Emma Skelton

PhD Candidate

Faculty Advisor(s):  Dr. Karl Kreutz & Dr. Seth Campbell


Biographical Statement: I am a PhD student in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences.  Prior to diving into graduate work in glaciology, I graduated from Middlebury College with a B.A. in Physics and received an MS in Education from Johns Hopkins University. I have an extensive background in mountaineering, outdoor education, and working with students with diverse learning needs. As a Teach For America corps member, I taught special education and mathematics on Hawai’i Island. As a field instructor for  NOLS, I have led extended mountaineering and wilderness expeditions in Alaska, Patagonia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Northwest. Through these experiences, I became very interested in understanding the geophysical properties that affect glacial movement and recession, particularly with regards to changing climate.


Research Area:  My research interests center on combining geophysical methods and numerical modeling to study subsurface processes of glacial ice. Using these techniques, I aim to help answer questions about the physics of ice flow and climate records that are preserved in the deepest ice. My current focus is on alpine glaciers in Alaska and Canada, but I am engaged in fieldwork in far polar regions as well.



Upcoming and Recent Projects:

2022-2023 — Hercules Dome, Antarctica

Working with a team of scientists from the University of Washington, we will conduct geophysical surveys using phase-sensitive and ground-penetrating radar to select a location for an upcoming deep ice core drilling project.


July 2022 — Upward Bound – JIRP field camp, Juneau, Alaska

A collaboration between the Juneau Icefield Research Program and the Upward Bound Program brought  first-generation college-bound students from Miami, FL to Juneau, AK for an immersive earth-systems field experience. We crafted a week-long curriculum to tie earth-system processes evident in Alaska to Florida by evaluating glacial change and contributions to sea level rise.

June 2022 — Denali National Park, Alaska

Working with Ingalise Kindstedt and Scott Braddock (both UMaine) and Liam Kirkpatrick (UW), I collected an extensive geophysics survey on the Begguya (Mt. Hunter plateau) to capture basal topography and englacial ice deformation in an effort to provide improved depth-age estimates for the Denali ice core, a potentially 10,000 year record of climate extracted from the site in 2013. The radar measurements collected during this field season will be incorporated into three-dimensional ice flow models to provide new insights into the flow dynamics of the basal proximal ice.

May 2022 — Sea to Sky Program, Juneau, Alaska

As a teaching assistant for the University of Maine’s Sea to Sky Undergraduate Research Experience, I worked with students and faculty to teach students about geophysical methods for capturing ice depth and englagical characteristics using various radar systems on the Lemon Creek Glacier (Juneau Icefield). I also taught students about mountaineering systems for safe glacier travel while conducting research on the ice.

Summer 2021 — Juneau Icefield Research Program

As a faculty member for the Juneau Icefield Research Program, I worked with students on a range of geophysics-based projects across the icefield. We collected ground-penetrating radar data to map firn changes across the icefield, measured ice depths in various basins, crafted systems to measure crevasse depths, and tested new radar systems.