Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Geography
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT
Office: (801) 587-9325


Master of Science in Quaternary Sciences, NAU, 1997

Teacher Certification Secondary English, CU, Boulder, 1993

Bachelor of Science in Psychology, NAU, 1978


  • Field Scientist and Co-Investigator (Dec. 2000- present)

Ross Island and Scott Coast, Antarctica. Contracted by the principal investigator in a National Science Foundation funded project. Conducted field surveys of exposed coastlines to locate and excavate fossil penguin colonies. Duties included team survival and safety assurance, first aid qualifications, as well as scientific expertise. The project included extensive mapping by hand and using GPS equipment, as well as conducting excavations of open-air sites, recovery of paleontological materials, dry and wet screening of sediments, and picking of matrix. Additional assistance will be provided during the analysis and synthesis of data, and authorship of scientific articles. Investigations resume this winter (2010) with fieldwork on Ross Island, Beaufort Island, and Franklin Island.

  • Co-Principal Investigator (June, 2005- present)

Range Creek Canyon, Utah. Member of a team of researchers from the University of Utah investigating the Fremont occupation of Range Creek Canyon and the archaeological implications of remains preserved in this pristine environment. Duties include design and implementation of a multi-disciplinary approach to produce highly resolved paleoenvironmental records. Methods currently being employed include bog sediment core analysis (pollen, charcoal), packrat midden analysis (macrofossils, pollen), alluvial exposure studies, and soil isotopes studies. Duties include collection, processing, and analysis of packrat middens, supervision of undergraduate and graduate students involved in the research, and eventual dissemination of findings in journals, lay publications, and other public media. In addition to paleoecological investigations I am conducting archaeological survey of high sites within the canyon. (Science News Focus story 12-07-07) These surveys require technical rock climbing in challenging conditions and require great effort to access these otherwise inaccessible sites.

  • Film/ Television Scientific Advisor/ Personality (Summer, 2006; Summer, 2008)

Featured in Discovery Channel Fearless Planet series (possibly the very worst science series ever produced). For a glimpse of what the filmmaker intended with the Grand Canyon episode, check out the director's website where he re-edited footage we shot (Toby Macdonald Natural Wonders: Grand Canyon). A much better program featured our Range Creek work in a new PBS Series- Time Team America: Range Creek, Utah.

  • Research Specialist (September, 2001- present)

Colorado Plateau Studies Center, Northern Arizona University. Contracted by principal investigator in a National Science Foundation funded Global Climate Change project. Duties include recovery of packrat middens from inaccessible sites, analysis of macrobotanical specimens, data entry and GIS analysis, conducting background research, and production of papers for publication in professional journals.

  • Science Management Officer (March 2002-June 2003)

PARCS (Paleoenvironmental Arctic Sciences), Northern Arizona University. Science office manager in a National Science Foundation funded Arctic research program. Duties include serving as a liaison between scientific investigators and the NSF, coordinating activities and resources of investigators, organizing PARCS meetings and workshops, and communicating the results and achievements of the PARCS program through web-based or other publications. 

  • Principal Investigator (May, 1997- 2000)

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. Contracted by Capitol Reef National Park. Lead investigator in a two-year paleoenvironmental study being conducted in support of a park-wide archaeological survey underway in Capitol Reef National Park, under direction of the Park archaeologist, with archaeological survey being conducted by Brigham Young University. Duties included field survey and collection of paleoecological materials, laboratory processing and analysis, and background research and report production, and included publication in a monograph (Life on the Edge: Archaeology in Capitol Reef National Park. Museum of Peoples and Cultures, Brigham Young University Occasional Paper N. 11).

  • Cave Specialist and Field Scientist (January, 1996- 1999)

Kartchner Caverns State Park, Arizona. Contracted by Arizona State Parks. Conducted paleontological excavations at Kartchner Caverns. Duties included survey, mapping, photography, excavation, laboratory processing, analysis, and interpretation.

  • Cave Specialist and Field Scientist (March, 1998)

Oregon Caves National Monument, Oregon. Authorized by the National Park Service. Conducted first-ever paleontological excavations in Oregon Caves National Park. Duties included survey, mapping, photography, excavation, laboratory processing, analysis, and interpretation.

  • Principal Investigator (September, 1997- April, 1998)

Navajo Nation, Arizona. Contracted by the Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff. Conducted paleontological monitoring for reclamation of abandoned uranium mines by the Navajo Nation Abandoned Mine Lands Project. Duties included field survey, collection and documentation of Triassic specimens, laboratory analysis of paleontological and paleobotanical materials, cataloging of specimens, write-up, and project completion.

  • Field Scientist (May- June, 1997)

Navajo Nation, Arizona. Contracted by principal investigator. Assisted with geomorphological investigations conducted under contract with the Navajo Tribe, in support of an archaeological salvage project underway prior to road construction near Jeddito, Arizona. Duties included geomorphologic survey, mapping, photography, and report production.

  • Cave Specialist and Field Scientist (June, 1997)

Porcupine Cave, Colorado. Participated in paleontological excavations in Porcupine Cave conducted by the Denver Museum. Duties included consultation, survey, mapping, photography, and excavation.

  • Cave Specialist, Field Biologist, and Lead Climber (February, 1997- June, 1997)

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. Contracted by Grand Canyon National Park. Provided expertise in planning and design of a Park-wide survey project to inventory extant bat species. Conducted extensive biological survey in caves and cliffs to provide assessment of populations for the Grand Canyon Bat Survey, 1997. Duties included logistical planning, lead climbing, rigging, providing interpretation and evaluation of cave features and resources, and conducting biological survey.

  • Field Biologist and Lead Climber (May, 1996)

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. Contracted by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. Conducted biological assessment for the Kanab Amber Snail Project at Vasey's Paradise. Duties included lead climbing, rigging, and conducting biological survey.

  • Co-Investigator and Laboratory Analyst (June, 1996- present)

Western State College, Colorado. Contracted by principal investigator. Processed, picked, analyzed, and reported on paleoecological implications of macrofossil remains in packrat middens from the Gunnison region, Colorado, in support of Archaic and Formative archaeological investigations being conducted as a joint venture between Western State College, the Colorado Historical Society, and the Bureau of Land Management.

  • Field Director and Logistics Manager (March, 1984- May, 1993)

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. Contracted by principal investigators. Assisted researchers working in remote cave sites concerning paleontology and archaeology. Handled all logistical organization and planning, as well as directing all non-scientific aspects of fieldwork. Tasks included compliance with backcountry regulations, subsistence, and safety assurance, including all travel and rock climbing procedures.


University of Utah, Department of Geography, Salt Lake City, Utah. Instructor of Biogeography: Global Patterns of Life, Regional and Global Climates, Quaternary Environments, Earth Environments, Introduction to Natural Hazards, Modern Natural Disasters, Geography of Antarctica, Paleoenvironmental Field Methods, Pyrogeography, and Global Climate Change. Duties include all planning, class preparation, lecture, and in-class assignments. Research and create all lesson plans, prepare all support material, design and write all examinations, advise and tutor students, and assign final grades for the courses.

  • Associate Instructor of Geology (January, 1998- Present)

Northern Arizona University, Department of Geology, Flagstaff, Arizona. Instructor of Introductory Geology, Physical Geology, Historical Geology, and Ancient Life, with 60 to 90 students in each lecture section. Duties include all planning, class preparation, lecture, and in-class assignments. Research and create all lesson plans, prepare all support material, design and write all examinations, tutor students, and assign final grades for the courses.

  • Associate Faculty, Instructor of Geology and Geography (January, 1999- Present)

Coconino Community College, Flagstaff, Arizona. Instructor of Historical Geology and Physical Geography, with 20 to 30 students in two lecture and laboratory sections. Duties include selection of texts and lab manuals, all planning, class preparation, lecture, laboratory, and in-class assignments. Research and create all lesson plans, prepare all support material, design and write all examinations, tutor students, and assign final grades for the courses.

  • Geology Laboratory Teaching Assistant (August, 1994- December, 1994)

Northern Arizona University, Department of Geology, Flagstaff, Arizona. Teacher of four 100-level labs in Geology, with over 80 students per semester. Duties included all planning, class preparation, lecture, and laboratory exercises, as well as field trips. Designed and wrote all examinations, tutored students, and assigned final grades for the course.

  • Conference Speaker, Poster Presenter, Guest Lecturer, Consultant (1993- present)

Presented papers at the XVI INQUA Congress, Arizona-Nevada Academy of Sciences 47th Annual Meeting (2003), the 7th Biennial Conference of Research on the Colorado Plateau (2003), and the Western Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists Annual Meeting (1995). Presented posters at the XVI INQUA Congress (2003), the Geological Society of America 2002 Annual Meeting (2002), the American Quaternary Association 14th Biennial Meeting (1996), the National Speleological Society National Convention Paleontology Session (1996), and the Fourth Biennial Conference of Research on the Colorado Plateau (1997). Guest lecturer for numerous conferences and groups, including graduate classes, Arizona State Parks employees, and the Quaternary Studies Student Association. Topics as diverse as cave survey and mapping techniques, an interpretation of the prehistory of Kartchner Caverns State Park, and cave geology for Quaternary scientists. Provided motivational and technical clinics to employees of outdoor industry businesses, such as retail climbing shops and climbing gyms.


  • Rock Climbing and Mountaineering

For 37 years have led and soloed high-standard rock and ice, and led or participated in mountaineering expeditions to ranges around the western United States, Canada, and Mexico. Recent highlights include numerous desert spires in Utah and Arizona, Clyde Minaret in the Sierra Nevada, rapid ascents of Bugaboo, Pigeon, and Snowpatch Spires in western British Columbia, solo ascent of Moonlight Buttress, Zion National Park, Utah, East Face of Baboquivari Peak, Arizona, and numerous first ascents of routes on rock, snow, and ice in the Sandia Mountains, New Mexico, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, Paradise Forks, Granite Mountain, Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona. Experience includes climbs and first ascents in New Zealand, Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Rocky Mountain, Yosemite, Arches, Sequoia, Zion, Mount Rainier, and Grand Teton National Parks. Have climbed at most important climbing centers around the western United States, including Cochise Stronghold, Queen Creek, Mount Lemmon, Santa Teresa Mountains, Arizona, Taquitz/Suicide, Needles, Tuolumne, Joshua Tree, California, Smith Rocks, Oregon, City of Rocks and Elephant’s Perch, Idaho, Enchanted Tower, New Mexico, Eldorado Canyon, Penitente, Shelf Road, Lumpy Ridge, Colorado, Indian Creek, Wasatch Crags, and Maple Canyon, Utah, Vedauwoo, Devil's Tower, Wyoming, Needles, South Dakota, and many more.

  • Winter Skills and Backcountry Skiing

Have led high-standard ice and mixed climbs throughout my career. Ascents include the Mendel Couloir (AI4), Sierras, California, Rigid Designator (WI5) and Thing Behind the Fang (M11/WI5), Vail, Colorado, Hidden Falls (WI5), Glenwood Canyon, Colorado, and numerous other climbs around Colorado and California. Have completed ski descents of Mount Adams, Washington, and north faces of Long's Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Torreys Peak, Front Range, Colorado, and several other peaks throughout the West. Extensive backcountry ski experience in highly hazardous avalanche terrain in Colorado's Front Range and San Juan Mountains, and Utah's Wasatch Range. Much experience in terrain evaluation and route selection, snowpack stability analysis, and beacon search drills. Assisted and participated in Colorado Avalanche Information Center clinics at Neptune Mountaineering. Have completed long-duration ski tours, including Arizona's North Rim Tour, and familiar with all aspects of winter survival, including navigation, emergency shelter, and first aid.

  • Caving

Highly active in cave exploration and study and have enjoyed much success in discovery and exploration of extensive new cave systems. Recently completed the first paleontological survey of Oregon Caves National Monument, Oregon. Have participated in climbing and pushing expeditions in Lechuguilla Cave, New Mexico, Breezeway Cave and Lasunder Cave, Colorado, and Horsethief Cave, Wyoming. Have made major discoveries in Grand Canyon, Arizona and in numerous minor caves on the White River Plateau, Colorado. Have photographed and published scenic and scientific images of caves in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico. Am expert at all technical aspects of dry cave exploration including survey and mapping, vertical techniques, scientific study, and multi-day expeditionary tactics.

  • Other Wilderness Activities

Have participated in a variety of outdoor activities around the greater Southwest including endurance runs and marathon day hikes, races, mountain bike treks, technical canyoneering, and backpacking trips. Emphasis has always been upon achieving a high level of adventure and trips have always necessitated intensive research, planning, and preparation for unexpected difficulties or obstacles.


  • Guide, Lead Climber, and Field Director for Scientific Expeditions

Assisted researchers working in remote cave sites on paleontology and archaeology in Grand Canyon, Arizona. Handled all logistical organization and planning as well as directing all non-scientific aspects of fieldwork. Tasks included compliance with backcountry regulations, subsistence, and safety assurance, including all travel and rock climbing procedures in an extreme wilderness setting. Work on this on-going research project led to academic pursuits in the Quaternary Studies Program at Northern Arizona University. Also served as lead climber and biologist in Kanab Amber Snail Project and park-wide bat survey in Grand Canyon, Arizona. Duties included difficult rock climbing to access habitats, safety assurance for park personnel, and biological survey on vertical cliff faces and within caves.

  • Rock Climbing Instructor

Operated a climbing school and guide service at the Alpineer, Flagstaff, Arizona. Maintained a perfect safety record. Taught diverse populations including a credited course for Northern Arizona University, basic and advanced courses for teams of Navy Seals, experiential education courses for 6th grade students from local elementary schools, and basic rock climbing for a group of ministers from Grand Canyon chapels. Feedback from students included highest acclaim from the Seals for instruction they considered the best of their careers. Volunteered as course-setter and route designer at Vertical Relief Climbing Center, Flagstaff, Arizona. Courses were designed to accommodate climbers of all abilities, ranging from beginners to expert, and were also used for climbing competitions during regional events. Assisted in instruction, promotion, and execution of these events, as well as in daily operations.

  • Ski Instructor

Taught classic and freestyle nordic race techniques at Fischer Skis® Nordic Clinic, Devil's Thumb, Colorado with former Olympian Kerry Lynch. Assistant coach for Durango High School Nordic Ski Team, Colorado. Conducted numerous technique clinics around Colorado and northern Arizona. Competed in telemark races and taught clinics on telemark, alpine touring, and backcountry skiing, as well as conducting dry-land clinics on technique, avalanche avoidance, and equipment tuning and maintenance.

  • Caving Guide, Instructor, Scientific Interpreter, Cave Host

Currently serve as Field Scientist at Kartchner Caverns State Park, Arizona. Duties include conducting delicate paleontological excavation in remote portions of the cave, requiring planning and logistics, as well as photographic documentation and interpretation for Park personnel. Served as Groaning Cave Host, Colorado. Duties included acting as liaison between cavers and Forest Service, maintaining security of gate by frequent changing of locks/combinations, maintenance of waiver list and register for visitors, and conducting novice caver trips into Colorado's longest cave. Groaning Cave's elevation (10,000 ft), complexity, and strenuousness makes introductory guided trips necessary, and imposes more seriousness and responsibility upon guides than in most caves.


  • Outdoor Retail

Served as salesperson, buyer, and manager at the Alpineer, Flagstaff, Arizona. Performed these and expanded duties at Neptune Mountaineering, Boulder, Colorado, culminating in position as General Manager of this highly successful outdoor retail business. Duties included all management and buying decisions, advertising, and employee benefits and education. Pertinent to Outdoor Program Manager position is extensive knowledge of outdoor equipment design, testing, ratings, comparisons, maintenance, and repair, and provision of motivational and technical clinics to employees of outdoor industry businesses, such as retail climbing shops (Neptune Mountaineering, Boulder, Colorado) and climbing gyms (Vertical Relief, Flagstaff, Arizona). Continue to serve as regional expert on equipment for climbing and skiing. Also arranged all promotional activities at Neptune Mountaineering, which included weekly presentations by renowned outdoor activists. Duties included booking speakers, promoting programs, operating audio-visual equipment (multi-projector slide presentations, film projectors, public address systems, etc.), selling tickets, and settling fees.


  • Writing/Editing for Outdoor Periodicals

Contributing Editor for Backcountry Magazine and served as Product Editor for Rock & Ice. Published dozens of various length articles in regional, national, and international publications. Have written stories for Cross Country Skier, Climbing, Rock & Ice, Vertical (translated into French), Rocky Mountain Sports and Fitness, and Backcountry Magazine. Recognized as an authority on technique and equipment for outdoor adventure.


  • Author and Co-author Scientific Articles

Coats, L., Cole, K. L., and Mead, J. I. (2008) 50,000 years of vegetation and climate history on the Colorado Plateau, Utah and Arizona, USA. Quaternary Research 70, 322-338.

Emslie, S., Coats, L., and Licht, K. (2007) A 45,000-year record of Adélie Penguins in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Geology 35, 61-64.

Kaufman, D., J. Anderson, L. Anderson, P. Anderson, A. Andreev, J. Andrews, Y. Axford, J. Black, L. Brubaker, L. Coats, L. Cwynar, M. Douglas, M. Duvall, A. Dyke, M. Edwards, T. Edwards, S. Forman, K. Gagewski, A. Geirsdottir, F.S. Hu, A. Jennings, M. Kaplin, N. Koç, A. Korhola, S. Levis, T. Lozhkin, D. Lubinski, M. Lynch, G. MacDonald, J. Mangurd, G. Miller, C. Mock, W. Oswald, B. Otto-Bliesner, K. Ruhland, J. Smol, R. Spear, A. Velichko, B. Wolfe (2004). Holocene thermal maximum in the western Arctic (0-180°W). Quaternary Science Reviews 23, 529-560.

Emslie, S., Berkman, P., Ainley, D., Coats, L., and Polito, M. (2003). Late Holocene initiation of ice-free ecosystems in the southern Ross Sea, Antarctica. Marine Ecology Progress Series 262, 19-25.

Mead, J. I., Coats, L. L., and Schubert, B. W. (2003). Late Pleistocene faunas from caves in the eastern Grand Canyon, Arizona. In Ice Age Cave Faunas of North America (B. Schubert, J. Mead, and R. Graham, eds.), Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 299 pp.

Coats, L. (2003) Middle Wisconsinan vegetation on the Colorado Plateau, Utah and Arizona, USA: Evidence for Glacial-Age Monsoons? XMI INQUA Congress Programs with Abstracts, Reno, Nevada, USA.

Coats, L. Mead, J., and Anderson, S. (2003). Late Pleistocene life on the Colorado Plateau: faunal and floral evidence from the national parks, Arizona and Utah. XMI INQUA Congress Programs with Abstracts, Reno, Nevada, USA.

Emslie, S. D., Mead, J. I., and Coats, L. (1995). Split-Twig Figurines in Grand Canyon, Arizona: New Discoveries and Interpretations. Kiva, Vol. 61, No. 2.

Coats, L. (1997). Middle to Late Wisconsinan Vegetation Change at Little Nankoweap, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. Unpublished MS Thesis, Northern Arizona University.

  • Writing for Popular Publications

Edited and published dozens of various length articles in regional, national, and international publications. Served as product editor for Rock & Ice Magazine (1986-1988). All work is related to the outdoor experience. Topics as diverse as travel guides, historical perspectives, guidebooks, fiction, and news reporting. Research for articles ranging from library research to news reporting, as well as phone and in-person interviews. Stories demanded that extremely technical information be conveyed in terms readily understood by laymen; indeed, the lives of climbers and skiers may depend upon it.