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Ellis Adams

Ellis Adams
Department: Geography
adamsel8@msu.edu

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.

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Jelili Adebiyi

Jelili Adebiyi
Department: Community Sustainability
adebiyij@msu.edu

Research and Teaching Interests: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.

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Li Cheng

Li Cheng
Department: Community Sustainability
chengli5@msu.edu

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.

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Saul Daniel Ddumba

Saul Daniel Ddumba
Department: Geography
ddumbasa@msu.edu

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, 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.

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Riva Denny

Riva Denny
Department: Sociology
rchdenny@msu.edu

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.

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Micaleila Dell Desotelle

Micaleila Dell Desotelle
Department: Zoology
desotell@msu.edu

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.

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Ryan Gunderson

Ryan Gunderson
Department: Sociology
rgunder@msu.edu

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.

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Erin Haacker

Erin Haacker
Department: Geological Sciences
kingeri7@msu.edu

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.

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Ellen Holste

Ellen Holste
Department: Forestry
holste@msu.edu

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.

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Jennifer R. Kelly

Jennifer R. Kelly
Department: Sociology
kellyj24@msu.edu

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.

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Christina Leshko

Christina Leshko
Department: Sociology
cleshko@gmail.com

Dissertation Topic:

Research and Teaching Interests:

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Cheng-Hua Liu

Cheng-Hua Liu
Department: Crop and Soil Sciences
liuchen6@msu.edu

Dissertation Topic:

Research and Teaching Interests:

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Bonnie McGill

Bonnie McGill
Department: Zoology
mcgillbo@msu.edu

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.

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Zachary Piso

Zachary Piso
Department: Philosophy
pisozach@msu.edu

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.

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Carson Reeling

Carson Reeling
Department: Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics
reelingc@msu.edu

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.

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Melissa Rojas

Melissa Rojas
Department: Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
rojasma@msu.edu

Research and Teaching Interests: 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.

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Steven Roels

Steven Roels
Department: Zoology
steveroels@gmail.com

Dissertation Topic:

Research and Teaching Interests: Conservation biology, restoration ecology, and ornithology.

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Sam Rossman

Sam Rossman
Department: Zoology
rossmans@msu.edu

Dissertation Topic:

Research and Teaching Interests:

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Leilei Ruan

Leilei Ruan
Department: Crop and Soil Sciences
ruanleil@msu.edu

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.

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Kateri Salk

Kateri Salk
Department: Zoology
salkkate@msu.edu

Research and Teaching Interests: 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. 

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Shikha Singh

Shikha Singh
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
singhsh6@msu.edu

Dissertation Topic:

Research and Teaching Interests:

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Nicholas Skaff

Nicholas Skaff
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
skaffnic@msu.edu

Dissertation Topic:

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Sophia Tannes

Sophia Tanner
Department: Agricultural, Food and Resources Economics
sophiatanner@gmail.com

Research and Teaching Interests: 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.

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Stephen Vrla

Stephen Vrla
Department:Sociology
stephenvrla@gmail.com

Research and Teaching Interests: 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.

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Cameron Whitley

Cameron Whitley
Department: Sociology
cwhitley@msu.edu

Research and Teaching Interests: Environmental sociology, environmental social attitudes, natural resource management, quantitative/qualitative methods, human and animal interactions, gender and justice (masculinities)

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Hongbo Yang

Hongbo Yang
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
yanghon8@msu.edu

Research and Teaching Interests:

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.

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Wu Yang

Wu Yang
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
yangwu@msu.edu

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.

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Felix Yeboah

Felix Yeboah
Department: Community Sustainability
yeboahfe@msu.edu

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.

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Barbara Zawedde

Barbara Zawedde
Department: Horticulture
zawedde@msu.edu

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.

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Chiara Zuccarino-Crowe

Chiara Zuccarino-Crowe
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
zuccari3@msu.edu

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.

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