Dakoeta Pinto

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.

Alexander Howe

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.

Adelle Smith-Eskridge

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.

Melissa Pulley

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.

Erika Blomdahl

Wildland Resources 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.

Sarah Bogen

Mathematics & Statistics
I have a BA in Mathematics from Capital University with minors in Biology and Computer Science. My interest in quantitative biology has allowed me to work with a variety of topics and spacial scales, including the continental spread of White-Nose Syndrome in bats, epidemiology on commercial dairy farms, population dynamics of Chlamydia within host cells, genome assembly, and statistical genetics. For my PhD research I will use a data-driven modeling approach to estimate extinction risk of plant species under climate change. I hope to effectively contribute to interdisciplinary teams while disseminating scientific knowledge through education and advocacy.

Lindsay Capito

Watershed Sciences
I am a first-year master's student in the department of Watershed Sciences at USU. I moved to Utah from Arizona to complete my bachelor’s degree in Restoration and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems after completing general education classes at community college. Before entering college, I spent time working in various fields ranging from selling motorcycles to emergency medicine. During my time at community college I became increasingly aware of the issues facing the environment and felt compelled to learn more. This inquiry led me to the world of watershed science where I have found a passion for water research. For my master’s project I will be exploring the connection between Didymo, an often problematic algal species, and glacial retreat.

Morgan Christman

I graduated from Denison University with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Environmental Studies. My research interests broadly include climate change, geospatial analysis, wildlife conservation, and entomology. For my MS in Ecology, I am using geospatial analysis to research the extent to which temporal changes in climate variability and landscape structure impacts bee and ladybird beetle diversity surrounding corn and alfalfa fields in Utah. I am interested in determining how certain beneficial insect species could be impacted further with changes in abiotic factors and as urbanization continues throughout agricultural land in Utah.

Sofia Koutzoukis

Wildland Resources
I graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a BA in Biology. My dissertation research focuses on abiotic drivers of plant-plant interactions across the Intermountain West to elucidate alternative management strategies to maintain and restore sagebrush communities. I am interested in how the effects of disturbances scale between the individual plant to the landscape, and the climate variation and management mosaics encountered when engaging across landscapes. Rangelands in the West provide an excellent backdrop to study questions of changing disturbances and abiotic regimes, and how people and their decisions fit into the changes.

Betsy Morgan

Civil & Environmental Engineering
I have a BS in Biological and Ecological Engineering from Oregon State University. My interests include natural engineering within river systems and aquatic ecosystem management. I am thrilled to work with Dr. Belize Lane at Utah State University and research the interaction of hydrology, hydraulics, and ecosystem response for improved management of the South Fork Eel River Basin in California. I look forward to engaging with others to develop interdisciplinary solutions that address societal and ecosystem needs in the face of complex climate and environmental uncertainties.

Christina Morrisett

Watershed Sciences
I have a B.S. in Earth Systems with a focus in ocean science from Stanford University and recently received an M.S. in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences from the University of Washington. My upbringing in coastal Alaskan commercial fishing communities inspired an ambition to sustain natural resources and the communities that depend on them. In partnership with a fishery nonprofit in southeastern Idaho, my doctoral research investigates how managed aquifer recharge can extend water supply and improve aquatic habitat, mitigating the effects of climate change on farmers and fly-fishers.

  • Man in cowboy hat stands next to a horse. Red rock cliffs in the background.

Will Munger

Environment & Society
I’m joining the Climate Adaptation Science program after a decade of working in climate justice movements. My background is in community organizing, journalism, farming, ranching, construction, and anthropology. I hope to contribute to building integrated approaches of adapting food systems and watershed management to the challenges of climate change. I’m currently working on a research team that is investigating the human dimensions of a landscape scale watershed restoration project in Bolivia that supports ranchers and farmers to protect water and forests.

Henrik Panosyan

Plants, Soils & Climate
I have a BS in Atmospheric Science from the University of California, Davis, and started pursuing an MS in Climate Science in Fall 2018. My general interests revolve around the North American Dipole and its intensification in recent years, which has been linked to anomalous weather and climate extremes such as flooding and drought in the Western States. With my research, I hope to shine a better light on potential short and long-term consequences that may arise as the dipole evolves in tandem with our warming planet.

Brittany Shield

Environment & Society
I have a BS in Psychology from Nebraska Wesleyan University. Broadly, I seek to incorporate social science as a mainstream component of climate change and to further the understanding of intergroup dynamics of environmentally conscious communities and to facilitate group efforts among global communities. I hope to play a role in encouraging pragmatic policies that proactively refer to ecological integrity as a critical component of human wellbeing.

  • Woman wearing a red shirt smiles and stands in front of a brick wall.

Kaitlyn Spangler

Environment & Society
I have a BA in Anthropology and a BS in Community, Environment, and Development from Penn State University, as well as an MS in Geography from Virginia Tech. A common thread through my work is a grounded interest in food security, community resilience, and sustainability and equity of food production systems across international contexts. My current PhD research focuses on understanding land use diversity and productivity of U.S. agricultural systems at a landscape level. I hope to collaborate amongst diverse backgrounds and skillsets toward a common goal of integrating climate-forward research with practice and policy.

Jacob Stuivenvolt Allen

Plants, Soils & Climate
I have a B.S. in Environmental Science from Loyola Marymount University. I am interested in predictive climate modeling that provides information valuable for natural resource management or environmental mitigation. As climate change impacts us in diverse and complex ways, I aim to improve my environmental stewardship to include a more diverse understanding of the social, political and economic hurdles we face.

Hadia Akbar

Civil & Environmental Engineering
I have a BS in Agricultural Engineering from Pakistan and am pursuing a master's degree in Water Resources Engineering. My research interests include studying the effects of climate change on water resources and, by extension, on agriculture. I want to develop a better understanding of the processes in climate and the relation with water systems. For my master's, I am researching the historic effects of large climate fluctuation and extreme events (extended droughts and episodic floods) on agricultural production in the Upper Colorado River Basin to predict trends and to inform water users to operate their systems to cope with extreme climatic events.

Lainie Brice

Wildland Resources
I graduated from the University of Maryland with a BS in Environmental Science and Policy, and recently obtained an MS in Marine Mammal Science from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. For my doctoral research, I am studying food-web dynamics and predator-prey interactions in Yellowstone National Park. The impact of climate change on this ecosystem has been largely excluded from previous analysis, and I would like to incorporate such impacts into my research.

Kirsten Goldstein

Environment and Society
I have a BA in Geography from Bemidji State University in northern Minnesota. I am fascinated by the real-world application of spatial analysis to environmental policies. My research ambitions are focused on examining potential climate refugee communities and indigenous sacred geographies. I am driven to investigate policies that will help locals protect their various resources without harming their community structure."
MS Geography, 2019

Guen Grosklos

Mathematics & Statistics
I have a BS in Applied Mathematics from Millersville University. I am researching mathematical biology, spanning ecological modeling, eco-evolutionary dynamics, and epidemiology. I am fascinated with the application of mathematics to real-world situations, and always looking for opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations to broaden my knowledge of non-mathematical fields while offering a unique perspective for team projects.

Rachel Hager

Watershed Sciences
Graduating from Bryn Mawr College with a BA in Biology and having spent several summers at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, I came to USU to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology. My specific research investigates the use of genetic diversity within native wetland plants to enhance restoration potentials. My research interests include climate change, wetland restoration, and science communication. I look forward to incorporating climate change in my Ph.D. research while working with not only researchers, but also with people of varying backgrounds and opinions, so we can all reach better solutions. Coming from a research background gives me a certain type of insight; however, it is only with the coming together of a variety of unique insights that we can truly make progress.

Brett Miller

Sociology, Social Work & Anthropology
I have a BS from Bryant College in Rhode Island. I began my academic career as an environmental educator, earning a Environmental Education Certificate in 2013. I wrote my thesis on the ecosystem service value of streamflow in the Salmon River Basin, Idaho. In my doctoral program, I am working with Dr. Courtney Flint studying the values and vulnerabilities associated with water in northern Utah as well as regional perspectives on the Wasatch Mountains as important bioregional features.

Tara Saley

I have a BS in biochemistry/molecular biology with a minor in environmental studies from Otterbein University, and will have an MS in land resources and environmental sciences from Montana State University. Broadly, my interest is in genetics of organisms in changing environments (such as those that exist due to climate change). For my masters I looked at changes in gene expression in microbes exposed to arsenic, and for my PhD I will work on quantifying the contribution of functional genetic variation to an organism’s success on a non-native plant. I am excited about this program's interdisciplinary collaboration and working on communicating my scientific work effectively.

Emily Wilkins

Environment & Society
I have a BS in Environmental Science and Environmental Policy with a minor in Biology from Drake University, and an MS in Forest Resources from the University of Maine. I am researching the impacts of climate change on outdoor recreation. Specifically, I am interested in how climate change will impact visitation to protected areas, and how this will impact the surrounding communities.

Hongchao Zhang

Environment & Society
I graduated from the University of Maine with a B.S. degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism, and obtained an M.S. degree in Natural Resources and a GIS certificate from the University of Missouri. I am ecstatic to explore out west and doing research about the impact of climate change on public land and understanding how outdoor recreationists respond to climate-altered resource conditions.

Scott Zimmer

Wildland Resources
I graduated from Wesleyan University with B.A. degrees in Earth & Environmental Science and Biology. I am researching the vegetation ecology of rangelands in the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. I am drawn to rangelands as managed landscapes called upon not only to provide agricultural benefits, but also myriad ecosystem services over vast areas. I am interested in how growing disturbances in rangelands caused by climate change will alter plant communities, wildfire regimes, and our food system.

Ryan Choi

Wildland Resources
I have a BA in Biology from Whitman College, and an MS in Ecology, Wildland Resources from Utah State University. I am studying the impacts of climate change on ecosystem function in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. I have focused on how phenology of sub-arctic tundra plants and the seasonal arrival of migratory Pacific black brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) affects nutrient cycling and storage in a sedge-dominated ecosystem.

Emily Esplin

Environment & Society
I have a BS in Marriage, Family & Human Development from Brigham Young University and a BA in Spanish from Utah Valley University. I am passionate about helping local people build resilience to natural hazards in their community through protective behaviors, smart planning, and emergency preparedness. I am currently studying how Americans adapt to extreme heat events and how this hazard is communicated in Utah. My other research interests include disaster risk reduction, risk perception and communication, and natural hazards mitigation and outreach campaigns.
MS Geography, 2018

Muyang Ge

Applied Economics
I have a BS in Environmental Science & Management from Xiamen University and an MS in Environmental & Natural Resource Economics from the University of Illinois. I am researching the dynamic interaction of rural and urban economies in response to water use constraints and its variability under a changing climate. I am interested in the impact of land property rights on agricultural practices and on water market. I am currently working on climate resiliency of agricultural production on American Indian Lands of the Great Basin region.
PhD Economics, 2019
Faculty, Nanjing Audit University

Natalie Gillard

Watershed Science
I have a BA in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado. I am researching the forms and functions of river systems to gain a deeper understanding of sediment transport, its role in ecosystem processes and implications for societal welfare and risk. I am specifically interested in disturbed river systems and restoration strategies to enhance resilience and health of those rivers and their surrounding ecosystems and am interested in how to predict and understand the ecosystem and societal effects of climate extremes. My overall goal is to not only gain a deeper understanding of these processes but also to gain experience communicating my results effectively to the scientific and nonscientific community to develop solutions.

Jeffrey Haight

Watershed Sciences
I have a BS from the University of California, Davis in Environmental Science and Management. My broad research interests tend to fall at the intersection between landscape ecology, wildlife conservation, and global change ecology. My current work deals with using climate projections to assess vulnerability of Utah's ecoregions to climatic changes, modeling species' response to shifting climate envelopes, and combining these results to identify areas of priority conservation concern. Through the Climate Adaptation Science program, I would further like to investigate the synergistic effects of climate change and urbanization on the connectivity of vulnerable landscapes and explore the conservation implications associated with those impacts.
MS Ecology, 2019
PhD Student, Arizona State University

Liana Prudencio

Watershed Sciences
I have a BS in Journalism & Mass Communication from Iowa State University and an MS in Sociology from the University of Utah. My research interests largely focus on incorporating social and environmental objectives into water resource management. I am currently on a research team of watershed scientists, engineers, and sociologists investigating the potential of managed aquifer recharge via stormwater management to adapt to climate change impacts. The effects of climate change are vast and various, just as our solutions should be, and I look forward continuing my research goal of linking the social and natural dimensions of climate change in the Climate Adaptation Science program.