Biosketch: 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.
Department: Community Sustainability
Biosketch:Adebiyi Jelili Adegboyegba, otherwise known as Gana, is an international student and world citizen from Nigeria. Educated on three continents (Africa, Asia, and North America), Gana has earned a National Diploma in Agricultural Engineering and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Nigeria. He also obtained an M.A, in History and Civilization from a renowned university in Malaysia. Gana is about completing dual master’s degrees in Community and Regional Planning and Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. Presently, he is in the first year year of his doctoral degree program at Michigan State University, where he doubles as ESPP and Mott Fellows. Gana’s research interests include sustainable farming systems, organic agriculture, food security in Africa, small-scale farming, alternative development strategies, sustainable planning, smart growth and social justice.
Department: Plant Biology
Biosketch: I have long been fascinated by the complexity and elegance of plants at the molecular level, but it was my concern for the issue of sustainably feeding a growing population that inspired me to pursue a doctorate in Plant Biology at MSU. The philosopher and politician Roberto Unger once wrote, “The greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different.” When it comes to sustainable food production,clarity and imagination come when scientists, farmers, engineers, consumers, industries, and policy makers all work together. The ESP Specialization will help prepare me to engage with such an interdisciplinary group. My research interests are in nutritional quality of crop plants and how they respond to stresses caused by climate change such as drought, increased pest populations, heat waves, and less predictable weather patterns. I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, received my BA in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry with a minor in Environmental Science from Middlebury College in Vermont, and worked as a research assistant at The Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Science in Ithaca New York for two years.
Biosketch: I am a first year PhD student in the Economics department. I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia with double majors in Economics and Foreign Affairs and a minor in Math. My research interests lie in the intersection of property rights economics and environmental externalities. Applying market tools to the environment can have impressive results in affecting positive environmental stewardship. I am interested in studying property institutions that allow individuals to turn environmental quality into an asset. When it is profitable to take care of the earth, people tend to come up with great ways to do so. In the past, I have contributed to research projects studying private conservation easements and city-grid land demarcation.
Department: Community Sustainability
Biosketch: 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.
Min Gon Chung
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
Biosketch: My area of interest is interdisciplinary studies between ecology, statistics, socioeconomics, and geography to integrate multiple disciplines and techniques. I am particularly intrigued by studying the interactions between ecosystem services, human well-being, and their linkages in Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS) I am especially interested in continuing my research in mapping and valuing ecosystem services with a modern spatial analysis method, and in bridging together socioeconomic data with ecological models by using statistical models. I would like to suggest scientific guidelines for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Biosketch: I am a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geological Sciences. I grew up in a town bisected by a river in agriculturally-dominated Iowa, which sparked an interest in water quality issues at a young age. My research interests are in the fate and transport of constituents in fresh water systems. My MS project dealt with the movement and transformation of pharmaceuticals from a wastewater treatment plant through a stream. My focus has since shifted to biogeochemical cycles, specifically how carbon cycles through the stream-groundwater interface
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Biosketch:There’s a quote by Albert Einstein that reads, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Zach brings this worldview to his current pursuit of a PhD in Environmental Engineering from Michigan State University. His goal: Help communities develop and better understand water resource sustainability — at a time when water resources are threatened and under growing duress locally, nationally and abroad. Zach, a native of mid-Michigan, will utilize groundwater and watershed modeling for his PhD research of a water resource hazard in “his own back yard”—brine upwelling into lowland and coastal areas of Michigan. Zach’s love for science has taken him from point A to pursing a PhD. Everything in between(i.e., a BS degree in Astrophysics; summer research in Boulder, Colorado; brief graduate studies at Boston University and a MS degree from MSU in Environmental Engineering) has prepared him for the next step in his academic career. In addition to his research, Zach has served as a Teaching Assistant for the CoRe Engineering program in the College of Engineering and enjoys serving as a boys’ and girls’ soccer coach at a local high school. Hiking/camping, live music and live sports, and photography are just a few of his personal interests.
Biosketch: Riva is a 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.
Department: Media and Information Studies
Biosketch:Ran Duan is enrolled as a Ph.D. student in MSU’s Media and Information Studies program with a concentration in Journalism. Ran received her B.S. in journalism and mass communication from Shandong University, China. She has spent one year in news center in China Central Television as an intern reporter and has been as volunteer in Ghana for environmental protection work in the summer of her junior year. During her graduate study at MSU, she participated in various research projects with Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and has been actively working on her own research ideas. She has presented her work at Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies in January, 2014. Her current research interests lie in the intersections of environment, communication and society, including, but not limited to, media coverage of environmental affairs, public controversy over environmental policies, and public engagement with environmental, science and risk issues. She has a particular interest in the coverage of China’s environmental issues in Chinese and US media.
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
Biosketch: I returned to the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at MSU as a Ph.D. student last fall with a defined area of interest – international fisheries science and policy. As a result of these interests and my commitment to interdisciplinary studies, I am particularly attracted to the Environmental Science and Policy Program Doctoral Specialization. I am confident that this specialization will be instrumental in providing me with training and techniques that will be most helpful in my current dissertation research, which also is interdisciplinary in its foundation. For my research, I work closely with Drs. Bill Taylor and Ed McGarrell from MSU’s School of Criminal Justice to investigate the role of law enforcement and, more broadly, governance in providing viable and sustainable fisheries in the Great Lakes and abroad.
Department: Geological Sciences
Dissertation Topic: The effects of climate change and agricultural practices on the High Plains Aquifer
Biosketch: 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
Biosketch: 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.
Biosketch: Dee is a University Enrichment Fellow and doctoral student in the department of geography, where her concentration is Spatial Epidemiology and Health and Medical Geography with an Environmental Health and Policy focus. In the study of geography, she has developed a special interest in the use of Geographic Information Systems as a social and environmental justice advocacy tool. Specifically, her research focuses on examing the spatial distribution of environmental health problems, exploring the social forces that create power differentials which prevent the development of environmental regulations and policies, and developing community-based strategies to reduce the exposure risk from environmental contaminants. Her previous research projects include environmental cancer risk, cancer health disparities, race-based residential segregation and community-based participatory GIS research.
Department: Geological Sciences
Biosketch: I am working towards a PhD in Dr. Julie Libarkin's Geocognition Research Laboratory, which explores how people perceive, understand, and make decisions about the planet. Previously, I attained my BS in Environmental Biology/Microbiology at Michigan State and my research focused on movement of microbes through soil columns. I served as an Undergraduate Learning Assistant in Lyman Briggs, co-teaching the Cell and Molecular Biology lab. I also minored in Spanish and completed study abroad programs in Costa Rica (exploring health care policy) and New Zealand (learning about sustainability). I have spent the two years since graduation volunteering, first internationally on organic farms through WWOOF in Thailand, Bali, and Australia, and then through AmeriCorps in Asheville, North Carolina at a charter school. My personal interests include traveling, camping, and yoga.
Biosketch: After receiving my bachelor’s degree at Zhejiang University in China and master’s degree at MSU department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, I decided to join the Economics department to continue my research in the field of Environmental and Resource Economics. I am interested in applying decision theory in environmental issues and studying people’s incentive to adopt environmentally friendly activities. My previous researches mainly include the evaluation of second generation biofuels and the analysis of people’s choice using discrete choice models. Currently I am involved in a research project looking into farmers’ water use decision under different technologies in the region of Kansas Ogallala Aquifer. I’m also trying to find out a way to incorporate other discipline’s findings into economic researches, which I believe will be achieved in ESPP in the future.
Department: Geological Sciences
Department: Crop and Soil Sciences
Biosketch: Originally from Taiwan, I am currently a doctoral student in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University. My research interests lie in environmental soil and water sciences, investigating sorption mechanisms of contaminants at the solid-liquid interface. The safety and quality of soil and water resources are challenged because of environmental pollution. My current study focuses on addressing environmental problems related to emerging contaminants, particularly veterinary antibiotics. Because of the widespread use of antibiotics in animal feeding operations, they are frequently detected in soil and water environment. Pollution of antibiotics in the environment is of concern because it could provide selective pressure for the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which threatens human health. A better understanding of mechanisms controlling environmental fate and transport of antibiotics is needed to develop mitigation strategies. My study aims to investigate the application of biochar, a porous carbon material, for remediating antibiotic-contaminated soil and water as well as to examine the influence of biochar application on the environmental fate and transport of antibiotics. To ensure sustainable soil and water resources, addressing these environmental problems through a collaborative approach is necessary, and interdisciplinary study at ESPP is an excellent opportunity.
Biosketch: 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.
Biosketch:With increased globalization and industrialization, natural resources are becoming more vulnerable and at high risk of exhaustion. In addition, high population growth especially in Sub-Sahara Africa has led to continuous conflicts over natural resources, especially water and land for cultivation. My purpose in career development is to work together with communities to enable them realize their full potential in promoting environmental sustainability and overcome the emerging challenges; key among them, impacts of water scarcity on social networks and health. These emerging challenges have been made worse by climate change and the associated impacts. In this regard, communities need to be equipped with among other things, the knowledge to enable them to mitigate and adapt to these climate change influenced challenges. During my PhD program in Geography at MSU, I hope to enhance my skills and competences that will help me work better with vulnerable communities especially in Uganda and other stakeholders to demonstrate the importance of recognizing the inter-linkages between the environment and health in achieving sustainable development. My goal after my graduate studies will be to work towards achieving the greater benefits of promoting an integrated approach to policy-making, planning and implementation of programs in the health and environment sectors that value the services that properly managed eco-systems provide to human health.
Biosketch: Rajiv Paudel is a PhD student at Department of Geography. After finishing his masters’ degrees from the UK in Ecology/Environment Management and in Geographical Information Systems (GIS), he worked for few years in Nepal in species conservation as well as in rural food security issues. His interests are in GIS & modeling, food security, and in biodiversity conservation. He is currently working on a NSF funded research at MSU that focuses on Food Security issues in West Africa.
Biosketch: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: Fisheries & Wildlife
Biosketch:Betsy's research is on international fisheries policy with a focus on effective management structures for fisheries resources. Currently she's looking at the Great Lakes governance system and expects to go international after her first round of research, in order to see different governance structures in action and better understand the role that culture plays in management decision making.Betsy's childhood on an Angus cattle ranch in Poteau, Oklahoma, as well as her close ties to her mother's family in Iowa, has closely shaped her ideas and values surrounding resource use and human kind's interaction with the the natural world. Despite her rural upbringing, she has always had an insatiable curiosity about the larger world, leaving to study abroad in France at age 16, and then moving out to Massachusetts as soon as her high school diploma hit her hand. It wasn't until the University of Michigan, however, that she discovered her love of fisheries. After working for two years at the US. Geological Survey's Great Lakes Science Center, she realized the direction her studies had taken would inevitably turn her steps from Wolverine to Spartan to take advantage of MSU's amazing Fisheries and Wildlife Department.
Department: Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
Biosketch: I grow up in Costa Rica, surrounded by multiple crop farms. Even though I did not have previous education in this area, I could recognize several problems that family and farmers were facing, and how there was a broken circle between knowledge that leads to policy, and policy that entails implementation. That is why I decided to study Agricultural Engineering. I completed my BSc. Degree and post-graduate degree in the School of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Costa Rica, where my research was related to soil compaction due to tillage. During my studies, I realized how there is a disconnection between research, policies, education and extension in Costa Rica, which is a country that has 6% of earth biodiversity, when Costa Rica is only 0.001% of global area. I got the great opportunity to perform additional research in a short-term internship at the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) department of MSU, where my research program was related to soil compaction and erosion. I also continued with my studies in the same BAE department where my research was to evaluate the environmental and economic impact of the integration of an anaerobic digester at a pasture-based dairy farm. I selected ESPP specialization since research by itself cannot make changes unless it is translated to policy and implemented on the ground.
Biosketch: I am a second year PhD student in the lab of Dr. Catherine Lindell. I am interested in conservation biology, restoration ecology, and ornithology. I have done research in Texas, Michigan, Kansas, Vietnam, and Panama. My Master's thesis focused on herbivory and seedling ecology of a threatened prairie plant, Mead's Milkweed. Now I'm back to bird work, studying avian community ecology in tropical forest restorations.
Biosketch: My research focuses on biogeochemical cycling in aquatic systems. In the face of enormous anthropogenic change in global elemental cycles, inland and coastal waters are becoming increasingly important hotspots for the processing of carbon and nitrogen. I hope to further establish how environmental factors interact to control microbial communities and processes, as this is crucial to constrain both local impacts and global budgets of elemental cycles. Specifically, I am interested in nitrogen removal pathways (denitrification and anammox),the effect of hypoxia on anaerobic microbial processes, and greenhouse gas production and emissions.
Department: Community Sustainability
Biosketch: Udita is pursuing her doctoral degree in the Department of Community Sustainability with a specialization in Environment Science and Policy. She has a master’s degree in Ecology from Utah State University and a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Biotechnology from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra in India. Currently, she is working with Dr Olabisi on an NSF-funded project “"Participatory ensemble modeling to study the multiscale social and behavioral dynamics of food security in dryland West Africa". For her dissertation work, Udita is keen on understanding the differential vulnerability and adaptive capacity of rural farmers to climatic shocks and their mental models of climatic risk perception and decision-making. She is interested in exploring the social, environmental, economic as well as the behavioral and cognitive aspects of the response of farmers to climate change using system dynamics and agent based modelling approaches.
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
Biosketch: I am a PhD student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and I am interested in how diseases emerge at the nexus of terrestrial and aquatic landscapes. My research focuses on evaluating trends in human West Nile virus (WNV) infection prevalence in the United States, and human malaria infection prevalence across several municipalities in Colombia. The goal of this work will be to determine whether wetlands with specific characteristics preferred by mosquitoes (small, isolated, and with irregular flooding regimes) act to initiate major epidemics. I received my B.S. from Tufts University in 2011 with majors in biology and environmental studies, and a minor in philosophy. I also have a strong commitment to conducting research abroad and have already contributed to projects in Costa Rica, China and Chile. I am excited to leverage this broad background and international experience to better understand how ecological and anthropogenic forces influence disease dynamics in human communities.
Department: Geological Sciences
Biosketch: Currently, I am a PhD student in the Department of Geological Sciences studying Environmental Geosciences. I have an MS degree in Geoscience researching surface water-groundwater interactions, and I have a BS degree in Geology and Environmental Science. My professional interests in ESPP include the supply and demand of Earth’s water resources in relation to human use and consumption. Policy makers play a critical role in regulating water use, and it is the responsibility of those in the scientific field to correctly inform decision makers. Given that water resources are intricately linked to more than just human use and consumption, it is necessary for policy makers to fully understand the environmental responses that could potentially arise when decisions are made.
Department: Geological Science
Biosketch: Mark Suchyta is a doctoral student studying Sociology, specializing in Animal Studies and Environmental Science and Policy. He holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan and an MS in Rural Sociology from Penn State University. His research interests revolve around environmental attitudes, behaviors, and how to create platforms for public participation in environmental decision-making. Much of his previous work has focused on communities experiencing natural gas development. At MSU, he plans to pursue his interest in public attitudes about industrial animal agriculture and the social movements and policies that have come about as a result. When he’s not busy with his studies, he enjoys spending time with his birds.
Department: Agricultural, Food and Resources Economics
Biosketch: I am a first year Ph.D. student in the department of Agricultural, Food, and Resources Economics. I am originally from North Texas and received my bachelor’s degree in economics at Trinity University in San Antonio. My interests lie within the realm of environmental economics—how do we evaluate options for environmental management, and how do we incentivize best practices? I am currently involved in a project on production of biomass crops in the Great Lakes region, and landowner responses to incentives for improved environmental management of these agricultural landscapes.
Anthony Van Witsen
Biosketch: Anthony Van Witsen began his graduate studies wanting to know more about the relationship between science and mass communication. Working as a science journalist taught him that science does not always follow officially designated paths to make discoveries, and the working lives of scientists involve a great deal more than the laboratory. This is particularly true for science that involves some kind of public policy response. He comes to MSU from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where he developed an interest in how some scientific discoveries come to be seen as relevant, risky, controversial, or a social problem, while others, which may represent an equally important intellectual contribution, do not, and the role mass communication plays in that process.
Biosketch: I'm a first-year PhD student in the Department of Sociology. In addition to the ESPP specialization, I'm also in the Animal Studies specialization. Broadly, my research interests are in the sociological and social psychological aspects of the relationships among humans, non-human animals, and the environment. More specifically, these interests manifest themselves in my research on environmental values, animal attitudes, and humane education. Ultimately, my goal is to discover how schools can most effectively help students become thoughtful, engaged citizens who are committed to the well beings of both ecosystems and their individual inhabitants. I was born and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona before going to Williams College in Massachusetts. After graduating in 2010, I volunteered on an organic ranch in California, worked as a field instructor at a wilderness therapy program in Utah, and taught environmental science and social studies at a boarding school for disadvantaged students in Texas. All of these experiences inspire my current work. In my free time, I enjoy going backpacking, playing sports, and hanging out with my dog, Hermes.
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
Biosketch: I am a doctoral candidate in the department of Fisheries and Wildlife. My intended area of specialization is Systems Modeling and Integration, with a focus on the study of Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS). My interest in the CHANS derived from my long-term concern on the endangered wildlife. Although more than 159,000 protected areas have been established around the world, covering an area larger than the United States or China, the problems of ecological degradation caused by human activities are continuing to threaten the existence of endangered species living there. Understanding the complexity of human-nature interactions in these areas is in urgent need to meet the quest for both human well-being and wildlife conservation. While still at its infancy, inquiry into CHANS is developing into a new research area with a promising prospect to achieve that goal. I am very interested in this field and want to contribute to its development by developing integrated socio-economic and geospatial techniques for better understanding the relationship between human and nature subsystems in protected areas (e.g., Wolong Nature Reserve for giant pandas in China), and then translating such understanding into working models and policy.
Biosketch: In the latest report of the World Health Organization (2014), air pollution was described as the single greatest environmental health risk, which annually causes one in eight deaths worldwide. As one of the largest developing countries, China lies in a dilemma between economic blooming, urbanization, and the burst of environmental problems. After received two masters’ degrees from the University of Toledo, Master of Public Administration and Master of Geography & Planning, I shifted my research direction from transportation geography to health/medical geography. My research interests lie in public health, particular maternal and infant health, and medical geography. To address the association between polluted environment and public health, the goal of my doctoral research is to estimate the direct and indirect effects of urban growth and smog levels on maternal and infant health in China.