Sophia Becker

Sophia Becker

  • Contact Information
  • My Story
  • Publications
  • Background
  • Interests
  • Courses Taught

Contact Information

DegreeDoctorate of Philosophy in Natural Resource Sciences with a specialization in Hydrological Sciences
Address248 North Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
Advisor(s)Trenton Franz


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My Story

I grew up here in Lincoln, NE, and then earned a B.S. in geology and minor in mathematics from Wheaton College in Illinois. I chose geology because of the opportunity to work outside, study the visible natural world, and apply a variety of disciplines (math, chemistry, physics, etc.) to important problems. During my undergraduate career, I discovered that I was less interested in “hard rock” geology and wanted to explore water, soil , and agriculture.

I participated in the Applied Plant Systems REU program at UNL in the summer of 2019, where I worked with USDA-ARS scientists and collected many greenhouse gas samples in the field. I really enjoyed the interactions I had with the faculty in the Agronomy department, but this swing toward agriculture was a little too far from geology for me so the program director encouraged me to apply to the School of Natural Resources for graduate school.

I began my M.S. in natural resource sciences at UNL with a specialization in hydrological sciences in the fall of 2020 with Dr. Trenton Franz as my advisor. I study gamma-ray spectroscopy (a geophysical method that determines surface concentrations of radioelements) and its potential for use as an input variable in predicting soil properties. Soil properties of interest include texture, nutrient levels, and water content. In our case, data is collected by driving a vehicle-mounted gamma-ray detector back and forth across a field. We hope to find that the resulting spatial predictions of soil properties can be a useful tool for informing how precision farmers should vary management practices such as seed planting distance, fertilizer application, and irrigation within their fields.

I am also a TA in the School of Natural Resources – for Spring 2021 I am the TA for NRES 104:Climate in Crisis. When not working on schoolwork or research, I love running and biking all around Lincoln.

Selected Publications

Becker, S.M. (2022). Feasibility assessment on use of proximal geophysical sensors to support precision management (MS Thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln.Online



DegreeMajorInstitutionYear Awarded
Master of ScienceNatural Resource Sciences (Hydrological Sciences)University of Nebraska-Lincoln2022
Bachelor of ScienceGeologyWheaton College, IL2020

Areas of Interest/Expertise

  • Hydrology
  • Near surface geophysics
  • Precision agriculture
  • Geostatistical modeling

Courses Taught

Course NumberCourse TitleFall Even YearsFall Odd YearsSpring Even YearsSpring Odd YearsSummer SessionCross Listing
NRES 453/853HydrologyXX