Affiliated Faculty & Partners

Stephan Custer

Professor Emeritus

Department: Earth Sciences

University System: Montana State University - Bozeman


Professional Summary:

Stephan G. Custer received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Geology from Lawrence University in Appleton Wisconsin in 1968. He served in the United States Army from 1969 through 1970. After his service, he studied at the University of California, Berkeley where he was awarded a Master of Science Degree in Geology in 1973. He continued his study of Geology at the University of Montana in Missoula where he studied saline seep and received a Ph.D. in 1976.

Immediately following his graduation, Dr. Custer began his teaching and research career in the Department of Earth Sciences at Montana State University. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1982. While at MSU he taught introductory geology, groundwater geology, surface water hydrology, historical geology, sedimentation and stratigraphy, general petrology, groundwater modeling, Earth science writing, snow dynamics and accumulation, and field geology. He served on a committee that initiated the Master of Science in Science Education and taught several courses in that program by distance including a course on riparian processes, a course on data in hydrology, and a course on the hydrology of streams and lakes. He chaired the development of the multidisciplinary Water Resources Minor, developed the Geohydrology Option and the Snow Science Option for the Department of Earth Sciences. He directed 24 graduate students, sat on numerous graduate committees and advised many undergraduate students during his career. He received the Montana Chapter of the American Water Resources Association Water Legend award in 2000 and the Montana State University President’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2004.

Dr. Custer’s research has focused on Montana’s water resources with work on saline seep and the origin of salinity. He worked on nitrate contamination below agricultural land and nitrate and microbes in ground-water from septic systems in the Gallatin Valley. He studied snow dynamics, the groundwater resources of southwestern Montana, precipitation analysis of Montana using GIS and hydrothermal flow between Montana and Yellowstone National Park as well as bed-load transport in the gravel-bed rivers of Montana.

Dr. Custer served Montana State University as Head of the Department of Earth Sciences from 1983-1991 and from 2007 to 2011 and was interim Director of the Geographic Information and Analysis Center for a year. He was chair of the working group that helped develop the controlled groundwater area to protect the hydrothermal flow system for Yellowstone National Park and continues as chair of the Technical Oversight Committee for the Controlled Ground Water Area for Geothermal Protection of Yellowstone National Park. He has served on the State Map Committee for the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology as well as the Advisory Council for the Ground Water Information Center, the Future Fisheries Review Panel for the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, and two legislative councils on groundwater and ground-water data as well as the Gallatin County Water Task Force and the Montana State University Water Task Force.

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