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Ellis Adams

Ellis Adams
Department: Geography
adamsel8@msu.edu

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.

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Jelili Adebiyi

Jelili Adebiyi
Department: Community Sustainability
adebiyij@msu.edu

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.

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Christina Azodi

Christina Azodi
Department: Plant Biology
azodichr@msu.edu

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.

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Dylan Brewer

Dylan Brewer
Department: Economics
brewerdy@msu.edu

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.

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Dylan Brewer

Meghan Charters
Department: Sociology
charter2@msu.edu

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Li Cheng

Li Cheng
Department: Community Sustainability
chengli5@msu.edu

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.

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Min Gon Chung

Min Gon Chung
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
chungm13@msu.edu

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.

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Joseph Cullin

Joseph Lee-Cullin
Department:Geological Science
cullinjo@msu.edu

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

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Zach Curtis

Zachary Curtis
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
curtisza@msu.edu

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.  

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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

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.

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Riva Denny

Riva Denny
Department: Sociology
rchdenny@msu.edu

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.

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Ran Duan

Ran Duan
Department: Media and Information Studies
duanran420@gmail.com

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.

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Matthew Flood

Matthew Flood
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
floodmat@msu.edu

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Matthew Flood

Kathryn Frens
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
kathryn.frens@gmail.com

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Molly Good

Molly Good
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
goodmoll@msu.edu

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.

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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

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.

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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

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.

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Jennifer R. Kelly

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

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.

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Christina Leshko

Christina Leshko
Department: Sociology
cleshko@gmail.com

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Haoyang Li

Haoyang Li
Department: Economics
lihaoya2@msu.edu

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.

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Cheng-Hua Liu

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

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.

 

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Bonnie McGill

Bonnie McGill
Department: Zoology
mcgillbo@msu.edu

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.

 

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Jakob Nalley

Jakob Nalley
Department: Zoology
nalleyja@msu.edu

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Zachary Piso

Zachary Piso
Department: Philosophy
pisozach@msu.edu

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.

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Heather Pospisil

Heather Pospisil
Department: Sociology
salamand@msu.edu

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.

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Carson Reeling

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

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.

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Betsy Riley

Betsy Riley
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
bril@msu.edu

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Melissa Rojas

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

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.

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Steven Roels

Steven Roels
Department: Zoology
steveroels@gmail.com

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.

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Kateri Salk

Kateri Salk
Department: Zoology
salkkate@msu.edu

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. 

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Nicholas Skaff

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

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.

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Christy Steffke

Christy Steffke
Department: Geological Science
steffkec@msu.edu

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Sophia Tanner

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

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.

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Anthony Van Witsen

Anthony Van Witsen
Department: Journalism
tonyvanwitsen@gmail.com

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.

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Stephen Vrla

Stephen Vrla
Department:Sociology
stephenvrla@gmail.com

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.

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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

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.

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