Paul Zimmer: 2017 Outstanding Thesis Awards

From San Jose State University Commencement 2017:

Paul Zimmer analyzed 27,000 cross-sections derived from Sierra Nevada bedrock valleys in pursuit of his master’s degree in geology- challenging conventional understandings of how glacial erosion modifies the shape of mountain ranges. He developed his master’s thesis, “Assessing Glacial Modification of Bedrock Valleys in the Sierra Nevada, California, Using a Novel Approach,” by creating a new, semi-automated technique for extracting valley cross-sections from digital elevation models using custom scripts written in the programming languages MATLAB and Python. He used this approach to produce an unparalleled dataset and to validate a new method for quantifying the geomorphology of bedrock valleys

Green Ninja Project receives $1.1 million from NSF


genie_slide-10dh9wfDr. Ellen Metzger, professor of Geology and Science Education, is a member of the Green Ninja Project, whose goal is building an understanding of Climate Change through improved science education. Last year, the project received a grant to further the production of the “Green Ninja Film Academy” (GENIE) and was reported first in Academic Spotlight

An interdisciplinary research team from San José State has been awarded $1.1 million from the National Science Foundation to design and implement the ‘Green Ninja Film Academy (GENIE),” an intervention that leverages well-established research on motivation to encourage student interest and engagement in the STEM-related field of climate change. The project is aimed at scientifically-undeserved middle school students who will be guided through a structured storytelling and film-making experience that builds competencies in science, engineering design, media technology and communications. During the three-year project, 60 teachers and at least 2,000 students will directly participate in the GENIE project, with additional participation from parents, friends, and teachers who attend the Green Ninja Film Festival. GENIE is also designed around helping teachers prepare to implement the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) using climate change as a context. The project builds on the established Green Ninja Project, and an SJSU initiative that develops media to inspire student interest in science and the environment. The principal investigators of the NSF grant are SJSU professors Eugene Cordero (Meteorology and Climate Science), David Chai (Animation/Illustration), Ellen Metzger (Geology and Science Education), Grinell Smith (Elementary Education) and Elizabeth Walsh (Meteorology and Climate Science and Science Education). More information about the project can be found at


Dr. Kim Blisnuik’s Research Group and the Geology of Earthquakes


Kim Blisniuk

Dr. Kim Blisnuik


From left: Kit Bella-Pratt, Kirby Kiefer, Dr. Kim Blisnuik, Alex Shumurakov, and Jeff Lee

In the Fall 2016 edition of The Scientist, Dr. Kim Blisniuk’s Earthquake Research Group was featured for their work in the field of geochronology and geomorphology.

Dr. Kim Blisniuk’s research group at SJSU combines the interdisciplinary fields of tectonic geomorphology and Quaternary geochronology to better under-
stand how earthquakes and climate change modify the landscape. As a field geologist and geochronologist, she isinterested in landscape evolution, earthquake geology, and tectonic reconstructions of dynamic processes in the upper crust. A particular interest is how crustal deformation at depth and changes in Earth’s climate are archived on Earth’s surface, as this information is critical for understanding regional climate and tectonics. Her research group implements a variety of field and laboratory tools aimed at characterizing and quantifying rates of active landscapes. These tools include geochronology (specifically terrestrial cosmogenic radionuclides and U-series dating), structural and geomorphic mapping, the analysis of high-resolution topography data, GIS, and the application of mechanical models to simulate the behavior of the structures observed in the field.