Mary Cablk

Dr. Mary E. Cablk: Professional Qualifications/CV

Dr. Mary Cablk
Dr. Mary Cablk

Title: Associate Research Professor
Affiliation: Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Location: DRI Reno
Phone: 775.673.7371

Keywords: canine detection, detection, K9, cadaver, olfaction, remote sensing, landscape, DOD, GIS, spatial pattern

Professional Interests

My research is about resolving complexity to elicit pattern responses through background and noise, and there are two primary scientific tracks of interest: odor detection and landscape change. Within these interests my research is almost entirely applied and is done as experimental field work. One of the greatest joys this work is resolving the challenges of integrating and fusing data from disparate sources – such as digital camera data, GPS data, and behavioral response data – to find and explain pattern in complexity. Below is a brief overview of my ongoing research interests within these two arenas.

Odor detection – Olfaction is a powerful sense that can be used in applications where vision, hearing, or feeling (tactile response) fails. My research into detection dogs began with investigating their ability to locate federally protected Mojave desert tortoises. The resulting DTK9 Program is unique in its scientific rigor. From this work has come expertise in converting qualitative information to quantitative data and data capture methods, analytical approaches to validate capability, and training, testing and deployment protocols that are suitable for sensitive targets in extreme environments. Recent applications include different target classes for archaeology and law enforcement. As a result of this work I have also developed an interest in the behavioral science of detection. The role humans play as part of a dog team is significant and the human mindset can significantly affect a dog’s and the team’s capability.

Landscape Change and Human Impact - Conducting extensive field work over the past 20-plus years has been one of my primary means to explore and quantify the changing nature of the natural world - how individuals, populations, and communities of creatures interact and interface with a variable landscape. Much of my research has focused on military applications and resource management on federal lands using remote sensing, GIS, and subsequent tools designed to gather spatially explicit field data. My research on change has included training impacts, wildlife applications, water demands, urbanization, fire policy, and climate change. Field experience on military installations, managed federal lands, and in designated wilderness has brought to light a controversial but very real set of observations: there are parallels between military landscapes and wilderness. This is an area that I am now exploring further. In bridging disciplines, my hope is to better evaluate the impacts that humans have on the natural world and the processes involving or driven by these factors.

Research Areas of Interest and Expertise

  • Remote sensing
  • Spatial modeling and pattern analysis
  • Landscape change, particularly anthropomorphic impacts
  • K9 Detection
    • wildlife
    • human remains
    • capability assessment
    • standards and performance metrics
  • Environmental management challenges on federal (esp. military) lands and wilderness
  • Wildlife studies

Recent Projects


Atmospheric Sciences (DAS)
Air quality and atmospheric research including meteorology, visibility and pollutant transport.

Western Regional Climate Center
Climate Information and Data Services
Providing jointly developed products, services and capabilities that enhance the delivery of public climate info.

Diversity at DRI
An Inclusive Mission of Research Excellence
Diversity at DRI
Offering a supportive and diverse environment for our students, faculty/staff and visitors.

Land and Life
Earth and Ecosystems Sciences (DEES)
Research into changing landscapes including the soils, plants, animals and humans that affect them.

K-12 Outreach and Education
Supporting Nevada educators in science-based, environmental education with free tools, resources, and training.

Renewable Energy at DRI
Discovering New Energy Production Methods
dri-renewable-energyExpanding renewable energy research throughout Nevada and around the U.S.

Hydrologic Sciences (DHS)
Study of the natural and human factors that influence the availability and quality of water resources.

DRI Nevada Medal Event
2014 Medalist - Dr. Albert "Yu-Min" Lin
Proudly honoring outstanding achievement in science and engineering with gala events in Reno and Las Vegas.

Nevada Center of Excellence
Supporting Nevada's Economic Development
Center of ExcellenceCombining NSHE water expertise and IBM’s advanced technologies to grow tomorrow's workforce.