instructor sitting in a classroom teach geology to online class

Nicolet College Instructor Co-Authors Research Publication


Nicolet College Geography and Geology Instructor’s Water Resource and Tree Ring Research Published in Prestigious Journal

Tom Wilding, Nicolet College Geography and Geology instructor, achieved a significant milestone, as his extensive research on water resources was published in the American Geophysical Union Water Resources Research Journal.

Wilding’s research dates back more than a decade to his undergraduate studies, where his interest in longleaf pine trees in Florida laid the groundwork for his research. Wilding’s work expands water managers' understanding of short-term variations in water availability, crucial for serving populations reliant on water resources. “Adding in the tree ring research means you can give those water managers a longer-term perspective of the short-term variations in water availability that they are dealing with over hundreds of years versus their perspective that may go back only about 100 years,” says Wilding.

The research is complicated, but Wilding says tree rings are actually quite simple, “One of the things that drew me to tree rings, is the fact that everyone has looked at a stump and said, ‘You know, each of these rings is a year.’” Those rings tell the story of what a tree meant for its environment.

Wilding brings his research into the classroom at Nicolet College by teaching his students about soil and water resources so they can apply what they learn outside of the classroom. Wilding explains, “Applications of what the students will do when they walk out the door are important. What it means and impact are more important than just being a student in a classroom.” As an instructor, Wilding inspires his students, showing them the many different directions in which they may take their learning. 

Along with Wilding, Evan Larson, Tom Mirti, and Chris Underwood coauthored the research article, “Five Centuries of Groundwater Elevations Provide Evidence of Shifting Climate Drivers and Human Influences on Water Resources in North Central Florida.” Find the full publication here:

Wilding says his enthusiasm for teaching comes from seeing his students' progress and the joy of sparking their curiosity and interest in environmental sciences.

Nicolet College provides education at a flexible pace. In addition to traditional fall and spring start times, students can also begin classes at other times throughout the year. The spring term starts January 8, 2024. Call Nicolet College at 715-365-4493 or visit to learn more about enrolling.

In the photo above: Nicolet College Instructor Thomas Wilding teaches online students about geography and geology.