Co-Principal Investigators

photo of meghann jarchow

Meghann Jarchow

Department of Biology, Missouri River Institute, and Sustainability Program

Meghann Jarchow, PhD, is Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Sustainability and Environment at USD.  Her research expertise includes prairie plant community ecology, bioenergy feedstocks, scenario planning, and sustainability pedagogy.  For the WAFERx project, Dr. Jarchow is leading the research focused on mapping social values across the Upper Missouri River Basin.

She received her PhD (2012) in sustainable agriculture and ecology and evolutionary biology from Iowa State University, her MS (2005) in biology from Minnesota State University – Mankato, and her BA (2002) in biology from Ripon College.

photo of david swanson

David L. Swanson

Department of Biology and Missouri River Institute

David Swanson, PhD, is Director, Missouri River Institute, and Professor of Biology at the University of South Dakota. His research interests are broadly based in the areas of avian ecology and ecological physiology and the evolution of physiological adaptation in animals (particularly vertebrates). Within these broad areas, his specific research foci include:

  • Patterns, mechanisms and evolution of seasonal phenotypic flexibility and adaptation to cold in birds;
  • Habitat use during migration and breeding for Northern Prairie birds, particularly including comparisons of natural and human-modified habitats.

Dr. Swanson will be involved in the avian biodiversity modeling sub-project of the WAFERx project, which will examine how landscape changes in the Northern Prairie region related to various BECCS scenarios will impact bird biodiversity, abundance and productivity in the Upper Missouri River Basin.




Senior Personnel

photo of mark dixon

Mark Dixon

Department of Biology and Missouri River Institute

Mark Dixon, PhD, is a Professor of Biology and an affiliate of the Missouri River Institute at the University of South Dakota.  His broad research themes include landscape, plant, and avian ecology, with a focus on forest and land cover dynamics within the Missouri River floodplain.  Within the WAFERx project, Dr. Dixon is contributing to the avian biodiversity modeling sub-project and, with Dr. Swanson, serves as co-advisor to Reza Goljani, the PhD student working on this sub-project at USD.

Dr. Dixon received his PhD (2001) in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, his MS (1994) in Wildlife Ecology from South Dakota State University, and his BS (1987) in Animal Ecology from Iowa State University.  Prior to coming to USD in 2006, Dr. Dixon was a post-doctoral researcher at Arizona State University.

photo of Jacob Kerby

Jacob Kerby

Department of Biology and Missouri River Institute

Jacob Kerby, PhD, is a professor of Biology and an affiliate of the Missouri River Institute. His current research integrates many fields of study to investigate the causes of amphibian declines worldwide, which include several of the leading contributors to global change: habitat modification, climate change, invasive species, disease and contaminants.

He received his PhD (2006) in ecology from University of California, Davis, his MS (2003) in biology from California State University, Northridge, and his BS (1996) in psychobiology from Pepperdine University.



Post Doctoral Researcher

photo of andy baltensberger

Andy Baltensperger

Department of Biology

Andy Baltensperger, PhD, is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at USD. His research has focused on developing innovative means of detecting wildlife in the field and modeling broad, landscape-scale patterns and processes for the purpose of conserving imperiled species. In his capacity with the WAFERx project, Andy is advising USD graduate students on a variety of spatial modeling projects, while developing predictive distribution models for grassland bird biodiversity and socio-environmental values given future BECCS scenarios across the UMRB.

Andy received a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2015, an MS from Colorado State University in Wildlife Biology in 2008, and a BS from the University of Michigan in Resource Ecology & Management in 2002.

Photo of Amin Rastandeh

Amin Rastandeh

Department of Sustainability and Environment

Amin Rastandeh, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Sustainability and Environment at the University of South Dakota. Amin received his PhD in Landscape Architecture from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He has served as a researcher in projects specializing in urban and regional ecology, biodiversity conservation, land-use land-cover assessment, and ecosystem services analysis. In the WAFERx project, Amin examines the spatial distribution of social values (SVs) associated with landscapes of the Upper Missouri River Basin (UMRB). Applying spatially explicit models, he depicts how SVs linked to landscapes of the UMRB interact with anthropogenic and biophysical factors.




PhD Students

photo of reza golijani amirkshiz

Reza Goljani Amirkhiz

Department of Biology

Reza is a graduate research assistant and PhD student in the Biology Department at USD. His research interests are landscape, quantitative and avian ecology, habitat suitability modeling, and biodiversity management. He received MSc degrees in wildlife science from New Mexico State University (2015) and in biodiversity and habitat management form Azad University (2007), and a BA in natural resources from Tehran University (2005).

For the WAFERx project, his research focuses on investigating how bird diversity and abundance will be affected by various BECCS scenarios in the Upper Missouri River Basin.

photo of kaitlyn campbell

Kaitlyn Campbell

Department of Biology

Kaitlyn is a research assistant and biology PhD student in the Kerby Lab at the University of South Dakota. She received her BA in biology from Southwestern University (Georgetown, TX) in 2017. Kaitlyn’s dissertation and WAFERx work focuses on the effects of changes in land use and agricultural contaminants on disease susceptibility in amphibians. A portion of her WAFERx research will also examine how various BECCS systems impact suitable amphibian habitat and subsequent species distributions throughout South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.


Contact Us

Montana State University
P.O. Box 1234
Bozeman, MT 59717-1234
Principal Investigator
Selena Ahmed