Leilani Arthurs

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., 2007, Universtity of Notre Dame

Geocognition, Geoscience education, Aqueous geochemistry, Geochemistry, Limnology

Contact Information

330 Bessey Hall
402-472-6353
larthurs2@unl.edu

I joined the EAS Department in Fall 2011. My academic background and training includes studies and research in the areas of hydrology, water resources, geochemistry, and volcanology. Part of my professional experience also includes working with the United States Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory for five years. In addition to my training, experience, and research in the geological sciences, I also have a background and research experience in cognitive science and science education. Currently, I have two lines of research. One is in environmental aqueous geochemistry. The other is in the areas of geocognition and geoscience education.

My research in the area of environmental aqueous geochemistry involves questions dealing with water resources, groundwater and surface water quality, and drinking water remediation. More specifically, my research has focused on the interactions between dissolved heavy metals, natural organic matter (NOM), and mineral sorbents. A variety of analytical techniques are used in this line of research. These include, but are not limited to, absorbance spectrophotometry, fluorescence spectrophotometry, optical emission spectroscopy, and high pressure size exclusion chromatography. Given the connection between NOM and the carbon cycle, I would like to expand this line of research to include carbon-related studies that focus on NOM distributions in river and wetland systems, the impact of wetlands on the carbon cycle, and NOM's connection with atmospheric CO2 and climate change.

My research in the areas of geocognition and geoscience education is driven by the goals of: furthering our understanding of how people learn most effectively in the geosciences; identifying conceptual challenges to learning Earth processes; developing scientific, analytical, and critical thinking skills; and designing, implementing, and assessing learner-centered strategies to promote learning. The central premise to this line of research views the learner and the teacher as partners in the educational process. This line of highly interdisciplinary research draws on the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cognitive Science, Linguistics, Anthropology, Educational Psychology, and Psychometrics. This research utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods developed and used in the social sciences. I would like to expand this line of research to include not only formal education but also informal education.

For more information please visit my website.

Selected Publications


  • Arthurs, L. and Marchitto, T., 2011, A qualitative methods approach to developing an introductory oceanography concept inventory survey, in GSA Special Paper 474: Qualitative Inquiry in Geoscience Education Research (edited by A. D. Feig and A. Stokes), GSA, Boulder, CO, 97-111.

  • Arthurs, L., 2011, What college-level students think: Student cognitive models of geoscience concepts, their alternate conceptions, and their learning difficulties, in GSA Special Paper 474: Qualitative Inquiry in Geoscience Education Research (edited by A.D. Feig and A. Stokes), GSA, Boulder, CO, 135-152.

  • Arthurs, L. and A. Templeton, 2010, Coupled collaborative in-class activities and individual follow-up homework promote interactive engagement and improve student learning outcomes in a college-level Environmental Geology course, Journal of Geoscience Education, 57, 356-371.

  • Arthurs, L., 2009, Natural Organic Matter, Heavy Metals, and Goethite: Towards a quantitative understanding of their complex sorptive interactions, VDMVerlag Dr. Müller Aktiengesellschaft & Co., Saarbrucken, Germany, 248 p.

  • Xiang, X., Y.Huang, G. Madey, S. Cabaniss, L. Arthurs, P. Maurice, 2006, Modeling the Evolution of Natural Organic Matter in the Environment with an Agent-based Stochastic Approach, Natural Resource Modeling Journal, 19, no. 1, Spring 2006.