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.
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.
Saul Daniel Ddumba
Dissertation Topic: Impacts of climate variability and change on crop production in Uganda
Biosketch: My academic goal is to contribute to improving the knowledge interface between climate and agriculture research. As a Ph.D. student in Geography, I’m 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.
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.
Micaleila Dell Desotelle
Dissertation Topic: The effects of impoundments of river food webs
Biosketch: 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: 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.
Biosketch :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
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.
Jennifer R. Kelly
Biosketch: 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.
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: 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: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.
Biosketch: Heather Pospisil is a doctoral student in Environmental Sociology, specializing in Animal Studies and Environmental Science and Policy. Her research interests are in human-wildlife conflict and the effect of wildlife rehabilitation centers upon public perception and management of wildlife. She is especially interested in the intersections of wild bird activities with human agriculture and industry. She has worked with individuals of other animal species at zoos, sanctuaries, and wildlife rehabilitation and rescue centers, and is a member of the emergency response team for International Bird Rescue, an organization that responds to wildlife crises from oil spills worldwide. She has a special love for waterfowl, seabirds, raptors, and corvids.
Department: Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics
Biosketch: 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.
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: 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: 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.
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
Dissertation Topic: Ecosystem services and human well-being in coupled human and natural systems
Biosketch: 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.
Department: Community Sustainability
Dissertation Topic: Ecosystem services and human well-being in coupled human and natural systems
Biosketch: 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.
Biosketch: 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 and Wildlife
Dissertation Topic: The role of marine and aquatic protected areas in global fisheries sustainability
Biosketch: 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.