Former Student Notes


Where are they NOW?

Former research students, Kate Tompkins and Pete Pavicevic, posing for a photo after collecting soils from the tailings pond at Callahan Mine, Brooksville, ME. Kate completed her medical studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill while Pete earned a Masters of Landscape Architecture (MLA) from the Spitzer School of Architecture City College of New York. Kate did her residency in internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and has been practicing as an internal medicine specialist in Baltimore, MD since 2015. Pete was employed by Nancy Owens Studio LLC as a green infrastructure inspector of a project to manage storm water and reduce in the City’s combined sewer overflow and is currently an engineer with a firm tasked with overseeing major overhauls to the New York City Subway system. A paper they co-authored with me is found here.

Former research students, Tanner Harris (L), Luka Negoita (C), and Nate Pope (R),  enjoying a bottle of ‘fermented grape juice’ with me in Quincy, California. Tanner, after having completed a MS at University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2010), is currently an environmental scientist at King County, WA (see more on Tanner just below); Luka, after having spent four months with Tanner in CA conducting research at the Plumas National Forest (Project PIs Dr. Erik Jules and Dr. Hugh Safford), is currently working for the Charles Darwin Foundation in the Galapagos Islands (see more on Luka below); Nate is currently a post-doc at  Penn State University (see more on Nate below). Several papers I have coauthored with Tanner and Nate are found here (see publication #s 82, 54, 50, 49, 39, 38, 37, 31, 30, 26, 18-21, 16).

Tanner is currently an Environmental Scientist for the Road Services Division in King County, Washington.  As a certified Professional Wetland Scientist, Tanner conducts wetland delineations and assessments and stream characterization in support of county road maintenance and roadway infrastructure projects.  A large portion of the work focuses on culvert replacement and stream restoration aimed at salmon and steelhead recovery.  Tanner also supports environmental permitting and documentation efforts at the local, state, and federal levels.

Laura Briscoe with her two kids, Sophia (5) and Jude (1.5)

Laura received her MS 2012 from Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Her research focused on the phylogeny of a group of liverworts where the evolutionary and taxonomic relationships are poorly understood. During her time in Chicago she worked in the bryophyte collections at The Field Museum. She is now the Collections Manager for the Cryptgamic Herbarium at the New York Botanical Garden, and an editor of The Hand Lens. A paper Laura co-authored with me (and others) during her undergraduate days at COA is found here.

Brett Ciccotelli posing for a photo with me in Quebec during the Sixth International Conference on Serpentine Ecology 2008. After traveling the world on a Watson Fellowship, Brett paddled in the Gulf of Mexico as a National Geographic Young Explorer. He recently worked in Cambodia as an Environmental Consultant on a lake water purification project. Brett worked for the Summer Field Studies program at COA summer 2012. A paper Brett co-authored with me (and others) is found here. Brett recently co-authored a book on lakes and ponds of Mt. Desert Island. He currently manages an organic farm and teaches agriculture at The Bay School, Blue Hill, ME

Casie and Naveed in the Grampians

Casie Reed holds an M.S. in Plant Biology from North Carolina State University and is currently a research scientist in cancer biology at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. A copy of her master’s thesis can be found here.

Naveed Davoodian holds a Ph.D. in Biology from the joint Plant Sciences program of the City University of New York and the New York Botanical Garden. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, where he is working on the taxonomy and genomics of largely unexplored Australian ectomycorrhizal fungal lineages. Portions of Naveed‘s dissertation research can be found here  & here.

Hazel’s undergraduate final thesis, an ethnobotanical guide to plants of New England, was reviewed by renowned ethnobotanist Dr. Nancy Turner and includes a foreword by her. Hazel co-authored a digital plant guide with Dr. Marty Michener that includes excerpts from her final project in collaboration with the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum and also has excerpts available from this project on her blog, “Partridge, Pine, and Peavey.” She graduated from the one-year Teton Science School Graduate Program in Kelly,WY in July 2014, a program focused on experiential education, place-based teaching, and field ecology.  She also completed her Professional Science Master’s in Antioch University New England’s MS Resource Management and Conservation program in 2015. Hazel currently lives in Cherryfield, ME and works as a grant- and newsletter-writer for the Cobscook Community Learning Center, the coordinator for the Maine Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s Fish Friends program, and the Co-Founder/Co-CEO/Naturalist Educator of Maine Outdoor School. During her “off-time,” she produces and co-authors a weekly 5-minute radio show and podcast called The Nature of Phenology, which airs on WERU-FM and prints in a local newspaper. She is pursuing book publishing options for this project.

Nishad Jayasundara is currently an assistant professor at the School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono. His research examines how various fish species respond to changes in the environment. His ongoing work is conducted in a range of contexts, from addressing pollution issues in farming communities in South Asia, to understanding response of coastal fish populations to changes in ocean temperatures. Before UMaine, Nishad completed his Ph.D. at Stanford University and conducted postdoctoral research at Duke University. While Nishad’s primary focus has been on animal physiology he pursued ethnobotany as part of his final undergraduate thesis at College of the Atlantic. 

Since his undergraduate senior project studying the ecology of the Maine coast through College of the Atlantic, Luka Negoita has always had a strong passion for studying the unique characteristics of island ecosystems and associated botanical diversity. He continued this while working towards his PhD in biology at Syracuse University under the supervision of Dr. Jason Fridley, where he conducted large-scale island surveys and landscape-scale experiments to study the link between plant dispersal and ecosystem function. Luka is now the ecologist and data scientist at the Galapagos Verde 2050 project of the the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, where he uses data from large-scale restoration experiments to determine the best strategies for successfully protecting and restoring the ecosystems of the Galapagos. See more about Luka Negoita’s data science interests here.

After graduating from COA in 2007, Nate Pope lived as an itinerant botanist for a number of years. In 2019, he completed a PhD at the University of Texas, Austin, under the supervision of Dr. Shalene Jha, where his primary focus was bee biology and conservation. He is currently researching the adaptive evolution and phylogenomics of cucurbit-specialized bees, as a postdoctoral scientist in the Lopez-Uribe lab at Pennsylvania State University. Papers Nate has co-authored with me are found here (see publication #s 82, 39, 37, 26, 20).

Ai K

Ai Kitazumi completed her a M.Sc. (2013) in botany and plant pathology at the University of Maine, Orono, working under the supervision of Dr. Benildo de los Reyes.  After having taken  Plants with Mettle: Lives of Metallophytes in 2008 and helped organize the Sixth International Conference on Serpentine Ecology, Ai decided to pursue a career in plant molecular genetics. For her Ph.D. research, also at the University of Maine, Ai is focusing  on intra- and interspecific transgressives of rice, Oryza sativa, using next generation sequencing (mRNA-seq, siRNA-seq, BS-seq). A recent interview with Ai is found here. Ai is currently at the Department of Plant & Soil Science at the Texas Tech University.Neith Little

Neith Little completed her M.Sc. in Soil and Crop Science (2013) at the Weed Ecology and Management Laboratory at Cornell University (see a publication resulting from her M.Sc. here). While at COA she took several courses in botany and ecology, including Plants with Mettle:Lives of Metallophytes, a course focusing on the biology, ecology, evolution, and applied aspects of plants found on heavy metal rich environments. After having worked for the University of Minnesota Extension as the Dakota County Extension Educator for agricultural water quality, Neith is now working as an Urban Agriculture Extension Educator for University of Maryland Extension, Baltimore City

At College of the Atlantic, Anna’s introduction to botany through several great courses with Nishi, Suzanne Morse and others ignited her passion for plants. In 2013, she earned her M.A. in Ecological Design from The Conway School, where she worked on a range of landscape design and planning projects. Now as the senior horticulturist at Native Plant Trust’s 45 acre botanical garden, Garden in the Woods in Framingham, MA, Anna teaches about ecological horticulture, leads interns and volunteers, and works with a small staff to design, install, and steward gardens and natural areas.

Amy B

Amy Behnke is in her 2nd year at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated with a degree in Microbiology (2012) from San Jose State University. She is particularly interested in Wildlife and Small Animal Medicine. From 2009-2011, Amy worked as a research assistant at the Carl W. Sharsmith Herbarium.

Philip Kunhardt, COA ’11, is a Forester for NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, where he manages natural areas restoration projects throughout the five boroughs of New York under the guidance of the city’s Forest Management Framework. He is an ISA Certified Arborist and holds a Masters in Forest Science from the Yale School of the Environment (then the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies) where he researched Brazilian Atlantic Forest restoration alongside the Instituto Floresta Viva under the supervision of Dr. Mark S. Ashton. He takes special pride in overseeing restoration work at Jones Woods Park, one of the few serpentine uplands sites in New York State!

Jose Perez Orozco worked as a project coordinator for Florida Organic Growers, a non profit organization that promotes sustainable and organic agriculture in Florida and beyond. He recently completed his Master’s degree in Sustainable Development Practice, a collaboration between the African Studies and Latin American Studies at the University of Florida. Jose’s graduate research focused on sustainable and organic agriculture. A paper Jose co-authored with me is found here.

Sarah Short-Heller graduated from the University of Washington in 2011 with a M.Ed. in Science Education and a certificate in Restoration Ecology. In the fall of 2010, she was hired by the UW Botanic Gardens as the Community Programs Coordinator. Most recently, Sarah founded the Fiddleheads Forest School, a Nature Preschool at the UW Botanic Gardens opening in September 2013. Sarah says “My Nishi classes have stuck with me – I developed an entire week of ethnobotany summer camp, I teach ethnobotany in our school programs and developed and run an on-going plant phenology project with UW undergraduate students.”

Sarah Neilson received her masters in Agriculture from the University of Copenhagen with a focus on production and environment, and after eight years in small-scale organic vegetable production in Maine, moved to Seattle in 2015. She now works as a freelance writer, mainly covering literature and literary culture; her experience writing academic papers (Pub 1, Pub 2) with Nishi definitely helped her begin to navigate publishing. Among her many projects, she is also a research assistant with Seattle-based science writer Madeline Ostrander, who is working on a book about climate change and human adaptation.

Maggie Mansfield worked (summer 2012) as a field biologist in Plumas National Forest of California for the US Forest Service under the supervision of Dr. Erik Jules of HSU and Dr. Hugh Safford of USFS.  Maggie finished her undergraduate thesis (2011), a survey of the vascular plants of the Cu and Zn enriched Callahan Mine in Brooksville, ME. Her thesis research was published in Rhodora in 2014 (PDF). Maggie spent the summer of 2013 working for the USFS at Eldorado National Forest, CA. She is currently pursuing her MS in forest resources at UMaine, Orono under Dr. Robert Seymour. She will be working on the Acadian Forest Ecosystem Research Program, a long-term study on the Penobscot Experimental Forest.


Eva Dannenberg grew up in the woods of Vermont, spending much of her time outside looking at and learning to identify plants. She was home-schooled until she left for the College of the Atlantic, which she attended from 2005-2008, studying botany and ecology, and helping with studies of bryophytes on serpentine. She transferred to Goddard College, in Plainfield, VT in 2008 and graduated from there with a BA, concentration in Plant Ecology and Nature Education, in 2009. Since then she has worked as a field assistant for ecologists, a tour guide at a history museum, and as a seamstress, among other things. She is now working as a botanist for the State of Vermont Fish and Wildlife Dept. for the summer of 2012, and is currently attending Antioch University New England,  pursuing a MS in Environmental Studies, concentration Environmental Education. Her main professional interests are adult environmental education and field botany.

After graduating from COA in 2012, Meg started a part-time job at the Museum of Science, Boston as the Collection’s Curatorial Assistant. Now full-time at the Museum, she curates the Natural Mysteries exhibit, prepares taxidermy specimens, installs temporary exhibits, and participates in daily collection’s management. In a couple of years, she plans to get her Master’s in Education and teach high school biology, with the hope of instilling a fascination with the natural world in another generation. The press release on Meg’s senior project is found here (also, see her presentation). A chapter Meg recently co-authored is found here.

Will Broussard graduated from Antioch University New England in May of 2012 with an MS in Environmental Studies. Currently serves as Education Coordinator for the Mount Washington Observatory and sits on the board of Tin Mountain Conservation Center. In both organizations he promotes the unique human and natural history of the White Mountains region. When not teaching, Will spends his spare time hiking, botanizing, and bird-watching. A paper Will co-authored with me during his time at COA is found here.

Joseph Layden lives in New York City where he works as an art handler and fabricator and volunteers as a research assistant at the New York Botanical Garden.  A  brief description of Joseph’s senior project is found here.

Since graduating from COA in 2012, (senior project involving creating Ayurvedic massage oils from local plants and producing sets of pottery dishware, massage oil bottles, and herb containers), Vivian Lambert has come full circle with the following continuing education: Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant Certificate in 2013: The Ayurvedic Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Massage Therapy License in 2015: The Asheville School of Massage & Yoga, Asheville, North Carolina; Essential Energetics Mentorship in 2017: Hayley Merchant, Southwest Harbor, Maine; Moon of Hyldemoer Herbals Course in 2019: Suzanne Stone, Belfast, ME. She has her own bodywork and Ayurvedic practice in Bar Harbor based out of her beautiful and quiet home space. She is just starting to offer own herbal workshops, inspired by her desire to learn from the local plants and her search for zero-waste products with clean ingredients. 

After graduating with her degree in Human Ecology from COA in 2008, Jessica Hardy went on to pursue her post baccalaureate pre-medical certificate  from the University of Vermont. Recently, Jessica completed her Naturopathic Doctoral degree at the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine in Bridgeport, CT. Jessica currently works in Colts Neck, NJ as a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Meanwhile, she is pursuing certification in HeartMath Heart Rate Variability Therapy, an American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Physiology certification and is in her second year of a masters program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at  Monmouth University. She is hoping to have a wellness center in by the beach in Jersey after all her training is finished: one that encompasses all aspects of mind/body wellness. It would offer exercise, nutrition, herbal medicine, counseling, and some alternative mind-body therapies like HeartMath and yoga. Over the course of her four years at COA, Jessica took many botany classes, including Edible Botany, Ethnobotany, Trees and Shrubs of MDI and Evolutionary Processes in Plants (see course descriptions here).

Jon Carver

During his time at COA, Jon took a range of botany and agriculture-based courses. After graduation, Jon served as an assistant to COA’s 2009/2010 Yucatan Study Abroad Program. Jon completed his M.Sc. in Biology at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse (2013) under the supervision of Dr. Tom Volk. His research focused on the fungal root endophytes of crop plants. Jon recently completed  a field internship with the Maine Natural Areas Program. Jon has recently co-founded North Spore, a company focusing on mycological products and education.

Suzie at the Mendocino Coast Botanic Gardens

Suzie Woolhouse lives in Fort Bragg, CA where she works as a biologist at Wynn Coastal Planning & Biology. She spent the past 5 years at the Mendocino Woodlands State Park as the lead naturalist for their Outdoor Science School. She is still part time at The Woodlands, is an instructor for Field Studies in Natural History in Death Valley and is working on becoming a certified Process Coach. In her spare time she is in a band called As Meigas that plays traditional Galician music and adores playing traditional French tunes on her button accordion. She visits  her family in the UK and friends in Nîmes, France as much as possible. She will travel anywhere she hasn’t been if given the opportunity and hopes to one day market herself as a traveling nature guide of some sort. A paper Suzie co-authored with me (and others) can be found here and Suzie’s thesis research on the biology and ecology of two rare Monardella (Lamiaceae) species was published in Molecular Ecology in 2018. See Suzie’s website for updates!


Liz met Nishi as an undergraduate student when she enrolled in his Edible Botany course at San Jose State University.  Nishi’s course sparked Liz’s already budding desire to investigate all things botanical and has since enjoyed many hikes and excursions with Nishi through California’s diverse landscapes.  Liz has worked as a Field Biologist for the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory and had the pleasure of exploring the marshes and salt ponds that lie on the rim of the San Francisco Bay. After working in the organic food industry in San Francisco for a few years, Liz spent the first half of 2016 farming in Hawaii and then spent 3 months traveling in Sri Lanka (where she got to meet up with one of her favorite professors who happens to be from Sri Lanka!!!).  After traveling Liz landed in Portland, Oregon, and is currently the Pollinator Program Assistant at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Jessica CJessica Celis

Jessica Celis completed her Master’s degree in June 2015 at Oregon State University under the guidance of Dr. Charles Halpern and Dr. Andy Jones. Her research looked at the effects of conifer tree encroachment on the flowering and functional traits of meadow species in the Western Cascade Range of Oregon. After finishing her Master’s degree Jessica took some time off in 2015 to adventure with her husband Chris Parson in the form of backpacking trips, bike tours, and road trips. Her manuscript titled “Intraspecific trait variation and the differential decline of meadow species during conifer encroachment” is currently under review in Plant Ecology. Presently she is working for the United States Forest Service as the District Botanist for the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District in Southern Oregon. Her duties for this position include protecting and conserving rare and sensitive plant species, developing plans to eradicate and control the spread of invasive species, and making recommendations for restoration projects as they pertain to plant community and pollinator health.

Becca BBecca Art

Becca Berezuk is a scientific illustrator and artist based in San Francisco, CA. She is currently a Botanical Illustrator at The California Academy of Sciences. She attended CSUMB’s Scientific Illustration Graduate Program in ’14, and graduated from College of the Atlantic in ’13. She is interested in botany, ornithology, ecology, and fine arts. She wants to use the tool of illustration to communicate research, help introduce theories, educate, and make innovation and discovery more approachable. When she is not working she likes hiking, rock climbing, photography, vegetables, black-and-white films, very thick wool socks, and traveling. She can be contacted at for any details regarding commissions and requests.

Teri Barry is a lover of plants, natural history collections, ecology, and biogeography. She received her Master’s in Biology from San Jose State University in spring of 2013. Her thesis was on local adaptation of Lasthenia californica and L. gracilis, two cryptic species found on a serpentine outcrop at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, California. Her research was published in the American Journal of Botany. Teri was an Assistant Curator and Student Assistant at the Carl W. Sharsmith Herbarium.  Her work was partly funded by a NSF grant the California Consortium of Herbaria received to georeference target taxa from California’s herbaria. Teri was also a Research Assistant for two projects with Dylan Burge (verification of the geographic distribution of plants in the California Floristic Province and fieldwork for Vitis phenology research at Robert Mondavi Institute at UC Davis. She volunteered at the California Academy of Sciences’ Botany Department (database work using Specify). During this time she also volunteered with the Herbarium group for weekly plant observations, and assisted in biannual ant surveys at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Teri worked for Dr. Erin Mordecai at Stanford University for 1.5 years on a grassland pathogen project, then moved to her current position at UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity Herbarium in 2017. She started off as Assistant Curator, and advanced to Collections Manager. Teri is currently assisting in the management of an imaging project funded by NSF of California flowering plant specimens. Teri is interested in vernal pool flora, updating local floras, and understanding the distribution of rare and invasive plants.

Jason B

Jason Barton ’12 posing under a waterfall in Ecuador. At COA, he focused on plant and lichen ecology, which culminated in exploring the lichen diversity of vernal pools in Acadia National Park, Maine. His paper is currently in press in Evansia. Upon graduation, Jason traveled through Central and South America. In the summer of 2013 he worked as an instructor for COA’s Summer Field Studies Program. Jason is currently working with Dr. James Lendemer at the New York Botanical Garden researching lichen succession in fire burned areas of the Nassawango Creek Preserve, Maryland. Jason worked as a research assistant for Dr. Hugh Safford at the US Forest Service in the summer of 2014.

M. Stern

Margaret Stern graduated from COA in the winter of 2013 after conducting a vascular plant survey of the Simonton Corner Quarry Preserve in Camden, Maine. Her research paper on limestone associated plants of the Quarry was published in Rhodora. After graduation, Margaret moved to Alaska where she has explored the state on horseback and foot. Since 2015 she has been building her homestead and farm in bush Alaska. When not working on farm projects, she spends her time cross country skiing, botanizing, and birding.

s mamkou na vylete v Jizerkach

After graduating from COA in June 2013, Markéta Doubnerová was employed by the Foothill Horizons Outdoor School (Sonora, CA) as a naturalist intern. Although her main focus at COA was botany and landscape architecture, she is excited to dive into the field of environmental education. Check out Markéta’s senior project titled “Arboretum of Eden,” which presents the college’s arboretum and finalizes the long-term efforts, initiated by the late Professor of Botany Craig Greene, to make the campus landscape an effective resource for botanical learning for students and the public. Markéta is currently pursuing a Master’s program at Linköping University in Sweden. Here she studies how learning in the outdoors enhances the learner’s mind as well as health, contributing to an active citizenship. Markéta is enjoying being back in Europe and exploring the landscapes of Sweden.


Boglárka Ivanegova is a core member of NA STRECHE, a Bratislava-based initiative that addresses the issue of abandoned public spaces with urban gardening. She is one of the founding members of the first rooftop community garden in Slovakia (Mestská záhrada POD PYRAMÍDOU) where she runs regular workshops about edible botany, ethnobotany and local food systems. At the moment she is designing an experiential garden curriculum for elementary schools.

Kidney Pond Campground AJU 21 June 2013 T3R10 D Smith (5)

Abigail Urban graduated from COA in 2014 and has since worked on various vegetation and conservation projects for the Maine Natural Areas Program, the Bureau of Land Management, the University of Idaho, the Native Plant Trust, and the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). She also published her undergraduate research, The Alpine Vascular Flora of Baxter State Park, Maine, USA, in Rhodora in 2017. Abbe is currently a master’s student at Wichita State University in Dr. Houseman’s community ecology lab. She is working on the Microbiomes of Aquatics, Plants, and Soils (MAPS) project collecting vegetation data. Within the project, her research focuses on how the role and distribution of legume species within grassland communities changes across a precipitation gradient in Kansas. She is projected to graduate in Fall 2020 and pursue employment or PhD opportunities.

Ella Samuel_2016

Ella Samuel has been working at the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management State Office as a Plant Conservation & Restoration Program Specialist for the past three years. She is currently pursuing her graduate research in Environmental Sciences & Policy Master’s Program at Northern Arizona University. Her research is supported by BLM-NM State Botanist, Zoe Davidson, and she is working with USGS Research Ecologist, Rob Massatti, and NAU Functional Ecologist, Rachel Mitchell. She is conducting a common garden study focused on local adaptation of three native species important for restoration. This kind of research is imperative for informing land management practices related to conservation in the Southwest.


Former research student Ian Medeiros on Horn Island, Mississippi. Ian graduated from College of the Atlantic in June 2016 and spent the following summer working for the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, where he was on a team that conducted vegetation surveys to map the plant communities of Big Thicket National Preserve and Gulf Islands National Seashore. His senior project was the first comprehensive assessment of serpentinite habitats in western Massachusetts. His current projects include applying to graduate school, working with the lichen specimens collected during our February 2016 fieldwork in South Africa, and conducting lichen fieldwork in California as a follow-up to our 2015 paper on gabbro. Ian received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2017) to pursue his Ph.D. on lichen systematics and evolution under the supervision of Dr. F. Lutzoni at Duke University. Ian’s CV, information about his current projects, and occasional blog posts can be found on his personal website.
After graduating from College of the Atlantic in 2015, Miranda Galey worked as a research assistant at the Natural Resources Research Institute. She is pursuing a M.S. in Integrated Biosciences at the University of Minnesota Duluth with Dr. Ron Moen. She is modeling the effects of climate change on the ranges of birds and mammals of the midwest using a modified climatic envelope model with biotic features as part of her thesis. A paper Miranda co-authored with me is found here.
Natasha Krell is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. While at College of the Atlantic, she worked with Nishi and Luka looking at possible ecotypic differentiation of serpentine flora on Pine Hill, Deer Isle using experimental methods and citizen science. Going from Human Ecology to Geography was a natural next step to continue exploring her passions of water resources, soil health, and people!  She now studies climate variability impacts on smallholder farming systems and food security in east Africa. Her doctoral research couples data from IoT agro-meteorological sensors with household- and SMS-based surveys to understand farmer decision-making in the southern province of Zambia and central Kenya. She was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to conduct her doctoral research in Kenya in 2018. A chapter Natasha co-authored with Nishi is found here.
After graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2019, Sam Farrow worked as a field scientist at the Kearney Ag Research and Extension Center in Fresno, CA studying root systems and drought tolerance in Fresno and Chile. He will begin his MS in Controlled Environment Agriculture at the University of Arizona in January 2020 where he will lead a new project under the supervision of Dr. Gene Giacomelli. During his time at Cal Poly, Sam conducted research on the evolutionary ecology of both Lasthenia minor-L. maritima and Layia glandulosa-L. discoidea species pairs.
Mary graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in June 2018 with a degree in Environmental Earth Science. After graduating, Mary stayed the summer to conduct an undergraduate research study investigating the effects of multiple nutrient enrichment on invasive and native species on serpentine soil. In the fall Mary worked as a seasonal naturalist at Mendocino Woodlands in Northern California, then she returned to San Luis Obispo to work as a naturalist intern at Rancho Outdoor School. Mary has spent the last few months backpacking around Europe, and is now deciding on what her next adventure will be.

Gabi Orta graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2018 with a BS in Environmental Management. During her time there, she cultivated a passionate interest in botany which led her to conduct research focusing on post-fire seedling recruitment on different soil types and aspects. After graduation, Gabi started working for California State Parks where she helps implement their habitat restoration and prescribed fire programs. Gabi has a keen interest for ecology and continually seeks opportunity to expand her knowledge of the natural world. She traveled to the Southwest Research Station in Arizona to attend a field herpetology program in July 2019 and after this fantastic experience she is excited to take on her next adventure.
Chris Howington graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in June 2018 with a B.S. in Environmental Earth Science. After graduating, Chris spent the summer conducting research related to the Cal Poly Fire in 2017, studying post-fire ecology across multiple slopes and aspects on both serpentine and metavolcanic soils with the influence of fire retardant. Setting the foundation to conduct a long-term study on how fire influences plant diversity on adjacent sites with distinct soil conditions. Chris currently works as a Soil Conservationist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Modesto, CA. Providing conservation planning assistance to farmers and ranchers throughout Stanislaus County.
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