Meet the Graduate Students

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“My goal is to  protect the quality of water on the central coast, more specifically, the waters flowing in to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary... This is where I live, surf, garden, hike, etc. It is where I choose to concert my effort, to make a difference.”

— Mike Powers, Graduate Student


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Earth Day 2016

Photo: ENVS Graduate students and faculty gather for the annual 2016 SJSU Earth Day event in matching t-shirts; showing support for a fellow graduate student's band which performed at the event       


Rosemary Alvarez

Rosemary AlvarezI was born in San Francisco, raised in San Mateo, and reside in San Jose.  I am a first generation Mexican American and fluent in Spanish.  I completed my undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley where I received a B.A. in Political Science.  I also have an A.A. in Environmental Studies from De Anza College.  I am quite passionate about nature and my hobbies include anything related to the environment, specifically bird watching, hiking, and traveling.  I love to hike all over the Bay Area, getting to know the beautiful places in my own backyard.  I once backpacked from Foothill College to Waddell Beach - this was quite the experience!  Alum Rock Park is a favorite place to visit, as I love the hiking trails where I routinely exercise.  Places I have traveled include Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Mono Lake!  Admiring the majestic beauty of these places inspires me to protect our natural world.  Conservation, preservation, and restoration of the natural world are important to me.  I want to help protect endangered species and prevent more of our beloved creatures from becoming endangered.  For my thesis, I would like to focus on avian research.  I currently work for the City of San Jose in the Environmental Department where I participate in creek clean ups, public outreach, and all things related to trash.  Maintaining our streets, drains, and watersheds litter-free is one of my important tasks.  For my future career, I would like to continue working with riparian areas, watersheds, and wildlife.  An interesting fact is that I went to Belize for an internship to study the rare Solitary Eagle.  While in Belize, I learned about their natural world, remarkable animals, striking plants, and their culture.  I met many interesting and amazing people.  They are advocates for nature and they know much about their flora and fauna.  Many of the people are studying in the field of ecotourism.  This is great because the beauty of Belize can continued to be preserved through awareness.  I would love to return to Belize one day!


John Baker John Baker

I was born and raised in San Francisco, California.  I hold a B.A from the University of San Francisco in English Literature with a concentration in writing, and a great books certificate from the Saint Ignatius Institute.  My parents are from the Philippines and immigrated here in the 70’s.  They continue to tell me stories of their homeland, and about all of them have something to do with the environment; swimming in the ocean, diving to catch clams, spearfishing, cooking seafood while Mynah birds in the background talk too much because they’ve become drunk from coconut wine. I’m nostalgic for a life that I’ve never lived. Summers as a child though were spent in San Leandro, where my cousin had a house with a yard.  Here I got to feed my environmental curiosity by observing slugs, snails, spiders, pill bugs, and squirrels.  Then we’d watch Marty Stouffer’s Wild America on PBS.  Eventually I started reading a bunch of environmental literature.  My favorites were Rachel Carson, Archie Carr, Aldo Leopold, Gary Snyder, and Thoreau, and Beatrix Potter. In my spare time I hike, swim, bike, ponder the plight of sea turtles and whales and write experimental short fiction, poetry, essays and comic books.  In keeping with tradition here, I also like play competitive online games with friends, and cyberpunk is totally my thing; I suppose dichotomy is what drives me. At SJSU, I look forward to researching water sustainability, humanity’s impact on the North Pacific Gyre, and how environmental technologies can be used to alleviate issues stemming from poverty. Poverty and homelessness is still a major issue here in San Francisco, as it was when I was growing up.  Maybe even more so now.  I’d like to use what I will have learned to lend a hand.  The North Pacific Gyre interests me not just because sea turtles live there, or that there’s a giant-sized island of garbage floating through it, but that something about its pull and flow gravitates me toward it, like some mysterious ancient cycle connecting me to where my family is from and where we now live.    


Laura Bates

Laura Bates (Peterson)I was born in Killeen, Texas, and was raised in both Minnesota and Michigan.  I grew up playing soccer, the trumpet, reading books, and exploring forested areas near my grandparents’ cabin.  One of my most peaceful memories from childhood is sitting by the lake at sunset and hearing the loons, crickets and campfire crackling.  My time up north at the cabin taught me at an early age to appreciate and enjoy nature.

I completed my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering with a concentration in Water Resources from Michigan State University in December, 2015.  As an undergraduate, my favorite courses were in the environmental studies department, including hydrogeology and environmental geochemistry.  My first internship was for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, where I gained first-hand experience working with a government agency. One of my projects involved organizing fish tissue and soil sediment data from a contaminated watershed.  I’ve also interned at a wastewater treatment plant where I collected surface water samples and ran lab analysis tests, as well as for a consulting firm where I worked in the water and wastewater department analyzing storm sewer systems.  Working in these three different industries, I was able to narrow my research interests and studies to water quality protection and water resource management at San Jose State University.  I want to pursue a career in hydrology and hydrogeology upon earning my Masters in Environmental Studies.

My hobbies include running, biking, hiking, cooking, reading, and exploring California’s beautiful landscapes and water bodies.  I plan to run a marathon in my lifetime, as well as complete a triathlon.  I love camping, spending time out on lakes or rivers, and taking photographs of nature.  If I could, I would spend all of my time outdoors.


Rachael Burnham

Rachael BurnhamI was the type of child who consistently brought home stray animals, raised snails and crickets in the backyard, and read books about animals.  This passion for animals led me to explore and venture into the veterinary health sector.  I graduated with my A.S. in Veterinary Technology in 2009, and have been working as a Registered Veterinary Technician ever since.  I continued going to school during my career as an RVT, and graduated from San Jose State University in 2014 with my B.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Restoration and Resource Management.  During my undergraduate education, my interests became more focused and my true passion for wildlife conservation and habitat protection came to fruition.  I focused my final project and senior seminar on the wildlife in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The research I conducted used camera traps to gather data, which helped analyze the types of wildlife and activities of the species within Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve.  I look forward to continuing my education to help protect threatened and endangered species and the habitats they rely on.

My hobbies include hanging out with my fiancé and our two dogs, Athena and Kobe.  I enjoy backpacking, hiking, and basically anything to do with the outdoors.  It is my goal one day to backpack the Pacific Crest Trail.


AnaLisa Campos

AnaLisa CamposI am an Urban Studies & Planning graduate from California State University of Northridge.  With a minor in Sustainability, my passion is protecting our environment.  I do not believe the Earth belongs to us, I believe we belong to the Earth and it is our responsibility to respect and nurture the resources we are granted.  I was employed by CSUN's Institute For Sustainability to tend the on-campus garden by planting, composting, and providing overall maintenance.  For me, there is not a better job than working outside with your hands and getting a little earthy.  I also like long bike rides on the beach, sleeping in hammocks, and discussing the inevitable zombie apocalypse.  I am excited to begin the Environmental Studies program at San Jose State!  I hope to learn more about the incredible world we all share and gain the knowledge and experience that will further my environment-saving regime!


David Cowman David Cowman

Growing up in San Anselmo, Ca, a small town north of San Francisco, and attending UCSC for my undergraduate degree, I have literally spent my entire life in the habitats along the northern/central California Coast.  My father was a small-scale commercial salmon fisherman, my sister manages a teen outdoor education program in the Marin headlands, and my mom regularly backpacks the Sierra.  Essentially, a career and interest in the outdoors was predetermined for me the day I was born.

During my undergraduate career at UCSC I majored in Environmental Studies and focused specifically on Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture.  I was captivated with the idea of creating sustainable food systems with the health of consumers and the environment in mind.  Upon graduation from UCSC I immediately took a job with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area performing trail maintenance.  It was through this job that I began to truly appreciate public land and the individuals who steward it.  After 9 months with the Parks Service I accepted a job with California State Parks as a member of the Natural Resource Management Crew in the Santa Cruz area.  As a Forestry Aide for the State Parks my natural resource duties are broad and far reaching.  One morning I may be sampling Steelhead Trout in Pescadero Lagoon and then that same night (literally) I may be clearing trees and spraying fire retardant around historical structures in preparation for a fire.  What has truly captivated me about natural resource management pertains to my involvement with our prescribed fire program. 

Through my research, broadly, I hope to delve into the intricacies of land management.  More specifically I am interested in how fire historically and currently affects a landscape.  I am interested in plants, animals, and ecosystems and how they have evolved to function cohesively within a landscape prone to frequent or infrequent fires. 

On a personal level I enjoy hiking with my dog, fishing, freediving, and frequenting taquerias in Santa Cruz.  I recently took up bike riding by biking 1200 miles with no prior training.   During this trip I enrolled in classes from my phone on the side of the road in the southern Arizona desert.  


Alex Dahl Alex Dahl

I was born and raised in Campbell and am eager to move back to the Bay Area. After completing my undergrad degree at San Diego State University, I have enjoyed living just a few blocks from the beach and working in market research. However, I am extremely excited to return to school to purse my true passion in sustainability. As an Aztec, I received an undergrad degree in Social Science (Environmental Studies) while participating on campus in several environmental, honors, and social organizations. Additionally, I spent a semester abroad in Melbourne, Australia, learning how other cultures practice sustainability while also touring around a beautiful country.

Growing up, I spent most of my childhood in the Santa Cruz bay, where while sailing, body surfing, swimming, and hanging by the waves, I developed a deep appreciation for the ocean. As I grew older and learned that not all people share the respect I have for wildlife, I knew that I would dedicate my life to preserving and educating others on the environment. During this graduate program, I look forward to studying environmental education and policy-- especially about the most effective ways to teach others the importance of incorporating sustainability into our daily lives.

In my free time, I enjoy watching Giants baseball, riding my cruiser to the beach, singing along (poorly) to country music, reading, and watching Criminal Minds. A fun fact about me is that one of the best days I’ve ever had was the day I snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, despite the fact that my friends and I got terribly sea sick on the boat ride out there. I hope to do more travel like this in the future!


Nicholas Davis

Nicholas DavisI grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and received my Bachelor of Science from SJSU in 2013.  I was part of the Environmental Studies department and focused on renewable energy, for the most part solar energy.  During my last year of course work, I became more interested in policy related to renewable energy and sustainability, both on the city level and also on the state and federal level.  Having been free from the academic community for about a year, I realized that I had a real interest in returning to SJSU to pursue a Master of Science also in Environmental Studies.  This time around, I plan on focusing on climate and sustainability policy or drivers of corporate sustainability.

Recently I started working with the City of Palo Alto Open Space, a part of their community services department.  It has provided some insight into how a city runs and operates which is something that could benefit my future studies with the Environmental Studies department.  While not directly related to my intended studies, the ability to become more involved in resource management and ways to help develop more environmentally-friendly techniques may present itself.

I enjoy a wide range of hobbies and activities including hiking, cooking, motorsports, and just hanging with friends.  I am also an avid sports fan and at some point you will most likely hear me talking about fantasy football during the fall semester and I might not always be happy about it.


Michelle Domocol Michelle Domocol

I was born on the East Coast but always felt California & Southeast Asia were my true homes. From 2004 to 2011, I worked and studied in Australia and the Philippines.   In 2007, I earned my undergraduate degree in Environmental Resource Management through Southern Cross University in New South Wales, Australia. As part of the undergraduate degree, I produced a thesis on agroforestry management in Cebu, Philippines.  After completing my bachelor's degree in Australia, I co-managed tropical agroecological projects in the Philippines. I was also employed as a lecturer and research assistant in Queensland University of Technology (Australia).  After six years of living overseas, I finally returned to the United States.  Here, I immersed myself in California's sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation movements. For the past five years in California, I worked as a freelance horticultural consultant and landscape designer.  My clients were both local and based in Asia.  I additionally taught at Bay Area outdoor schools and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority. 

As I start a new chapter in my academic career, I'm thrilled to join Environmental Studies Master of Science program.   As part of my Master's thesis, I want to investigate climate-related changes in either Santa Clara Valley's oak woodland or chaparral communities.  I will also explore conservation agencies' strategies to stabilize oak woodland or chaparral communities.   Following the Master's program, I hope to join researchers as a Field Botanist or Resource Manager.  Through vegetation studies and other macroecological assessments, I aim to improve Santa Clara Valley climate adaptation responses and regional habitat restoration plans.

In my spare time, I love volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority and climate justice non-profits like Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity.  I also enjoy dancing, creating glass sculptures, and traveling in California and Asia.  In 2017,  I was invited to the Gourmand International Awards Ceremony in  Yantai, China. There, I received an international award for a farm-to-table cookbook I co-created.  The book was produced to share Filipino farmers' plant-based cuisine and raise funds for Philippine farmers' schools damaged by Typhoon Haiyan.


Claire Dormody Claire Dormody

I was born and raised in Seward, Alaska, a small tourist town on the Kenai Peninsula. However, my family has always had close ties to the Monterey Bay area in California, and since about the age of 12 I spent winters there while I attended school, and summers up north. I was extremely fortunate; living in California gave me access to a much better education, but summers in Alaska let me keep the connection to my home, and growing up in both these areas gave me access to wonderful experiences camping, hiking, fishing, and exploring nature. On top of that, the move back and forth means I developed a love for travel when I was very young, which has only grown in adulthood.

I graduated with my undergraduate degree from UC Davis in 2014, where I majored in Technocultural Studies. The major is very much tailored to each individual, and in my case meant studying media and its place in our society, including the ways it’s used in marketing and advertising. I also spent some time studying audio software and sound engineering, which provided a really interesting practical component to a lifelong love of music. In the summers I continued to spend my time at home in Alaska, working in the commercial fishing industry with my family as I had since the age of 16. Although it’s a very physically demanding job, and left no time for much summer recreation, it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Since graduating Davis I have moved to California full-time. I will probably always think of Alaska as home, but there are many more opportunities available to me here, in the lower-48. Though I spent some time working in marketing, I’ve found it’s just not for me, and I’m excited to begin my studies at San Jose State. I hope to focus on the commercial fishing industry and the ways in which it needs to be amended and improved for the sake of the oceans and fish we harvest, as well as for the people who make it their living.

Ideally I’d spend all my free time travelling, but when that gets impractical I’m happy to stay home and read, play some board games, and spend time with our ever-increasing menagerie of animals.


Peter DuBois Peter DuBois

My name is Peter DuBois.  I was raised in San Carlos California, in San Mateo County.   I began my undergraduate education at the University of California, Santa Cruz undeclared.  My freshmen year, I studied computer engineering, bioengineering, economics, and marine biology.  However, I decided that I wanted to declare a major in environmental studies by the end of my first year.  I felt passionate about helping to take care of the environment.

My education in environmental studies included restoration ecology, energy politics, climate change ecology, biogeochemistry, soils and plant nutrition, and tropical ecology.  I chose to work on a group capstone project for my senior exit requirement.  My group studied how pollution undermines the sustainability of watersheds. Each group member analyzed a different kind of pollutant and a different watershed scale ranging from local, regional, to international.  My part of the project focused on analyzing industrial pollution in the Rhine river basin, and international management strategies.

During my studies I interned for the arboretum on campus, which primarily involved gardening and landscaping.  I became familiar with a variety of different plant species, especially those native to California such as manzanita and needle grass.  I also interned for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  This internship was especially interesting because we studied the dietary ecology of coho salmon.  We examined the distributions of mesofauna in benthic lagoon samples, from Scott Creek Lagoon, using microscopes.  We compared the data to the stomach contents of the salmon.  Later on, I had the opportunity to help catch and tag coho salmon individuals.   

I currently work in Santa Cruz for two companies.  I work in the food service department for the Santa Cruz Seaside Company and I work for a locally owned grocery store called Staff of Life.  I am interested in researching the intersection between environmental economics and human ecology for my graduate thesis.  Outside of work I like to be outside and play basketball, soccer, and beach volleyball.  A fun fact is that I swam with humpback whales off the coast of West Cliff in Santa Cruz.  They swam about five to ten feet away from me.


Erin Fisher Erin Fisher

I was born and raised on the San Francisco Peninsula. I have always had an interest in animals and nature, and can't recall a time where I didn't want to visit the next zoo, aquarium, natural history museum, or state park. I earned my BS in Environmental Biology with a minor in Regenerative Studies from Cal Poly Pomona. Although I started out as a zoology major, I discovered that I preferred studying ecology and sustainability, and switched majors accordingly. My first ornithology course got me hooked on birds, and my undergraduate research project studied the habitat preferences of California Gnatcatchers.

Since graduating I have held positions with varying degrees of overlap between natural history and animal husbandry, from raising baby seahorses at the Monterey Bay Aquarium to handling and feeding ambassador raptors at Lindsay Wildlife Experience. Most recently, however, I have spent the last several years working as a wildlife rehabilitator, caring for all manner of sick, injured, or orphaned local wildlife, from skunks and squirrels to hummingbirds and hawks. In 2016, I began volunteering with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, learning to band and measure migrating raptors, and the experience inspired me to shift my career goals back towards field work and to develop a better focus on avian ecology.

As an Environmental Studies grad student, I hope to study avian ecology in urban environments, particularly the utilization of restored habitats or urban cityscapes. Although I will happily study any bird species, I get particularly excited for raptors and so hope to assist Dr. Trulio with her research on local Burrowing Owl populations.

My hobbies include birding, hiking, camping, tending an indoor garden of succulents, and more birding. I enjoy having small pets at home and have over the years cared for many rats, hamsters, aquariums, and quail. Fun Fact: I learned to ride horses in college after joining the Cal Poly Pomona Equestrian Team and am somewhat disappointed that riding through town on horseback is no longer an acceptable commute option.



Morgan Frankel Morgan Frankel

I was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado where I spent most my time outdoors in the Rocky Mountains. For me, this time spent in nature created a deep appreciation and respect for our environment.

 In 2016 I earned my B.A. in Environmental Studies with a minor in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science.  My junior year, I studied abroad with Semester at Sea where we visited 11 countries by passenger ship. Learning about other cultures and their environmental issues and innovations furthered my desire to expand my knowledge on our environment and those who inhabit it.

 At SJSU I plan to focus on sustainable agriculture/sustainable city planning. I believe that where/how we live and what we grow/eat are some of the most important things we can focus on if we are going to have a sustainable future. Lastly, I like to spend my free time mountain biking, hiking, practicing yoga, and brewing beer!


Patrice Frazier Patrice Frazier

I grew up in a small town on the outskirts of Los Angeles County called Topanga, which has been translated by some to mean, “Where the mountains run into the sea.” I have always had a fascination and empathy for the ocean, marine life, and the animals we share this planet with. Topanga’s accessibility to such a massive city as Los Angeles, while also providing access to the Southern California sage covered mountains and oak trees, as well as the Pacific Ocean are all characteristics of the environmental I called home that created who I am today. 

I graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University with a B.A. in Global Politics. While there, I focused on environmental, human and animal rights issues in Borneo (a Southeast Asian Island near Indonesia where most of our palm oil comes from) and Brazil. I then interned for the former Speaker of the California State Assembly, John Perez on matters related to bettering education for those in low income sections of the city, environmental policy legislation such as the Clean Air Act’s proposed carbon pollution standards for power plants, and LGBTQ rights in Los Angeles.

Once my time with the Speaker’s office finished I focused more heavily on SCUBA diving and educating myself on the life and geology of the ocean.  I joined the California Science Center as a volunteer SCUBA diver where I have volunteered weekly for the past three years as a presenter to the public on the kelp variety and local marine life that share the Southern California Coast with us.

 The ocean is full of mystery and wonder that can help us better understand ourselves. My mission is to help people better understand the Ocean. This fear of the unknown has led to the decimation of the Ocean, and the irreplaceable organisms that call it home. I believe that when fear of the unknown can be turned into understanding, compassion follows.


David Gonzalez David Gonzalez

My name is David Gonzalez and I was raised in San Jose. I have had a love for nature as far back as I can remember. When I was a child I wanted to play baseball because it was near a creek that had frogs and when I played outfield I mostly looked at the bees, flies and butterflies that frequented the area. Except for occasional camping my family never went hiking and my idea of a park was in the middle of the city with monkey bars. I decided to join the workforce after a year of college immediately after high school. I worked the electric trade for a few years and decided that it wasn’t for me. I wanted to do something that worked toward my passion and built a better life for me and my family.

 I recently completed my undergraduate degree at SJSU. I want to study the impacts of human development on herp species. I hope to contribute to a better understanding of how development impacts the natural world. I achieved a B.S. in environmental studies and hope to teach middle school science or work to better the environment while interacting with children in some other way. I want my career to move toward educating students about the world around them and give them a love for protecting and sustaining a healthy environment. I want children to have a better connection than I had and to grow up with opportunities to explore nature and contribute to a better future.

 In my spare time, I like to paint miniatures, take hikes, birdwatch, go fishing, protest and spend time at the beach. One thing about me that people find interesting is my employment as a kindergarten aide for two years. I was hesitant when I accepted the position but it showed me how much I would love to teach. It was always funny to meet parents and relatives for the first time because they always presumed I was a parent.


Joie de Leon Joie de Leon

Born and raised in San Jose, I grew up in a home that always had a pet and this nurtured my love for animals. When I was young, I had a fascination with all the marine mammals at Sea World and even decided I wanted to train Orcas when I grewup. Although that dream changed, I still had a curiosity for wildlife and ecology. This curiosity guided my path to the Biology Department at SJSU where I graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in Biologywith an emphasis in Conservation and Organismal Biology. My courses with lab field trips were my all-time favorites including Aquatic Ecology and Fishery Biology and Management. Being out in the field and working in rivers, creeks, streams, and lagoons gave me a deeper appreciation for aquatic life and introduced me to the beautiful open spaces all around the South Bay. After Graduation, I interned at the Santa Clara Valley Water District for over 2 years as a Student Wildlife Biologist while working towards a Geographic Information Science (GIS) Certificate at West Valley College. I also volunteered for multiple Graduate Students and was able to work with Kangaroo Rats and other small mammals at Pinnacles National Park, with California Red-Legged Frog in Santa Cruz County, and sampling California Tiger Salamander populations in Sonoma County. These experiences have pushed me to pursue my Master’s Degree where I am interested in continuing to work with aquatic creatures and concentrate on California Tiger Salamanders. Amphibians are a charismatic group of animals that not many people get to see and I would like to share my fascination and help others understand the importance inconservation to help protect these animals. In my free time (when I have some!) I like to bike ride with my boyfriend around the Bay Area and read while hanging out with my dog Xena and my cats Momo and Todo.


Justin Florence

Justin FlorenceHello!  My name is Justin Florence;  I am a first time graduate student here at San Jose State and am looking forward to the program.  I am a very eccentric and extroverted person that loves to understand the environment and its relation to human beings.  I grew up in the San Jose area and went to SJSU for my first few years of undergraduate studies.  I then was offered an amazing opportunity in music and decided to take a few years off school to pursue that.  After taking time to make a few records, I decided to finish my undergrad, so I applied to a school in Northern Colorado (uniquely enough called The University of Northern Colorado) where I fell in love with environmental and sustainability studies.  I had originally been a business major at SJSU during my time there, then made the change to environmental and sustainability studies when entering UNC because I noticed there was more passion and soul in the sciences than in general business, which is what I crave.

My academic background is in environmental and sustainability studies, which is a little different from just environmental studies.  Adding in the sustainability discipline on top of the science was great because it showed me the social paradigms of the study and the possible solutions to the problems our environment and its inhabitants are experiencing.  My research interest for my thesis is centered on corporate sustainability.  Because of the capitalistic society we live in, I have always been interested in how corporations not only affect people, but how they affect our environment.  My ultimate goal from all of this is to gain the practical knowledge to one day start my own corporate sustainability consulting company!  I have a few hobbies, pretty much anything active.  My main likes are human connections, and my main dislikes are people that don't express themselves.  A fun fact about myself is that I spent most of my teenage years on tour with a band I created with my brother!


Jessica Gonzalez

Jessica Gonzalez I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and I graduated from San Jose State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Environmental Restoration and Resource Management in 2012.  Since graduating, I have worked in several field research opportunities, including bird banding in Indiana, conducting shorebird and waterfowl surveys in Bay Area salt evaporation ponds with San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, and most recently working with SFBBO once again to conduct breeding Snowy Plover surveys as a Biologist.  I am looking forward to returning to SJSU to pursue my Master's degree and being able to pursue my thesis on the behavior and conservation of local breeding avian species while monitoring ecological habitats of the Western Snowy Plover.

The experience and knowledge I've gained through my educational studies, work, and life experiences have been very gratifying in the advancement of my career.  More importantly, they have been more rewarding and valuable than I have ever anticipated.  Simply being immersed in an environment of knowledge and working alongside wildlife has been a joy in my life.

During my free time, I enjoy spending time in nature, drinking excessive amounts of coffee, taking naps, spending time with my three cats and my family, and of course spending my time with birds and wildlife.


Lauryn Duoto (Hopper)

Lauryn HopperI was raised in Lake Arrowhead California where my love of nature stems from. I grew up in a house that bordered the San Bernardino National Forest, where I gathered a sense of appreciation for the natural environment. As I spent most of my childhood years in the forest, I decided to change it up by going to the vast farmlands and vineyards of Sonoma County. I obtained my B.A. in Biophysical Geography with a minor in Environmental Sciences and Planning in 2016 from Sonoma State University.

My senior thesis at SSU focused on a new method for placing weather stations. I enjoy studying meteorology and tracking storms. At SSU I was the Map Librarian and discovered an interest in interpreting maps. I also taught others how to read and utilize maps throughout the labs that I conducted.

My interest in the environment grew with my travels as I explored different cultures, climates, and ecosystems. One of my favorite memories was in Cambodia where I was able to climb the ruins of Angkor Wat. My hobbies include hiking, cooking, and painting.

I recently had an internship with the Sonoma County Regional Parks Department that focused on environmental education. I was able to teach youth about climate change and empower them to make a difference. At SJSU I hope to focus on sustainability through methods of conservation, and innovative processes to maintain a healthy environment. My fun fact is that I once got a black eye from being in a tomato fight.


Susan Kazemi

Susan KazemiI was born and raised in Iran.  I have a B.S. in midwifery and worked for several years as a midwife in rural areas in Iran.  Although I was majoring in health care, secretly I always wanted to work on nature documentaries instead.  I moved to the bay area in 1997.  Here in the bay area, I attended community college and earned an A.A. degree with a concentration in science from West Valley College.  Due to my passion for Social Science and nature, I would like to pursue my degree and my future job in the Environmental Studies field.  I am interested in most subjects in Environmental Studies; however, my possible thesis may be related to preservation and restoration of redwood forests.

Besides enjoying coffee and reading history books at Starbucks, I also like biking, hiking, and kayaking whenever I get a chance.  I think we are very lucky to live in the bay area and be able to enjoy such a short distance from the Pacific Ocean and its delightful environment.  On the other hand, we can enjoy the majestic redwoods that are also nearby.  I sometimes take a day trip to a coastal city and have lunch at an ocean view restaurant with my family.


Colin Kortman

Colin KortmanI grew up in San Diego and moved to the Bay Area for undergraduate study at UC Santa Cruz.  After some time studying biology, I switched majors and graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy.  My interest in California’s natural history began with an engagement with photography, and has grown into a broader curiosity of the spatial patterns present in landscapes. I’m currently investigating fire ecology and sudden oak death.  When not disguised as a mild-mannered graduate student, I still enjoy photography, riding things with two wheels, and trying to learn (and remember) the Latin names of things. 


Will Lawton Will Lawton

I was born and raised in Ben Lomond, California, in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I studied Wildlife Biology at Humboldt State University, and graduated with a BS in 2013. While at Humboldt, I worked extensively with Peregrine Falcons and threatened Snowy Plovers, and was a member of the 2012 Wildlife Society’s winning Quiz Bowl team. My undergraduate thesis, “Self-stranger song discrimination in a territorial suboscine, the black phoebe, Sayornis nigricans”, studied whether black phoebes learn their song or inherit it through genetics.

 Since leaving Humboldt I have been working as an Ornithologist for various companies across the United States. My work has focused predominantly on the conservation of birds of prey that are threatened species or species of concern. My field experience includes seasons of aerial golden eagle population surveys out of a 4 seater Cessna, and too many hot days wandering the Mojave on point count surveys.

 When I’m not surveying from a tiny plane, I enjoy birding, playing soccer, wildlife photography, and spending time outside with my wife and our Australian Shepherd. As a graduate student at SJSU I will be studying the distribution and population dynamics of wintering burrowing owls in the Diablo Range.  


Tino Le Tino Le

I was born in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam and moved to San Jose, California at the age of nine.  Soon after, my family and I moved to San Luis Obispo where I resided for the next five years of my life. I decided to move back to San Jose in my late teenage years.   After graduating high school in San Jose, I attended De Anza college to get enough transfer credits so that I could apply to a University.  I graduated San Jose State University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies concentrated on habitat restoration and resource management.  During my work at SJSU, I became fond of scientific research and literature which is why I decided to continue my academic journey. 

I hope to work with arthropods as I work on my Master at SJSU because they often play an important role in our environment which we often ignore.  By bringing more light onto their beneficial roles, arthropods can be better appreciated. 

Outside of my academic work, I work with the Environmental Volunteers to bring hands-on nature learning and field trips to elementary schools in the Bay Area.  I also enjoy cycling, running, hiking, and mixed martial arts on my time off.


Lee-Tan Lu

Hi! I’m Lee-Tan, you can call me Denise. Lee TanI was born in Taoyuan, Taiwan. Since me and my sister were small, our parents always bring us to go hiking, swimming, cycling etc. in every holiday. In fact, there are at least 50% of Taiwan area are covered by over 1000 alt. meter mountains, so it’s usual that we always go deep into mountains. Not only going up to the mountains, but we also enjoy jumping into the sea. All of these activities and memories make me have intimate connection with nature, and found interests from them. When I was in college, my major is Life Science, concentrated in population fluctuation of shrew and animal behavior in zoo, later, I joined the project company in Italy for international internship, then assisted research of Circular Economy as an intern in foundation in Taiwan. With all the lessons I learned from college project and internship, I’m interest in and decided to focus on sustainability, particularly in life cycle assessment, production network, energy and green technology to continue pursuing the further practical and professional knowledge of industrial ecology.

Apart from the academic side of me, I enjoy outdoor activities a lot, such as hiking, nature photography, snorkeling, and volleyball etc. On the other side, I also like listening various type of music, watching movies, episodes, and having fun in amusement park. One funny fact of me, when I was about 5 years old, my mom held my hand walked through in a park, without any noticing, I bumped my head into a pillar, I didn’t cry but laugh.


Ryan PhillipsRyan Phillips

I always had a passion for the environment and biodiversity as I spent much of my childhood in nature as my family instilled in me key environmental values. I was born in Santa Cruz, California and grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but currently reside with my wife, Wendy, and daughter, Farrah, in Campbell. My Bachelor of Science in Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology with a specialization in Ornithology from the University of California at Davis prepared me well for a career as a wildlife biologist. After graduating from UC Davis in 2004, I was hired as a Field Biologist with The Peregrine Fund on the Belize Harpy Eagle Restoration Project. After living in Belize for three years and witnessing the persecution of raptors I founded the Belize Raptor Research Institute to give locals opportunities in research and conservation. I returned to California and received a teaching position at De Anza College in the Environmental Studies Department and later became the Program Coordinator for the Wildlife Science Technician Program in the Department where I currently teach fourteen different courses. This has allowed me to combine the classroom and the field studies courses as a way to impassion and inspire students about conducting research. In the process, I have been able to show that science is not intimidating, but exciting—as it is truly a discovery and exploration of questions. To further inspire future environmental biologists I co-founded the Talon Ecological Research Group, a local non-profit organization, to give early-career biologists and students an opportunity to gain experience. As a Talon Biologist I am currently working with Tricolored Blackbirds and Burrowing Owls. In my spare time I band raptors at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. I have published numerous papers related to bird ecology and have presented at various scientific conferences. My research interests are in bird ecology, specifically movement patterns, human interactions, and symbiotic interactions, as it relates to wildlife conservation. I am honored to be part of SJSU’s Environmental Studies Graduate Group and having Dr. Trulio as my adviser to fulfill my goal of obtaining a graduate degree.


Brittney Relerford

Brittney RelerfordI graduated from UC Riverside in 2010 with my B.A. in Global Studies.  For my senior thesis, I looked at globalization and the adaption of environmental policies, using the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a case study.  In undergrad I studied Mandarin and my Chinese name is 任宝尼 (Rèn Bǎonī = treasured girl).  For the past two years I have sat on the Board of Directors for the non-profit organization, Child Leader Project, Inc.  When it comes to the environment I am interested in a whole slew of things.  Ever since reading the book "Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley" by John Gaventa, I have been interested in the exercise of power over different groups of people and ways in which this has been addressed and counteracted.  I am learning that there is a lot of power within food and food systems.  For my thesis I will be focusing on alternative local food systems.  I am allergic to all types of seafood and nuts.  I enjoy reading Oscar Wilde quotes, and surfing YouTube.  I am currently reading the "Autobiography of Malcolm X."  I love listening to Mumford & Sons, and I secretly


Allison Solis Allison Solis

I was born and raised in San Clemente; a sleepy beach town in Southern California. I graduated from San Jose State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Environmental Restoration and Resource Management. Throughout my undergraduate years I loved being involved on campus with various organizations such as: A.L.M.A.S. (Academics, Leaders, and Mentors, Aiming for Success), the Center for Development of Recycling, the Environmental Resource Center, Chicano Commencement, and Lambda Sigma Gamma Sorority, Incorporated. I was also an education staff intern at the Guadalupe River Park where I would help teach kids about nature and the environment. I am excited to pursue my studies as a graduate student following a different passion: environmental justice. My calling would be to help protect and restore the environment, help strengthen communities that are impacted by environmental justice issues, and help prevent environmental justice issues altogether.

Also, I love to be outdoors and my hobbies are: running, hiking, and reading. In the future, I hope to travel around the world, so far I’ve traveled to two countries: Guatemala and Mexico, my parents’ home countries.


Ashari Taylor-Watson Ashari Taylor-Watson

I am from Williamsburg, Virginia and growing up there shaped my world view and values. Williamsburg being the birthplace of America, and a very important beginning to a great country, my experience was unique. I lived in a living museum.  I was enthralled in history and introduced to simulated environments, which has always peaked my curiosity about how environments shape reality. I graduated from Hampton University in 2014 with a B.A in Political Science. I decided that to be the change I wanted to see, I had to help turn policy into practice. My passion includes Environmental Justice specifically in low-income communities of color, Food Security, Resource Allocation and Community Involvement. I have always been blessed to see different perspectives and have always wanted to help those who weren't as fortunate as me to advocate for themselves in different spaces. That sparked my interest to study Environmental Justice and continue my education as a Spartan at SJSU. With goals to learn about all of the different careers that are associated with environmental studies, I am extremely excited about starting my education here. I know being educated here will help me achieve one of my goals of creating programs and using technology to help teach low-income communities of color about nutrition and food security.  I am a country girl, who has had the pleasure of traveling and living in different places such as Miami, FL and Washington D.C for a year. As I traveled I saw that everyone does not have the same platforms and outlets to really voice their concern about their health. Getting to know and learn these people, continue to push my passion of forward. In my personal time, I am adventurous. I love to travel, read, nature, dance, music, and eating different foods from different cultures. I am active; I try to work out as much as I can. I am excited to


Nicole Tomes-Orlale 

Nicole TomesI grew up in Southern California where I attended school at Mount San Antonio Community College to pursue my goal of becoming a Veterinary Technician. While taking classes there, my outlook was changed as I learned more about the topics of sustainability and wildlife conservation and this led me to think about animal care from a new perspective. Consequently, I changed my major, transferred to Cal Poly Pomona to learn more about the relationship between humans and wildlife and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology. 

I have worked as a Recreation Leader at the San Dimas Canyon Nature Center where I handled and cared for native mammals, reptiles, and raptors that were injured or habituated to humans. I also educated the Junior Naturalists and gave presentations of the animals to the public. While in school, I explored the field of marine ecology and human impacts by assisting the graduate students in the Biological Sciences Department with their research. One research project included identifying impacts that human visitation had on the foraging behavior of Black Oystercatchers in the rocky intertidal zones of Southern California. This project inspired me to apply to graduate school to perform my own research.

For my thesis at San Jose State University, I am interested in conducting field studies to identify a source of anthropogenic influence to sensitive species in the Bay Area that may alter the functioning of the ecosystem. I aspire to bring awareness to the importance of natural areas and wildlife through education and film/photography.

I love being outdoors and trying new adventurous activities. Some of my hobbies include traveling, camping, hiking, biking, bird watching, indoor rock climbing, and yoga. An interesting fact about me is my first international experience was traveling to Kenya and going on a safari at the Maasai Mara National Reserve which inspired me to learn more about how different cultures connect to nature and I hope to visit there again!


Billy Tu

Billy TuI was born in San Jose, but grew up in nearby Oakland.  My background and interest have always been focused on aquatic biology, which led me to major in Environmental and Resource Science and minor in Aquaculture at University of California, Davis.  During my years as a student, I interned at a fish ecology lab and aquaculture research facility in Davis.  I graduated in March 2011 with a Bachelor of Science.  After graduation, I began working at a biotech company as a full-time assistant field researcher helping to develop a biomolluscicide for controlling invasive Dreissenid mussels.  As I begin this program, I hope to study the biology and/or ecology of endangered freshwater turtles as my thesis project with the purpose of improving our understanding and management of Chelonians.  Outside of academia, I enjoy exploring the great outdoors with my girlfriend, Yen.  I snowboard in the winter and raft in the summer.  I recently picked up mountain biking and off-road riding.  When I am at home, I like to relax and spend time with my amazing cat and two turtles.


Patricia Ury

Patricia UryI was born and raised on that island in New York that looks like a fish.  Yes, I'm speaking of Long Island!  Therefore you can assume (and would be right) that I like the Yankees, Giants, and Rangers.  I received my B.S. in Adolescence Earth Science Education from C.W. Post – Long Island University, and taught middle school science for the past year.  It is an amazing experience to be able to fuse both your passions of working with kids, and teaching about life and the environment.  For my thesis, I plan to focus on Environmental Education, to further enhance the connection between the two.

I am moving to California to not only obtain my Master's degree, but to seek out more of an adventurous lifestyle.  I enjoy trying new things, especially if it involves the outdoors.  I LOVE to be active, push myself out of my comfort zone, and do anything that is sporty.  Unfortunately for most of the year, the weather in New York did not permit me to do such activities and be outdoors; this is why I feel that California will be a great change for me!

I love to travel, meet people, and learn about different cultures.  I have been to several countries thus far.  My most recent travel plans are to go to Thailand, and backpack through Europe and South America.  While studying abroad in Australia, I discovered my passion for more of an environmental approach as opposed to just Earth Science alone.  This is what ultimately led me to pursuing my masters in Environmental Studies.

Fun facts: I have danced pretty much my whole life and will find any excuse to do so; in my car or in class, it's never a bad time to have a dance party.  Some other hobbies and things I enjoy include: hiking, running, yoga, going to the beach, camping, skiing/snowboarding, and I would love to take up surfing while in California.


Caitlin Qualls Vonderhaar

Caitlin Qualls VonderhaarI was born in Cincinnati, OH and received my B.S. in Geology from the University of Cincinnati in 2013.  I chose Geology because it afforded me the opportunity to travel and be outside and those two things have always been important to me.  As I've traveled and spent more time in wild places, I've realized that I want to put my efforts towards not only preserving those places, but also towards helping not so wild places maintain a connection to and respect for wilderness.  Something else I loved about Geology was how I was able to study the history of the earth through deep time and I'm excited to be able to apply that knowledge on a smaller and closer time scale and use it to make a difference in the world we live in now.  Traveling has also given me an understanding of the interconnectedness and fragility of life and an appreciation of how important it is to support fragile places.

My research interests are fairly disparate and include landscape remediation, environmental policy, and sustainable agriculture.  One of my major goals is to narrow my focus.

My hobbies include hiking, backpacking, cooking/eating, knitting, spinning, weightlifting, Netflix, and reading.  I've lived in the Midwest my whole life and I really look forward to all of the amazing outdoor adventures California has to offer.  I would very much like to get into mountaineering and rock climbing.  Another one of my goals is to climb Mt. Rainier someday soon.


Justin Weiss

Justin WeissMy full name is Justin Ian Weiss and I was born at 10:11 a.m. in Evanston, Illinois.  I spent most of my youth living in the scorching oasis better known as Phoenix, Arizona.  One final move westward took me to my current homestead of beautiful San Diego, CA.  Family camping trips at a young age can be credited with instilling the environmental passion that drives my academic/professional aspirations today.

I graduated from the University of Arizona in the fall of 2010, earning a degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in policy and law.  Some of my favorite classes throughout my college years included organic chemistry, medical ethics, any political science class, and psychology 101.  Along with my unwavering passion for test taking and writing papers, I love becoming involved in campus clubs and activities; meeting new people and trying new things is what I live for.

Areas of interest and intrigue for my graduate studies lie within the following fields: sustainable development in urban/corporate settings, renewable energy, and agriculture.  I would love to pursue a thesis that somehow intertwines all three fields along with their impacts on society.

I am a huge college sports fan and will forever be a U of A Wildcat, but I look forward to jumping on the Spartan bandwagon.  Besides my somewhat unhealthy obsession with all things sports, I also enjoy reading a good book, any outdoor activity, listening to good music/getting down on the dance floor, and cooking.  On the flip side, some of my biggest dislikes include styrofoam, olives, electricity wasters, and naps.

FUN FACT: I went skydiving on my 18th birthday and bungee jumping on my 20th birthday.  I laugh in the face of danger!


Mary Yan Mary Yan

I'm a San Francisco native who moved to the South Bay on a whim for a change of scenery and to finish my BS in Environmental Studies with a minor in Biology. I love the easy access to natural open spaces down here, but not the weather! I completed my undergraduate studies at SJSU and am currently working as an environmental educator at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Environmental Health and Safety intern for the County of Santa Clara.

 When I'm not working, I'm exploring any place that time and money will allow me to.  I love uncovering parts of the world map that are blank to me. If this narrative sounds very much like uncovering maps in an video game, it's because I love those too! My most recent adventures were: fishing in Kalispell, Montana; exploring Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park; attempting (and failing) to access the tidepools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve; and eating and drinking with new friends along Mississippi Street in Portland.

 My research systems are in the redwood forests in the mountains of Santa Cruz, and I am focusing on Trillium ovatum, an understory plant. T. ovatum is a really interesting plant! It can live for more than a decade, hunker down underground when conditions aren't favorable, and produce plump, fleshy fruits. Is it delicious or toxic? I don't know... yet! I'd like to know if this neat understory species has ties to redwod trees that can help us figure out how to manage the redwood forests more effectively.

 My interesting fact: I've moved 11 times. No, wait. I'm moving again as I write this. Make that 12.


Kristina Zeynalova

Kristina ZeynalovaOriginally a native of Ukraine, my family and I immigrated to the U.S. in the early 90's and settled in the Los Angeles area.  I received my B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Sociology.  As an undergrad, I developed a strong interest in the field of environmental sociology, particularly focusing on green and sustainable consumption practices and patterns.

Upon graduating, I explored non-profit work with positions at the ACLU, as well as a public education organization.  However, my continued interest in the politics of climate change inevitably prompted me to relocate to the bay area, where I found work as a research intern for an Oakland-based environmental organization.  For a year, I worked on compiling a comprehensive report on the current state of U.S. e-waste recovery rates, examining corporate responsibility, e-waste legislation, and consumer behavior.

As a graduate student, I plan to continue working on the e-waste issue, developing research that focuses on understanding the complex socio-political and environmental factors which impact current e-waste production and recovery.

In my free time, I am likely to be listening to music, trying to recreate some amazing recipe I saw on a cooking/travel show, finding new ingredients to play with at Berkeley Bowl, traveling, spending time outdoors, frequenting the local dog parks, going on long walks with my Italian Greyhound, and petting any and all dogs willing along the way.