Students in the Master of Geoscience for Professionals (MGeo) Degree Program

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Current MGeo Students

Karl Gerstnecker - Environmental Geoscience
Elise Leroux
- Geotechnical and Environmental Geoscience
William (Ken) Lewis
- Hydrology and Environmental Service
Gregg Nakano
- Water Resources and Climate Change Adaptation
Robert Walker - Coastal Engineering

MGeo Graduates

Jeffery Murl (2016) - Hydrology and Environmental Consulting
Ksenia Trifonova (2016) - Renewable Energy
David Waller (2015)
- Geothermal Energy Exploration

Current MGeo Students

Karl Douglas Gerstnecker (Goose)Image of Karl Gerstnecker

is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, trained as an Air Transportation Specialist and having served two tours as an Honor Guard as well as a Vehicle Control Officer for three separate special vehicle fleets in Qatar, Baghdad, and New Jersey totaling over 5 million dollars in assets. He was deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation New Dawn and Operation Horn of Africa. During his service Karl met and worked for both President Bush and President Obama as well as participated in the 2010 Washington DC. Nuclear Summit. He assisted in the mission to save hostages from the Somoli Pirates, helped train the Iraqi Air Force, and was certified in MMA in Baghdad. After an honorable discharge from the Air Force in 2011 and enduring a broken back from Baghdad Karl earned a Bachelors Degree in GeoScience from The Pennsylvania State University and a minor in Watersheds and Water Resource Management. Karl also attended two Penn State field camps: one throughout Italy in 2015 and one after graduation throughout the American West in 2016. He now owns and manages two real estate businesses based out of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and soon Hawaii. Karl’s current professional interests include Environmental Geoscience and remediation as well as Exploratory Geology and alternative energy. He plans to utilize his MGeo degree to work in the Environmental Geoscience field. MGeo Interim adviser: Craig Glenn (GG-UH).

Elise LerouxImage of Elise Leroux

is an Associate Engineering Geologist with Masa Fujioka & Associates (MFA), a local geotechnical and environmental consulting firm. Elise graduated from Dartmouth College with a double major in Earth Sciences and English, and tried a few different careers before deciding on Engineering Geology. After serving in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa for 2 years, Elise worked for 3 years for a non-profit educational organization, where she focused on improving science and math education in Hawaiʻi and across the US-affiliated Pacific; followed by 3 years as a geologist; and then 2 years in editing and public relations. She returned to the geosciences in 2007, and now has a total of 12 years of experience as a Geologist in Hawaiʻi. Elise manages geotechnical and environmental projects, and is a Licensed Geologist in the State of Washington. For her MGeo project, Elise interested in pursuing studies related to landslide remediation in Hawaiʻi. Interim adviser: Professor Steve Martel (UH-GG).

William (Ken) LewisImage of Ken Lewis

hails from the Island of Kauai where he gained tenure in the marine visitor industry. He is an experienced USCG licensed ship's captain who owned and operated his own scuba diving company for more than a decade. Ken has led tens of thousands of visitors on scuba, snorkeling, sailing, whale watching, and sightseeing excursions around the Islands of Kauai and NiIhau. Ken’s narration of guided tours was rich with Hawaiiana and information on the geology, flora and fauna, and environment of the Hawaiian Islands. His narrations were bolstered by coursework at Kauai Community College (KauCC) that included achieving an AA in Liberal Arts, a Marine Option Program (MOP) Certificate in Earth Science Education, and a Certificate of Polynesian Voyaging. Ken’s passion for earth science education and his MOP project thesis was instrumental in developing the first AS in an earth science to be offered at KauCC.
Ken moved to Oahu and earned a BS in Global Environmental Science (GES) through the Department of Oceanography, UH Manoa. His senior thesis was based on two years of research and field work related to the bio-diesel industry. Ken demonstrated technology that reduces the environmental impact of a bio-diesel production by-product while producing energy-rich bio-gas and reducing operational expenses. He has co-authored two peer-reviewed trade journal papers based on the demonstration-scale project. Ken entered the MGeo program in Fall 2015. He is currently employed as a research laboratory technician at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute where he continues to work with industrial waste water. His MGeo project is to develop a method of growing commercially viable crops with treated industrial waste water using state of the art hydroponic techniques. After completing the MGeo in Hydrology, Ken will seek employment in the environmental services industry. Advisor(s): Henrietta Dulaiova (GG-UH) and Michael Cooney (HNEI-UH).

Gregg Nakano Image of Gregg Nakano

is a Naval Academy graduate with a BS in Political Science, and served as a Marine officer during the first Gulf War and Los Angeles riots. After military service, Gregg studied Mandarin (Fudan University) and Farsi (University of Tehran), before earning a MALD in Security Studies from the Fletcher School. As a civil-military coordinator for USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, Gregg helped provide humanitarian assistance in emergencies around the world to include the Jenin refugee camps, post-invasion Iraq, the Indonesian tsunami, and the Bam Iran earthquake. Between disaster responses, he created the Joint Humanitarian Operations Course and the security training components for the interagency Iraq DART. His passion for empowering the next generation of leaders includes expanding Tufts University's ALLIES civil-military education program, supporting the development of DoD's Medical Stability Operations and Veterinarian Support to Stability Operations courses, as well as helping create the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s patrolling course for the Afghan border police. Through his overseas experiences in conflicts and disasters, Gregg became interested in water and sanitation as key determinants for political stability, which led him to the MGeo program in the Fall of 2014.
As an MGeo student, Gregg is studying the life-sustaining water cycle and related earth processes in order to develop models for mitigating the impacts of climate change on coastal communities. He is working with the College of the Marshall Islands to establish freshwater lens baselines for the small Pacific islands and measure the impact of sea level rise on sustainability. Gregg ‘s ambition is to enable the next generation with the technical knowledge to overcome the climate change challenges that this generation is now creating. Advisor(s): Aly El-Kadi (GG-UH).

Robert Walker Image of Robert Walker

grew up in North Carolina, and obtained his BS/BA degrees in Environmental Engineering/Spanish at NC State University before completing a MS in Coastal Engineering at Old Dominion University. He has over 10 years of experience working as a coastal engineer in the private sector, and is a licensed professional engineer in the states of North Carolina, California, and Hawaii. In both professional experience and nonprofit/volunteer efforts, Robert’s career has focused on incorporating natural elements in issues related to shoreline preservation and coastal hazard mitigation. Robert remains actively engaged with the coastal community in Hawaii and participates on several national committees related to coastal zone management. Robert entered the MGeo program in Spring 2015, and is excited about expanding his knowledge and understanding of geologic processes. In his MGeo project, Robert studies coastal processes and shoreline change along a dynamic beach system on the North Shore of Oahu. Collaborating organizations for the project include the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources-Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (DLNR-OCCL) and the US Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District. MGeo Committee members: Neil Frazer (academic advisor, GG-UH), Brad Romine (DLNR-OCCL) and Chip Fletcher (GG-UH).

MGeo Graduates

Jeffery Murl Image of Jeffery Murl

is a veteran of the U.S. Navy Submarine Force, having served as a nuclear propulsion plant supervisor on the USS Louisville, and then at Pearl Harbor as a nuclear mechanical maintenance supervisor. Jeff was named Hawaii Sailor of the Year in 2010 and was a finalist for the whole Pacific Fleet. In 2011 he was honorably discharged. In 2012, he graduated with a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering Technology (at Thomas Edison State College). He then transitioned to the B.S. program in the Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, UH Manoa, where he served as the President of the department’s Geology Club, and as a Student Senator for the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST). Jeff’s research activities includes studying space weathering effects on minerals of airless bodies, for which he was selected as a NASA Space Grant Fellow for his project titled, "Sulfur Compositional Effects on Space Weathering". This led to a NASA summer research internship at the Lunar Planetary Institute on a project titled, "Geologic Mapping of the Lunar Imbrium Impact Basin". Jeff is graduating with a B.S. in Geology and Geophysics in Summer 2015 after an 8-week geology field camp in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Jeff currently works for ARCADIS U.S. as an Environmental Engineer, where he provides ArcGIS and AutoCAD project support, soil and groundwater remediation, environmental and human health risk assessments to clients across the Pacific region. He is entering the MGeo degree program in Fall 2015 to develop advanced knowledge and practical skills in the fields of environmental impact and assessment, geotechnical engineering, and hydrology. Jeff’s general career objectives are to advance technology and efficiency in society’s interaction with the earth and use of natural resources, while mitigating the negative impacts on the environment. Advisor(s): Steven Martel (GG-UH).

Ksenia Trifonova Image of Ksenia Trifonova

Ksenia Trifonova obtained a BS in Environmental Management from the Skema Business School in France. She is fluent in four languages (Russian, German, French and English), and has broad interests in social and environmental sustainability. Her experience to date includes energy auditing and writing green business reports for ProtoHUB Honolulu, a co-working and event space for social and environmental entrepreneurs. She has also helped the environmental consulting company SustyPacific in auditing the waste of Kamehameha schools in order to derive solutions for decreasing their waste footprint. Her interests in sustainable building design have been pursued by actively participating in workshops related to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) programs as well as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Ksenia’s main career interests are in the energy sector. She has earned an entry level certification in photovoltaic system design at the North American Board for Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). During her exchange semester in Hawai’i, she found there was a great scientific research community and potential to continuing her education in earth sciences. Through the MGeo program at UH, she aims at expanding her knowledge in the energy sector, including energy efficiency, renewables, and distributed energy generation

David Waller Image of David Waller

has worked in various engineering and management positions throughout his career with oil and gas companies as well as electrical utilities. He has become acutely aware of the need for Hawaii to develop renewable energy sources, especially in geothermal energy. David therefore identified the MGeo program as an ideal opportunity for him to re-tool his skills, adding geoscience to his resume, and contribute to the energy solution. Dave is working with a team led by Dr. Nichol Lautze in the Hawaiian Institute for Planetology and Geophysics (HIGP) to do an assessment of geothermal resources and prospects, statewide. His role is to assist in accumulating all available water well chemistry and temperature data from various state and national agencies. From these data he is testing and developing different chemical indicators of hot groundwater reservoirs. Dave’s future career plans are to continuing working in the area of geothermal exploration and development. MGeo committee members: Garrett Ito (academic advisor, GG-UH), Don Thomas (project advisor, HIGP-UH), Neil Frazer (GG-UH).


Contact Info:

GG Graduate Admissions
Department of Earth Sciences
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
POST Building, Suite 701
1680 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822 USA
tel: 808-956-6105 -- fax: 808-956-5512

Students of the MGeo Program

Course Info

Department Information for Current Students

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5 Yr Draft Department Course Schedule