Centers and Laboratories

The Department of Geography at UNI has a number of facilities for research and teaching and centers that focus on research, outreach, and teaching.  Information about several of our facilities/centers can be found here:

Arctic, Remote and Cold Territories Interdisciplinary Center (ARCTICenter)

The ARCTICenter at UNI is a research center that focuses on developing synergies and collaboration among faculty, staff and students in Geography and across campus, who are engaged in research and educational activities pertaining to the Arctic, as well as other remote and cold regions. The lab is partially funded by NSF and NASA. Lab's researchers are involved in multiple projects dealing with social and environmental systems in the Arctic, including Arctic Social Indicators, Arctic Human Development Report, Creative Arctic, Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic, Taimyr Reindeer and Climate Change, Arctic Wildfires project, and other international research activities.

Environmental Characterization and Analysis Lab (EnCAL)

The Environmental Characterization and Analysis Lab (EnCAL), Department of Geography, University of Northern Iowa is a multifunctional facility housing three analytical systems.  The lab contains a Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy system for elemental analysis.  The LIBS can be configured for bulk sample analysis, for individual particle examination for grains as small as 100 µ , and for surface and depth profiling.  EnCAL also houses a hyperspectral imaging analysis system.  The system is capable of imaging objects ranging from microscopic scale to bench scale (~10µ - 50 cm) across a spectral range of 400 nm to 2200 nm.  The hyperspectral system is equipped with a programmable translation stage and calibrated full-spectrum lighting.  The third capability in the lab is a Rigaku X-ray Diffractometry system useful for mineralogical analysis.

For more information please contact Dr. Patrick Pease at

Geographic Alliance of Iowa (GAI)

The Geographic Alliance of Iowa (GAI) provides professional development opportunities for K-12 geography/social studies educators across Iowa.  Funded by the National Geographic Society (NGS) and an endowment from the Wallace Genetic Foundation, the GAI has a membership of over 2,500 teachers in 98 of Iowa's counties.   In addition to providing exemplary professional development opportunities that follow accepted best practices, the GAI also endeavors to offer a statewide clearinghouse of accessible, high quality, standards-based curricular materials that support Iowa teachers' development of  stand-alone geography courses and a more systematic infusion of geography skills, technology, knowledge, and concepts into literacy, STEM, history, and other content areas.

Geoinformatics Training, Research, Education, and Extension Center (GeoTREE)

The Geoinformatics Training, Research, Education, and Extension Center (GeoTREE) provides a means for transferring geospatial technologies to federal, state, local, and tribal government (FSLT) agencies through education, multi-disciplinary research, and outreach activities.  GeoTREE brings together NASA scientists, other scholars, and members from FSLT agencies to integrate remote sensing data into GIS in order to improve decision-making through Decision Support Systems (DSS).  In recent years GeoTREE has worked in close collaboration with a variety of organizations entities such as Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Cedar Falls Utilities, the Iowa Water Center, John Deere, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Quaternary Soils and Sediment Analysis Lab (QSSAL)

The department Soils and Sediment Analysis lab provides students and researchers with analytical facilities and equipment required to perform conventional analyses on most kinds of soil, sediment, and mineral materials.  Analytical techniques offered include:

•  Mineralogical analyses (X-ray diffraction, petrographic microscopy) 

•  Grain-size analysis (dry-sieve separation) 

•  Particle-size analysis (pipette; Laser-diffraction)

•  Organic matter/organic carbon (LOI, Walkley-Black)

•  Bulk density

•  Heavy mineral separation

•  Spectrophotometry (extractable Fe, Al, P)

•  Calcium carbonate content (Chittick)

•  Tree ring / lake varves analyses (SENC150 glass scale rotational platform w/ digital encoder)

For more information please contact Dr. Dennis Dahms at