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Geoscience doctoral student awarded support from Department of Energy

Katie Murenbeeld

Katie Murenbeeld, a fourth-year geosciences doctoral student received an award from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research program. This award provides a monthly stipend that will enable Murenbeeld to complete part of her dissertation research virtually with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Murenbeeld’s research involves increasing the fidelity in land surface models through better representation of land management, and she is currently testing hypotheses through model simulations in central Idaho and the interior Pacific Northwest.

“By incorporating the temporal aspects of land management, for example, the delays in implementing forest management activities, I hope that my research will prove useful to land managers to help them prioritize activities or provide another tool to aid in adaptive management,” Murenbeeld explained.

Murenbeeld said her interest in land management research began in high school where she became intrigued with natural sciences and the role humans play in natural resource use. Her occupational experiences in gold and copper mining also played an important role in forming her research interests.

“I worked as a mine geologist at a surface gold and copper mine in Nevada. There I did a mix of ore control (sampling and mapping in the active parts of the mine) and near-mine exploration (working with drillers and logging core to see where on the mine property was potentially profitable). And then I worked as a gold exploration geologist in Oregon and Mexico. Exploration geology required a lot of planning and management in order to complete surface mapping and drilling campaigns to find or expand newly discovered gold deposits,” Murenbeeld said.

“Seeing the realities of how resource extraction is managed increased my interest in how humans are impacting the land surface.”

“We’re really excited about Katie’s fellowship at LBNL,” said Associate Professor of Geosciences Lejo Flores. “And as much as it’s an amazing opportunity professional development for Katie, our group also benefits both through her bringing new skills and knowledge to our group, and by helping connect us with the broader Earth System Modeling community.”

Murenbeeld hails from Albany, Georgia, and holds a bachelor of science in geology from the University of Georgia, and a master’s in geoscience from the University of Arizona.