2016-17 Morse-Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner
Kurt Kipfmueller holding a slice of tree, showing rings, with bigger slices next to him.
Kurt F. Kipfmueller

Associate Professor, Geography, Environment and Society

Nationally known for his expertise in biogeography, wildfire ecology, and tree-ring analysis, Kurt Kipfmueller packs 1,000 students from all walks of academia into his annual Biogeography of the Global Garden course. Despite the size of the room and the audience, students feel and appreciate the warmth and care for their learning and personal welfare Kipfmueller projects. He also excels at showing skeptical students how nature and environmental science affect their own lives and future careers.

Kipfmueller involves undergraduates as full research partners in areas like dendrochronology, where clues captured in the rings of ancient trees help scientists address today’s environmental challenges. He led the creation of the highly productive Center for Dendrochronology, where many undergrads get hands-on research experience.

I feel strongly that students at Minnesota absolutely need to understand contemporary environmental issues such as climate change, evolution, biodiversity and extinction, and global health.--Kurt F. Kipfmueller

“Working for Kurt is the first time I felt I had a true advocate at the U of M,” writes a former student. “It was clear he genuinely had my best interests at heart and was dedicated to helping me discover and cultivate my passions.”

Kipfmueller has served on curriculum committees for CLA and the Twin Cities campus and on the First Year Experience advisory board. He also teaches a freshman seminar on climate change.

“Kurt pushed me to reflect on what I was studying and why,” writes a former student. “He asked, ‘What do you find so interesting you’d do it even if they didn’t pay you?’”

College/school: 
College of Liberal Arts