Environment and Society I recently graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in business management. I conducted undergraduate research on the habitat preferences of small mammals on an urbanized campus. The results reflected that urban development affected which species were found where and how frequently. The results of this research and the minor in business management got me interested in the interactions and relationships people have with each other and with the environment which lead me to the Environment & Society program at Utah State University. I will be working with Sarah Klain on a thesis that looks at incorporating social and cultural values into ecosystem service assessments and possibly looking at how renewable landscape designs could benefit biodiversity.
Wildland Resources I received my BA in Biology from Macalester College and my MS in Ecology from Utah State University where I studied seedling-based quaking aspen restoration. Outside of school, I worked for both the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service, and also served as a Peace Corps agroforestry volunteer in Senegal working with rural farmers. Currently, I am a PhD student with Dr. Larissa Yocom studying fire ecology. My dissertation will explore, in part, the underlying scale of heterogeneity of ecological fire effects across western landscapes following wildfire and the impact of that variability on vegetation recovery.
Biology I graduated from University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a B.S. in Environmental Studies, minors in biology, math, and french. For the past four years as an environmental scientist in the public and private sectors, I have observed water quality and water supply issues in freshwater ecosystems such as severe flooding events and fish kills in lakes. Through these professional experiences, I have become inspired to answer important scientific questions related to freshwater ecology and climate change. For my master’s project, I will be working with Michelle Baker to examine the effects of climate change on freshwater ecosystems.
Mathematics and Statistics I graduated from Campbell University with a BS in Mathematics, after earning an AS and AA from Nash Community College. In my MS in Mathematics, I use agent-based modeling to enhance instruction of mathematical modeling, allowing students to learn by a combination of theoretical study, experimentation, and simulation. This allows students better visualize how a model works and what its limitations may be. For my PhD, I plan to continue to utilize agent-based modeling and other mathematical modeling tools to examine topics in biology and ecology. I also have a continued interest in education to improve student understanding and perception of mathematics.
Forest Ecology Erika Blomdahl received a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies from U.C. Berkeley in 2011, and an M.S. in Ecology from Utah State University in 2018. She has worked in forestry and natural resource management for 10 years, most recently as the Senior Analyst for the Utah Forest Institute at USU. Erika is currently working towards a PhD in Forest Ecology with Dr. Justin DeRose. Her dissertation will examine disturbance ecology/interactions and climate adaptation of western forests.