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Jen Pierce Research

Photo of Jen Pierce in the FieldJen Pierce

I am passionate about climate education, wildfires, and soils.

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences at Boise State University.

I direct the Earth Wind and Fire Laboratory.

Prospective students:  Students interested in working with me at the masters or PhD level should contact me via email at jenpierce(at)

Idaho Climate Literacy Education Engagement & Research (i-CLEER)

Idaho Climate Literacy Education Engagement and Research (i-CLEER)

Mission: Idaho Climate Literacy Education Engagement & Research (i-CLEER) empowers Idahoans and their communities to take action to address the causes, consequences and solutions to the Earth’s changing climate. i-CLEER develops and promotes existing strengths in climate change education, research and engagement throughout the state of Idaho, connects research with community-driven needs, and provides a strong platform for growth and leadership in climate literacy into the future.  By developing proactive resilience and climate justice, we will support climate leaders and climate solutions within our own communities.

Over the past four years, I have lead extensive volunteer outreach to more than 100 K-12 classrooms demonstrating paired lessons that include climate science and climate solutions. We effectively and positively teach our children how climate change works, and what they can do about it.  Together with nationally-recognized educators, and the team at CLEAN, we have team-taught four successful teacher training workshops on climate science education to over 50 educators.

Preparing the next generation of Idahoans to meet the challenges of a changing planet is no small task; shifts in agricultural production, increased size and severity of wildfires, reduced water quality, and severe health impacts from wildfire smoke and summer heat are only a few of the difficulties the western USA will face as we move into a warmer future.  We need to prepare our children and grandchildren to understand and tackle these challenges.

Over the next two years, i-CLEER will provide Idaho’s schools with the resources they need to understand and solve the challenges of the future.

Photo collage of Jen Pierce work with K-12 students


Do you want to help?  Please email me at to learn how you can contribute.

Wildfires, past and present

Much of my field research and published work is on wildfires.  What are the feedbacks among wildfires, climate, vegetation and geomorphic response? How important are fires to long-term rates of erosion?

Photo of Geoscience studnets working in a wildfire damaged area.
Nick Ellett and fellow MS geology students measure awesome amounts of erosion from a post-fire debris flow following the 2016 Pioneer fire in Central Idaho.

My students and I investigate recent and Holocene wildfires to address these questions.  I have focused my field work in the rugged and scenic mountains of Idaho. My field areas for fire research include the City of Rocks, Sawtooth Mountains, Middle Fork Salmon River, South Fork Payette River, and Boise River, Lost River Range, and Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory.  Our research group also works extensively in the Dry Creek Experimental Watershed, outside of Boise Idaho.

In Reynolds Creek, Clay Roehner put the Wind in the Earth Wind and Fire Lab by measuring post-fire wind erosion.

Photo collage of Geoscience students working in reynolds Creek and the Research Lab

Soils, land use, and inorganic carbon storage

Research of photo of Field Research being done on soil and lad use.


We work to better understand how inorganic carbon is stored in soils (aka ‘caliche’ or ‘pedogenic carbonates’).

What is the role of soils in carbon storage and release?

How has land-use altered soil carbon stores?

Ongoing work

Photo Collage of Jen's Ongoing Research projects including i-STEM and other Geoscience Graduate students owrking in the Field

Current research with Murdock Partners in Science fellows Natalie Kulick and Erin Stutzman examines effects of historic dredge mining and wildfires on soils in the Idaho City area.

Scott Ducar expands from the Dry Creek Experiemental Watershed into Lower Dry Creek to solve the mystery of stream incision.

Bill Freutel, the Earth Wind and Fire Lab Manager, continues to ponder the buried soils of Gowen Terri


I teach University Foundations 100 ‘Foundations of Climate Change.’  Why?  Because 1st year students are fantastic and I love to teach about climate change!  I also teach Geomorphology, Soils and graduate soils, geomorphology and field courses.  I am a director of the Climate Studies Minor–check it out!

I love field courses, and go out in the field whenever I can with my classes.

Collage of Jen Pierce Field Research Trips and her Dog

Brief Biography

Fun Photo of Geoscience students working in the lab

I earned my Ph.D. from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at University of New Mexico in 2004, where I studied Holocene Fires and Geomorphic Response in the South Fork Payette River in Idaho with Dr. Grant Meyer.  I received my MS in Geography from the University of Oregon in 2000, where I looked at the effects of dredge mining on channel morphology on Granite Creek, Oregon (advisor, Dr. Patrica McDowell).  I received my BA from the totally amazing Geology Department at The Colorado College in 1995.  In addition, I was a Thomas J. Watson fellow from 1995-1996, and studied effects of mining in Indonesia, China and Australia.

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