Contact Us

Moscow

Department of Conservation Social Sciences
css@uidaho.edu

College of Natural Resources

phone: (208) 885-7911
fax: (208) 885-6226

875 Perimeter Drive MS 1139
Moscow, ID 83844-1139

Current Grad Students

 

Meet some of our CSS Graduate Students:

Jenny Chaffin, Conservation Social SciencesJennifer Chaffin
M.S. Student
Cincinnati, Ohio
Email Jennifer


Background & current research interests:
My focus as a master’s student in the Department of Conservation Social Sciences is on the economics of outdoor recreation. I conducted a visitor survey at Timpanogos Cave National Monument in summer 2013 to examine ticketing preferences and visitor willingness to pay. Data from the survey will contribute to my thesis (in progress): “An Evaluation of Ticketing Preferences and the Effects of a Fee Increase at Timpanogos Cave National Monument”. I earned my undergraduate degree in biology from Bowling Green State University. I have worked for both the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where I realized that a crucial part of preserving and protecting natural resources is people. This led me to spend a year teaching environmental education at the McCall Outdoor Science School. After sharing my passion for the environment with elementary students from across the state, I ventured to the University of Idaho main campus to learn more about the social aspects of natural resources. My dream is to work for the National Park Service as a natural resource manager.

 

What would you like potential grad students to know about the CSS graduate program? 
The CSS graduate program is rigorous and challenging, but also rewarding. It will open your eyes to possibilities you never imagined and make you remember why you love the world of academia. Faculty and staff provide ample opportunity and support for you to grow both academically and socially. In addition, you will be part of a close-knit cohort of students who share a passion for learning, food, and fun.

Melissa Clark, Conservation Social SciencesMelissa Clark
M.S. Student
Romeo, Michigan
Email Melissa


Background & current research interests:
I have dual B.S. degrees in Zoology and Agriculture and Natural Resource Communications from Michigan State University. I’m interested in the connections between communities, ecosystems and conservation. I’ve gained perspective on how environmental issues are communicated to the public through experiences at Binder Park Zoo, Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, Snow Leopard Trust, and Olympic National Park. My research interests include: human dimensions of wildlife, community-based decision making, protected areas, and norms, values, and beliefs. In my free time, I love hiking, traveling, reading and learning.

Jim Ekins, social science conservation, college of natural resources, university of idahoJim Ekins
Ph.D. Student
Brevard, North Carolina
Email Jim


Background & current research interests:

I earned a bachelor's in Natural Resource Management from Western Carolina U., and a Masters in Collaborative Natural Resource Management and Volunteerism from U. Oregon. I have worked in three National Parks, in Colorado and Oregon’s resort industry, on a research base in Antarctica, and in wetland restoration for watershed councils in Oregon and Idaho. Before recently moving to Coeur d’Alene, I was the Director for Service-Learning and Internships for over five years at the University of Idaho in Moscow. Currently, I am the Area Water Educator with the University of Idaho Cooperative Extension Service Northern District. I am pursuing a PhD in Conservation Social Sciences, part-time, in social-ecological systems resilience and decision science; I also enjoy canoeing, skiing (skijor), running, and backpacking with my dogs Dufus and Tweedledee.

What would you like potential grad students to know about the CSS graduate program?
CSS is a longstanding interdisciplinary program, working with multiple departments across campus since the mid-1970s to better understand and manage the interactions between social and natural systems. Possibilities for collaboration with other departments are tremendous, and opportunities for graduates are wide ranging, from working in parks (national, state, or regional), to nonprofit management, to natural resources industries, and in academia. Make it a point to meet new faculty and to use the rich networks that CSS faculty members have developed over the years, both inside and outside the university.

Jesse Engebretson, social science conservation, college of natural resources, university of idahoJesse Engebretson
Ph.D. Student
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Email Jesse


Background & current research interests:
As a PhD student in the Department of Conservation Social Sciences, I plan to conduct research on changes in perceptions of “solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation” since the implementation of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and how these changes have practically influenced the management of wilderness areas.  Prior to enrolling at the University, I conducted research in northern Minnesota and southwestern Ontario on human perceptions of wild lands and their relationship to discourses about both environmental history of the region and regional outdoor recreation publications.  More recently, I have had the opportunity to design and implement wilderness character assessments for Saguaro National Park and Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona as a Wilderness Fellow.  Currently, I am working with colleagues at the University of Idaho and Michigan State University to help develop ethics education materials for graduate-level courses in interdisciplinary environmental science programs through the National Science Foundation’s Ethics Education in Science and Engineering program. 

What would you like potential grad students to know about the CSS graduate program?
As a relatively small program, CSS graduate students get the opportunity to regularly engage with their advisors, work on projects with faculty members both in and outside of the department, and have opportunities to develop strong research and/or teaching skills.

Sara Gress, social science conservation, college of natural resources, university of IdahoSara Gress
M.S. Student
Boise, Idaho
Email Sara


Background & current research interests:
Received BA in Environmental Studies from Montana State University Billings, where I also played on the women's soccer team. Recently returned from serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica, 2011 – 2013, where I worked with a local environmental NGO on invasive species (lionfish) mitigation and education, amongst many other things. Current Research Interests: Barriers and facilitators to outdoor recreation in different ethnic populations, the false dichotomy of humans versus nature.

Susie Irizarry, social science conservation, college of natural resources, university of idahoSusie Irizarry
M.S. Student
Fort Pierce, Florida
Email Susie


Background & current research:
I graduated from Clemson University in 2011 with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental and Natural Resources Management, with a concentration in Conservation Biology and a minor in Political Science. Before beginning my master’s degree at the University of Idaho, I served as a Student Conservation Association (SCA) intern through the Unilever National Parks Congressional Internship Program in Yosemite National Park and in the US House of Representatives.  After graduating from the University of Idaho with a Master’s in Natural Resources from the CSS Department, I hope to begin a career with National Park Service.

My research interests include wilderness day users, protected area management (with an emphasis on capacity management in National Parks), and integrating GIS technology with social science research. I currently work as a Research Assistant for Dr. Troy Hall, assisting in the implementation of Yosemite National Park’s Wilderness Visitor Survey. My thesis, entitled, “Day Hikers in Yosemite Wilderness: Understanding Travel Patterns and Trail Choice Decision Making,” combines quantitative spatial data and qualitative semi-structured interviews to better understand wilderness day hikers.

What would you like potential grad students to know about the CSS graduate program?
The CSS program allows students to tailor coursework toward their professional and research interests. With the approval of my research advisor, I have had the flexibility to select coursework that directly relates to my career goal of working for the National Park Service and professional goal of developing an expertise in GIS. While the bulk of my coursework varies greatly from that of other students in the program, the core CSS courses required of all CSS students provide a unique lens from which to approach learning – this understanding unites the students in our program. Additionally, the CSS Department is a close-knit community. I really enjoy the sense of camaraderie between students (both PhD and M.S.) and faculty and staff!

Jyoti Jennewein, Conservation Social SciencesJyoti Jennewein
M.S. Student
Bailey, Colorado
Email Jyoti


Background & current research interests:

As an undergraduate, I studied Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University, where I conducted research in the Neuromuscular Function Laboratory.  After graduating from CSU, I joined the United States Peace Corps and served in the Republic of Niger.  Through my work as a Community Health Agent I was first exposed to the world’s clean water crisis. In 2011, I returned to school to obtain a master’s degree, completing my first year at the McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) in 2013.  While working at MOSS, I developed an interest in communicating science and environmental concerns to students in an accessible and engaging way. My master’s research will take place in the Trifinio Region of Central America, where I hope to investigate development-training programs as they relate to local cultural perceptions of water resources.

What would you like potential grad students to know about the CSS graduate program?
Working in the CSS department is a versatile environment and hybridization of natural resources and human influences, where you can focus on several avenues of research.  Our department is an eclectic bunch of graduate students and faculty that have different backgrounds and research interests. The graduate student community is full of fun, and the faculty is supportive and easy to work with.

Chad Kooistra, social science conservation, college of natural resources, university of idahoChad Kooistra
Ph.D. Candidate
Fremont, Michigan
Email Chad


Background & current research interests:
Background & current research interests:
  I earned my B.S. in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism at Colorado State University in 2005. After working a few years for federal and NGO land management agencies in Colorado and Nevada, I earned my M.S. from the CSS Department in December 2011 studying Colorado residents' attitudes towards forest management after a widespread pine beetle outbreak. My PhD research, supported by a NASA grant, seeks to understand people's perceptions of landscape change and recovery after wildfires.

What would you like potential grad students to know about the CSS graduate program?
CSS graduate students often work closely with students and professors from many disciplines to understand complex issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. We also have a lot of fun!

Brett Miller, Social Science Conservation, College of Natural Resources, University of IdahoBrett Miller
M.S. Student
Harvard, Massachusetts
Email Brett


Background and current research interests:
I graduated from Bryant University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an Accounting Concentration in 2011 and a History Minor in 2011.  However, rather than continue with business, I decided to teach Algebra and Biology in Providence, RI and pursue alternate teaching certification.  Along this path I had the opportunity to live and teach at University of Idaho’s own McCall Outdoor Science School and I earned my Environmental Education Certificate in 2013.  I am continuing my work with CSS by studying Ecosystem Services and, specifically, valuation, which lets me incorporate my undergraduate studies with a wealth of new ideas related to natural capital and the landscape.

Carlos Munoz, social science conservation, college of natural resources, university of IdahoCarlos L. Munoz Brenes
Ph.D. Student
Turrialba, Costa Rica
Email Carlos




Background & current research interests:
Carlos is studying the interactions between people and the environment and their implications for welfare and policy in developing countries. For his dissertation, Carlos is examining the drivers of land cover and land use change (across space and time) and their impact on people’s livelihoods in a critical watershed at the border of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador (Tirifnio Region). He is particularly interested in how institutional arrangements and incentive programs are influencing different land uses, and the implications these have on water provisioning and socioeconomic outcomes. Carlos is working closely with stakeholders in the region to ensure his results inform local decision making and governance. This project is directed by Dr. Kelly Wendland (Department of Conservation Social Sciences) and co-directed by Dr. Lee Vierling (Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences); it is funded by NASA’s Land Use/Land Cover Change program. Carlos has a MALD degree from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, a MA degree in Political Science from Boston College, and a BA in Ecotourism from the University of Costa Rica; before joining UI he worked as an environmental policy research fellow at the EfD Central America Center at CATIE.

Spencer Plumb, social science conservation, college of natural resources, university of IdahoSpencer Plumb
Ph.D. Student
Bozeman, Montana
Email Spencer


Background & current research interests:
I grew up in Bozeman, Montana, and attended the University of Portland for my undergraduate education and earned a B.S. in Organizational Communication. I have a Master’s of Science in Environmental Science and Policy from Northern Arizona University. My master’s research focused on indigenous land rights and feasibility of REDD+ in Honduras. Now I am pursuing a PhD in Conservation Social Sciences at the University of Idaho. My current research pertains to water transactions programs aimed at balancing water needs between agriculture users and salmon in the Columbia Basin. I’m an NSF GK-12 Fellow and serve as a visiting scientist in a 7th and 8th classroom in Garfield, WA. When time allows, I enjoy trail running, fly fishing, hiking, and dabbling in culinary arts and experimentation.

Morgan Zedalis, social science conservation, college of natural resources, university of idahoMorgan Zedalis
Ph.D. Candidate
McCall, Idaho
Email Morgan

Background & current research interests:
I earned my B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and my M.A. in Environmental Anthropology from the University of Kent, Canterbury U.K. I am currently working on a co-generated project with the Nez Perce Tribe and the Nimiipuu people. The objectives of the project relate to developing an understanding of and context for Nimiipuu Indigenous Knowledge. This applied qualitative research project has been developed to further assist Nimiipuu knowledge integration into both tribal and external agencies' land management.

I earned my B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and my M.A. in Environmental Anthropology from the University of Kent, Canterbury U.K. . This applied qualitative research project has been developed to further assist Nimiipuu knowledge integration into both tribal and external agencies' land management.

What would you like potential grad students to know about the CSS graduate program?
The CSS department assists in strengthening students' understanding of theory and research methods. The department faculty supports students taking coursework in other departments to facilitate a multidisciplinary perspective. The CSS community is supportive and promotes building close relationships with fellow students.

The CSS department assists in strengthening students' understanding of theory and research methods. The department faculty supports students taking coursework in other departments to facilitate a multidisciplinary perspective. The CSS community is supportive and promotes building close relationships with fellow students.