Graduate Students

Dalton Akos

Dalton Akos

I graduated in May 2022 from Appalachian State University with a B.S. in Environmental Biology and a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems. During my time as an undergraduate, I worked on Dr. Maggie Sugg's NFS Career Grant-funded research, 'Exploring Place-Based Differences in Adolescent Suicide, Mental Health, and Suicide'. I was also very active in campus life, and spent time as a Resident Assistant, Appalachian Student Ambassador, and Admissions Tour Guide. I am a participant in the 4+1 accelerated admissions program, and took some of my first graduate-level classes in Peru with Dr. Baker Perry on a study abroad experience. Although I am eager to focus my interest through experience, I am currently interested in planning for climate resilience and military planning, as my younger sister is at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.

Outside of class I work for Appalachian University Admissions, and enjoy paddleboarding, reading, puzzles, and traveling as much as possible in my free time!

Emma Crider

I graduated with a B.S. in Sustainable Development, Environmental Studies with minors in Sustainable Technology and Geography from Appalachian State University in December of 2021. 

My primary research interests include water quality, the human connection to water, and trends of water governance. My work with the Watauga Riverkeeper primarily involves studying microplastics in local river basins and eradicating local non-native invasive plant species around Watauga County.

Kristen Gilmore

Kristen Gilmore

I graduated from Appalachian State University back in 2013 with a degree in Middle Grades Education and taught 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies locally for 8 years. It was great! However, a desire for a change had been brewing for a few years; I needed a “pause” from teaching. Geography has always been a personal interest of mine as well as my favorite subject to teach within my Social Studies curriculum. I had no interest in leaving Boone, and once I learned more about the Geography Department here, pursuing a Masters of Geography seemed like a perfect next step. 

I am still figuring out my research interests, but I am most interested in studying geography through a “human lens”. Returning to teaching or working with geography education is always in the back of my mind as well! I am excited to learn more about the discipline, and I have no doubt that throughout my studies my interests will become more narrowly defined. 

In my personal time I enjoy reading, exploring, hanging out with friends, rock climbing, playing board games, and just being outside. My current travel dreams include seeing the Northern Lights and visiting Antarctica.

Brett Haas

Brett Haas

In May 2020, I graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne University with a B.S. in Engineering Physics. While at Lenoir-Rhyne, I was part of an engineering team that specialized in rocket design and competed in national competitions sponsored by NASA.

After completing my undergrad, I decided to focus my graduate career towards my interest of Geography. During my graduate career at Appalachian State, I completed research work related to trail recreation development in Pisgah National Forest and analyzed upcoming projects currently under construction in Old Fort, Linville Gorge, and Mortimer, NC.

During the program, I took a year off to serve abroad with a group and do humanitarian work. We travelled to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Caucasus region working with orphans, refugees, and youth. Being in Eastern Europe during the start of the Ukraine-Russia war and getting to help Ukrainian refugees served as a significant eye-opening experience.

My research interests include human geography, outdoor recreation planning, and geopolitics. During my free time, I love to go hiking, travel to faraway places, ski, be involved with my church, and go on caving trips through the Flittermouse Grotto out of Asheville, NC.

Allison Ingram

I graduated in May 2021 from Sam Houston State University with a B.S. in Geography and a minor in geology.

While at SHSU, I had the privilege of teaching Weather & Climate labs for two years and was the head lab instructor for the second. In the same year I started teaching, I conducted a research project on Rapid Ohi'a Death, a disease endemic to the Hawai'ian Islands. In December of 2019 and 2021, I traveled to the Big Island as part of a field course offered by SHSU's Geography Program and witnessed the phenomenon firsthand. Due to my involvement with the department, I was elected president of Geographers of Sam Houston (GOSH), a student organization focused on furthering members' education in geography. I held the position for two years.

After graduating, I spent a year working as a native plant landscaper in and around Houston, TX. I learned about the benefits of native plants and the importance of incorporating them into residential and commercial spaces. My research interests include native plant conservation and restoration, environmental planning, and the impacts of climate change. I am also interested in studying fluvial geomorphology, hydrology, and ecology. I am currently working with Dr. Martin, under his NSF grant, researching the influence of wood on river system geomorphology in coastal plain rivers.

In my free time, I enjoy hiking, camping, rock climbing, gardening, picking up litter, playing Terraforming Mars, and hanging with my cats.

Matt McGregor


I graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Community and Regional Planning and conjunctively obtained a certificate in GIS. I am currently continuing my college education at Appalachian State University by pursuing a Master of Arts Degree in Geography.

During the Spring and Summer of 2021, I worked for the Town of Boone’s Planning and Inspections Department as their Planning Intern. I was very thankful and honored to take on this position as their first intern in several years. Through my experience working for the Town of Boone, I formed meaningful connections with the dedicated and influential people who form the Planning and Inspections Department. Through my position, I learned what it truly means to contribute to the planning process of a town. One of the projects I tackled in this position was collecting physical records and translating them into obtainable electronic data to be accessible to the general public of Boone. I also researched the prevalence of hostile architecture in Boone and possible solutions. Along with these tactile tasks, I was an active contributor to the weekly meetings run by the Town of Boone in collaboration with numerous organizations, such as the Planning Commission, Board of Adjustment, Community Appearance, Historic Preservation Commission, and the Sustainability, Economics, and Environment Committee. Although I am obtaining a generalized Geography degree, I still hold a special place in my heart for planning. My hope in obtaining my Master’s Degree is that I gain experience in all fields of Geography and Planning.

My research interests consist of Transportation Planning, Zoning, Human Geography, History, Climate Change, and Political Science. I would love to positively contribute to society in any way that I can and am passionate about the overall interaction with the community on a personal level.

My interests in my free time consist of creating art pieces, playing video games, basketball, reading historical articles, and consistently listening to music.

Erali Miller

I graduated from Sam Houston State University in Texas where I received my B.S. in Geography with a minor in Psychology. Prior to my graduation I had the opportunity to complete two separate research projects. I conducted research into the effectiveness of three different environmental not-for-profit agencies operating throughout the Hawaiian Islands. This research I presented at the Kona Science Lecture Series in December of 2019. In April of 2020, I presented research at the Undergraduate Research Seminar that I had conducted into the effectiveness of not-for-profit organizations with community supported agriculture (C.S.A.) as their focus within the state of Texas. After conducting this research, I decided to join the American Association of Geographers Geographies of Food and Agriculture specialty group.

I am interested in research surrounding food sovereignty and food justice. During my graduate career, I will be working with Dr. Schroeder through the Graduate Research Associate Mentoring (G.R.A.M.) Program. While collaborating with Dr. Schroeder on her research, I hope to gain new perspectives on my research interests.

In my free time, I enjoy rock climbing and hiking with my two dogs. I really love cooking, baking bread, and practicing yoga. I am also learning Swedish, and my goal is to be a polyglot.

Quinn Rundgren

Quinn Rundgren

I graduated in May 2022 from Marietta College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and minors in Leadership and Geographic Information Systems. As an undergraduate, I was also a lacrosse team member and a two-year captain. I also was active in campus life, working at
the recreational center and as a tour guide.

For my graduate degree, I am focusing on the planning concentration. This interest was sparked during courses I took during my undergrad, and I am excited to continue my curiosity in that field. I am also looking forward to working with Dr. Perry as a graduate assistant. Furthermore, I will be a part of the ROTC Mountaineer Battalion during my time here at Appalachian State.

Sophie Ryan

I graduated from the University of Vermont in May 2018 with a BA in Geography and a minor in Geology. At UVM, I conducted research and completed a senior thesis on phosphorous transport from forested watersheds in Vermont to further address and answer questions regarding toxic algae blooms.

During my undergrad I also conducted research looking at ocean terrace sediments and their nutrient content, diurnal stream chemistry variability, water quality in a rapidly developing coastal town and human-environment interactions with regards to high Andean grasslands – páramo. I love conducting research and learning more about the landscapes and history of where I live and visit. My research interests include water chemistry & quality, climate change & human health, and natural disasters.

After graduating college, I moved to the Tetons of Idaho and Wyoming where I worked as a landscaper, environmental educator, and cross-country ski coach.

In my free time I love to run, hike, kayak, cook, cross-country ski and read on my porch.

Taylin Spurlock

I graduated in Spring 2021 from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in Geography with a focus in Climate and Climate Change. I came to the Geography Department after studying abroad with Semester at Sea and seeing the effects of climate change firsthand. During my time in the department, I did undergraduate research in the Laboratory of Paleoenvironmental Research and worked in the GIS Outreach and Engagement Lab to promote geography education in K-12 schools. 

My current research interests include climate, biometeorology, and GIS. I hope to combine these interests to study how climate affects public health. 

Outside of class, you can find me traveling, doing yoga, or anything related to being outdoors. I also have two pups who love to hike!

Sarah Ulrich

Sarah Ulrich

I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2022 with a B.A. in Geography and minors in Urban and Regional Planning and Environmental Justice. I am continuing my education at App State by pursuing my M.A. in Geography with a Planning concentration. As an undergraduate student, I interned at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle where I researched indicators of food insecurity at the neighborhood level and created mapping resources for use within the nonprofit. 

My research and career interests are quite broad, but include housing affordability, urban geographies, and environmental justice.

In my free time, I enjoy powerlifting, walking, cooking, and watching Love Island.

Luke Wertis

I graduated from Appalachian State University with a B.S. in Applied Physics in May 2017.

My research interests include GIS technology, climate change, and water systems. I am currently doing research with AppAqua looking at river quality/quantity of the Upper South Fork of the New River watershed.

In my free time, I enjoy rock climbing and reading.