Stefania is a first year PhD student on the Resource, Policy and Behavior track. She is a Mexico City native with a background in Economics and studied environmental policy and planning at SNRE for her Masters. Her interests revolve around sustainable development and its interactions with community engagement, natural resource conflict management and environmental mediation. Almazan-Casali is particularly interested in water related topics. She serves as the president of Sustainability Without Borders and was the co-leader for the Peru project team.
As a first year Phd student at SNRE, Bressler is working with Professor Blesh on the intersection of human and natural systems in the context of Michigan grain farmers. The research is specifically focused on addressing excess N in agroecosystems through a variety of ecological techniques. She plans to integrate biogeochemical analysis of sustainable agricultural systems with social science studies of receptiveness of farmers and the public to an agriculture system dominated by polyculture and cover crops.
Katie Browne is a PhD pre-candidate from North Carolina studying local-to-global linkages in climate policy. After graduating from the College of Charleston, she joined the Peace Corps and served three years in the environmental sector in Madagascar, working with the National Parks system and Wildlife Conservation Society. After her time in Madagascar, Katie entered the School for Environment and Sustainability (SNRE) masters program, where she completed an MS in Environmental Justice and a certificate in Science and Technology Public Policy. While in the program, Katie coordinated SNRE's student delegation to the UN climate negotiations and completed an internship on social vulnerability to zoonotic disease in Kenya. Before joining the PhD program, Katie worked for a year as the community outreach coordinator for an energy and sustainability project in Gabon. In addition to her research, Katie reports on UN environmental negotiations for the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD), mentors future Peace Corps Volunteers, and takes lots and lots of photographs.
Kelsea Dombrovski received her BA in Environmental Studies from Carleton College and her MS in Community Development from University of California, Davis. Prior to completing her Master’s degree she worked for the City of St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department and as a program manager for arts and social service nonprofits in St. Paul, MN. Kelsea’s academic interests include human-environment relationships and the benefits of urban greenspaces, and she hopes to explore these topics in the context of changing Midwestern cities.
Kelsea currently works as a research assistant on Neighborhood, Environment, and Water Research Collaborations for Green Infrastructure (NEW-GI). Her role is to support collaboration within and between transdisciplinary team members and community partners as well as assist in development and data analysis of a large household survey for the project, which will be conducted in Detroit during Summer 2017. In addition, Kelsea is managing preparation for the release of an extensive White Paper, to be released in 2018.
Brent Heard's work focuses on anticipating the sustainability implications of emerging technologies, with his current research investigating the effects of expanded refrigerated supply chains on food system sustainability.
Ben is a PhD candidate in the School of Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) whose research focuses on trees in the Great Lakes region and their response to climate change. His dissertation aims to mechanistically link shifts in foliar phenology of tree seedlings to individual performance and population-level recruitment dynamics for sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and northern red oak (Quercus rubra). Ben has a bachelor’s of science in biology (ecology, evolution, and conservation biology) from the University of Washington. His research there focused on recruitment dynamics of western red cedar (Thuja plicata) and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) in urban mixed-deciduous forests in Seattle. At the University of Michigan, Ben has been involved with outreach programs including ‘Climate Change and Michigan Cherries’ and ‘Climate Change and Michigan Forests’, both of which aim to develop climate change curricula for K-12 students in Ann Arbor area schools.
Nicole Ryan is interested in developing a more sustainable infrastructure for producing electricity, by optimizing the use of current generation assets and advancing alternative energy resources, with the goal of reducing emissions and waste. While obtaining her undergraduate degree Nicole participated in a co-op with Duke Energy for one year, where she gained experience in the operation and maintenance of coal fired power plants and natural gas combustion turbine combined cycle plants. After graduation she worked for Burns & McDonnell in their OnSite Energy and Power group creating dispatch models, feasibility studies and designs for combined heat and power plants. Nicole graduated from North Carolina State University in 2013 with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Environmental Science.
Lauren Schmitt is a second year PhD student at SNRE. Her primary research interests include agro-ecology, plant-animal interactions and sustainable food systems. Schmitt is especially interested in considering and researching how food security and food sovereignty goals can be merged with sustainability goals.
Maria Carolina Simao's research focuses on how urban landscapes affect pollination services within urban gardens. Urban agriculture has been gaining prominence as a way to increase sustainability and access to healthy food within cities, and bees play an important role in the pollination of these gardens. Very urban landscapes tend to cause declines in bee populations, but whether this decline significantly affects pollination services is still not completely understood. Simao's research aims to understand what specific factors of the urban landscape cause declines in bee populations, and what level of decline affects pollination services with urban gardens.
Anne Elise is a PhD student and NSF Graduate Research Fellow in the Blesh Lab. Her research aims to make connections between agroecological management, soil fertility, and crop nutrient profiles in Santa Catarina, Brazil. Before coming to Michigan, Anne Elise developed sustainable agriculture manuals for fundraising and technical staff at EcoLogic, a Boston-based nonprofit with projects in Central America. She received her B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Tufts University in Somerville, MA. Her Senior Honors Thesis examined agroecosystem resilience in the eastern lowlands of Guatemala, linking cornfield management by indigenous smallholders with protein composition of corn for local consumption.
Morteza is currently a PhD student in Resource Policy and Behavior (RPB) at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is interested in assessing the energy and environmental implications of emerging connected and automated vehicles as well as investigating the policy mechanisms that would promote sustainable deployment of this mode of transportation.
He utilizes big data analytics and optimization techniques for evaluating transportation trajectory data as well as making informed decisions regarding the integration of vehicles with power systems and optimal siting of charging infrastructure.
Before joining SNRE, he worked as an Energy Efficiency Analyst at BC Hydro in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He also contributed to a research project on transportation electrification at the UBC Clean Energy Research Center. While obtaining his undergraduate degree, Morteza gained industrial experience in the automotive research and development sector.
Patrick Thomas is a PhD student within the Resource Ecology and Managment track. He is interested in the rich and complex interactions between species in diverse aquatic ecosystems, and I believe a better understanding of these interactions may inform and enhance the industrial-scale cultivation of microalgae for next-generation bio-fuels and bio-products.
Thomas is broadly interested in the ecological mechanisms by which diversity can affect ecosystem function and would like to pursue both basic and applied research during his Ph.D. that will provide novel contributions to this field. Specifically, he is interested in how interspecific interactions affect productivity both negatively and positively via interactions such as facilitation, niche complementarity, competition, and production of allelopathic secondary metabolites.
Biography: Jennifer Zavaleta is a Ph.D. student within the Resource Policy and Behavior Track. Her research is at the intersection of development, ecology, and social science. Her current research relates to adaptive development and capacity in rain-fed areas of India and forestry governance in Chile. Jennifer has a Bachelors of Arts in Government with a focus on International Development from Claremont McKenna College and Masters of Science in Wildlife and Rangeland Science Management from Texas Tech University. Her background as a social scientist and an ecologist has highlighted that broad-impact research must happen at a variety of spatial and temporal scales, include a number of stakeholders, and rely on methodologies from a number of disciplines.