlete his entire life, competing in Nordic skiing, trail running, biathlon, duathlon, and mountain biking events. Carl holds several US Collegiate National Championship medals, as well as Olympic trials and World Championship team trials appearances to his credit.  As Carl’s scientific career has progressed, he has chosen to use his athletic skills to conduct scientific research in remote and extreme environments. His interest in mountain research and making a significant contribution to communities affected by climate change and environmental degradation led him to become one of the founders of the ACSP.

Ellen Lapham – Chairperson of the Board of Directors

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Ellen has been on ice, rock and glaciers since her first climb in Colorado in the 70’s. She attempted to be the first American woman to climb Everest’s north side during two expeditions, skied across Ellesmere Island, and has done solo exploration of Alaska's Brooks Range. She describes herself as a high tech entrepreneur who was an early disrupter in the computer industry in Silicon Valley. Ellen is a co-founder of ACSP and co-leader of ACSP expeditions to Peru from 2011-2014.  She has served on many boards, including the American Alpine Club. In her spare time, Ellen ice climbs, mountain bikes, scuba divers, solo ski mountaineers in the Sierra Nevada, and farms in California. She has recently become the oldest person to climb two classic waterfall ice routes: Telluride’s Bridal Veil Falls (2014) and Ames Ice Hose (2015).

James Holmes – Treasurer

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James works professionally in corporate finance and is pleased to volunteer as the Treasurer of the American Climber Science Program. James likes to help advance scientific research and environmental conservation through climbing. He lives in New York, trains on rock and ice around the Northeast U.S., and travels around the world to climb. James has joined 7 expeditions to Peru's Cordillera Blanca with the ACSP and has summited 6 peaks over 5,000m in elevation. He is a certified Wilderness First Responder and Lifetime Member of the National Eagle Scout Association.

 

Dr. Alex C. Stella- Expedition Doctor

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Dr. Alex C. Stella, MD is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician with a career interest of practicing medicine in isolated and austere environments. His academic training began with a B.S. in Biology from James Madison University. After a few years of travel, Dr. Stella continued his education at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, followed by residency training in emergency medicine at the University of Rochester. Dr. Stella currently works with APEX Emergency Physicians at St. Anthony Hospital in Denver, Colorado, a nationally recognized Level 1 Trauma Center at the base of the Colorado Rockies.

Dr. Stella has a passion for exploration and believes in the pursuit of confronting challenges and embracing perseverance. He has travelled throughout the world to 20 countries, and has spent time ski mountaineering and climbing in North and South America, the Alps, and the Indian Himalayas. Having grown up swimming, he is equally comfortable in the water, and loves to snorkel in places like Australia and the British Virgin Islands. Combining his passion for exploration with medicine, Dr. Stella has been a member of the National Ski Patrol for the last 15 years, and spent 2003 in South America where he completed an international ski patrol certification from Las Leñas, Argentina. Prior to matriculating medical school he also worked installing ski lifts for POMA, and volunteered in isolated medical clinics in Ghana, West Africa. Dr. Stella has also published medical research articles including a paper on 30 years of data on caving injuries in the US. In 2011 Dr. Stella joined the Climber Science Program as their Medical Advisor, and co-lead expeditions to Peru as well as helped ACSP with expedition preparation to Nepal.

Dr. William Straka – Field GIS Director

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Dr. William Straka has climbed and hiked and climbed on all 7 continents, with ascents of Denali in Alaska, the Bugaboos and Canadian Rockies in Canada, the Cascades, Sierra, Yosemite, Tetons, Colorado Rockies, and Mexican Volcanoes in North America; French, Swiss, and Italian Alps in Europe; Mt Vinson (Antarctica); Kilimanjaro (Africa); several notable routes in Australia; and several routes in the Cordillera Blanca in South America. After 20 years in academia as an astrophysicist and as a consultant on energy conservation and alternative energy sources, he moved to the aerospace industry for 18 years, where he worked on the modernizing of the Navstar Global Positioning System Ground and Space segments among other projects as project lead. Since retirement, Dr. Straka has been a consultant in development of GPS receivers and field applications for environmental studies. He has participated in development of Leave No Trace programs for youth groups such as Boy Scouts with the Leave No Trace national organization. He is a National Member of The Explorers Club and has been certified as Climbing Director for Boy Scouts of America since 2001. Dr. Straka has been field team leader and GIS director for the ACSP expeditions to the Cordillera Blanca section of the Andes in 2011 through 2014.

Clinton Lewis – Visual Director

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Clinton is the staff photographer for WKU in Bowling Green, Ky., and a veteran of the 2011 and 2013 Peru Expeditions. In addition to being an award-winning photographer, he is an avid climber, runner, kayaker & mountain biker, spending quite a bit of time outdoors in the Kentucky and Tennessee region. He is married with three children and serves as Assistant Scoutmaster for his sons' Boy Scout troop. Clinton's other travels have taken him to Germany, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, China and nearly 40 US states.

Steve Byrne- Expedition Photographer

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Steve is a adventure sports and travel photographer devoted to connecting people to nature through photography.  At 21 during a summer in college, Steve moved to Yosemite Valley, where he learned to climb and devote himself to photography.  From Yosemite, Steve branched out, climbing the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada, photographing his experiences, and growing ever more entranced in the beauty of the Sierra.  

Based out of San Francisco, Steve runs his own photography and print business mixing environmental documentary work with commercial projects, mainly within the outdoor industry.  Steve has climbed and photographed extensively throughout the continental US, Alaska, Peru, Patagonia and the central Andes.  His clients have included National Geographic, KQED Media, Shutterfly, Camelbak and the SF Chronicle among others.   Additionally, Steve teaches photography annually for National Geographic Student Expeditions.   

Steve joined the ACSP in 2014 in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru, photographing and filming black carbon research on tropical glaciers.  In addition to being drawn to the beauty and forms of the mountains, over the past few years, Steve has been growing ever more interested in the role that wilderness and alpine regions play in the daily lives of lowland populations.  In 2015 Steve looks forward to working with the ACSP in Peru and beyond, telling the story of ACSP research expeditions and also creating visual portraits of glacially fed watersheds and communities dependent upon them. Check out Steve's work at stevebyrnephotography.com or follow him on Instagram @stevebyrnephoto

Associated Scientists and Students

Dr. Sylvie Arques – Research Associate & GIS Analyst – Department of Environmental Studies, Western Washington University

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Dr. Sylvie Arques received a Ph.D. in Physical Geography from the Joseph Fourier University of Grenoble (France) in 2005. Sylvie has extensive experience working in the French Alps where she conducted research on periglacial geomorphology, plant ecology and environmental changes on a variety of coarse clastic landforms (talus slopes, avalanche landforms, moraines landslides and debris flows). She developed an integrated geo-ecological approach at several spatio-temporal scales.

Sylvie is a passionate aviator and holds a Commercial Pilot Certificate as well as a Flight Instructor Certificate. She also flies drones for mapping and wildlife monitoring. She loves observing the Earth from above, understanding weather patterns, and analyzing changes in landscapes and landforms. She is a skier, snowboarder and backcountry skier. She grew up in Africa and traveled all around the world. She is currently working at Western Washington University studying anthropogenic and climate changes in alpine environments

Dr. Liz Balgord-Assistant Professor, Geosciences, Weber State University

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I am a geology professor specializing in sedimentology, tectonics, geochronology and low-temperature thermochronology. I use the sedimentary rock record as an archive of past mountain building events. I spent much of the last five years working in the high Andes of central Argentina studying early foreland basin deposits in order to determine the timing of initial mountains uplift.  My lab work involves using geochronology and thermochronology to determine the crystallization and cooling history of minerals which can then be used to estimate uplift and erosion rates. When I’m not in the field or the lab I spend as much time as I can enjoying the Wasatch Mountains via climbing, hiking and trail running.

Dr. Ruth Sofield- Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, Western Washington University

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I am most interested in research at the intersection of environmental chemistry and toxicology. My educational background has led me here with degrees and research experiences in biology, environmental science, toxicology, and environmental chemistry. My students and I use both laboratory and field work in our research; the laboratory studies let us answer specific questions in a controlled setting, while the field work is where the application of that work occurs. The majority of our work has focused on the impacts of aquatic chemistry on metal toxicity in aquatic environments.

Dr. Samantha Weintraub - Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Utah

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I am a terrestrial biogeochemist and ecosystem ecologist, with a passion for exploring the controls on carbon and nutrient cycling in diverse ecosystems and in response to global change. By combining varied analytical techniques and disciplinary perspectives, my research illuminates feedbacks between physical and biological drivers of ecosystem dynamics, especially in complex and mountainous terrain. I work across scales, from soil pores to watersheds, and utilize tools such as stable isotopes, element abundances and ratios, soil microbial activities, trace gas emissions, remote sensing, and models to explore biogeochemical organization. My dissertation research focused on understanding element cycling and limitation in heterogenous tropical rainforests. As a postdoctoral scholar, I am continuing to pursue tropical ecosystem research while also investigating biogeochemical dynamics and their relation to climate and hydrology in mountains of the semiarid Western US.

Dr. W. Patrick Arnott (Pat) - Professor, University of Nevada Reno

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I am a professor in the Atmospheric Science program of the Department of Physics at the University of Nevada Reno, and was a research professor at the Desert Research Institute in Reno for 13 years prior to 2005.  My main research interests are associated with instrumentation development for atmospheric aerosol and cloud hydrometeor characterization.  Two of my patents have been commercialized with Droplet Measurements Technologies of Boulder CO.  My climber science program interests are about glacier energetics, particularly the roles that aerosol deposited on snow and ice play on determining glacier melting, sublimation, and runoff.  I work with the climber science group to supply and use portable instruments for spectral snow albedo measurements, and for portable meteorological and gas measurements including atmospheric pressure, temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide and monoxide concentrations.   It's especially fruitful for me to teach the use of microcontrollers on Arduino and Teensy boards for data acquisition and storage in my instrumentation class, and to use these outcomes in research applications.  Our local snow field, Tahoe Meadows, located near Lake Tahoe California, USA, has been, and continues to be a site where we senior thesis students do snow sampling projects to test new instruments and methods.

Dr. Michael J. Medler - Professor: Department of Environmental Studies, Western Washington University

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Dr. Michael J. Medler received a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Arizona in 1997.  He has served as chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at Western Washington University and as President of the Association for Fire Ecology.  He was also the founding editor of the Journal Fire Ecology, and he has testified about wildfires and climate before the U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Currently, he is teaching at Huxley College of the Environment. He is also the director of the WWU Spatial Institute, which provides local leadership and resources in spatial technologies ranging from Geographic Information Systems to interactive web-mapping. Before graduate school, Dr. Medler worked for a variety of federal agencies on trial-crews and fire-crews as well as working as a ranger.  He also spent time as rock climbing guiding and worked manufacturing aid climbing equipment.

Dr.Javier Naupari -Associate Professor, La Molina University

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Dr. Javier Naupari is an Associate Professor in Rangeland Ecology and Management and head of the Rangeland Ecology Lab at the Agricultural State La Molina University. Dr. Naupari, a Fulbright alumnus, received his PhD degree in Natural Resources at the University of Idaho and MS degree in Range Animal Production at La Molina University. In 2012, he received a Fulbright NEXUS award for collaborative research by mid-career professionals. His research area is remote sensing and geographic information systems applied to ecological processes in mountain range ecosystems. He is currently involved in assessing the ecological status and productivity of rangeland ecosystems and the impacts of climate change on livestock production. Dr. Naupari has joint the American Climber Science Program since June 2013 and collaborated in rangeland condition assessment in the Huascaran National Park.

Dr. Bernhard Bach- Director Of Undergraduate Laboratories, University of Nevada Reno

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Dr. Bernhard Bach is a physicist and Director of Undergraduate Laboratories at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Dr. Bach spent 15 years in industry and developed two high-tech optics firms before joining the faculty at the University of Nevada. His background is in optical science, spectroscopy and instrumentation; he has served on the NSF’s industrial advisory board for Ultraviolet Science and Engineering.  Dr. Bach has been climbing for 28 years and has established a number of first ascents in the mountains of North and South American as well as Africa.

Dr. Krishna Kumar Shrestha- Professor, Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University Nepal

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Dr. Krishna Kumar Shrestha, is a Professor Botany at the Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He has been teaching Plant Systematics, Biodiversity, and Ethnobotany since last 35 years. He has obtained his Ph.D. degree in Plant Systematics from the Komarov Botanical Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia in 1993, and deputed as the Post Doctoral Darwin Fellow at the Natural History Museum, London during 1997-1999.

He is the Founder President of Ethnobotanical Society of Nepal (ESON) since 1997, and General Secretary of Nepal Botanical Society since 2005. He has published five books, 42 research articles in international journals, 30 research articles in national journals, and over 30 popular articles. Similarly, he has coordinated more than 25 research projects on Plant biodiversity, Flora and ethnobotany. Prof. Shrestha is the editorial board member of Flora of Nepal (10 volume series), a collaborative project of Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (UK), University of Tokyo (Japan) and Nepal Academy of Science & Technology (Nepal). He is also the editorial board member of four international and national peer reviewed journals.

Dr. Narcisa Pricope- University of North Carolina

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Dr. Narcisa Pricope is a geoscientist working on applied questions at the intersection between land systems science, watershed science, and population geography. Her overarching interest and long-term focus revolve around understanding the vulnerability of different populations to environmental change in the context of transboundary-managed water and natural resources. Narcisa’s research examines the drivers, patterns and impacts of vegetation change and degradation on both ecosystems and people particularly in the spectacular southern and eastern African drylands. Dr. Pricope is currently an Assistant Professor of Applied Geography at University of North Carolina Wilmington where she created and leads the Socio-Environmental Analysis Lab. She is currently the chair of the Human Dimensions of Global Change specialty group of the Association of American Geographers and many other scientific and exploration organizations.

Dr. Jyoti Prasad Gajurel - Biodiversity Consultant,  Nepal Rural and Advancement Committee

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Dr. Gajurel completed his Ph.D. degree in Botany in May 2016, with a dissertation entitled “Effects of Land Use and Climate Change on Gene Flow of Taxus wallichiana Zucc. (Taxaceae) in Nepal”. This research was part of a project “Biodiversity and livelihood development in land-use gradients in an era of climate change” to Prof. Dr. Christoph Scheidegger (Biodiversity and Conservation Unit, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL; Ph.D. supervisor). He is currently freelance researcher. He has travelled most of the places of Nepal from plain land to high mountains for field work. He is also one of the co-authors for the Bryoflora of Nepal (not yet complete). He enjoys the taxonomy of plants and their ecology. He has special interest in Himalayan Yew (Taxus wallichiana).

Dr. Kamal Humagain - Assistant Professor, Program Coordinator of Geographic Information Science, The State University of New York at Potsdam

Kamal Humagain, PhD is an assistant professor and program coordinator of Geographic Information Science in the Department of Geology at The State University of New York at Potsdam where he teaches remote sensing and different GIS courses. He has a diverse educational background (M.Sc. in Plant Systematics, M.A. in Sociology and M.S. in Geoscience) and research experience. In particular, his research focused on ethnobotanical, ecological and social aspects while understanding land cover dynamics in the context of climate change in high elevation areas of Nepal. During his research projects, he has visited several regions of Nepal including Annapurna, Langtang, Manaslu, and Everest base camp areas. His doctorate is from the Department of Natural Resources Management at Texas Tech University where he studied forest structural dynamics of the southwestern United States in the context of ecological restoration. His research areas include application of geospatial techniques while understanding landscape and natural resource dynamics in a wide range of settings and the analysis of underlying environmental and anthropogenic factors.