Dr. Kevin Spigel
Associate Professor of Geoscience/ Center for Sustainability and Global Change
PhD, Physical Geography, University of Wisconsin Madison
MS, Physical Geography, University of Wisconsin Madison
BS, Environmental Science, University of Buffalo
Kevin was born in Minnesota and after a year living in the land of 10,000 lakes moved to a small town in western New York situated in the lake effect snowbelt. The abundance of snow and surrounding mountains provided a lot of outdoor recreation opportunities including skiing and mountain biking. After graduating from high school, Kevin attended the University of Buffalo where he received degrees in Environmental Science and Physical Geography. As an undergraduate student, Kevin worked closely with his mentor as an undergraduate research assistant on two separate projects: (1) bedload transport in high shear stress environments, and (2) bedload transport under laminar flow conditions with and without simulated rainfall. These research opportunities helped shift Kevin’s career path from ski-bum to academia.
After graduating from college, Kevin attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received both his M.S. and Ph.D. in Physical Geography. Kevin also obtained a minor in Small Watershed Design and Engineering. For his M.S. work, Kevin was hired by the Forest Service as a Hydrologic Technician and spent two summers working in Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and Colorado studying the effects of wildfire on hillslope erosion. Part of this work also focused on using computer models to predict postfire erosion rates as well assess the effectiveness of different treatment/rehabilitation methods. For his Ph.D. work, Kevin expanded his interests in hillslope hydrology to include larger basins and longer time scales and began studying lake sediment cores as archives of environmental change. By studying fossil pollen, charcoal, environmental magnetics, and organic matter content Kevin was able to reconstruct environmental patterns in southern Wisconsin extending back to ~14,000 years. Lake sediment research forms the foundation for much of his current research.
At Unity College, Kevin teaches a variety of courses in the Geosciences and strives to uphold his teaching philosophy of “Learn by Doing”. In all of his courses, Kevin blends theory with application in an effort to provide students with the field, lab, and research skills needed to succeed in the real world. All of his courses have lab components to immerse students in more detail related to topics of study. Kevin emphasizes the use of quantitative analysis and widespread use of technology (computer models, GIS, data-logging) in his courses. Research opportunities in the Geosciences abound for students at Unity College. In many courses, especially upper level courses, students participate in class research projects that include studying hillslope erosion on campus and also studying the effects of precipitation on streamflow and groundwater levels. Students also participate with faculty-sponsored research outside of class on the many facets of lake sediment analysis.