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Publications in VIVO

Willis, Mike

Assistant Professor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Willis and his research group use remote sensing, geodetic and big data tools to examine how the surface of the earth is changing through time. The main focus of the group is on polar and icy regions, looking at how land ice is contributing to sea level change. The group is also examining how these sea level changes are linked to changing coastal regions and is rapidly building expertise in analyzing coastal topography and how it is changing through time. Willis is committed to increasing diversity and inclusivity in the geosciences. Willis is motivated to answer two particular questions - 'by what processes are ice sheets and glaciers contributing to sea level change?' And a simpler but more fundamental, and sometimes more difficult question of 'where is the surface of the earth, and how is it changing through time?' These questions require investigation and all scales and our group is delving into machine learning, computer vision and data fusion in order to tackle them.


  • geodesy, remote sensing, polar regions, natural hazards, landslides, drones, uav, glaciers, glaciology, topography, urban topography, sea level, machine learning


selected publications


courses taught

  • GEOL 1010 - Exploring Earth
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018
    Introductory geology for majors and non-majors. Studies Earth, its materials, its characteristics, its dynamic processes, and how it relates to people. Separate lab (GEOL 1030) is recommended. Degree credit not granted for both GEOL 1010 and GEOL 1012.
  • GEOL 1170 - Our Deadly Planet
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Fall 2019 / Fall 2021
    This course investigates those events so dramatic and catastrophic that they have left evidence in the geologic record that suggest they significantly impacted life on the planet. These include. but are not limited to, violent volcanic eruptions, mega-earthquakes and associated tsunamis, landslides and sector collapse on volcanoes, megafloods, rapid climatic change, superstorms, and impacts from asteroids and comets. The intent is to use examples from recent events and processes to frame and interpret evidence for these types of events observed in the rock record.
  • GEOL 3950 - Natural Catastrophes and Geologic Hazards
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020 / Spring 2021
    Surveys historic and prehistoric natural disasters, their cause and potential for recurrence. Meteorite impact, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, landslides, floods, magnetic reversals and major extinction events. Department enforced prerequisite: one year of science.
  • GEOL 4700 - Special Geological Topics
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019 / Fall 2020 / Spring 2022
    Studies in selected geological subjects of special current interest (for undergraduates). May be repeated up to 9 total credit hours within a term.
  • GEOL 5700 - Geological Topics Seminar
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019 / Spring 2021 / Spring 2022
    Offers seminar studies in geological subjects of special current interest. Primarily for graduate students, as departmental staff and facilities permit. May be repeated up to 15 total credit hours provided that topics vary.
  • GEOL 6950 - Master's Thesis
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020
    May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours.


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