Student Spotlight: Christina Maria Salzmann

Christina Maria Salzmann


I am Christina Maria Salzmann, originally from Switzerland and an undergraduate student at the Department of Geography in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation in Missoula Montana. I am pursuing a BSc in Physical Geography with a minor in Mountain Studies and a Postsecondary Certificate in Geographic Information Systems. Growing up in a mountainous area, I have always been fascinated by the processes that shape the landscapes around me. Specifically, I am really passionate about glaciated areas and their exposure to our changing climate. Experiencing the changes myself has pushed me to pursue a degree in Geography in order to better understand what is happening in these mountain systems and hopefully one day positively contribute to the scientific knowledge. I moved to Missoula in August 2019, after obtaining an Arts & Science Certificate at the College of the Rockies in British Columbia. The University of Montana was my first choice university to transfer to because of its small class sizes, the variety of GIS courses, the option of obtaining a Mountain Studies minor and of course the closeness to all the outdoor recreation opportunities. Through the inspirational instructors in the Department of Geography, I fell in love with cartography, remote sensing and high-mountain studies. Combining my deep interests in GISciences with mountain hazards, I am currently in the process of finishing up my senior thesis entitled “High Mountain Hazards in the Indian Himalaya: An Assessment of the Causes and Effects of the Chamoli Flood in 2021.” Using high-resolution satellite imagery, local climate data and qualitative data I am assessing the sequence of events in February 2021 that led to the devastating disaster in India’s northwestern State of Uttarakhand. During this catastrophic event, more than 200 people lost their lives and a great deal of damage to property and infrastructure resulted. After graduation I have the opportunity to conduct a 6-month internship at the Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in Davos at their Alpine Remote Sensing Department. Following this research-focused internship, I will head off to pursue my graduate degree in Geography and GIS.

Some quick facts: Originally, I am from Naters (Valais) Switzerland and started my undergraduate degree in 2017 at the College of the Rockies in British Columbia, Canada. Four and a half years later, I am graduating in December 2021 from the University of Montana. I am also a member of Gamma Theta Upsilon which is the International Geographical Honor Society,  and I serve on the Student Evaluation Committee (SEC) for Geography this fall semester.