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Christina Azodi

Christina Azodi
Department: Plant Biology
azodichr@msu.edu

Biosketch: I have long been fascinated by the complexity and elegance of plants at the molecular level, but it was my concern for the issue of sustainably feeding a growing population that inspired me to pursue a doctorate in Plant Biology at MSU. The philosopher and politician Roberto Unger once wrote, “The greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different.” When it comes to sustainable food production,clarity and imagination come when scientists, farmers, engineers, consumers, industries, and policy makers all work together. The ESP Specialization will help prepare me to engage with such an interdisciplinary group. My research interests are in nutritional quality of crop plants and how they respond to stresses caused by climate change such as drought, increased pest populations, heat waves, and less predictable weather patterns. I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, received my BA in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry with a minor in Environmental Science from Middlebury College in Vermont, and worked as a research assistant at The Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Science in Ithaca New York for two years.

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Jessica Bell

Jessica Bell
Department: Sociology
belljes2@msu.edu

Biosketch: I am a Ph.D. Student in Sociology with specializations in Animal Studies, Environmental Science and Policy, and Conservation Criminology. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and a Master of Arts in Psychology from Northwestern University. My current research areas include trans-species psychology, discursive representations of wildlife, the sociopolitical dynamics of conservation initiatives, wildlife tourism, and the illegal wildlife trade. I'm particularly interested in the detrimental impacts (on both the environment and on individual animals) of the trade in wildlife "products" such as bear bile, ivory, and tiger parts. I hope to understand how cultural perceptions and consumption patterns can be changed to be more wildlife-friendly. I care deeply about finding solutions to environmental problems, such as wildlife poaching, that respect the rights and wellbeing of individual animals. In addition, I am currently the Director of the Asian Elephant Program at the Kerulos Center (www.kerulos.org), where I conduct research, training, and outreach on cultural attitudes towards elephants and psychological indicators of elephant trauma and health in wild and captive settings across Asia. Through my academic research and my work at the Kerulos Center, I seek to integrate an understanding of wildlife psychology into the conceptualization and practice of conservation.

More on Jessica Bell »

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Elise Breshears

Elise Breshears
Department: Economics
breshea2@msu.edu

Biosketch: Elise is focusing on environmental economics and econometrics. Her primary area of interest is the economics of energy efficiency and forestry management. She has masters and bachelors degrees in economics from Portland State University.

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Dylan Brewer

Dylan Brewer
Department: Economics
brewerdy@msu.edu

Biosketch: Dylan is a PhD candidate in Economics and Environmental Science and Policy.  His dissertation focuses on the intersection of property rights economics and environmental externalities--applying market tools to the environment can have impressive results in affecting positive environmental stewardship.  Using structural modelling from the economics of industrial organization and machine-learning methods, Dylan's research estimates the energy and environmental impacts of rental housing where the landlord pays for utilities.  His other work studies urban lighting in Detroit and taxi markets in Chicago.  Dylan is currently a member of the Board of Trustees for the Michigan Nature Conservancy and is the student representative to the Environmental Science and Policy Graduate Program Council. http://www.dylanbrewer.com.

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Jessica Brunacini

Jessica Brunacini
Department: Community Sustainability
brunaci1@msu.edu

Biosketch: I am a doctoral student in the Department of Community Sustainability and the Environmental Science and Policy Program. I am also a scholar with the Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project. My research interests are focused on climate change adaptation policy and practice, with an emphasis on approaches taken in Tribal and Indigenous communities. I am studying how governance structures can impede or improve adaptive capacity, and am particularly interested in adaptation pathways that are culturally-grounded, participatory, and just. I received my M.A. in Environmental Conservation Education from New York University, and a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico.

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Alaina Bur

Alaina Bur
Department: Sociology
buralain@msu.edu

Biosketch: I am a PhD student in the sociology department. I am interested in the question of how African communities can acquire, secure, and collectively manage clean water resources in the coming years. This question will become increasingly important as the continent is anticipated to double its population in the coming decades. Previously, I received a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with minors in African studies, French, and International Relations. While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I performed monitoring and evaluation research for a local NGO’s borehole-drilling initiative in rural Kenya, specifically evaluating the effects of a community borehole installation on women’s health perceptions, productivity, and subjective well-being.  More recently, I have studied the efficacy of the borehole committees that are responsible for the long-term management of these boreholes. I hope to continue my research on sustainable collective management of water resources in Africa as I pursue my PhD in sociology at MSU.

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Edgar Castro

Edgar Castro
Department: Packaging
castroag@msu.edu

Biosketch: I am a Ph. D. student at the School of Packaging (SoP) working in Dr. Auras research group. I studied Electromechanical Engineering in my home country, Mexico, and later I received my M.S. in Packaging at the SoP. During my Masters studies, I designed and constructed a system to assess the aerobic biodegradation of polymers under composting conditions. I am currently working on a multidisciplinary research project that seeks to understand if the addition of nanoparticles to biodegradable polymers affects their biodegradation rate and overall biodegradability, and if the presence of nanoparticles in the material affects the microbial population present in the compost environment. My interest in the Environmental Sciences and Policy Program emerged because I consider vital to translate scientific research findings into solutions for the contemporary environmental issues and actions that benefit both the society and the planet.

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Laura Castro-Diaz

Laura Castro-Diaz
Department: Community Sustainability
castrodi@msu.edu

Biosketch: I am a doctoral student in the Department of Community Sustainability (CSUS). I received my MSc degree from the department of Community Sustainability at MSU and a B.S in Ecology from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia. I am interested in studying the coupled human-environment interactions of fishing communities in Latin America. Particularly, I focus on how these coupled systems are impacted by hydroelectric dams in the Amazon basin. I have experience exploring the impacts of dams on the lives and livelihoods of fishers in riverine communities. I have been involved in interdisciplinary research projects using qualitative and quantitative methods with diverse ethnic rural communities in Colombia, Peru and Brazil.

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Noleen Chikowore

Noleen Chikowore
Department: Community Sustainability
chikowo1@msu.edu

Biosketch: I have enrolled for a PhD in Community Sustainability as a Fulbright Scholar from Zimbabwe. Due to rapid population growth, urbanisation and an increase in consumerism of packed goods, the amount of non-biodegradable waste has increased over time. This is not only in Zimbabwe but Sub Saharan Africa as whole. Hence communities are the focal point to establish and achieve environmental sustainability. My graduate research is to understand community dynamics (values, perceptions and attitudes) as a mediator that can encourage or discourage pro environmental behaviour in managing household waste. This will influence sustainable waste management environmental policies. My other areas of research interests focus on environmental justice, environmental psychology, urban communities’ resilience and adaptation to climate change and how these influence environmental sustainability of urban communities in Zimbabwe. I completed my Master of Arts in Environmental Policy and Planning from the University of Zimbabwe and a Bachelor of Arts Dual Honours in Geography and Literature in English from the Catholic University of Zimbabwe (CUZ).I have taught undergraduate Geography courses at CUZ .After my graduate studies I intend to re- join the academia and promote environmental policy and planning research that enable communities realize their potential in influencing environmental sustainability. The exposure to different specialization to the ESPP is an excellent opportunity to explore how best a multidisciplinary approach can influence environmental policy and planning.

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Sinchan Roy Chowdhury

Sinchan Roy Chowdhury
Department: Earth and Environmental Sciences
roycho12@msu.edu

Biosketch: Sinchan joined Dr. Jay Zarnetske's Watershed Science and Hydroecology lab as a PhD student in August 2016. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Bengal Engineering and Science University. He also completed his master’s degree in Water Resources Engineering and Management from the Indian Institute of Technology at Guwahati in Spring 2016. He is working on the Hyporheic Microzones project.

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Min Gon Chung

Min Gon Chung
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
chungm13@msu.edu

Biosketch: My area of interest is interdisciplinary studies between ecology, statistics, socioeconomics, and geography to integrate multiple disciplines and techniques. I am particularly intrigued by studying the interactions between ecosystem services, human well-being, and their linkages in Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS) I am especially interested in continuing my research in mapping and valuing ecosystem services with a modern spatial analysis method, and in bridging together socioeconomic data with ecological models by using statistical models. I would like to suggest scientific guidelines for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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Zach Curtis

Zach Curtis
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
curtisza@msu.edu

Biosketch: There’s a quote by Albert Einstein that reads, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Zach brings this worldview to his current pursuit of a PhD in Environmental Engineering from Michigan State University. His goal: Help communities develop and better understand water resource sustainability — at  a time when water resources are threatened and under growing duress locally, nationally and abroad. Zach, a native of mid-Michigan, will utilize groundwater and watershed modeling for his PhD research of a water resource hazard in “his own back yard”—brine upwelling into lowland and coastal areas of Michigan. Zach’s love for science has taken him from point A to pursing a PhD. Everything in between(i.e., a BS degree in Astrophysics; summer research in Boulder, Colorado; brief graduate studies at Boston University and a MS degree from MSU in Environmental Engineering) has prepared him for the next step in his academic career. In addition to his research, Zach has served as a Teaching Assistant for the CoRe Engineering program in the College of Engineering and enjoys serving as a boys’ and girls’ soccer coach at a local high school.  Hiking/camping, live music and live sports, and photography are just a few of his personal interests.

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Ida Djenontin

Ida Djenontin
Department: Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences
djenonti@msu.edu

Biosketch: Ida Nadia Djenontin is a Benin Republic citizen and a first-year PhD student in Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences. She holds a Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) degree -with track in Natural Resources and Governance- from the University of Arizona. Prior to that, she obtained a master’s degree in Agricultural Sciences (with Rural Economy and Sociology as Major) from her home country. She has a cumulative 7 years of research and development experience. Ida’s work focuses on Agricultural and Natural Resources Management, especially natural resource-based livelihoods development and natural resource governance aspects. As such, her past researches included, inter alia, analyses of the use of trees and forests ecosystems services to adapt to climate change in the Sahel West Africa. She also worked in a research team to analyze the REDD+ policies arena in Burkina Faso, from a Global Comparative Study Program on Reduction Emissions from Deforestation and forests Degradation. Recently, she gets involved in research activities on Sustainable Land Management and the related issues of land rights and policies in Sub-Saharan Africa; on the understanding of how local governance can play with climate change adaptation in developing countries (Mali); and on the paradigm of Coproduction of Knowledge to increase the usability of Climate Science worldwide. Building on that research diversity and professional background, Ida’s current research interests lie at the intersection of development and environmental management, specifically natural resource management and governance in Sub-Saharan Africa. She will streamline her PhD research toward understanding, from different and combined perspectives, how agricultural and forested lands –viewed under a landscape lens- can be sustainably restored and managed in order to contribute to the triple goal of protecting biodiversity, addressing climate change, and achieving food security. To attain that, she aims at learning and applying the adequate theories and methods to understand the physical, human, and political dynamics associated with the governance of such landscapes toward fostering sustainable and transformative farm-forest landscapes.

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Andrew Earle

Andrew Earle
Department: Economics
earleand@msu.edu

Biosketch: I am a doctoral student in the Economics Department. I received a dual major in Mathematics and Economics at the University of Pittsburgh. My research focuses on the relationship between diffrent levels of government and energy production. Previously, I have studied how Pennsylvania law impacts the number of abandoned and inactive wells in the state. During a field study, I researchered how coal and oil production affects the unemployment rate and population in Wyoming counties.

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Matthew Flood

Matthew Flood
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
floodmat@msu.edu

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Chanse Ford

Chanse Ford
Department: Geological Sciences
fordchan@msu.edu

Biosketch: I’m a Ph.D. student working in Dr. Dave Hyndman’s lab in the Department of Geological Sciences. My research interests include shallow groundwater, groundwater-surface water interactions, isotope hydrology and integrated land-use/hydrologic modeling. I received my B.S. in Geology from the University of Southern Indiana in 2014, where my research involved quantifying groundwater discharge in the streambed of a groundwater-fed stream through the use of some personally constructed seepage meters. I completed my M.S. at Western Michigan University in 2016. My thesis project examined the same stream, the White River in Manistee National Forest, through stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen. Currently I am researching how warmer winters are affecting the snowmelt regime here in Michigan and what that will do to streamflow. My long-term research interests involve examining the effects of our changing climate on hydrology and water resources. In my free time I enjoy hiking and camping with my dog, Charlie, and cruising down country highways on my motorcycle.

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Kathryn Frens

Kathryn Frens
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
frenskat@msu.edu

Biosketch: Kathryn is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State University. Her dissertation research focuses on the intersection of land use policy, wildlife conservation, and human wellbeing across large landscapes. She is particularly interested in combining information and methods from across disciplines to do research that informs policy, and also gets enthusiastic about well-written papers and other effective communication. Kathryn graduated from Hope College in 2006 with a degree in biology and writing, and subsequently received an M.S. degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment. Since then, she has worked on wildlife research projects around the country.

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Shivan GC

Shivan GC
Department: Forestry
shivangc@gmail.com

Biosketch: I come from the Himalayan country, Nepal, whose economic wellbeing is closely tied to its natural resources. The motivation to work for environmental conservation while addressing the need for forest products guided me to join undergraduate program in forestry in my home country. I came to the US to garner wider knowledge in forestry and completed my master’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. The research focus during master’s program was to understand the role of nonindustrial private forest landowners in wood-based bioenergy production in the United States. Since then, I have worked on several different projects related to wood-based bioenergy in Michigan. I am further interested to explore the potential economic and environmental impacts of emerging bioenergy industries at the local, regional and state level. I am positive that the coursework I take during PhD enrollment in forest resource economics will enrich my understanding in a policy-oriented perspective and help me address the interdependence between human economies and natural ecosystems. My research interests range from exploring economically feasible sites for energy plantation in Michigan through application of GIS technology to assessing the availability of woody biomass from Michigan’s non-corporate private forests through contingent valuation as well as building input output models for bioenergy industries in the State.

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Andrew Gerard

Andrew Gerard
Department: Community Sustainability
gerarda1@anr.msu.edu

Biosketch: I am a PhD student in the Department of Community Sustainability. I study institutional and economic issues in developing countries, specifically challenges related to sustainable agricultural production. I’m interested in influences on farmer decision-making and the agricultural and environmental policy development process. Since 2015, I have worked with MSU's African Great Lakes Region Coffee Support Program on coffee policy research in Rwanda and Burundi. I also serve as a Global Collaboration Specialist in MSU's Center for Global Connections in Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources. Prior to coming to MSU, I was a Senior Program Officer at the Global Knowledge Initiative, a non-profit international development organization based in Washington, DC. There I worked to forge collaborative problem solving networks and conducted science, technology, and innovation policy analysis in East and Southern Africa.

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Clara Graucob

Clara Graucob
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
graucobc@msu.edu

Biosketch: My name is Clara Graucob and I will be joining MSU as a PhD student under Dr. Kramer this year. I will be working in the NASA-funded project on socio-ecological impacts of climate change and dam construction in the Lower Mekong River Basin. Born and raised in Germany, my academic studies have allowed me to live in several other countries. I completed a Bachelor's degree in Environmental and Resource Management and dove into Coastal and Marine Engineering and Management for my Master's. These very different types of degrees (one broad, one engineering-based) showed me that I prefer working in a multidisciplinary setting. Having a holistic overview and incorporating all kinds of thematic aspects, opinions and stakeholders is my way of working towards true sustainability defined as "an activity that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs".This can only be achieved when addressing economic, social and environmental issues. Having some experience in international climate politics, I have learnt that achieving sustainability and creating resilience, especially in the face of climate change, cannot be accomplished by one organisation alone, but it is a task for governments, the public and the private sector alike. This interplay is one of the things I look forward to exploring more during my time at MSU. In my free time, I love being outdoors, going for hikes, trekking and surfing. I also do lots of yoga and am planning on doing the US without a car - so you'll see me cycling through (East) Lansing. Looking forward to meeting many of you.

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Charles Hayes

Charles Hayes
Department: Philosophy
hayesc13@msu.edu

Biosketch: Charles Hayes is pursuing a doctoral degree in philosophy, with a graduate specialization in Environmental Science and Policy. His research centers around environmental ethics, with specific interests in the ethics of collaborative public land management, the project of rewilding, and environmental virtue ethics. He often approaches these topics in conversation with the philosophy of technology, with the hope of illuminating how our technological age has shaped the way we understand and inhabit our environments. Before coming to MSU, Charles earned an MLitt in theology from the University of St. Andrews. There he looked at theological themes in lyric nature writing and environmental aesthetics. After this he earned an MA in Environmental Philosophy from the University of Montana, along with a graduate certificate in Natural Resource Conflict Resolution. In order to steep his research in real-life environmental issues, Charles worked for a local ecological restoration company and with the National Forest Foundation's Conservation Connect initiative. These jobs provided the opportunity to experience the everyday difficulties of working out environmental values in the way we carry out restoration and work collaboratively to manage public land. Aside from study, Charles enjoys walking farther than is reasonable and stopping to identify trees.

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Charifa Hejase

Charifa Hejase
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
hejasech@msu.edu

Biosketch: From my early childhood years, I have always found interest in scientific matters and activities. I had the need to want to know why things work the way they do and further my understanding of physical concepts all around us. I have always been enthusiastic when solving problems as I appreciate the idea of being challenged. For the above reasons, I have come to love science. This special interest in science has shaped my professional goals portfolio. I am a first year PhD student in Environmental Engineering. I received my bachelor and master degrees in Environmental Engineering from MSU. Being born and raised in a developing country has made me appreciate the clean environment in the United States. In my home country, Lebanon, we lack the access to potable and palatable drinking water due to the basic drinking water treatment process used. During my Masters studies, I worked on a project related to oil-water separation. This project addresses a societal concern which is treating the large volumes of oily wastewater generated by industries using membrane filtration. My PhD work will build on the results obtained in my Master’s degree and by pursuing an Environmental Science and Policy Program specialization, I’ll be able to translate the science to policy makers and stakeholders.

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Patricia Jaimes

Patricia Jaimes
Department: Earth and Environmental Sciences
patriciajaimes91@gmail.com

Biosketch: Patricia is a second-year PhD student in the Geocognition Research Laboratory housed in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. She received her BS in Earth Science from Northeastern Illinois University in May 2015. Patricia was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, is both a first-generation American & a first-generation college student, and is bilingual (English & Spanish). She entered her first year at MSU with a College of Natural Sciences Early Start Fellowship and a University Fellowship package. She is currently a recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and has received numerous awards  (internal & external) during her time at MSU. Patricia is an e-board member for the Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native American Students in Science (SACNAS) chapter on campus. Her current research interests are in findings ways to increase minority representation in the STEM workforce. Her personal interests include spending time with her family, reading fiction, and mentoring high school & undergraduate students. More on Patricia Jaimes »

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Demetrice R. Jordan

Demetrice R. Jordan
Department: Geography
jordande@msu.edu

Biosketch: Dee is a University Enrichment Fellow and doctoral student in the department of geography, where her concentration is Spatial Epidemiology and Health and Medical Geography with an Environmental Health and Policy focus. In the study of geography, she has developed a special interest in the use of Geographic Information Systems as a social and environmental justice advocacy tool. Specifically, her research focuses on examing the spatial distribution of environmental health problems, exploring the social forces that create power differentials which prevent the development of environmental regulations and policies, and developing community-based strategies to reduce the exposure risk from environmental contaminants. Her previous research projects include environmental cancer risk, cancer health disparities, race-based residential segregation and community-based participatory GIS research. More on Dee Jordan »

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Apporva Joshi

Apporva Joshi
Department:  Journalism
iamapoorva@apoorvaj.com

Biosketch: Apoorva has a Bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of Pune in India, and a Master’s degree in environmental journalism from the University of Montana. Her Master’s professional project work was a long-form multimedia feature story on whether tiger-centric wildlife tourism in one of India’s most popular tiger reserves is sustainable or not. Since then, she has covered global environmental news for Mongabay.com for two years in addition to her experiences working in a TV newsroom in Bozeman, Montana, and at a daily newspaper in Mumbai, India. As a PhD student in the Media and Information Studies program and as part of the Environmental Science and Policy Program, Apoorva will conduct interdisciplinary research into global environmental crime – specifically wildlife crime – and dig into how the news media communicate stories on such subjects to the general public, while also assessing the impact this communication has. Her goal is to understand how social, economic, cultural, political and legal aspects contribute to the prevalence of international wildlife crime by combining investigative journalism with resources and knowledge gained from studying other fields like intercultural communication, criminal justice, conservation criminology, international relations, social sciences, and environmental risk communications.

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Ryan Julien

Ryan Julien
Department: Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
julienry@msu.edu

Biosketch: I am currently a PhD student in the Biosystems Engineering Department at MSU, working with Dr. Jade Mitchell's research group. My research work is focused on the unintended consequences of green building practices - specifically on the effects reduced water consumption has on water age and water quality. I received by BS in Civil Engineering from Michigan Tech in 2009. I then joined the Biosystems Engineering Department at MSU and worked with Dr. Steve Safferman to attain my MS. I joined a consulting firm as an enviornmental engineering for nearly five years, where I primarily worked on gas and oil remediation projects. I also worked with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality preparing air permits for another year. I decided to come back to MSU to pursue my PhD in order to have a stronger, more positive impact on the environment. I hope to use my education and experience to help improve human health and quality of life, especially for people whose well-being is often overlooked.

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Dipti Kamath

Dipti Kamath
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
simplydipti@gmail.com

Biosketch: : I'm a second year Ph.D. student working with Dr. Annick Anctil in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. I took a Bachelors in Civil Engineering from Government Engineering College, Thrissur and followed it up with a Masters in Environmental Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. My research is all about seeing if we can reuse electric vehicle batteries that are at the end of their service life in these vehicles. This is important as electric vehicle use is increasing and the battery waste from them could be a problem in the near future. I test these batteries to see if they can be reused and then check the environmental and economic benefits of doing so. I am also interested in the social implications and want to see how policy can be leveraged to impact battery waste management options. When I am not working on my research, I spend time watching movies, painting and traveling.

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Kyungmin Kim

Kyungmin Kim
Department: Plant, Soil and Microbial Science
kimkyu46@msu.edu

Biosketch: Kyungmin has great interest in both environmental and soil sciences as well as in social and political aspects of applying research findings to solve environmental programs. She has masters and bachelors degrees in environmental science and ecological engineering from Korea University.

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Caitlin Kirby

Caitlin Kirby
Department: Geological Sciences
kirbycai@msu.edu

Biosketch: I am a PhD student in the Geocognition Research Laboratory working with Dr. Julie Libarkin. My dissertation research explores environmental decision-making in different cultural spaces with a Theory of Planned Behavior framework. My research has taken me to urban spaces, Indigenous communities, and South American countries to understand how individuals make decisions about sustainability and the contributions that policy have to shaping those decisions. I am also interested in studying science education and how different types of classroom experiences impact students' relationship to science and the environment. I attained my undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in Environmental Biology/Microbiology. My personal interests include yoga and traveling, and I teach several yoga classes at MSU and around the Lansing area.

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Craig Kohn

Craig Kohn
Department: Agriscience Education and Sustainability
kohncrai@msu.edu

Biosketch: Craig is a Ph.D. student in Teacher Education, studying science and agricultural instruction in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education program. He is investigating both how US agricultural production can become more economically, socially, and ecologically sustainable as well as how future agriculturalists can be best prepared to enact these changes as a result of educational preparation that emphasizes science literacy and experiential learning. Previously, Craig worked for ten years as a science and agriculture instructor and received his degrees and teaching licenses from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

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Haoyang Li

Haoyang Li
Department: Economics
lihaoya2@msu.edu

Biosketch: After receiving my bachelor’s degree at Zhejiang University in China and master’s degree at MSU department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, I decided to join the Economics department to continue my research in the field of Environmental and Resource Economics. I am interested in applying decision theory in environmental issues and studying people’s incentive to adopt environmentally friendly activities. My previous researches mainly include the evaluation of second generation biofuels and the analysis of people’s choice using discrete choice models. Currently I am involved in a research project looking into farmers’ water use decision under different technologies in the region of Kansas Ogallala Aquifer. I’m also trying to find out a way to incorporate other discipline’s findings into economic researches, which I believe will be achieved in ESPP in the future.

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Yingjie Li

Yingjie Li
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
liyj@msu.edu

Biosketch: Yingjie is interested in innovative research on the interface of remote sensing, spatial analysis, ecosystem services, geographic information systems and telecoupled human and natural system. He has degrees in geography and land resource management.

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Lin Liu

Lin Liu
Department: Geological Sciences
liulin7@msu.edu

Biosketch: Lin Liu is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. She has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Sichuan University and a Master of Science in Environmental Geo-Science at Michigan State University. She is interested in integrating computer technology, field experiments, and crop-simulation models to advance precision agriculture. For her dissertation, she is working on coupling terrain and crop models. She has used the Systems Approach to Land Use Sustainability (SALUS) model to assess switchgrass production in Michigan and evaluate pigeonpea cultivation in Malawi.

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Yingyue Liu

Yingyue Liu
Department: Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences
liuyin22@msu.edu

Biosketch:

My broad interests and desire to be a scholar brought me to ESPP. Urbanization, migrant workers, and agriculture were topics I spent most of my time on in the past ten years as an economics student. For my dissertation research in Geography, I would focus on “spatially-explicit agent-based models” and explore how science and policy can achieve the well-being of small stakeholders, efficient land management, and rural community sustainability.

I want to die as a “Renaissance woman”. But I also keep Max Weber’s words in mind: ”Mind you, the devil is old; grow old to understand him.” So I will live as a environmental science and policy explorer first.

Conference Presentations: “Contemporary Tools and Models of Farmer Decision-Making and Food System Assessments”, Global Land Programme 3rd Open Science Meeting, 26 October, 2016, Beijing, China http://www.glp-osm2016.com

Training Programs: International Winter School “How to model human decision-making in social-ecological agent-based models” for PhD students and early Postdocs, 2-7 January, 2017, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA https://complexity.asu.edu/CBIEWinterSchool2017

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Micahel Metiva

Micahel Metiva
Department: Earth and Environmental Sciences
metivama@msu.edu

Biosketch: By studying the impacts of environmental changes, we are better able to predict and rectify the damage that affects the lives of people all over the world. My participation in the Environmental Geosciences program will afford me the ability to research problems like these in a very scientific way, but the research alone forms an incomplete picture. Above all else, participating in Model United Nations taught me that it takes people from all sorts of backgrounds to effect any kind of lasting change, and that public policy is involved more often than not. This is especially true with environmental issues, as many private actors view the subject as a barrier or inconvenience. Many state and federal bodies, universities, and environmental consultancies have either direct involvement in or other close relation to policy formation and governmental action. After I complete my education I would like to find employment in places such as these which would allow me to connect my scientific passion with my governmental interests. Policy itself is an exceedingly tricky subject, and it is something with which few scientists have a lot of experience. I believe that the ESPP specialization can at least partially fill that gap for me. More precisely, my goal for my participation in this program is to help bridge the gap that exists between science and policy. As the world continues to change and our impact on the environment grows, more people than ever will rely on the building of that bridge.

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Rebecca Minardi

Rebecca Minardi
Department: Community Sustainability
minardir@msu.edu

Biosketch: Rebecca Minardi is a doctoral student in the Department of Community Sustainability.  She is working toward an Environmental Science and Policy doctoral specialization and has received fellowships from the Environmental Science and Policy Program (ESPP) and the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) program. She received her BA in International Affairs and History from Marshall University in West Virginia and her Master of Public Health from Des Moines University in Iowa.  While studying public health issues, Rebecca realized that a community is only as healthy as its habitat; political will, economic might, and robust health care networks cannot do much in the face of a deeply damaged ecosystem.  After a research assistant position at the University of Michigan where she worked with the Urban Pollinator Project and in a soils lab studying cover crops implementation, Rebecca started her PhD program at MSU in the fall of 2016. After researching differences between male and female coffee farmers in Burundi and Rwanda, she has now joined a multi-disciplinary team researching the impacts of dam construction on human communities and the environment in the Brazilian Amazon Basin. She is interested in pursuing research on how communities fare after being resettled following dam reservoir construction. She will look at current compensation schemes utilized by the Brazilian government to understand how these help or hinder a resettled community’s social cohesion and individual’s success.

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Akshay Murali

Akshay Murali
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
muraliak@msu.edu

Biosketch: Akshay Murali is a student in the environmental engineering MS program at MSU and will start his PhD studies with Dr. Volodymyr Tarabara. He is interested in environmental policy and cost-effective water treatment solutions for the developing world.

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Judith Namanya

Judith Namanya
Department:  Geography
j4jc2@yahoo.com

Biosketch: With increased globalization and industrialization, natural resources are becoming more vulnerable and at high risk of exhaustion. In addition, high population growth especially in Sub-Sahara Africa has led to continuous conflicts over natural resources, especially water and land for cultivation. My purpose in career development is to work together with communities to enable them realize their full potential in promoting environmental sustainability and overcome the emerging challenges; key among them, impacts of water scarcity on social networks and health. These emerging challenges have been made worse by climate change and the associated impacts. In this regard, communities need to be equipped with among other things, the knowledge to enable them to mitigate and adapt to these climate change influenced challenges. During my PhD program in Geography at MSU, I hope to enhance my skills and competences that will help me work better with vulnerable communities especially in Uganda and other stakeholders to demonstrate the importance of recognizing the inter-linkages between the environment and health in achieving sustainable development. My goal after my graduate studies will be to work towards achieving the greater benefits of promoting an integrated approach to policy-making, planning and implementation of programs in the health and environment sectors that value the services that properly managed eco-systems provide to human health.

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Rajiv Paudel

Rajiv Paudel
Department:  Geography
paudelra@msu.edu

Biosketch: Rajiv Paudel is a PhD student at Department of Geography. After finishing his masters’ degrees from the UK in Ecology/Environment Management and in Geographical Information Systems (GIS), he worked for few years in Nepal in species conservation as well as in rural food security issues. His interests are in GIS & modeling, food security, and in biodiversity conservation. He is currently working on a NSF funded research at MSU that focuses on Food Security issues in West Africa.

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Betsy Riley

Betsy Riley
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
bril@msu.edu

Biosketch: Betsy's research is on international fisheries policy with a focus on effective management structures for fisheries resources. Currently she's looking at the Great Lakes governance system and expects to go international after her first round of research, in order to see different governance structures in action and better understand the role that culture plays in management decision making. Betsy's childhood on an Angus cattle ranch in Poteau, Oklahoma, as well as her close ties to her mother's family in Iowa, has closely shaped her ideas and values surrounding resource use and human kind's interaction with the the natural world. Despite her rural upbringing, she has always had an insatiable curiosity about the larger world, leaving to study abroad in France at age 16, and then moving out to Massachusetts as soon as her high school diploma hit her hand. It wasn't until the University of Michigan, however, that she discovered her love of fisheries. After working for two years at the US. Geological Survey's Great Lakes Science Center, she realized the direction her studies had taken would inevitably turn her steps from Wolverine to Spartan to take advantage of MSU's amazing Fisheries and Wildlife Department.

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Steven Roels

Steven Roels
Department: Integrative Biology
steveroels@gmail.com

Biosketch: I am PhD student in the lab of Dr. Catherine Lindell with expertise in conservation biology, restoration ecology, and ornithology. I have done research in Texas, Michigan, Kansas, Vietnam, and Panama. My Master's thesis focused on herbivory and seedling ecology of a threatened prairie plant, Mead's Milkweed. For my doctorate, I am studying avian ecology and trophic cascades in Panamanian forest restorations.

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Michael Ryskamp

Michael Ryskamp
Department:  Plant Biology
ryskampm@msu.edu

Biosketch: Before enrolling at MSU as a PhD student in the Plant Biology Program, I spent several years working full-time for a watershed group in Grand Rapids; while working there, I collaborated with civil engineers and urban planners to develop and implement watershed restoration and research. Together, these classes and experiences have given me a solid foundation in a very wide range of scientific fields, with further specialization in several disciplines. Many of my classes combined elements of basic-science with what we might consider societal or political topics, e.g. stakeholder engagement in managing ecosystems, global trade and epidemiology, and food systems and policy. As a program coordinator for a watershed group, it was my job to understand my watershed’s hydrology, biology, and ecology so that I could develop and implement restoration plans that target specific nutrient, sediment, and bacterial load reductions.

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Snehalata Saijoo

Snehalata Saijoo
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
sainjoos@msu.edu

Biosketch: Growing up in a topographically constrained mountain community of Nepal, her enthusiasm on environmental concerns sprouted from her early days. Following a simple lifestyle and living proximity to nature, she is inclined towards the nature’s offerings and carries environmental stewardess in herself. In her early engagement as Environmentalist, Snehalata Sainjoo came across the degrading environmental situation across parts of the country, impacting local livelihood and adding constraint to basic life amenities. It was the same period when worldwide concern on environmental issues was escalated and her fascination towards it grew stronger, later she adopted it as her career pathway. With an academic background of Master’s degree in Environmental Science and six-years working experiences at community and national level in diverse subject matters, particularly related to climate change, food security and livelihood, now she drives herself in PhD programme at Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, MSU. She will be joining Dr Kramer and other team members in the NASA-funded project on socio-ecological impacts of climate change and dam construction in the Lower Mekong River Basin. She has a moto to work for the community valuing the bottom-up approach. Addressing the ground level risk with consideration of the socio-ecological complexity, coupled with the future climate uncertainties has been the biggest challenge for her so far and that she is looking forward to detangle it during her study at MSU. Moreover, Snehalata is a trained professional on geostatistical analysis, environmental assessment; is at ease with handling multitudinal software programmes and has appetite for further learning opportunities. Being a nature lover and sociable, she enjoys to explore cultures across landscape and way of life. She likes hiking, cycling, enjoys forest safaris, and adventures like rafting, paragliding and carries some photography skills too.

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Udita Sanga

Udita Sanga
Department: Community Sustainability
sangaudi@msu.edu

Biosketch: Udita is pursuing her doctoral degree in the Department of Community Sustainability with a specialization in Environment Science and Policy. She has a master’s degree in Ecology from Utah State University and a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Biotechnology from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra in India. Currently, she is working with Dr Olabisi on an NSF-funded project "Participatory ensemble modeling to study the multiscale social and behavioral dynamics of food security in dryland West Africa". For her dissertation work, Udita is keen on understanding the differential vulnerability and adaptive capacity of rural farmers to climatic shocks and their mental models of climatic risk perception and decision-making. She is interested in exploring the social, environmental, economic as well as the behavioral and cognitive aspects of the response of farmers to climate change using system dynamics and agent based modelling approaches.

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Yike Shen

Yike Shen
Department: Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences
shenyike@msu.edu

Biosketch: Growing up in China seeing the increasing concerns in environmental health and food safety, I’m inspired to do my undergraduate study in Environmental area to solve these problems. After getting my B.S. in Environmental and Conservation Sciences at the University of Alberta in Canada and B.Eng in Environmental Engineering from China, I’m currently doing my Ph.D. majoring in Crop and Soil Science – Environmental Toxicology at Dr. Wei Zhang’s Soil and Water Research Lab at MSU. My T concept of interdisciplinary study includes the depth of research in environmental behaviors of emerging contaminants such as microbial pathogen, antibiotics, and antibiotics resistance genes, specifically their distribution, fate, and transport in the environment. I would like to use the breadth of ESPP to collaboratively working with social scientists, economists, and philosophers and include ESPP in part of my Ph.D. dissertation. With the addition of ESPP to my doctorate major, it will help me greatly in achieving a more comprehensive and holistic understanding and research development in Crop and Soil Science, Environmental Toxicology, and Environmental Science and Policy to ultimately develop some better solutions to those environmental problems.

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Gabriela Shirkey

Gabriela Shirkey
Department: Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences
shirkeyg@msu.edu

Biosketch: Gabriela Shirkey is a current MSU student who will pursue her doctoral degree with Dr. Jiquan Chen. Her interests are in land management and its effects on the carbon cycle.

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Timothy Silberg

Timothy Silberg
Department: Community Sustainability
silbergt@msu.edu

Biosketch: Timothy Silberg is pursuing a Doctoral Degree from MSU in the Department of Community Sustainability. He completed his undergraduate studies at The Pennsylvania State University in Agricultural Sciences and his master’s degree at Texas A&M University in Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications. His agricultural development work in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Guatemala, DR-Congo, Uganda and Haiti have fueled his desire to learn about the social and ecological processes that operate in farming systems among the rural poor. His dissertation research models parasitic weed prevalence across smallholder farms in Central Malawi. The research uses production simulation and econometrics to project weed prevalence and illustrate tradeoffs farmers are willing to make for implementing a weed prevention practice. Both methods of analysis are integrated within a system dynamics model to inform agricultural extension and policy makers about training and subsidy programs. In the end, he hopes the model will be able to run various environmental scenarios to show feedback between technology adoption, soil degradation and weed prevalence. In the future, he wishes to work in agricultural research agencies that assess how, when, and if technology can be used for smallholder farming in conjunction with natural, social and human assets.

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Mark Suchyta

Mark Suchyta
Department: Sociology
suchytam@msu.edu

Biosketch: Mark Suchyta is a doctoral student studying Sociology, specializing in Animal Studies and Environmental Science and Policy. He holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan and an MS in Rural Sociology from Penn State University. His research interests revolve around environmental attitudes, behaviors, and how to create platforms for public participation in environmental decision-making. Much of his previous work has focused on communities experiencing natural gas development. At MSU, he plans to pursue his interest in public attitudes about industrial animal agriculture and the social movements and policies that have come about as a result. When he’s not busy with his studies, he enjoys spending time with his birds.

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Anna Terkelsen

Anna Terkelsen
Department: Economics
terkelse@msu.edu

Biosketch: My career goal is to become an economics professor researching topics in industrial organization, specifically with regard to energy and transportation economics. Since graduating from George Mason University (GMU) in 2013, I have worked as a private consultant performing economic research under a Ph.D. economist in matters ranging from antitrust to insurance fraud regarding oil pipelines and toll roads. The skills I developed at this position, along with advanced coursework in economics and mathematics, have prepared me to achieve a Ph.D. inEconomics

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Xinyi Tu

Xinyi Tu
Department: Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences
tuxinyi2@msu.edu

Biosketch: Xinyi is pursuing a Ph.D. with an emphasis on soil quality and environmental impact with Dr. Sieglinde Snapp. Her research interests lie in using soil quality concepts and modeling tools to understand human impacts on soil physical properties, soil ecological function and to solve critical environmental issues.

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Stephen Vrla

Stephen Vrla
Department: Sociology
stephenvrla@gmail.com

Biosketch: I'm a first-year PhD student in the Department of Sociology. In addition to the ESPP specialization, I'm also in the Animal Studies specialization. Broadly, my research interests are in the sociological and social psychological aspects of the relationships among humans, non-human animals, and the environment. More specifically, these interests manifest themselves in my research on environmental values, animal attitudes, and humane education. Ultimately, my goal is to discover how schools can most effectively help students become thoughtful, engaged citizens who are committed to the well beings of both ecosystems and their individual inhabitants. I was born and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona before going to Williams College in Massachusetts. After graduating in 2010, I volunteered on an organic ranch in California, worked as a field instructor at a wilderness therapy program in Utah, and taught environmental science and social studies at a boarding school for disadvantaged students in Texas. All of these experiences inspire my current work. In my free time, I enjoy going backpacking, playing sports, and hanging out with my dog, Hermes.

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Kayleigh Ward

Kayleigh Ward
Department: Sociology
wardkay1@msu.edu

Biosketch: I am a PhD student in the Department of Sociology, with an additional specialization in International Development. I previously attained a bachelor’s degree at the University of San Diego in Sociology and English. At MSU I am interested in the question of community sustainability in the context of rural redevelopment and disasters. I became interested in the disaster nexus after doing work in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Currently, my research is in Japan following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, where I work in Miyagi prefecture. The goal of this is to access community sustainability during reconstruction, and evaluate the Reconstruction Agency appointed to lead the effort. This includes efforts from local NGO/NPOs, local associations and governments, businesses, and community groups which has resulted in the development of new community programs. More recently, I am involved with public policy regarding issues of economic, social, and cultural capital in the region and how reconstruction affects Nature and humans. A broader goal, is learning from the redevelopment in Japan and applying it to address social concerns and environmental decisions in future disasters.

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Anthony Van Witsen

Anthony Van Witsen
Department:  Journalism
tonyvanwitsen@gmail.com

Biosketch: Anthony Van Witsen began his graduate studies wanting to know more about the relationship between science and mass communication. Working as a science journalist taught him that science does not always follow officially designated paths to make discoveries, and the working lives of scientists involve a great deal more than the laboratory. This is particularly true for science that involves some kind of public policy response. He comes to MSU from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where he developed an interest in how some scientific discoveries come to be seen as relevant, risky, controversial, or a social problem, while others, which may represent an equally important intellectual contribution, do not, and the role mass communication plays in that process.

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Yuxian Xiao

Yuxian Xiao
Department: Economics
xiaoyuxi@msu.edu

Biosketch: I am a first year Ph.D. student in the economics department. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in economics from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Then I went to Shanghai Jiao Tong University to finish my master’s degree in applied economics. My research interests lie in the intersection of development economics and environmental economics. My previous research work focuses on China's energy-saving policies. With the valuable multi-disciplinary resources that the ESPP program provides, I hope to offer further insights on different environmental issues.

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So-Jung Youn

So-Jung Youn
Department: Fisheries and Wildlife
younsoju@msu.edu

Biosketch: So-Jung Youn is currently a PhD student with Dr. William Taylor at Michigan State University. She is interested in global utilization of inland capture fisheries and the inland fisheries value chain. She is studying ways to assess and value inland fisheries, such as using consumption surveys and household dynamics to estimate inland fisheries harvest. So-Jung is also interested in valuation of the services provided by inland fisheries and characterization of the inland fisheries value chain. Her MS thesis, "The Importance of Inland Fisheries to Global Food Security", focused on the contribution of inland fisheries to food security and livelihoods. So-Jung received a MS in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University and a BS in Biology, with a minor in Management and Organizational Leadership, from the College of William and Mary.

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Qiong Zhang

Qiong Zhang
Department: Geography
zhangqio@msu.edu

Biosketch: In the latest report of the World Health Organization (2014), air pollution was described as the single greatest environmental health risk, which annually causes one in eight deaths worldwide. As one of the largest developing countries, China lies in a dilemma between economic blooming, urbanization, and the burst of environmental problems. After received two masters’ degrees from the University of Toledo, Master of Public Administration and Master of Geography & Planning, I shifted my research direction from transportation geography to health/medical geography. My research interests lie in public health, particular maternal and infant health, and medical geography. To address the association between polluted environment and public health, the goal of my doctoral research is to estimate the direct and indirect effects of urban growth and smog levels on maternal and infant health in China.

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Qucheng Zhang

Qucheng Zhang
Department: Media and Information

Biosketch: Qucheng (Chris) Zhang joins the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism with degrees in Communication and Engineering from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. He is interested in the study of social issues like economic growth and public opinion especially in relation to environmental issues.

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Rui Zhang

Rui Zhang
Department: Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences
zhangr50@msu.edu

Biosketch: I am a PhD student in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences,working with Dr. Arika Ligmann-Zielinska. I am interested in using spatial explicit modeling approaches, especially Agent-based Modeling (ABM) to simulate land use/cover change and coupled human and natural systems (CHANS). I got my master degree from George Mason University’s MAIS (Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies) program with concentration on CSS (Computational Social Science). I worked on an agricultural land use model of the Poyang Lake Region (PLR) in China during master program. The model simulates how geographic and economic factors influence agricultural land use change in PLR, and indicates how government policy can play a role in this process through the design of various modeling scenarios. The research I am doing recently is to build an ABM to simulate the influences of road constructions on land cover types and aquatic ecosystems in a remote area — Regio´n Auto´noma de la Costa Caribe Sur (RACCS) of Nicaragua. At the same time, I am working as a research assistant at Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS) of MSU on developing Telecoupling Toolbox, which is a suite of geospatial software tools and apps for socioeconomic and environmental analysis on CHANS from local to global scales.

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Yuqian Zhang

Yuqian Zhang
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
zhan1364@msu.edu

Biosketch: Yuqian joined Dr. Jianguo Liu’s lab as a PhD student in 2018. He received a Master of Science in Environmental Science and a Master of Public Affairs in Environmental Policy Analysis at Indiana University Bloomington, where he developed his interdisciplinary research interest in ecosystem conservation and community sustainable development. His current research focuses on the interaction between human and nature systems, and multiple system integration, by using GIS, remote sensing and statistical modeling.

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