Curriculum Vitae

KIRK L. NICHOLS, PhM portrait
  • Assistant Professor (Lecturer) of Outdoor Recreation Studies, Parks, Recreation & Tourism
  • Academic Liaison/Advisor and Faculty, National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Parks, Recreation & Tourism
  • Assistant Professor (Lecturer), Parks, Recreation & Tourism



  • Ph.M., Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation -- Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Program, University of Utah
  • M.S., Geography, University of Utah. Project: Thesis: Micro-habitat Affinities of Two Oaks and Their Natural Hybrid in Southern Utah, and Seedling Growth Phenology as Factors in Oak Distribution
  • B.S., Geography, University of Utah. Project: Geomorphology, Geographical Ecology, Resource Management

Honors & Awards

  • Commendation. Antelope Island State Park, Utah. Access Planning Board, 11/2003
  • Award: Student Service, Olympics 2002. Dept. Parks, Recreation, & Tourism, 05/2002
  • Mount Nebo Goat / Soils / Vegetation Study: Seasonal Employee Service Award . USDA, Forest Service, Uinta, Wasatch-Cache District, 09/1996
  • Magna Cum Laude, All American National Scholastic Award, Natural History Scholastic Award, Dean’s List. 06/1989


Professor Nichols’ personal and professional interests are broadly anchored in the outdoors. His guiding and instructing have taken him from Alaska to the Andes, from deserts to mountains to rivers to oceans. Teaching field courses for the University of Utah began in 1975 and continues today. In 1986, he was awarded a scholarship for an Instructor course at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and remains an active NOLS Expedition Faculty member. He also is charged with advising NOLS and their students on the curriculum and college credit granting relationship between our two schools.

Geography when defined as, anything that can be put on a map, is a spectacular window into the specialized worlds of geomorphology, eco-physiology, bio-geography, natural resource management, GIS, aerial cartography, remote sensing, paleo-climatology, synoptic climatology… you have the picture. Nichols’ observation that two species of oak (Quercus) and their hybrid organized themselves in a predictable manner across adjoining slopes in Zion National Park led to his Bio-Geography Master’s thesis. Don’t get him started on Quercus.

The outdoor world is not all climbing and kayaking, plants and animals, rocks and erosion but also people and their impacts. Policies of management can only be understood through the history of society’s relationship with the land. The politicians who can write policies to protect the land must also pay the bills of society and in this dual role there will always be conflict. Recreation on public lands will always cause detrimental changes to the environment. We must learn to minimize and adjust our human effects on the land, water, and life. 


  • Central Wasatch Comission, Environmental Steering Committee (CWC), Steering Committee member, 10/01/2016 - present
  • Big Cottonwood Community Council (BCCC), Board Member, 01/2011 - present
  • Mountain Accord , Recreation Systems member, 09/2013 - present
  • The Utah Nordic Alliance (TUNA), Member, Editor, 06/2004 - present
  • American Avalanche Association (AAA), Professional Member, 01/2000 - present
  • National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Faculty, 08/1986 - present

In the Media


  • English, fluent.

Geographical Regions of Interest

  • United States of America. Public Lands: Federal, State, and Community lands and parks.


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