Meet our Graduate Students

Annie Ahmed

annie-ahmedI was born in Pakistan and moved to the US at the age of 1. I was raised in the small town of Livingston, CA where everyone knows everyone. My love for nature blossomed in elementary school where I had the opportunity to raise juvenile salmon and release them into the Merced River when they came of age. It was a very inspiring and moving experience for me as a child. I moved to Sacramento in 2013 and began my career at CSU Sacramento where I received a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Studies. My undergraduate research was centered on how birds utilize flood irrigation versus subsurface drip irrigation, and how farmers in turn benefit from having birds present on their farms.  

I currently work for the United States Geological Survey at the California Water Science Center, primarily as physical science technician in the Organic Matter Research Lab, and provide field assistance. I analyze water samples for organic properties using absorbance and fluorescence spectroscopy along with dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen.     

My hobbies include exploring the outdoors, hiking, leisurely biking, reading, watching scary movies, and spending time with my adorable cat, Dewey. A fun fact about me: I speak 5 languages, one of them being a derived dialect of the other.

As a student at SJSU, I plan on working with Dr. Trulio and getting more into avian ecology. I learned that I enjoyed birding quite a bit during my undergraduate research, and I hope to continue down a similar path. I care for and appreciate the Earth very much and am excited about pursuing a career that’ll allow me to do that.


John Baker 

john-bakerI 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. 


Gwen Barry

gwen-barryI grew up in Santa Cruz, California, surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and the redwood forests. I have always had a fascination with nature, and our connection to it as humans. My goals for pursuing the master’s program in Environmental Studies are to gain a better understanding of the natural world, and improve the ways in which people perceive and interact with nature. I am particularly passionate about marine ecology and marine conservation.

I graduated from SJSU in May of 2019, with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, and a concentration in Biology. While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I worked as an intern for One People One Reef (OPOR), a research organization centered around ocean conservation in the outer islands of Micronesia. I had the opportunity to go to the remote outer islands of Micronesia (Ulithi Atoll and Yap) and work with the community there to help develop management plans. My specific work there involved measuring reef rugosity and biodiversity. OPOR partnered with UCSC for the analysis of fish and coral samples collected from Micronesia. I gained valuable skills learning how to perform DNA extractions and sequencing on fish and corals. After conducting coral reef research in Micronesia, I presented the team’s findings at the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Honolulu, Hawaii. My current work with OPOR involves coding and quantifying data and community interview responses to determine main themes/concerns. The identified themes are used to determine appropriate conservation methods for the coral reef ecosystems. The project has a goal of bridging traditional ecological knowledge together with western science.

Some of my hobbies include kayaking, tide-pooling, hiking, nature photography, gardening, cooking, and spending time with my fiancé, our cats (Yeti and Yoda) and our dog (Wolfie). An interesting fact about me is that, Ulithi Atoll, where I conducted research with OPOR, is the closest land mass to the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean! In 2012, Filmmaker, James Cameron and a National Geographic team left Ulithi Atoll for the Challenger Deep expedition to explore this mysterious part of our world.


David Benterou

david-benterouI spent my childhood Summers dipping in creeks and playing among oaks and sycamores in my hometown of Livermore, California. I participated in Scouting, learning to love adventuring and camping outdoors, and earned an Eagle award by planning community service for a summer camp helping terminally-ill youth. I attended the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), and was exposed to studying plant ecology at the campus farm with Steve Gliessman. I completed a BA in Environmental Studies (concentrating in sustainable agriculture) and second in American Studies.

Through nearly a decade of work in youth outdoor science education at the Boulder Creek, Ca YMCA camp, I enjoyed hiking outside in the rain and sun, smelling wet redwood duff, and kissing banana slugs (actually, we don’t do that anymore!). In this time, I also was certified as a California Naturalist through the UC Cooperative Extension, (which I recommend to everyone to gain more familiarity with the natural world and with current research). Also during my time at the Camp, extreme weather, and particularly wildfires and hazardous air quality, forced numerous evacuations of hundreds of camp participants, and in 2020 the CZU Lightning Complex fires burned the forests surrounding the school. My interest in connecting people to their natural surroundings was met by the question of how to meet dueling goals of wildfire preparedness and redwood forest conservation. Now at SJSU, I’m interested in researching how coast redwood understories respond to wildfire defensible space fuel reductions.

I love backpacking and bike touring in remote places, and I’ve formerly volunteered teaching bike mechanic skills to the public through The Bike Church Co-op in Santa Cruz. My fun fact: I found an enormous California Giant Salamander, while wandering around the redwoods in a downpour, and was so excited I forgot to get a photo!


Sky Biblin

sky-biblinI spent most of my childhood in Ojai, a small town in southern California. This is where my love for nature and outdoor recreation began, hiking and exploring the surrounding
mountains. In 2012, I moved to Santa Cruz to attend UCSC where I double majored in economics and environmental studies. My undergraduate research was on elephant seals in Año Nuevo State Park where I conducted accuracy and wildlife disturbance studies on the utilization of drones for wildlife census data collection.   
 
Like many UCSC graduates, I have yet to find the courage to leave Santa Cruz (and can you blame me!). Currently, I am an Interpreter for the Santa Cruz District and have worked at 9 different parks over the past 5 years. Now I have my hands-on projects all across the SC District, but keep my office and park favoritism at Wilder Ranch. 
 
My impetus to pursue a graduate education came with the recent CZU complex fires. As the third fire that has forced me to evacuate in my life, I decided focusing a career on fire would be the best way to reconcile the dilemma of my unwavering desire to live/work in natural landscapes with the fact that wildfires are only going to increase. So here I am, leaning into the challenge! 
 
I am fascinated by the natural cycles of regeneration, adaptation, and resilience as well as how natural or anthropogenic phenomena that are labeled as “destructive” offer new opportunities for growth and renewal. I hope to build an understanding of both the ecological and societal challenges associated with the increased proliferation of wildfires in the western United States. My proposed area of focus for a thesis is to study the effects of fire management strategies on fuel load and ecological recovery indicators. 
 
I enjoy most things outdoors — hiking, trail running, mountain biking, backpacking, kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing and most recently, mushroom foraging and cave exploring! A fun fact — I was an only child until age 20, now I have a 7-year-old little brother!


Maya Briones

maya-brionesI thrive on two passions: ecology and environmental justice. While seemingly different, these two fields are the core of who I am and summarize the worldview by which I live; that all life, human and nonhuman, deserves to live on a healthy planet. In order to live in harmony with the natural world, we must also live in harmony with each other, repairing the injustices committed by generations past and restoring our connection with nature. My experiences as a student researcher, an urban forester, and a volunteer BioBlitz and citizen science docent have taught me the crucial value and responsibility of involving the whole community in the planning and implementation of ecological projects. I am pursuing my master's to better live out my mission of teaching all people about the environment through ecological projects, such as citizen science events or educational programming. I hope to gain experience in wildlife conservation to use this knowledge to conserve the invaluable ecosystems of our world while also having the opportunity to reshape local agencies and organizations to engage communities that environmental injustices have long burdened.


Ramiro Brown

ramiro-brownI grew up in Hayward, Ca. and moved to Los Angeles in 2017 to attend UCLA where I got a B.A. in Anthropology. During my undergraduate career, I took many hybrid courses within the Anthropology department. Through these courses, I was introduced to conservation and ecology. I loved learning about the complexities of environment and the mutual relationship between humans and the ecosystems that they inhabit. It is with this combined interest and knowledge of social and biological science that I hope to make an impact. While at UCLA I also had the opportunity to volunteer for two different labs as a research assistant. The fist lab I volunteered for dealt with the identifying and sorting of human remains, and the second dealt with classifying species of gracile capuchin monkeys, with the ultimate goal of creating a comprehensive guide to capuchin diversity. While very different, both of these opportunities helped me to recognize that I liked doing research and that I would like to further my education.

I knew I wanted something that would allow me to continue to explore the dynamics between humans and nature, and environmental studies is the perfect starting point for my graduate career. It is my hope that I will move on to an interdisciplinary PhD program that will allow me to teach and do research at the university level. My current research interests include climate change and its effects on vulnerable populations; particularly, those with autoimmune diseases, human ecology, and climate change mitigation policies.

My hobbies include making art, playing guitar, singing, and reading.


Rachael Burnham

rachel-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.


Nicole Chen

nicole-chenI grew up in the Bay Area and have always loved the great outdoors. I enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, backpacking, campervan trips, you nameI grew up in the Bay Area and have always loved the great outdoors. I enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, backpacking, campervan trips, you name it and I love it or I'm down to try. At least once a month, you can find me with my inflatable kayak and a pack of Hazy IPAs in some body of water. I love travelling, whether it be a hike-in day trip or hopping on an overseas flight.

I did my undergrad at UCSB in Environmental Science where I was able to explore a wide range of sustainability topics through both coursework and work experience. Now, I am continuing my Masters focusing on renewable energy, specifically researching grid modernization and equity with an emphasis on accessibility of microgrid technologies.

Fun fact - my right foot is a size bigger than my left foot! it and I love it or I'm down to try.


Isabelle Cojocaru-Durand

isabelleI was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. I speak French at home but went to school in English. I completed a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Finance in 2013 at Concordia University. Since then, I have been working in finance in Montreal. Why the sudden change in fields? Because I have always been passionate about environmental protection and interested in environmental issues. In the last few years I have learned a lot about climate change by being involved with many different environmental organizations as a volunteer and advocate. I’m now ready to take the leap and pursue a graduate degree in Environmental Studies. I would like to link my background in business with the environment by focusing my research on the implementation of environmental management systems and the integration of environmental practices in corporations. I am also really interested in environmental policy and renewable energy.

Outside of work and school, I love spending time outdoors and I am so excited to experience the many possibilities that California has to offer. I am an avid runner, alpine skier, yogi and scuba diver. I love going on adventures, travelling, discovering new cultures, meeting new people and trying new things (especially food!).

More about me: Growing up I was so scared of sharks anytime we would go to a beach. In 2015, I had the chance to dive next to great white sharks in South Africa. This experience truly opened my eyes to the beauty of this animal and its importance within the ocean ecosystem. I’m now also more at peace when I go swimming! Another fear of mine, heights!! I have yet to be convinced to jump off a plane…


Claudia Damiani Fontana

claudiaI was born in Peru and moved to the Bay Area five years ago. I grew up in Lima, the capital and biggest city in Peru, but I always loved more rural settings. Since I was a little girl, my life was greatly influenced by the Andes where I would go to enjoy family vacations with my three brothers and parents. 

In 2008, I graduated from the National Agrarian University La Molina with a degree in forestryengineering. My first job as a young professional was the adventure of my life, I had the opportunity to work with indigenous communities roughly from 2008 to 2011 and then again from 2012 until 2014. Those years living with the indigenous people were greatly inspiring and moving. I learned a little bit of their language, how to catch fish with a net, traditional dances, and the use of medicinal plants.

In 2008, I graduated from the National Agrarian University   La Molina with a degree in forestryengineering. My first job as a young professional was the adventure of my life, I had the opportunity to work with indigenous communities roughly from 2008 to 2011 and then again from 2012 until 2014. Those years living with the indigenous people were greatly inspiring and moving. I learned a little bit of their language, how to catch fish with a net, traditional dances, and the use of medicinal plants.  

Now I live in the East Bay with my husband, who is a proud SJSU alumni, and I work as a Greenhouse Manager for a local non-profit organization called Valley Verde. I am in charge of propagating multi-ethnic seedlings for the families enrolled in our organic home garden program. My current job gave me the opportunity to learn more about the diversity within Santa Clara County, their traditional foods, ingredients, organic agriculture, and sustainable food systems. 

My hobbies include of course gardening, reading about gardening, pottery, and watching movies. A fun fact about me: most of the time I can accurately predict whether or not a movie is good just by judging the poster.

As a student at SJSU, I plan on working with Dr. Russell and explore the relationship between soil hydrophobicity and wildfires in chaparrals and forested habitats.


Kristy Doerr

kristy-doerrI was born and raised in the Bay Area and have always had an immense fascination with animals. Whether it was bringing foster kittens to school to bottle feed around the clock or checking out every library book I could find about my newest species of interest, my life has always revolved around my love for animals. This passion led me to want to study wildlife conservation in order to help animals on a large scale.  
 
I graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2018 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies. While pursuing my undergraduate degree I worked as an intern with the Santa Cruz Puma Project which studies mountain lions through the use of telemetry collars to better understand and protect these apex predators. This project specifically looks at habitat fragmentation and seeks to answer questions about the physiology, behavior, and ecology of these elusive creatures. Throughout college, I also worked with Guide Dogs for the Blind where I trained a guide dog puppy in preparation for a career as a service dog. This meant that this puppy went everywhere with me including all of my classes. But she was “career changed” due to her excitable nature and her unrelenting love for other dogs. She now leads an easygoing life as my stay-at-home pet.
 
For my research at SJSU, I plan to study how wildlife responds to wildfires. The CZU Lightning Complex Fire decimated large portions of the Santa Cruz Mountains in the summer of 2020 and I intend to analyze the impact on local wildlife with the use of camera traps and animal sign surveys. Outside of school, I like to spend my free time hiking, backpacking, and scuba diving. I also love reading and spending time with my three cats and dog.


Jordynn Dorado

jordynn-doradoI grew up in the small town of Nipomo, California, on a small lemon orchard nestled between coastal beach towns and agricultural fields. The diverse landscapes that I was lucky enough to grow up instilled a love for nature and curiosity as to why natural landscapes look the way they do. I grew up in a relatively conservative area, so it was not until I took AP Environmental Science that I became aware of and deeply fascinated with the field of environmental studies. 

I attended UC Santa Cruz for my undergraduate career (Go Slugs!), where I majored in Environmental studies and feminist studies. I worked at the recycling center on campus for all four years and have some opinions on how waste is collected at UCSC and the U.S. (it is a mess). Outside of work, I interned with the City of Santa Cruz to survey local and tourist's opinion on coastal erosion and sea-level rise. I also served as a student-teacher to teach environmental science to fifth graders, which was one of the most rewarding things I got to do at UC Santa Cruz. Throughout my academic career, I focused on how existing power structures and the production of epistemologies shaped lived experiences and socio-political landscapes. Having UCSC's ENVS and Feminist studies departments allowed me to examine how race, gender, and power shape environmental justice and apply it to my future endeavors. 

At San Jose State, I hope to continue to question power dynamics by researching how environmental justice issues are impacted in the era of climate change and the emergence of green markets, examining how climate-friendly products, policies, and movements are affected by capitalism. 

Outside of school, I enjoy exploring the Santa Cruz area, visiting the beach, going to local wineries, reading, and I love watching movies. As an undergrad, I competed on UCSC's track and field team throwing shot put and discus, so I am very passionate about athletics and working out. I am very excited for the new adventures and friendships that await me at SJSU. 


Stephen Doyle

stephen-doyleI was born and raised in Upland, California. Growing up, I discovered my love of the outdoors during visits to national parks, natural history museums, and aquariums. Another big reason I had a childhood interest in environmentalism was because of Steve Irwin’s documentaries, which highlighted the importance of conservation and being a steward of nature.

I graduated from San Jose State with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Sustainable Water Resources. During my undergraduate fieldwork courses, I had the opportunity to visit a variety of California wetlands, which eventually grew into my primary research interest. I was intrigued by the biodiversity and ecological importance of wetlands, such as Elkhorn Slough, and the impacts that human activity had on them. I also enjoyed learning about California’s unique water management challenges, such as saltwater intrusion caused by groundwater pumping.

I currently work as a Regulatory Compliance Analyst for Caldwell Compliance. I have had the opportunity to work on the regulatory scope of works for both the pre and post-construction sides of cellular site builds. A couple of aspects of being a regulatory analyst I enjoy are interpreting NEPA documents and learning about implemented safeguards that are in place to protect avian species that could be adversely affected by the fast-growing telecommunications industry.

As a San Jose State graduate student, I hope to research effective and natural methods of reducing nutrient-rich runoff sourced from human activity and mitigating the damage it causes to California’s watersheds.

During my free time, I enjoy exploring new wetlands, playing rugby, hiking, and visiting breweries. Fun fact: I have a bearded dragon named Biggles who enjoys car rides and frolicking in the grass.


Peter DuBois 

peter-duboisMy 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.


Naseem Fazeli

naseem-fazeliI was born and raised in southern California. Growing up I had many different interests and hobbies, so I was always changing my mind on what I wanted to be when I was older. By the time I was in university I had settled on studying language. In 2017 I got a BA in Linguistics from UCLA. In 2017 I moved up to the Bay area to begin working as a linguist in industry.

The climate of southern California strongly shaped my view of nature from a young age. Because water is so scarce, I grew up learning about the necessity of resource conservation through school and my family. I strove to live conscientiously, though it only became more apparent over time that our society was still a long way off from embracing conservation. I felt limited in the impact of my individual contributions. I decided to apply for and join the Environmental Studies program at SJSU in the hopes that I could dedicate more of my time towards conservation. As much of my interest in environmentalism came from documentaries about forest ecology and hikes through California parkland, I plan to research forest conservation and restoration, looking at effective management practices and their cost.

In my free time, I like reading, dancing, playing music, and learning about languages from around the world.


Kinsara Garg

kinsara-gargI was born in a small town in the northern part of India. I grew up as a shy teenager with a lot of dreams encaged inside as a little girl. Little did I know this girl would one day become an extrovert speaker and unshackle her dreams of travel and lead a team as the head of a department. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a setup where sustainability was an inevitable part of our lives, from sharing air- conditioned rooms to carpooling or biking to work/school and understanding the importance of Re-using and Re-purposing the Non- Biodegradable goods. So, my love for the Environment was inculcated at a very young age. 

I graduated with a bachelor's in science with a minor in Botany, Zoology, and chemistry. Further, I pursued a Master's in Zoology, where I got acquainted with environmental biology as one of the courses and developed an interest in it. Post this; I worked as a biology lecturer for 5years. I travelled few countries, which brought me even closer to Environmental sustainability as I realized how human interference and modernization are taking us towards irreversible environmental catastrophe. 

This motivated me to do some volunteering to raise alarming awareness about minimizing the pollution caused to our ecosystem and jeopardizing our flora and fauna, and not forgetting shrinking beautiful years of ourselves. So, I volunteered for two weeks in Bali (Indonesia) and locally in India. This pulled me to San Jose for the love of the Environment, and I pursued this field further to be part of the change for the betterment of species and wildlife. As a graduate student at San Jose, My Research area would be somewhere between the changing Climatic impacts on our flora and fauna and the impact of non-biodegradable waste among species. I plan to work in organizations that aim toward environmental sustainability work. 

During my Leisure time, I love listening to Ed-Sheeran, Taylor swift and Bollywood music. I love hiking and have attained 14000 altitude, a peak of the Hampta-pass trek in India. Also, I have done multiple Adventure Sports like skydiving, scuba diving and rafting (7 times). I have written about some of those on my Blog. Theoutbacklife.com I am very excited about new adventures and new friendships that await me at SJSU. 

Fun Fact- I can speak three languages and walk for hours with my ear phones plugged in.


David Gonzalez 

david-gonzalezMy 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.


Esther Haile 

esther-haileI was born and raised in the small sleepy town of Dixon, CA. A lot of my childhood was spent watching nature shows, camping in the woods, running around beaches, and being fascinated by animals. I always knew that I wanted to study biology and work with animals as my career.

I graduated from CSU Monterey Bay in December of 2015 with a degree in Biology. During my undergraduate career, I interned with Point Blue Conservation Science studying sea bird diets and Western Snowy Plover populations and with the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum surveying Monarch Butterflies. The more I learned the more interested I became in studying birds. After graduation, I began working for the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County, continuing to monitor the population of Western Snowy Plovers along the Monterey Bay coast and bio-monitor for the Salinas River Stream Maintenance Program assisting in flood control for the local farmlands. I have recently transitioned into working with Point Blue Conservation Science, furthering my involvement with the Western Snowy Plover program. I hope to incorporate my work with Western Snowy Plovers into my thesis, perhaps by looking into how adults react to different predator types, how our juvenile population overwinters, or how they disperse for the following breeding season. Honestly, the research questions are endless!

Outside of work and school, I enjoy spending time outside hiking, camping, and exploring the coast. I also enjoy more indoor activities like sewing, knitting, baking, and drawing. Occasionally you can find me watching an opera or a musical as I am a bit of an old lady at heart. I’ve recently started baking a lot of sourdough bread.


Eric Goldbeck-Dimon

eric-goldbeck-dimonI grew up in San Francisco and since childhood I have relied on the greenbelt of the San Francisco peninsula as a respite from the busyness of the city. My uncle was forced to live in the heart of SF’s Tenderloin as a result of rheumatoid arthritis which prevented him from working to earn a living income. My mother, a naturalist, took my uncle on regular hikes when he could still walk, and I would often join them. I contrasted the stress and depression of the inner city with the peace and freedom of nature and realized the importance of the natural world and the pressing need for its protection. The oak savanna in particular resonated with me and has become my calling.

In August of 2020 I graduated from UCSC with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies combined with Biology. My dad also played a part in my environmental interest as he too graduated from UCSC with a degree in Environmental Studies. In my undergraduate time I interned at the UCSC Forest Ecology Research Plot (FERP) taking forest census data. I also worked on habitat restoration as an intern at the Younger Lagoon Reserve in Santa Cruz. I took a series of classes on geographical information systems (GIS) and eventually interned with PhD candidate Stephanie Webb, helping her to project Pacific Herring spawning and landing data onto maps of California. I would like to use my GIS background to map out and ensure the future of the oak savanna in California. While global climate change is inevitable, oak trees exert a significant regional influence on ecosystems and could therefore be used strategically as a foundational species to preserve local conditions needed by the flora and fauna that comprise native ecosystems.

When I am not chilling under oak trees I am either at the record store digging through the crates, painting abstract expressions/landscapes, or making unnecessarily healthy smoothies.


Jessica Gonzalez

jessica-gonzalezI 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.


Landon Guzman

landon-guzmanHello everyone! My Name is Landon Guzman, I am from Stockton, California.

For my undergraduate degree, I also studied in the bay area at SFSU, where I graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies. Currently, I am an incoming graduate student in the Environmental Studies Graduate program at San Jose State University, with a particular interest in Environmental Policy, as I believe larger actions need to be made within our government to help save our planet. Regarding my thesis, I do not have a concrete question yet. However, I am leaning into diving into the relationship between polyethylene waxes in our personal care products and how the presence of these waxes can affect our environment.

In my free time, I enjoy finding new places to eat and exploring with friends and family, especially here in San Jose, where there seems to be limitless options of incredibly tasty food. I also enjoy being creative when I have the time, I like to doodle and paint with watercolors as medium. I usually paint things I find pretty like, flowers, plants, hands, and bubbles.  As for my dislikes, it would have to be eating unsatisfying food. Hopefully, I will get to see all of you in person soon.


Padmaja Iyer

PJWhile it might seem a little strange, I am both a lecturer in the Environmental Studies Department at San José State University and I am enrolled as a graduate student. I would say that I am a nature loving, spiritually grounded human being who loves to teach and learn.  With a bachelor’s degree in Economics from UC Davis and an MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago I ventured into the computer software industry to become financially independent. After 8 years and two kids later, I left the tech industry for environmental work with the City of Cupertino, the City of San José, Silicon Valley Energy Watch, and Smart Yards Cooperative. 

Upon realizing my roots were linked to rocks and minerals (Yes, I had a pet mountain - a rock that looked like a mountain), I decided to research the impact of Western United States lithium mines on the environment and community. One of my lifelong hobbies has been pursuing North and South Indian classical music. I often sing looking out on the Guadalupe riparian that is my backyard. Since watching bird behavior while perfecting a musical artform can be time consuming, my family often wonders how I will focus on studying because my head is quite literally in the clouds most of the time. In fact, just last week on a particularly warm day, I went upstairs to change into a pair of shorts. While singing to myself I got lost in the music and came half way down the stairs before I realized I had forgotten to put on the shorts.


Daniel Jacobson

daniel-jacobsonAs a Philadelphia native, I have spent the majority of my life in the Northeast. With family up and down the west coast, however, I have always loved the environment in California. For this reason among others, I decided to drive cross-country to San José for my M.S. in Environmental Studies. At the University of Delaware, I completed my B.S. degree in Health Behavior Science and Public Health in 2018. In the few years between my undergraduate graduation and the start of my transition to California, I explored occupations in the medical, fitness and environmental fields. Through a few years of volunteering with my town’s environmental advisory council, I definitively decided that I want to work to protect the environment. The relationship between humans and the environment is something that I discovered that I am passionate about. With this in mind, my thesis and research topic interests include environmental policy, anthropogenic climate change and the correlation between human and environmental wellbeing.

Some of my hobbies include traveling, hiking, playing guitar, exercising and petting dogs. The most impactful travel and environmental experiences I have had was studying abroad in Brazil. While taking a course about the environmental issues within Brazil, we spent a week on a floating lodge on the Amazon River in the Mamiraua Reserve, one of the largest sustainable development reserves in the Amazon Rain Forest. Being able to personally connect with and spend time in this forest, one that I have heard so much about, has been one of the driving forces in guiding my decision to pursue environmental studies. I believe my background in human behavior, health and environmentalism could contribute to some interesting conversations around the environmental issues present in the world today.


Duncan Keller

duncan-kellerI’m deeply fascinated by the microscopic world of soil. This curiosity sprang to life when I began gardening several years ago, and it would be accurate to tell you that it probably rescued me from years of misery.

I was a philosophy major as an undergraduate, and became very familiar with the question, “What are you supposed to do with that major?” Since I’ve always had an affinity for arguing, I convinced myself and others that law school was the answer. The opportunity to study logic and explore deep questions was critical to my personal growth. But the decision that law school was right for me appeared increasingly questionable. Eventually, health problems and the prospect of student debt became daunting, and I felt stuck as my first semester loomed ahead of me. Thankfully, my newfound relationship with horticulture overrode my fizzling aspirations for a law degree. An interest in natural resource management took root, and I applied to the ENVS graduate program here at San Jose State.

I’m convinced that regenerative agriculture is indispensable for confronting some major human-induced environmental problems. This conviction drives my desire to study the subject. A few topics that currently interest me are fungal ecology, integrated pest management, no-till crop production, and carbon farming. I’ve experimented with some of these concepts in my backyard garden, and I’m excited to explore them more rigorously in the graduate program. A fun fact about me is that my favorite pastime is wandering through the woods in search of wild edible mushrooms. Few things make me happier than finding a species I haven’t tried before.


Spencer Klinefelter

spencer-klinefelterAs a child, I spent much of my time outside hiking, climbing, and
playing in the open spaces around my home on ancestral Nisenan lands in the Sacramento Valley and foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Since then not much has changed, and I still divide my time between hiking, rock climbing, and naturalizing as much as possible. I’m an avid birder and botanist and a lifelong student of environmental education programs, and have now been teaching children of all ages in similar settings since high school. As an undergraduate at UCSC, I focused on agroecology and environmental interpretation, and was fortunate enough to take several field-base classes that took me all over the state. Upon graduating with degrees in Environmental Studies and Education,  I began working for the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History as an education coordinator, in charge of developing curriculum, leading school programs, and cultivating stewardship in classrooms across the county. I’m still there, currently focused on how best to integrate community-based organizations with schools as the education climate shifts in the face of a global pandemic.

I strongly identify with western culture and the ethos of the central coast of California and am inspired by the various writers and artists that have come out of the region over the past century. I spend a good deal of my free time reading, writing, and exploring both near to and far from home, when time allows, in a bid to better understand my own sense of place.
I am broadly interested in land management and fire, particularly as they relate to indigenous forms of stewardship and the practices and processes that shaped California over the last ten to twenty thousand years, and how shifting fire regimes and land management practices can be synthesized and better understood in the context of a changing climate. My goal is to weave together traditional ecological knowledge with modern practices to inform policy and stewardship across the west.

Oh, and I’m fiercely competitive when it comes to card games.


Sarah Knott

sarahI grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County, California. I studied Geoscience at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and received a B.A. in Earth System Science. During my time at Trinity University, the knowledge I gained about the Earth and Earth processes sparked my interest in the environmental field. Environmental Studies excites me because in gaining knowledge, research, and experience in the field I could help the community protect habitats and species and improve the quality of life for many individuals. At San Jose State, I hope to learn more about the impacts of climate change as well as tools and technologies that could combat climate change. I would like to focus my research specifically on wildfires and drought as it is a consequence of climate change that has impacted not only my hometown but many regions around the world.

My hobbies include going to the beach, biking, swimming, and hiking. I also love and appreciate animals and enjoy going to the zoo to observe their interactions. I also enjoy spending time outside and trying new things. A fun fact about me is that I am a triplet and I grew up with two automatic best friends, Tommy and Nathan!


Christian Knowlton 

christian-knowltonI was born in Riverside C.A snd currently reside in Santa Cruz.  I spent eight years in the U.S. Army with multiple deployments over seas, before returning to school and earning my B.S. in Biological Sciences from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  I have always had a strong interest in nature and conservation. Some of my earliest memories are camping with my family and catching and identifying the insect I would find in my back yard.

Currently I work for H.T. Harvey as a field biologist.  Most of my work has been with heaps however I have also worked extensively with owls.  I spent two seasons surveying for spotted owls in the Sierras.  I have also conducted western burrowing owl surveys, Swainson’s hawk, great gray owl surveys along with surveys for California tiger salamander and red-legged frog. When I am not in the field I enjoy music I regularly attend concerts from local bands at one of Santa Cruz’s great music venues or spending time with my two kittens. 


Erin Lacour

erin-lacourI grew up in a small town in Ventura County, just a short walk from a little-known regional park where I have spent countless hours exploring. Growing up so close to nature is what founded my connection to the outdoors and wildlife. Even though I have always been drawn to nature, including visiting countless national and state parks throughout my life, it was not until college that I realized I wanted, or even could have a career studying and protecting natural resources.

I graduated from UC Irvine in 2015 with a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Medical Anthropology. During my undergrad I gained experience from my amazing classes, working in a research lab studying bird behavior, and working in sustainability. Since graduating I have had a variety of jobs such as teaching, wildlife rehabilitation, restoration and stewardship, and wildlife monitoring and inventory.

I moved to the Bay Area a few years ago and have worked for a collaboration of land agencies known as One Tam as well as Marin County Parks. Some of my favorite projects I have worked on include the Marin County Bat Roost Ecology Project, the Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog Docent Program, and of course the Marin Wildlife Picure Index Project which I will be using for my masters thesis. Using data from WPI, I will be looking at species occupancy and diversity in relation to human disturbance.

Some of my hobbies include hiking, cooking, camping, using iNaturalist, and birdwatching. My favorite taxa are raptors, flycatchers, and meso-carnivores, with special love for screech owls, Western kingbirds, and badgers. I love working as a wildlife biologist and monitoring for special status species, and hope to make a career in wildlife management. A fun fact about me is that I spent a couple weeks in South Africa as wildlife vet intern, where I both provided treatment to farm animals and helped capture megafauna such as nyala and cape buffalo.


Lily Law

lily-lawI was born in Hong Kong and immigrated with my family to the US when I was 10. I was fascinated by the strong environmental focus that San Francisco has for many aspects of city life, e.g., integrative park system within a city and a comprehensive residential recycling and composting program. I had the opportunity to intern for San Francisco’s Department of the Environment in high school and it strengthened my interest in environmental work. 

I completed my B.S. from UC Berkeley with double majors in Environmental Sciences and Forestry Natural Resources in Spring 2018. During the summer of my second year in college, I attended the UC Forestry Camp and learned about Sierra Nevada ecology, silviculture, and forestry techniques and management. This experience inspired me to complete my senior thesis in soil microbial ecology, specifically on the interactions between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and plant roots in the rhizosphere. After graduating, I became the lab manager for Prof. Jill Banfield at UC Berkeley who is an expert in microbial ecology and bioinformatics. 

At SJSU, I’m interested in studying the impact of invasive conifers and their removal on the soil microbial community of a California coastal grassland. I hope to provide valuable background information about the soil microbiome and apply the findings to support the development of effective management plans in the future.

My favorite hobbies are traveling and eating delicious food. I’m usually already planning my next meal as I’m eating my current meal! 


Will Lawton 

will-lawtonI 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-leI 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.


Mojgan Mahdizadeh

mojgan-mahdizadehI was born and raised in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. While living in Iran, I was able to obtain a B.A. in Economics from Azad Tehran University. My country has been subjugated by an oppressive and brutal theocracy for over 40 years, but I was fortunate enough to immigrate to the United States to enjoy basic human rights, freedom and a better future. Back then, the only refuge that would give me a sense of peace and solace was nature. Still, some of the best memories I have from my homeland are the trips I took to the Caspian Sea and the hikes in the Alborz mountain range. In the United States, I became aware of the environmental issues facing humanity. That soon became my motivation to attend college again and switch from finance to environmental studies. In May 2021, I graduated from SJSU with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Restoration and Resource Management. Dr. Russell’s Forest Ecology class at SJSU inspired the love of redwoods in me. For my final project in Senior Seminar, I studied the initial response of several tree species in Big Basin redwood forest that was decimated by the 2020 CZU wildfire. I do strongly believe that our relationship with nature is reciprocal and we have the responsibility of returning the gift of the Earth. Redwood forests have endured a hundred years of cruel logging and are now facing threats of global climate change, wildfires and urban development. For my graduate thesis, I hope to be able to study the impact of human-induced disturbances on redwood forests and help restore and protect these awe-inspiring giants.

In my spare time, I do restoration work as a volunteer at Ulistac Natural Area, a 40-acre undeveloped land in the city of Santa Clara. Besides my passion for the environment, astrophysics fascinates me the most and I can’t wait to find out what the James Webb Space Telescope is going to reveal about the universe we live in. My hobbies are hiking, camping, skiing, kayaking, and attending live music performances. I also have a goal of visiting all national parks in the U.S. within my lifetime.


Lindsey Marsh

lindsey-marshMy name is Lindsey Marsh and I am a San Jose native. I didn’t go camping or hiking often growing up, but I do have fond memories of getting together with my extended family at our local parks. As I grew older, my interests in outdoor recreation pulled me closer to the natural environment. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Recreation at San Francisco State University in 2016. While completing my degree, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Nina Roberts on two research projects regarding visitor use/non-use at San Mateo and Marin County parks. We conducted focus groups in low-income communities throughout the counties to learn about the different types of constraints and barriers to county park visitation. Listening to these experiences opened my eyes to the inequities that are prevalent throughout the SF Bay Area and it propelled me to pursue work that would benefit vulnerable communities.

Since graduating, I continued to work with Dr. Roberts on several research opportunities. In 2018, our research team conducted a study in support of Assembly Bill 250 with the California Coastal Conservancy, Coastal Commission, and California State Parks to investigate effective national models and possible strategies to expand overnight opportunities along the California coast for low-to-moderate income families. This project examined existing facilities and identified potential new opportunities to enhance coastal access and recreation for all Californians. The data are currently being used to influence future projects and funding.
 
At SJSU, I plan to focus on pro-environmental behavior, environmental education, and environmental justice. I am interested in studying socially vulnerable communities within the SF Bay Area and their environmental identities to develop strategies for improving environmental education programs and teaching community members to become advocates.

Most of my spare time is devoted to my dog. We love to go on hikes every weekend and backpack in the Sierra during the summer. I am also a lifelong San Jose Sharks fan! The happiest day of my life will be when the Sharks win the Stanley Cup (don’t tell my fiancé).


Rosemary Martinez

rosemary-martinezI 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!


Emily Matthews

emily-matthewsI was raised in a small rural town in western Sonoma County, surrounded by a mix of cattle fields and open spaces. From a young age, I loved animals and the outdoors. Much of my childhood was spent playing outside with friends; hiking, climbing trees, and exploring nature in our backyards. As I got older my love of the outdoors became a fascination with ecology and a passion for environmental issues. I began to actively pursue ecology and environmental science in high school. When possible, I would choose classes that focus on biology and environmentalism and was an active member of my school’s Students for Sustainability Club.

I studied Environmental Science at Saint Mary’s College of California. The small size and interdisciplinary focus of Saint Mary’s allowed me to take a wide array of classes and provided me with new perspectives. Through this experience, I realized that I was most interested in the ecological aspects of environmental science. Through internships with the UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab and WRECO (a local consulting firm), I was able to further my understanding of ecology, ecological research, and the applications biology and environmental science outside of academia. My most rewarding work in undergrad was my senior capstone project; studying the variation in bird biodiversity in urban, suburban, and rural areas. I graduated with new knowledge and confidence in my field of interest as well as new frameworks for understanding environmental issues, including - environmental justice, economics, and politics.

After graduating I spent three years working at WRECO as an environmental scientist consulting on the biological and water quality impacts of construction projects. My job included both fieldwork and report writing. In the field, I conducted wildlife and botanical surveys, wetland delineations, and mitigation monitoring. My report writing included Biological Assessments, Annual mitigation monitoring reports, water quality reports, and stormwater data reports.

In graduate school, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the ecological components of environmental science. My research interests include restoration ecology, habitat conductivity, biodiversity, and the impact that climate change will have on restoration. I hope to protect sensitive species and ecosystems through restoration and climate change preparedness.

In my free time I enjoy hiking, camping, birding, going for runs, cooking, reading, listening to podcast and audiobooks, and spending time with friends. I am also an amateur doodler and an appreciator of music and film. A fun fact about me is that I was born on Friday the thirteenth.


Jamsheed Mistry

jamsheed-mistryMy name is Jamsheed Mistry and I was born in Mumbai, India. At the age of three, my family and I relocated to Toronto, Canada, where I was raised in a suburban community surrounded by maple trees and lots of snow. By being surrounded with the native wildlife of Canada from an early age, my passion for climate change mitigation blossomed in my childhood. During my childhood, I would constantly berate both my parents and my elder brother when their daily activities would exceed an arbitrary threshold that I would make up. In retrospect, I realize that I was subconsciously monitoring my family’s ecological footprint as a child with no knowledge whatsoever about ecological footprints.

When I was in the third grade, my family moved to Cupertino, California, where I completed my elementary, middle, and high school years. For my undergraduate studies, however, I decided to enroll at the University of Toronto because I had always had an affinity to attend the institution that was right next to my childhood home. In my undergraduate studies, I double majored in biology and environmental science. As an undergraduate student, I had taken a plethora of courses in different disciplines – ecology, evolution, genetics, earth science, data science, geography, chemistry, biology, and religion – but my favorite subject was environmental science. My undergraduate research included writing a literature review paper analyzing the environmental and public health effects of exposure to methyl parathion pesticides. Furthermore, I had also conducted an extensive risk assessment/matrix detailing the complex abiotic and biotic components of a proposed stormwater management restoration project in Ontario, Canada during my time as an undergraduate student.

As a graduate student at SJSU, I aspire to work with Dr. Mulvaney and learn more about solar power commodity chains. Under Dr. Mulvaney’s tutelage, I plan research about how solar panels and urban green spaces are utilized to mitigate the urban heat island effect. My hobbies include watching basketball (Go Warriors!), reading, and socializing with my friends. A fun fact about me is that my smile is constant and infectious! I have a very jovial and kind personality and my favorite genre of movies is, you guessed it… comedy!


Gayatri Mujumdar

gayatri-mujumdarI am an Indian who has had the privilege of moving across India while growing up. I relocated to a new place every 2 years, changing schools, meeting new people, adapting to different climates, and connecting with diverse religions, cultures and demographics, all of which have played a great part in shaping me and developing my career. I pursued my undergraduate degree in Architecture from the Academy of Architecture, Mumbai, India. Post my bachelor’s I was working at Artha Studio, Pune for 2 years, a sustainable design firm in India, where my thinking was immensely shaped towards being resource efficient, environmentally sustainable and devising possibilities so that human well-being is achieved with minimal environmental footprint. This insight led me to pursue a diploma in “Sustainable management of natural resources and nature conservation” from the Ecological Society, Pune, India. It enhanced my understanding of the connections between humans and nature, economy, livelihoods and conservation and I aspired to transform my career ambition towards planning for the environment leading me to pursue my Master’s in Urbanism (urban planning and design) at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands. It was here in a country that proclaims to be built by the Dutch people; since the whole country was a swamp originally, I realized what it means to live with nature. I was exposed to a variety of environmentally friendly ways of living; public transport being the major one and if you find someone speeding on a bicycle or running to class with a helmet on, that would be me!!

While I had an amazing time exploring the Dutch landscapes for academic projects that were based on topics such as wellbeing, circular economy, SDGs, climate adaptation and sea level rise. My master’s thesis was based on improving the resilience capacities of a city called Otsuchi, in Japan that was affected by the March 2011 Tsunami. This project had a profound impact on my conscience about why nature plays a central role in the cognitive process of human development. Having recently immigrated to California and observing firsthand the American gift to Urbanism- ‘The sprawl’, I am again drawn back to academia at SJSU to pursue my second master’s in environmental studies to find solutions the environmentalist way….!!!

A sustainability advocate at heart and an eco-driven urbanist, I am also a licensed architect with COA(council of architecture, India) and an associate-level IGBC (Indian green building council) certified professional also from India. An interesting thing about me, I started my own architectural company at the age of 23. My hobbies include gardening, currently, I am growing basil, oregano, rosemary, curry leaves, holy basil, coriander, mint and some flowering plants. I also love baking, going on hikes and biking around in the city.


Mai Nguyen

mai-nguyenI grew up around areas of San Jose, CA for the majority of my life. Ever since my childhood years, being outdoors and exploring new places has consistently been a keen interest of mine. With the combination of my outdoor childhood experiences and the education I received throughout those years, I had the idea fairly early on that I wanted to study the Earth’s systems. Along my academic course, I became intrigued by human interaction and mental processes, leading me to obtain my undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in legal studies from San Jose State University. Nevertheless, environmental issues and topics, specifically relating to the ocean, continues to be the field I want to focus my attention. As an environmental studies graduate student, I plan on examining how the legal system is taking part in preserving the ocean, and engaging in ways to reduce human impact on the marine environment. The issues of overfishing and plastic pollution in the ocean are areas I am aiming to tailor my research.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my dog, hiking, photography, swimming, and any outdoor activities. A fun fact about myself is that I nearly drowned three times but I am still really eager to explore different aspects of the ocean.


Mayra Pelagio 

mayra-pelagioI grew up in rural Mexico and migrated to the U.S when I was thirteen, I studied high school in East San Jose- Yerba Buena H.S. I have a B.S in Environmental Science and Management and a minor in Wildlife Conservation Biology from UC Davis. During my undergraduate career I spent two summers working in Colorado with a program that brought Latinx families outdoors. As a program coordinator I planned several overnight camping trips for families. During these trips I guided recreational activities including hikes, mountain biking, fishing, and archery for all ages, fun fact- I’m a certified archery trainer. It is my firm belief that nature and outdoor spaces should be accessible to everyone, and that the environmental community should focus on creating resources to promote diversity and inclusion.  For this reason, after graduating I became an independent contractor and worked with environmental non-profits to organize outdoor activity events for the Latinx community in Woodland, Sacramento and Davis region. I am highly passionate about conservation biology; I’m especially interested in amphibians, reptiles and birds. For my studies I’d like to focus in conservation biology and the accessibility underrepresented communities have to outdoor spaces. In my free time I volunteer with social justice groups, lobby for policies at the state capitol, and attend rallies.


Domingo Poggione

domingo-poggioneI was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. I have always been passionate by our unique ecosystems. I absolutely love traveling and visiting new places, exotic cuisines, different cultures and people. I have had the opportunity of travelling quite a bit in Chile and around the world. One of my favorite hobbies is backpacking, which I have done almost throughout all South America. I am a very active person and I love trying new things, so I have had many different hobbies in my life.  Of late my favorite hobbies are gardening, playing basketball, hanging out with my family and videogames.

I graduated from Universidad Catolica de Chile on 2017, with  a B.A. in sociology. As a student I focused on studying community manage and qualitative and quantitative research methods. After I graduated, I worked on territorial interventions with vulnerable/vulnerated communities. Mainly, I have developed two lines of work: urban gardening with low income families and renewable energy projects with indigenous communities in the rural south of my country. I have special interest in learning how people adapt to their environment: that amazing human capacity of transforming their surroundings and transforming themselves  as they interact with the ecosystems that sustain them.

In order to face the inevitable consequences of climate change we need to have tools and knowledge on how to face the environmental hazards that affect (or will affect) our territories. At SJSU I wish to work with Dr. Rampini to explore those key aspects of climate change adaptation that will help create resilient and strong communities, focusing on vulnerable groups.

Fun fact: I have 2 appearances in two different documentaries: “Voces del Puelo” and “Itrofil Mongen”. Not that I am a film star, but for a non-actor, its pretty good.


Raji Rajesh

ragi-rajeshI have always been passionate about nature. It began early in my childhood with my mother teaching simple practices she implemented around our house such as growing vegetables and fruits, reusing instead of buying new things and not wasting food. I pursued an undergraduate degree in Engineering from Bangalore, India, and then worked in the IT industry for 9 years in India. Even though I worked in IT, my passion for nature and the environment did not die down. I participated in volunteering activities to raise awareness about waste segregation in Bangalore, practice eco-friendly tactics around my household. My hobbies include hiking, gardening and cooking. My favorite hiking trails in the Bay area are the PG&E trail in Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve and Mission Peak in Fremont. I am a novice gardener and dream to have a bigger vegetable garden, big enough to provide at least a few veggies for my cooking needs. It pains me to see the havoc created on the environment by us, humans. For instance, oceans of plastic affecting sea life, Industrialization leading to pollution and lesser green cover, wastage of food, chemicals almost everywhere around us and in the food we eat. Pondering over these issues, I decided to change my career path from IT to an environment related career. Taking few courses in Environmental Studies at De Anza College further confirmed that I had made the right decision to pursue Masters in Environmental Studies. My goal is to make an impact on the environment through educating society on current environmental issues, a better understanding of environmental policies and speaking up for environmental justice.

Fun fact is when I go hiking with my friends on the PG&E trail, we keep joking about if we encounter a mountain lion it will make us complete the hike in record time!


Saara Ranabhat

saara-ranabhat“Happy wife, happy life.”

“Healthy nature, happy creature.”

Hello Everyone! It’s me Saara Ranabhat from the country of Mount Everest, Nepal. Growing up in a country with extremely rich biodiversity, my passion for nature and environment exists since my childhood. This could be well reflected through my participation in youth clubs and doing plantations around the road along with weekly sanitation programs. Gradually, for my undergraduate program, I looked up for the courses which would keep me in close contact with nature and help me to get enlighten more on this. That’s how I ended up doing my undergraduate degree in forestry science and undergraduate thesis on climate change adaptation and community resilience. When I got enrolled for my undergraduate degree, a profound interest blossomed inside me for climate change.

Immediately after my undergraduate degree, I worked as a sustainability intern for USAID funded Hariyoban Program followed by some short term consultant role for drafting local level government’s documents regarding climate change. Even before coming here (5 months ago), I used to work as a climate change research officer for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) project in SNV (Netherland’s development organization) Nepal.

With all these facts, climate change is the field that I want to work on for my graduate thesis under the supervision of Dr. Costanza Rampini.

Hobbies: Travelling and hiking in the nature, watching movies, learning new things

Fun facts: I don’t want to leave anything incomplete, mostly movies and Netflix series. I could spend my entire day and night in order to finish that. And guess what…my family member has to stop me like a baby.


Sherilyn Reinhart

sherilyn-reinhartI was born in rural Elk Grove and spent my teenage years in the small gold rush town of Placerville, CA. My four siblings and I spent the majority of our childhood outside tending goats, chasing roosters, fishing in the delta and seasonally hunting deer. (Naturally, I became a vegetarian and moved to San Francisco after high school). For the better part of a decade I worked, traveled, volunteered and attended community colleges before transferring to The University of Hawaii at Mānoa (UH), where I received a Bachelor of Science in Ethnobotany.

While at UH, I worked in the Hynson Fungal Ecology Lab. It was through this experience that I saw myself as a young scientist for the first time. I assisted in elucidating which mycorrhizal partner the endemic Hawaiian orchid, Anoectochilus sandvicensis, is dependent upon for germination. Using the molecular skills I learned from this project, I applied for and was awarded a university grant to study the fungal symbiont of the Hawaiian lichen, Cladonia skottsbergii.

As a graduate student I hope to travel the mycelial web and gather the skills to become a well-rounded researcher and community educator. I’m interested in examining how common practices on organic farms impact and interact with the health of the soil ecosystem. I am particularly interested in exploring carbon farming as an avenue for sequestering atmospheric carbon.

Outside of academia I am happiest hiking with my young child and husband, baking off a loaf of sourdough, raising plants from seed or having a nice cup of coffee. This past year I fell in love with Indigo dyeing and am now teaching myself how to quilt. I’m also trying to get back to my own rural roots.


Diana Saavedra

diana-saavedraI like to begin my story with my parents’ for theirs is such a huge part of my own. Born and raised in Guatemala, they were both forced to flee government corruption, poverty, and overall violence in the early 1980s. In 1983, they met in East Los Angeles where they soon got married and had three girls- me being the last born. My status as a first generation Guatemalan-American has always been very special to me and has shaped a big part of my identity and politics.

In 2017, I left sunny Southern California and moved to the Bay Area. Here, I earned my bachelor’s in Ethnic Studies with a concentration in Latinx Studies at CSUEB. I fell in love with my studies for it allowed me to gain an understanding of the effects and dynamics of various social issues.

I am a firm believer that environmental problems and social problems are interlaced, thus cannot be separated. Consequently, I have become passionate about advocating for the most vulnerable communities and their local environments. And so, I am pursuing a M.S. in Environmental Studies at SJSU. My research interests include working with people who are directly affected by their rapidly changing environments and how they are adapting to new social and environmental issues. Although climate change will eventually affect everyone, I am specifically interested in working with marginalized and vulnerable communities that are already paying the consequences of irresponsible and unsustainable human practices.

Some of my hobbies include reading, drawing, hiking, riding my bike, and hanging out with my partner and our two dogs. I also love to travel! This summer I visited Cuba and Mexico and had such a great time.

Fun Fact: I am super into astrology and will love to nerd out if anyone else is interested!


Ingrid Salazar

ingrid-salazarI was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, which most people simply call L.A. My parents are El Salvadorian and immigrated to the U.S. as young adults. Their wild stories about the civil war in El Salvador and their journey to the U.S. have motivated me to pursue a higher education. I recently graduated from SJSU with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Restoration and Resource Management. I am excited to further my education with the department that has already taught me so much!

My environmental journey began my freshman year of high school after watching the documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. It was the first time I learned about climate change and my thought-life immediately became post-apocalyptic. My English professor helped me brainstorm ideas to create change instead of living in dread of the future. I began to notice that after every sports practice and game, students would leave plastic water bottles and trash on the fields. I decided to pick up the trash during lunch and my teacher would help me recycle the plastic bottles. My peers gave me the lovely nickname “janitor”, but I was unfazed because I was so passionate about making a difference. Eventually, our trash clean-up became a class initiative! Since then, I have helped with many organizations such as Tree People, Save the Bay, CommUniverCity, the California Native Garden Foundation, and the Center of Development and Recycling, just to name a few.

My research interests include energy, life cycle assessments, and industrial ecology. I am confident these fields will create solutions for resource management and waste reduction. I believe that our society needs to learn how to implement a circular economy model in order to reach our sustainability goals. 

My hobbies include cuddling with my cat, running, hiking, scrolling through Pinterest, and taking pictures of clouds! I am also an avid yelper. I enjoy exploring the app and finding new restaurants, hiking spots, and dessert places to try.  A fun fact about me is, I love to teach (force) my friends and family how to recycle, especially when they tell me, “It’s too hard”.


Mya Shiloh

mya-shilohHi everyone! My name is Mya Shiloh and I have recently graduated from San Jose State with my bachelor’s in environmental studies accompanied with an environmental impact analysis minor. Going into my graduate studies, I plan on focusing my time working on environmental justice issues. It’s interesting to see similar local environmental challenges span across different countries and the factors that influence them. Throughout my career I hope to gain the experience necessary to help solve local and global environmental problems for low-income communities; primarily in a way that suits them long-term. To learn more about how to communicate environmental topics to people who may not be familiar, I’ve worked diligently as a director for the Environmental Resource Center and as a manager for the Center for Development and Recycling.

When my head isn’t stuck in a book or laptop, I could most likely be found at a music event trying to destress! Finding curiosity in all things outside was an interesting and unusual route for me to take considering I’m not fond of insects and have awful allergies. With that being said, even if the world tries to push me away, I will not hesitate on helping where I can.


Allison Solis 

allison-solisI 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.


Matt Spadoni

matt-spadoniGrowing up in Upstate New York, I spent a lot of time gardening, camping, and fishing with my family.  Ever since I can remember, my family has instilled a love and stewardship towards the ecosystems around us, which has made me into the person that I am today.  I followed this passion for the environment by attending Paul Smiths College, a small school in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains of New York.  While earning my B.S. in Environmental Science, I fell in love with conducting field studies on streams and plant ecosystems, as well as studying the ecosystems of the past through lake sediment cores.  After graduating in 2018, I worked as a nature interpreter at Smugglers’ Notch State Park  in Vermont.  There, I created nature programs for kids and adults to teach them about soil science, environmental stewardship, weather patterns and everything in between!  It was  at this job that I developed a true passion for interacting with the public and sharing my love and fascination for the environment with others.  

Following position, I began hiking on the Appalachian Trail. While hiking, I interviewed almost everyone that crossed my path about how they have experienced climate change over their lifetime and what they believed humanity’s role is in climate change.  I got the chance to speak with people from all over the world, who shared countless stories and experiences.  After 50 days and 800 miles from Georgia to Virginia, I took a break from the AT and began hiking the Long Trail, a 272-mile traverse of the Green mountains in Vermont.  A fun fact: we had to take a long break after hiking 10 days in a row through the soggy, Spring trails because we were starting to get trench foot.

I am very excited to be going to SJSU where there is so much expertise in social science and community involvement in environmental science.  I hope to develop a thesis based on understanding peoples’ perceptions and lifelong experiences with climate change, while also engaging them in citizen science activities.


Bradley (Brad) Speno

brad-spenoHello, I’m Brad and I grew up in Gilroy and received my bachelors degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado. For the past 5 or so years I have worked as a field science teacher at a San Jose park and wildlife refuge, a bird counter in different locations, a salamander and snake wrangler, and most recently a plant mapper. 

After independant literature review, I have decided to research avian communities such as songbirds, shorebirds, and marsh birds in the context of salt marsh restoration at SJSU because I am interested in which factors are most important in a restoration project's success. So few wetland ecosystems remain intact even though they are considered so important in buffering against climate change and providing habitats for wildlife communities, which is why restoration success is important to me. 

In my free time I like to get outside as much as possible. I have recently dabbled in rock climbing, bike riding, and I have always liked to snowboard in the winter. I also like seeing live music, traveling, and consuming streamable content.


DeNarae Stewart

denarae-stewartHi there! The name’s DeNarae. I was born and raised in Riverside County, CA and moved to San Jose 5 years ago to get my BS.

I graduated from SJSU with a BS in Environmental Studies and a minor in Environmental Impact Assessment. Growing up in a low-income community, environmental education was not a large part of everyday life. However, that didn’t stop me from falling in love with and caring for the nature around me. It began with a simple love for rocks but grew into full-blown curiosity after learning about biofuels. I wanted to know everything about the Earth and what it was capable of. Before I knew it, I became aware of not only the beauty of the world but also the negative impacts human life had on it. Since then, I’ve jumped at all opportunities having to do with habitat restoration and waste management. For my thesis, I hope to address the cradle-to- grave life cycle of packaging materials and the effect this life cycle has on the environment.

In my free time, you’re 99% guaranteed to find me reading either comics or sci-fi fantasy novels. For the other 1%, I’m likely to be playing with my fur babies, Bambi and Poseidon, or reorganizing some part of my home. A fun fact about me is that I have ADHD, which pretty much means I’m an unorganized filing cabinet full of random information. So ask me a question, I just might know the answer!


Lacey Strong

lacey-strongI am a Wildlife Management and Conservation graduate from Humboldt State University. As an undergraduate I interned at two wildlife rehabilitation and educations centers: Wildlife Images in Grants Pass, Oregon, and California Wildlife Center in Malibu, California. While working at these centers, I provided care for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. I also assisted with wildlife education, guided tours, and helped with many youth camps. 

After receiving my Bachelor of Science, I worked two seasons as a Wildlife Biological Science Technician for the U.S. Forest Service. I worked in the Shasta Trinity National Forest where I surveyed northern spotted owls, peregrine falcons, northern goshawks, western pond turtles, foothill yellow-legged frogs, fishers, and American beavers. I also did backcountry river surveys for salmonid species. Additionally, I assisted with a MAPS bird banding station. I have research interests in population ecology, predator-prey interaction, and the impact urbanizations has had and will have on wildlife.

It has been through my journey as a wildlife student, intern, enthusiast and biological science technician that I have obtained the desire to become the most educated and well-rounded Wildlife Biologist I can be.  This graduate program will grant me the ability to use the knowledge I have obtained to date, but more importantly open doors to a future that will allow me to help preserve and protect the fragile wildlife ecosystems I am fortunate to study. During my free time I’m an avid water skier and I relax painting. I also find myself backpacking, hiking and birding.


Jacqueline Taylor

jacqueline-taylorI was born and raised in Watsonville, California. I grew up in the country with my two brothers and dozens of animals. My parents immigrated here from Portugal and brought their customs with them, which included living mostly off what we grew and raised on our land. Growing up surrounded by nature, along with the endless wildlife documentaries my dad got us hooked on, I became infatuated with wildlife conservation. My plan was to save the tigers. Now I’m just trying to save anything.

I graduated from San Diego State in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. I moved up to Livermore after graduation and spent the next eight years working as a wildlife biologist for private environmental consulting firms around the Bay Area. A fun fact about me is that I worked with snakes for over six years and was never able to make peace with snake bites. The snakes would sense my nervousness and bite me instead of my relaxed coworkers. I don’t miss that. I stopped working in 2016 when I had my second child. Since leaving the work force I’ve been raising my kids, volunteering, and obsessing over our deteriorating environment.

About a year ago I realized volunteering alone wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted to be a more integral part of the solution, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity. I took two classes at a local junior college and realized how much I missed learning. I combined that with my background in wildlife biology and my obsession with environmental issues and that led me to a master’s program in environmental studies with a focus in wildlife conservation. For my thesis I’m planning to study wintering burrowing owls in the East Bay. As an avid birder, I’m so excited to follow owls around for the next couple years.

I’m into wildlife photography, weightlifting, watching reruns of old sitcoms, veganism, gardening, avoiding plastic, thrift stores, drawing, reading, sewing, and sports. My husband and two kids are cool too.


Olivia Trevino

olivia-trevinoHello everyone! My name is Olivia Trevino, and I am a current graduate student in the Environmental Studies Program at San Jose State University (SJSU). I am a former spartan, receiving my undergraduate degree in environmental studies focusing on restoration and resource management. I graduated from SJSU in December 2019. I have extensive experience that prepared me for and has allowed me to excel in the graduate program. I was an environmental educator for a year, teaching children environmental issues.

I also helped create four new school gardens in elementary schools and develop a new curriculum for students. I also have fieldwork experience, working with the non-profit Grassroots Ecology on multiple restoration projects and Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Mercury Program investigating mercury and methylmercury in reservoirs. I currently work for the City of Palo Alto in their Watershed Protection team, where I focus on outreach for stormwater pollution prevention, pesticides, and water conservation.

I am eager to continue my work on water quality issues at SJSU by researching polyfluoroalkyl substances – known as PFAS. My graduate research investigates PFAS chemicals in recycled water in Santa Clara County and bioaccumulation in soil. Outside of school and work, I try to find time to do things I love including hiking, golfing, concerts, cooking, and cooking new foods.

A fun fact about me that most people would not know is that I taught English in Thailand for a month. One of the best experiences of my life! Thank you, and I can’t wait to share my research with the SJSU community


Ashari Taylor-Watson 

ashari-taylor-watsonI 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


Ram Thapa

ram-thapaI am from Nepal and currently residing in Sunnyvale, California. Nepal a country with rich natural resources and biodiversity. Of course, completely different geographical structure starting from the altitude of 50m from the sea level till the highest peak in the world, the Everest.  My passion for nature ignited since I was in grade five as I brought a street puppy to my home which was  irreplaceable to me and my family. We named him “Bruno” but he expired 4 years back due to the upper age limit. After completing my higher school degree in Science, I chose to study BSc. Forestry from Tribhuvan University of Nepal. I happen to explore more than 100 community forests, study their plans and policy, the way scientific forest management was implemented, benefits distribution, forest mensuration and silvicultural treatments. Furthermore, I also happened to work as a forest technician for more than 5 CFs and help them with different forest related activities. I conducted my thesis on “Habitat suitability of wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) in Babai flood plain of Bardia National Park, Nepal” which was awarded by WWF small student research.

I got a golden opportunity to explore core habitat of wildlife in Bardia National Park during my field days while conducting the research. This is how I developed a passion toward the conservation of environment, endangered species. This was a different feeling of fear and excitement of getting close to wild faunas, when you see a one horned Rhino right by your eyes like 10 feet away. Seeing an aggressive wild elephant running through the bushes, breaking the trees and following its activities with the help of its radio collar was such a moment to remember throughout my life. Last but not the least being chased a wild water buffalo while trying to capture it through my lens…… it really was an amazing day.

Similarly, I volunteered for four years in Society for Wildlife Research and Conservation (SWOREC) which is one of the green organizations of our university where I got an opportunity to serve as the coordinator for two years. In addition to my academic course, I was always active in extra-curricular activities like organizing workshops and programs on environment and wildlife related topics. Furthermore, I love travelling, watching movies and doing adventurous activities. Moreover, I want to conduct my graduate level thesis by linking endangered wildlife species, forest and environmental factors as my undergraduate thesis was more of a technical one.

Fun fact about me is I am so interrogative, funny and I speak fast.  


Tam Tran

tam-tranI was born in Ho Chi Minh City (Sai Gon), Vietnam. In 2012, my family moved to the United States. We settled in Southern California for the first few years. After I graduated from UC Berkeley, I decided to live in the Bay Area, together with my family.

With a background major in Architecture and minor in Sustainable Design, I have been working for an architecture and interior firm. I have a strong aspiration of bringing beautiful nature and green environment to our community. Architecture and environment are natural companions. Combining aesthetics, sustainability, and healthy society is my design manifesto. For this reason, I desire to broaden my knowledge and explore the relationships of environment from a variety of perspectives, with the emphasis on green technology and environmental justice. My passion is to develop green technology, advance its applications and efficiency, consider the impacts, lifespan and harmfulness of the technology to environment in a holistic and integrated view, as well as coordinate sustainable technology into my designs to create a better place, with integration, comfort, and safety. The ultimate goal is protecting community’s health. Besides, I am devoting to help rising everyone’s awareness on environment and sustainability.

My hobby since childhood is reading comics, which develops my imagination of space and visual arts. A bunch of beautiful designed stickers that shows how to save energy, which I received when I was in elementary school, had a great impact on my awareness of environment and changed my habit of saving energy, water since that day. On weekends, I love visiting different libraries and parks to observe, draw and sketch.


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.


Mitchell Victoria  

mitchell-victoriaMy Name is Mitchell Victoria and I am about to begin graduate school after taking a short break during the pandemic. I graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. My focus on my Master’s Thesis is studying the American Badger within the Bay Area and in Santa Cruz County. I graduated in the fall quarter of 2019 and have since been on a long break until now. Before UC Santa Cruz I spend 4 years at Cabrillo College where I faced many challenges before transferring, but I persevered and received a liberal arts degree in Environmental Studies.

I was originally a wildlife biologist major but was discouraged when I discovered UCSC did not provide that major. Once I learned about Environmental Studies, I found that it was close to what I wanted to do and work in the natural sciences. The biggest mistake I make on accident is forgetting that this major has a social sciences component that includes the people in the research. I love all animals including animals from the past and future. I also enjoy socializing with everyone I meet. I love stand-up comedy because I love to laugh. I enjoy doing impressions and making other people laugh even when I’m not trying to be funny. I love to be at the beach because the ocean is my second home.

I like to hike in forests because there is less sunlight. I’m not a big fan of talking politics or religion because those topics always divides everyone. I’m also willing to be open to new experiences from learning another culture to even new methods for studying or working. I am looking forward to becoming a graduate student and am ready to embrace every obstacle along the way.


Kate Worrell

kate-worrellHello! My name is Kate Worrell and I completed my undergrad degree at Cal Poly SLO in Environmental Management and Protection. With minors in Biology, GIS, Sustainable Environments, and Studio Art. I did not set out to get so many minors but as the years went on they just kind of fell into place. Through my biology minor I took many Botany courses which led me to falling in love with plants. Especially smaller shrub plants that are native to California. Getting to research plants in California is amazing since there is so much diversity throughout the state. 

For my thesis I hope to do research around Dudleya the endangered genus of succulents native to California. Manly in regards to restoration and conservation with Dr. Metha Klock as my chair advisor. I want to research Dudleya with the hope that I can help increase their population so that one day they can get off the endangered species list. I think that there are not only gorgeous but have a very interesting history as well. They used to be in the Echiveria genus but further genetic and physical research proved that they were an entirely different genus. 

In my free time I like to watch all kinds of shows from Parks and Rec to anime like Haikyuu. I also like to play video games with my current obsessions being animal crossing and genshin impact. Not to mention I also like to play board games as well my favorite is Betrayal at House on the Hill. I also like being out in nature and exploring the open spaces around me mainly on the hunt to find Dudleya out in their natural habitat. I am so happy to be getting my Master’s at SJSU and I cannot wait to start my research!


Dawnelle Wynne

dawnelle-wynneAfter listening to many radio programs and reading articles that have sounded the alarm that immediate action is needed to reduce the human-caused degradation of the environment, I became convinced that as many people as possible should be addressing this crisis. I am committed to directing my career into the field of environmental studies to work on solutions to reduce the effects of human-caused environmental degradation. I am excited and grateful to have been accepted as a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Studies at SJSU.

I have advanced degrees in Materials Science and Engineering from U.C. Berkeley; my work experience related to the area of research in the Department of Environmental Studies that I am primarily interested in involved solar panel manufacturing. Working in the the solar panel manufacturing field was very rewarding, as I had come to believe that it is critical to move from using fossil fuels to using alternative energy sources as part of reducing the human-caused climate crisis. 

My primary area of interest for research is in implementing strategies for photovoltaic waste management in California (to further the research conducted by Lee-Tan Lu), with Professor Mulvaney’s and Professor Olszewski’s advice. Another area that I’m very interested in is in implementing sustainable materials management strategies; I was excited to learn about the Center for the Development of Recycling that exists in the Department, directed by Professor Olszewski.

My current hobbies include attending live music performances, reading, and hanging out in the East Bay (I live in Oakland). I love travelling when I have the time. I’ve enjoyed playing a musical instrument in the past, I look forward to taking up this hobby again.


Mary Yan 

mary-yanI'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.


Kaitlyn Yee

kaitlyn-yeeI was born and raised in the Bay Area. Growing up here, I was fortunate enough to have the best of both worlds with the mountains and the ocean as my playground. From  “salamander hunting” in the forests of Mt. Madonna, to spending hours ogling at intertidal critters in Santa Cruz,   these experiences shaped me into having a deeper  appreciation for the environment.  
 
While working towards my BA in Environmental Studies at Hawaii Pacific University, I started a company called Extinct Global. Through this platform, I wanted to encourage change by educating the public about environmental issues and species’ extinction using social media and selling merchandise that would donate a part of profits to conservation organizations. Research and daily outreach I had done really opened my eyes to the world of conservation work and the large-scale threats that species face. Combining this with my academic field studies in different Hawaiian ecosystems led me to realize that studying human impacts on biological systems was critical to the preservation of them, and it was what interested me most.

As a graduate student, I hope to further develop the skills to contribute to environmental research and make an impact on the conservation of species. In my time at SJSU, I would like to focus my research on the marine environment, specifically the relationship between humans and sharks in the Northern Monterey Bay. 
 
As for hobbies, I love to spend my time outdoors. I enjoy hiking, scuba diving, petting dogs, kayaking, surfing ankle-high waves, and eating. One fun fact about me is that I once had a pet tarantula! His name was Mr. Spudz.