Specialization Students and Alumni
Research and Teaching Interests: Globally, over 1 billion people have no access to clean drinking water while over 2 billion have no access to improved sanitation services. To these people, access to clean, affordable water and basic sanitation is a daily luxury. My whole passion about interdisciplinary environmental research is to help contribute a solution to this global crisis. My research broadly seeks to shed more light on the nexus between water and development from a socio-economic standpoint. Following my bachelor's in Natural Resources Management from Ghana with an emphasis on Fisheries and Watershed Management, I shifted my focus from the laboratory to human-environmental interactions. I received a Master of Science degree in Environmental Policy from Michigan Technological University where my thesis sought to understand Water, Sanitation, and Health (WASH) based NGO staff perceptions of water privatization, and how it influences their organizational WASH project decision making. At MSU, I will continue my broad research on water policy and governance through the lenses of political ecology. Recognizing that effective coordination of actors and stakeholders in the water sector is critical to improving water access, I will explore the political, social-economic and institutional dimensions of water governance especially in developing countries and how it can advance sustainable development. I also make time to play soccer and read everything from anthropology to zoology.
Research and Teaching Interests: I am a PhD student in the Sociology Department. During my previous studies I have focused on biology and water resources management, as well as public administration focusing on nonprofit management. I worked as environmenal consultant for seven years, and for the last 10 years have been active in medical education and health related research. My research interests lie in the intersections of health, the environment and science, but I am also interested in understanding how religion can impact all of these areas. I have had the opportunity to experience health care systems in Central America and the Caribbean and am also interested in the social aspects of public health in these areas. Finally, I am interested in determining how group affiliations or religious belief systems impact involvement in social movements which are not traditionally associated with a person's group membership (ie - traditional republicans being involved in environmental movements). In my spare time (HaHaHa) you can find me with my wife and two kids.
Department: Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics
Research and Teaching Interests: My research interests lie in the fields of Environmental & Resource Economics and Behavioral & Experimental Economics. My previous research mainly focused on non-market valuation methodology, and I was also involved in a biomass- and biofuel-related study, such as cost and benefit analysis of biomass provision, identifying the impact of the current biomass boom on land use decisions. Currently, I am interested in famers' new technology adoption behavior. Specifically, One interesting topic that I am exploring is how trust affects the social learning in farmers' new technology adoption and diffusion.
|Saul Daniel Ddumba
Dissertation Topic: Impacts of climate variability and change on crop production in Uganda
Research and Teaching Interests: My academic goal is to contribute to improving the knowledge interface between climate and agriculture research. As a Ph.D. student in Geography, Iím fortunate to be part of the CLIP lab whose main goal is to understand climate and land use/change dynamics and also to contribute to solving food security problems related to the impacts of climate change in East Africa. My Ph.D. research is focusing on understanding the impacts of climate variability and change on crop production in Uganda. I hope to make a significant contribution to ensuring that people from developing countries, especially East Africa, have access to enough and nutritious food. I mainly use crop models, climate models and climate scenarios in trying to answer my research questions. The ESP Specialization will enable me to critically assess a policy component of his research. This involves evaluating the role of institutional settings (including government policies, common property management practices, or other social structures) in implementing adaptation strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate variability and change on crop production in Uganda.
Research and Teaching Interests:I am a first year doctoral student in the Department of Sociology; my sociological interests are broadly in environmental sociology, agriculture, and land use. In addition to the ESPP specialization I am also in the Ecological Food and Farming System (EFFS) specialization. A native of Athens, GA I come to MSU by way of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Alabama. I attended Boston University where I majored in cultural anthropology. After graduating I spent a year and a half volunteering with Heifer International at their learning center at Heifer Ranch in Perryville, AR where I facilitated experiential educational programs on poverty and hunger and was able to experience sustainable agricultural practices first hand. From there went to Auburn University in Auburn, AL where this past August I completed my master's degree in rural sociology. I wrote my master's thesis on the differences between red meat inspection regulations at the state and federal levels and the implications that these differences have for small slaughterhouses and local meat production and distribution systems. In my free time I enjoy gardening and riding horses.
|Micaleila Dell Desotelle
Dissertation Topic: The effects of impoundments of river food webs
Research and Teaching Interests: I am studying the effects of impoundments on the Kalamazoo River. Small impoundments are common on medium sized US rivers, and they are important because they slow the river current so that phytoplankton have time to grow and reproduce. Stream filter-feeding insects and mussels frequently increase in abundance below reservoirs and are likely to be consuming the phytoplankton produced by the reservoirs. The phytoplankton may be providing additional energy for the food web as it is transferred to higher trophic levels. I wish to understand how reservoirs impact energy flow in river food webs downstream of the dams.
Department: Geological Sciences
Dissertation Topic: The role of memory in decision-making during exposure to natural hazard risk. In other words, how do people decide a course of action during warning situations (i/e, tornado warning).
Research and Teaching Interests: My research specifically looks at the role semantic and episodic memories play during decision-making in risk situations. Recent research targeted severe weather warnings (tornado), and combines multiple factors when disseminating the decision process. I have taken a multidisciplinary approach to my research and believe when a decision is made concerning severe weather warnings an individual must consider cognitive, social, and policy inputs. Constraints on time, knowledge, and cognitive load are vital in determining a course of action. I hope to apply what I have learned to risk situations involving weather, geological, and climate related issues, and possibly impact policies surrounding individual decisions when faced with these events.
Research and Teaching Interests :I am a doctoral candidate in Sociology at MSU and part of the Animal Studies and Environmental Science and Policy specializations. I received my master's degree in Sociology from the University of Wyoming in 2011. Much of my current research examines the development and structure of monopoly capitalism as a chief driver in the formation of intensive, large-scale, and mechanized livestock production. The drive to accumulate and expand capital and the roles of vertical integration and industry consolidation in shaping the "livestock revolution" are stressed throughout my projects. I synthesize political economic, sociological, public health, biogeochemical, and animal welfare perspectives to analyze the consequences of contemporary livestock production on society, animals, and the rest of the biosphere. Broadly, my areas of interests include environmental sociology, classical and critical social theory, animal studies, economic sociology, Marxist sociology, development, and continental philosophy.
Department: Geological Sciences
Dissertation Topic: The effects of climate change and agricultural practices on the High Plains Aquifer
Research and Teaching Interests: Water is the ultimate elixir of life, and our access to water is controlled by the geological, biological, and human environments. I am interested in many aspects of hydrology and hydrogeology, particularly where the geology and biology of water intersect. Climate change introduces the element of time, helping to see how the dynamic physical and chemical processes of the water cycle might be altered from their "natural" state, disappear or reach a new equilibrium. I strongly believe that applied science should be geared toward policy decisions, and that communicating the ideas of research is often as important as the research itself.
Dissertation Topic: The interactions between mycorrhizae and plant/nutrient uptake in restoring nutrient degraded landscapes
Research and Teaching Interests: The integration of basic and applied sciences is the basis of my academic and career goals. Both my past and current projects have the underlying goal of understanding and applying basic knowledge of ecological processes to improve people's lives through better land management. My current research is focused on understanding nutrient limitation and plant uptake through the interactions between mycorrhizae, soil resources, and plants in a restoration context. Mycorrhizal fungi typically form a mutualistic relationship with plants improving the plants' nutrient uptake from the soil; about 80-90% of land plants are colonized by mycorrhizae. While many factors have been suggested as important constraints to forest restoration, mycorrhizal fungi and deficiencies in soil resources are especially important in degraded landscapes where plant dependence on mycorrhizae increases for less available nutrients. Furthermore, the effects of mycorrhizae may be different depending upon size and severity of a site's degradation and species-specific responses of mycorrhizal-associated plants to different fungal species. A recent review in Trends in Ecology and Evolution criticized the field of restoration ecology for not fully integrating aboveground-belowground linkages in restoration. For my dissertation, I am examining the interactions of different fungal types (arbsucular vs. ectomycorrhizae) and specific mycorrhizal species with plant/nutrient uptake in nitrogen- and phosphorus-limited systems. I am interested in better understanding these mycorrhizal symbiosises, their role in plant/nutrient uptake, and how we may use them to improve plant growth and survival in restoring degraded landscapes.
|Jennifer R. Kelly
Research and Teaching Interests: Jennifer Rebecca Kelly studies environmental sociology focusing on the relationship that humans have with the living world. With an interdisciplinary background her scholarship and views on the nature society divide have embraced a holistic approach. As such, her interests have taken on an experiential dimension, that is, where nature and wildlife interface most vividly with humans. This is revealed in a broad range of areas from an individual's encounter with the portrait of a wild animal, to exploring the role of experiential education that is centered on the student immersion into a natural environment, to the hunting of wildlife, a relationship that has been portrayed both as an act of love and kill.
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
Dissertation Topic: Fisheries and climate change
Research and Teaching Interests: On a broad scale, my research interests lie in fisheries conservation, applying a landscape approach to management, with consideration that humans are an integral part of any ecological system. I am conducting my dissertation research on climate change and fisheries. I am designing a decision support tool for natural resource managers to understand the implications of climate change on fisheries and implement conservation and rehabilitation projects that will be resilient to ecosystem modifications resultant from climate change. I will be using the Great Lakes Basin as my initial model system, but I hope to design a tool that will be broadly applicable, particularly for developing regions of the world which have severe funding limitations and must prioritize conservation efforts to the greatest efficiency and effect.
Research and Teaching Interests: Bonnie grew up in rural Home, Pennsylvania--the same home town as Edward Abbey. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Washington & Jefferson College in 2006 with a major in Biology. Prior to joining Steve Hamilton's ecosystem ecology lab at MSU's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station this fall, she managed an ecology lab for Dr. Justin Wright at Duke University for five years. Her dissertation will involve climate change, large-scale agriculture, and water quality.
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
Dissertation Topic: The effects of lake shoreline development on painted turtle nest site selection and reproductive success.
Research and Teaching Interests:
First year graduate student and ESPP fellowship recipient Emily Norton is interested in how human activity affects lake ecosystems, shorelines and the wildlife that inhabit them.
Currently, Norton is working on an economics project relating lakes' water clarity (a measure of water quality) to the value of surrounding residential properties, in the Lower Peninsula. She is studying 20 counties, over 100 lakes, and over 1400 properties, and expects to conclude the project this summer. Previous studies have found water clarity and housing prices to be positively correlated. She hopes that her results will build on past studies and help inform decisions on water quality regulation in Michigan, by demonstrating the value of water clarity through housing prices.
Dissertation Topic: Microcystis in the Ohio River, analyzing population dynamics of an algal taxon with toxin-forming potential.
Research and Teaching Interests: Linda studies the specific ecological conditions that promote algal blooms along the Ohio River and some of its tributaries. Algal blooms can cause decreased oxygen levels and produce toxins, both of which can cause death in other aquatic organisms or humans who ingest the toxins. In addition, she plans to do a survey, in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, to see how pervasive Microcystis (a type of algae) is in other Midwestern rivers. An end result of her study will be a model that can predict which ecological factors, such as high nutrients, have the biggest influence in driving algal blooms. She expects these results will have implications on human usage. For example, it would help determine if high nutrients coming from agriculture or wastewater treatment plants are a driving factor for algal blooms, or if low flow due to water retention or diversion (as there are many dams in the Ohio River) is a major influence.
Research and Teaching Interests: Mr. Perdinan is a PhD student in the Department of Geography, sponsored by Fulbright. He obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Agro-meteorology from the Department of Geophysics and Meteorology, Bogor Agricultural University-Indonesia in 2002. He was awarded a BCA Scholarship from 1999 to 2002. After completing the degree, he joined the Bogor Agricultural University, as teaching staff and research assistant with a specialization in Applied Climatology. In this field, he has been involved in a number of research activities at national and international levels that focus on applying climate information associated with climate variability and climate change to enhance human adaptive capacity to climate conditions. In 2006, he was awarded an Australian Development Scholarship to study for a Master's in Natural Resources Economics at The University of Queensland-Australia, and did research on economic assessment of climate change risks. After completing the degree in 2007, he returned to Indonesia and did research on assessing the impact of climate change on water resources in Indonesia, a collaborative research project between the Indonesian and German governments; and on a synthesis study of climate change in Indonesia funded by the Asia Pacific Network. His main areas of interest are climate change, land use change (carbon) and economic risk analysis. Specifically, he is interested in climate change mitigation, climate change risks and its management options.
Research and Teaching Interests:Zach Piso is a doctoral student in the Department of Philosophy, with a specialization in Environmental Science & Policy. He received his BA in Environmental Studies from Allegheny College in December 2010 before spending a year working in sustainable urban development. Research interests include environmental education, enactive and embodied theories of mind, communities as epistemic units, ecosystems as epistemic units, and ecological resilience through biodiversity. Many projects draw on classical American pragmatists such as John Dewey and George Herbert Mead. He is primarily interested in strategies for cultivating sustainable habits that take into consideration the role that sociality and embodiment play in learning.
Department: Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics
Research and Teaching Interests: Economics is an extremely powerful tool that can be used to guide human behavior in a way that makes socioecological systems greener and more productive. This is particularly true with regards to agricultural systems, where more effective management is necessary to promote both greater agronomic productivity and environmental sustainability. My research interests broadly involve integrating both economic and ecological knowledge to better manage agricultural ecosystems through the analysis and valuation of ecosystem services. I am also interested in investigating the resilience of agricultural production systems against shocks from climate change and water availability.
Departments: Crop and Soil Sciences
Research and Teaching Interests: My research focuses on greenhouse gas (CO2, CH4 and N2O) emissions from agricultural ecosystems. Specifically, my research evaluates the GHG response of a cellulosic biomass crop to nitrogen application rate and attempts to reduce GHG emissions through proper nitrogen fertilization management while still maintaining crop yields. As we know, biofuels produced from agricultural feed stocks (e.g. crop residues, animal maure, energy crops) could be one option to reduce GHG emissions by substituting fossil fuels. However, it should be noted that biofuels are not 100 percent carbon and nutrients "neutral". Energy crops need nitrogen fertilizer for their growth, which releases N2O from soil by nitrification and denitrification. N2O is one of the important GHGs and its global warming potential is 310 times more powerful than CO2 on a per molecule basis. The uncertainties for N2O emissions can be magnified by its high global warming potential. Therefore, in order to appropriately evaluate the contribution of biofuels to climate change, GHG emissions need to be monitored and quantified after fertilization, in the hope that more efficient fertilization strategy can be found to reduce GHG emissions without decreasing crops productivity. Another project of mine explores the GHG cost of tilling a long term Conservation Reserve Program soil and quantify the degree to which no-till practices can reduce GHG emissions following conversion from the Conservation Reserve Program lands. Lastly, I'm exploring whether increased freeze-thaw cycles caused by global warming will increase GHG emissions from cropped soils.
Research and Teaching Interests: In general, my research will examine host plant interactions between ash trees and the emerald ash borer (EAB), an exotic invasive beetle native to Asia. In its native habitat EAB primarily attack stressed trees and beetle population is relatively low. In North America, however, ash trees have no evolved resistance against EAB and populations have exploded across nine U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. Our goal is to better understand the resistance mechanisms of Asian ash and to use what we learn to determine what steps can be taken to increase resistance of ash trees native to North America. As it continues to spread and become an even greater threat to our forest, urban and cultural systems, there is an increased need to communicate with people in very diverse groups. Currently, several Federal and state quarantines prevent the movement of infested plant material but human assisted dispersal is still the key mode of dispersal in the U.S. I am excited to develop new communication and research skills that will enable me to communicate policy directions and needs with people in my community, and in government and academic institutions.
Department: Geological Sciences
Dissertation Topic: Understanding human-earth system interactions: The role of visual representations
Research and Teaching Interests: In a nutshell, my research involves studying the way humans understand the earth system through the use of diagrams. Although in Geology, I work with cognitive scientists and educators in order to study not only students but expert scientists as well. Using tools borrowed from psychology as well as adaptations of instruments and my own developments, I look at working memory, spatial ability, decision making, and content knowledge. In order to collect and analyze these data I utilize new tools such as Tablet PCs, Interactive Whiteboards, Geographic Information Systems, and Eye Tracking technologies. My hope is that this research can eventually be applied to help make earth systems learning more fun and effective in the classroom and informal settings.
Research and Teaching Interests: Environmental sociology, environmental social attitudes, natural resource management, quantitative/qualitative methods, human and animal interactions, gender and justice (masculinities)
Department: Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies (CARRS
Dissertation Topic: Ecosystem services and human well-being in coupled human and natural systems
Research and Teaching Interests: I am in the CARRS PhD program focusing on Environmental Policy and International Development. As a native of a developing country, I am well aware of how the quest for economic development can contribute to resource depletion and environmental degradation. As a result, my academic interests coalesce around issues of natural resource management and sustainable development. I am particularly interested in exploring ways to harness the synergies between environmental protection and economic growth to improve the livelihoods of rural communities.
My previous research had focused on developing strategies to improve sustainability in large institutions and I had been actively involved in crafting MSU's solid waste recycling program and energy conservation strategies. My international development research is focused on exploring potential linkages between social cash transfer programs and productive economic activities such as agriculture to improve food security and income among rural poor in Ghana. My strong interdisciplinary background allows me to critically examine ill-defined issues from a wide range of perspectives that a single discipline cannot offer.
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
Dissertation Topic: Ecosystem services and human well-being in coupled human and natural systems
Research and Teaching Interests: Wu Yang holds a bachelor's degree from ZJU's College of Life Sciences and he plans to earn his Master's and Ph.D. in fisheries and wildlife. Wu has joined Jack Liu's study of human interaction with giant pandas in Sichuan province, China. His plans to go there in May 2008 were interrupted by the massive earthquake that devastated the province, but he expects to go next summer. Wu is interested in interactions between human and natural systems, which he said have become unavoidable. He hopes to integrate ecology, socioeconomics, management and policy making in the study of those interactions.
Research and Teaching Interests:I am planning to utilize risk assessment and molecular marker tools to study the safety of introducing transgenic crops into the environment. Currently, there is research under field testing and development to introduce various transgenic crop varieties in Uganda. However, there is limited capacity for ensuring a thorough risk assessment under the existing regulatory system. I wish to understand the costs and benefits related to transgenic crops that are likely to be introduced in Uganda in the near future so that I can suggest a relevant risk assessment test requirement, and to conduct a risk analysis for one of these crops.
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
Dissertation Topic: The role of marine and aquatic protected areas in global fisheries sustainability
My long-term research interests relate to the development and assessment of management tools and collaborative strategies that facilitate international fisheries conservation. I plan to focus my graduate research on the effectiveness of protected areas, a commonly used but controversial management and conservation tool, in fisheries sustainability. Initially, I will use an ecosystem-based approach to investigate this issue as it relates to the Great Lakes and the rehabilitation of lake trout populations. As my dissertation project evolves, my goal is to broaden into a comparative analysis of alternative governance approaches and the interdisciplinary aspects of Marine Protected Area design and assessment using several case-study marine systems. I will maintain an emphasis on how protected area placement may be affected by unavoidable ecological dysfunction and environmental change in specific regions throughout my graduate research.