MARC Associates

Jane Benson, GIS/Remote Sensing Specialist, EES Lecturer; WSI

Ms. Benson is the GIS/Remote Sensing Specialist for the Watershed Studies Institute. Her research interests include considerable work associated with the study of reservoirs, especially the USDA/Forest Service "Land Between the Lakes" National Recreation Area and the nearby Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Ms. Benson has studied local and regional watersheds, non-point source pollution, the effects of off-highway vehicles (OHV) on watersheds and embayments. She has worked with numerous biologists in migratory bird habitat analysis and mapping as well as the intrusion of invasive species, such as the zebra mussel. Currently, Ms. Benson is highly involved with local WaterWatch groups, and is an active contributor to the Four Rivers Watershed Watch. Jane is also a lecturer for the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, teaching World Geography, and co-teaching EES202 "Introduction to Geographic Information Science," and EES522 "Digital Cartography."

Courses taught include:

  • EES-110 World Geography
  • EES-202 Introduction to Geographic Information Science

Michael Busby, Coordinater of GIS, MARC; EES Lecturer

Mr. Busby is the Coordinator of GIS for the Mapping Applications Resource Center. His research interests include the use of technology within teaching, using technology in the pedagogy of geography, the prevalence of geography in higher education, the multidisciplinary use of mapping technologies, the Geography of the Holy Land, the Middle East and Southwest Asia, demographics, and economic geography. He also has a growing interest in the "hacking/making" realm, the re-purposing of technology for other applications, and being an advocate for the use of geography and mapping sciences in all applications. Mr. Busby administers all MARC hardware and software, manages the GIS/RS teaching labs, MARC research computer systems, and is the Technical Coordinator for MARC and for the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Mr. Busby is also a lecturer for the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Michael is the Murray State Site License Administrator for the Esri-CPE Commonwealth of Kentucky statewide license agreement. He also manages the social media for the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Mid-America Remote sensing Center.

Courses taught include:

  • EES-110 World Geography
  • EES-305 Introduction to Cartography

Haluk Cetin, Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Cetin is a remote sensing specialist, having worked with many different sensors. Dr. Cetin's research has utilized most all forms of multi- and hyperspectral imagery, from handheld photospectrometers, IKONOS, MODIS, to more the common imagery formats of Landsat and Quickbird. Dr. Cetin's research interests include the use of GIS/RS in precision agriculture, forestry, landscape change as a result of mineral extraction, and the use of GIS/RS in disaster and emergency management. He has served as a reviewer for the Journal of Forest Ecology and Management, the Journal of Sensors, and is currently an Editorial Board Member of the Open Remote Sensing Journal. Currently, Dr. Cetin is serving as the National Director, American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Mid-South Region. Dr. Cetin is also Director of KentuckyView.

Courses taught include:

  • EES-101 Earth and the Environment
  • EES-125 Weather and Climate
  • EES-199 Earth Science
  • EES-312 Introduction to Remote Sensing
  • EES-521 Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • EES-593 Remote Sensing of Watershed Environments, Spatial Analysis Techniques
  • EES-640 Advanced Remote Sensing
  • EES-641 Digital Image Processing Research
  • EES-693 Hyperspectral Remote Sensing, Digital Image Processing

Bassil El Masri, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Dr. El Masri's research interests include remote sensing for terrestrial ecosystem functions, modeling ecosystem fluxes at various scales. Dr. El Masri also examines climatic variables influence on ecosystem functions. Other research interests include using LIDAR remote sensing for terrestrial ecosystem structure, estimation of tree height and above-ground biomass, analysis of land surface and atmosphere interactions, and modeling biogeochemical processes at various scales using land surface models.

Courses taught include:

  • EES-110 World Geography
  • EES-522/622 Digital Cartography

Michael Flinn, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology; WSI

Dr. Flinn's primary area of expertise is assessing freshwater macroinvertebrate communities. He is also interested in studying fish, mussels, algae, and aquatic vegetation. Dr. Flinn's research has focused on disturbance ecology in settings from the Mississippi River to the Arctic tundra.


Courses taught include:

  • BIO-216 Biological Inquiry and Analysis
  • BIO-221 Zoology: Animal Form and Function
  • BIO-561/661 Freshwater Invertebrates
  • BIO-583/683 Limnology

Paul Gagnon, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology; WSI

Ecological disturbances damage and kill individuals and thereby influence relationships among organisms and between organisms and their environment.  In so doing, disturbances can alter dynamics of entire ecosystems. Dr. Gagnon research seeks to understand ecological disturbances as drivers of change in populations, communities and ecosystems both over time and at their spatial boundaries. His research is especially focused on how disturbances influence the feedbacks and breakpoints that underpin biotic systems.

Courses taught include:

  • BIO-101 Biological Concepts
  • BIO-216 Biological Inquiry and Analysis
  • BIO-554/654 Dendrology and Forest Conservation
  • BIO-568/668 Wetland Ecology
  • BIO-590/690 Disturbance Ecology

Sung-ho Hong, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences; WSI

Dr. Hong's research interests include the estimation of spatio-temporal distributions of evapotranspiration and soil moisture over heterogeneous landscapes using remote sensing data; the Up- and Down-scaling of remote sensing estimated map from satellite imagery, and the investigation of the spatial variability of root zone soil moisture across scales. Dr. Hong has been a reviewer for the Korean Society of Remote Sensing and the Journal of Hydrology.

Courses taught include:

  • EES 101 The Earth and the Environment
  • EES-202 Introduction to Geographic Information Sciences
  • EES-210 Hydrology
  • EES-562/662 Hydrogeology
  • EES-593 Application of Remote Sensing in Hydrogeology

Anthony Ortmann, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Ortmann's research interests include North American archaeology with specialization in the prehistory of the southeastern United States. His topical interests include hunter-gatherer adaptive systems; development of social complexity; the interaction of humans with their environments; and the production and maintenance of cultural landscapes. Additionally, Dr. Ortmann's analytical interests include geoarchaeological investigation of earthworks and cultural landscapes, and lithic and ceramic technologies. His particular research landscape is the Poverty Point area of northern Louisiana. Dr. Ortmann is a member of the Society for American Archaeology and the Southeastern Archaeological Conference.

Courses taught include:

  • ANT-140 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • ANT-329 North American Indians
  • ANT-330 North American Archaeology

Howard Whiteman, Professor, Biological Sciences (ex officio); Director of Watershed Studies Institute (WSI)

Dr. Whiteman's research is currently centered in conservation biology and evolutionary ecology. The majority of his work focuses on conservation-oriented projects, such as the mechanisms and ecological consequences of population fluctuations; the role of trophic cascades in maintaining and restoring biodiversity; the effects of anthropogenic toxicants on development, life history, and population growth; the impact of invasive species management on native fauna; and the ecology of reintroduction efforts. His goal is to conduct fundamental science that will lead to positive management efforts and improvements in biodiversity conservation. Dr. Whiteman is also the biggest Pittsburgh Steelers fan in western Kentucky. (Source: The Whiteman Lab)

Courses taught include:

  • BIO-103 Saving Planet Earth
  • BIO-330 Principles of Ecology

Gary Stinchcomb, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences; WSI

With a population exceeding 7 billion, human-environment and -climate interaction studies are a global priority. To this end, I research three major geoscience-related problems: (1) soil/paleosols as proxies for paleoclimate and land-use, (2) ancient and modern floodplain/soil erosion, and (3) (pre)historic human impact on floodplains and soils. I rely on an interdisciplinary approach to address these problems. My work involves the following fields/techniques: soils and paleosols, fluvial geomorphology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, hydrology, geoarchaeology, and GIS. He also is an associate editor for "Frontiers in Earth Science: Quaternary Science, Geomorphology and Paleoenvironment."

Courses taught include:

  • EES-424 Conservation and Environmental Geoscience
  • EES-336 Principles of Geomorphology

Qiaofeng (Robin) Zhang, Chair, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Zhang's research interests include Remote sensing and GIS applications in urban environments; Information extraction from remotely sensed data; digital change detection and environmental monitoring; landscape ecology; geoscience education. She is currently working on projects related to urban development dynamics and mechanisms in China and the United States using nighttime lights data; fusion of multispectral and radar data for watershed mapping and modeling; GIS for habitat improvement modeling in Kentucky Lake.

Courses taught include:

  • EES-110 World Geography
  • EES-199 Earth Science
  • EES-301 Understanding Scientific Communication
  • EES-330 Economic Geography
  • EES-507/607 Land Use Planning
  • EES-512/612 Remote Sensing
  • EES-680 Advanced GIS