CHE Graduate Student Associates


We encourage prospective and current students to contact CHE associates to learn about their research, find out about CHE, and build connections. To learn more about how to get involved as a graduate student, visit our How grad students can get involved page.



Mohammed Rafi Arefin

I am PhD student in the Geography Department working with Dr. Sarah Moore. My research interests sit at the intersection of urban geography, postcolonial theory, critical development studies, and psychoanalytic theory. In relation to waste, the production of sanitized space, hygienic subjects, and difference enforced through cleanliness/filth, my work seeks to understand the intimate relationship between garbage and its management, culture, power and politics. While this relationship is often foreclosed in technomanagerial rhetoric, I seek to understand the place of garbage in social theory and everyday life. I am exploring these interests in the work coming out of my Masters on Cairo, a collaborative project on hoarding, and in my research assistantship on the hazardous waste trade. | contact | website


Loka Ashwood

I learned at an early age growing up on an Illinois farm that environmental and social constraints on production sometimes come into heated conflict. The results can be alarming: government policies that displace liability from shareholders onto communities, family farms that go out of business, skyrocketing rates of poverty, and for some, clean air and water becoming a relic of the past. My work as an environmental sociologist documents who bears the brunt of environmental burdens. My scholarship also takes an important additional step: finding pathways to potentially reduce or even remediate injustices. I do so through three projects: the politics of nuclear power, legal safeguards for agricultural risk, and participatory resolutions to non-point water pollution. | contact


Lauren Ayers

I am a graduate student in the Department of History concentrating on American Environmental History. As an undergraduate at the University of Texas, I traveled to South Asia, interned for the federal government and wrote a senior thesis on a southern plains town. After graduating, I volunteered in West Africa. The places I live, the people I meet, and the work I come across along the way all inspire me. As such, I’m curious about energy systems, the development of waterways and the connection to urban growth and rural development, the relationship between oil and cattle, and the history of place. I’d also love to do a transnational environmental history on the green revolution. | contact


Athan Biss

I am a graduate student in the History Department interested in the intersection of race, culture and foreign relations. Although I am an Americanist, I am also actively involved with CREECA and have worked extesnively on the hisotry of US-Rusisan relations. My master's thesis, " 'Race Diplomacy': African American-Soviet Relations, 1926-1937," explored the engagement of African American entertainers, political radicals, tourists and intelletuals with the Soviet Union. | contact


Jake Blanc

I am a graduate student in the Latin American history program, with an interest in 20th century social history, emphasizing the intersection of labor movements, agrarian reform and globalization. I am particularly drawn to the overlap of labor and environmentalhistory and hope to infuse both in a way that respects the political agency and material realities of workers. My current research is on the construction of the Itaipú hydroelectric dam on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. | contact


Peter Boger

I'm a Ph.D. student in the Nelson Institute's Environment and Resources program. My broad research interests include environmental history, environmental film, environmental education, and animal studies. My dissertation research will try to focus on the impacts of film on people's perceptions of animals and on support for and practice of wildlife conservation. I recently completed my M.S. in Environment and Resources, which focused on teaching environmental education in a cross-cultural context at a summer camp in Siberia. I'm from both New Jersey and North Carolina, but don't ask me to pick which one is really home! | contact


Rachel Boothby

I am a graduate student in the Geography department with interests in food and agriculture/sustainable agriculture and related social change. I completed my undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley, and have spent time working toward urban pesticide use reduction, studying school gardens, and with various sustainable agriculture endeavors. Through my graduate work, I hope to examine historical social and environmental change in relation to food production, how institutions mediate our relationship to food, and associated changes in how we conceive of and interact with the environment. I hope to work with the Nelson Institute, Community and Environmental Sociology, and Agroecology programs. | contact


Jack Buchanan

Hailing from Southern California, I came into the agroecology masters program here with a background in environmental science and a personal fascination with food and health. An agroecology grad seminar called Integral Ecology spurred my interest in the theoretical side of the equation. The principles I learned in that seminar have colored my interpretation of the various other subject matters I've pursued while here, particularly in agroecology, philosophy and the social sciences. My committee members' home departments well reflect the interdisciplinarity of my thesis: sociology, cultural anthropology, biological systems engineering, and agronomy. | contact


Sarah Camacho

I am a graduate student in history specializing in the urban environmental history of the twentieth century American West. I enjoy learning about people's ideas for urban landscapes, and the messy ways in which those ideas are implemented through political and cultural processes. My master's thesis examined an expressway revolt in San Antonio, Texas, while my dissertation focuses on the ideas surrounding growth and development in late twentieth century Denver, the city I now call home. When I'm not researching my dissertation, I put my pre-UW librarian training to work as an information consultant; apprentice for one of Denver's many multi-plot urban farms; and attempt to teach my 2-year-old son to ID the plants that grow out of sidewalk cracks. | contact


Charlie Carlin

I am interested in a group of questions best described as radical ecopsychology. How do constructions of self and other, inner and outer nature, inform how we treat the more-than-human world? How have Enlightenment models of nature impacted studies of the psyche? Can a psychology that embraces 'wildness' help to better situate humans as in nature rather than acting on it? I base my studies in geography and also explore studies in environmental history and the radical ecologies. I am passionate about wilderness and I work as a field instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School. | contact


Chelsea Cervantes De Blois

My research interests involve the social relationship and results of agriculture and environmental programs relating to women. I am a current MA candidate in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia (LCA) working under Professors Uli Schamiloglu and Anna Gade. I spend my weekends writing for an online Central Asian News paper and studying the Qu'ran with several Turkish and Central Asian women in Madison. | contact


Chelsea Chapman

I am a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology currently engaged in research for my dissertation on conceptions of energy and how those conceptions animate conflict over energy development projects in central Alaska. To understand how certain fields of knowledge about - and experiences of - energy become authoritative while others are marginalized, I take a critical ethnographic approach to hydrocarbon and renewable fuels, studying regional power production histories, ecological change, and ontologies of energy and land. | contact


Melissa Charenko

I am a second year student in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, where I study the history of ecology and the history of biology. I am particularly interested in paleoecology. | contact


Bridget Collins

I am a PhD candidate in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, currently working on my dissertation, entitled, "From the Cradle to the Grave: Infectious Disease in the Twentieth Century American Home," under the direction of Professors Judith Walzer Leavitt and Susan E. Lederer. | contact


Jennifer Conrad

I have a long-standing interest not only in human-environment interactions but also in human-animal and animal-environment interchanges. My research interests include 20th and 21st-century poetry and theory, including the ethics of representation, developing notions of the post-human, and depictions of animal others in theory, literature, and art. Contemporary poetry, in particular, seems to offer ways to explore and articulate these junctures. I also write poetry: my first collection of poems, A Cartography of Birds, was published in 2002 by Louisiana State University Press. I'm currently a graduate student in the English Department working toward a PhD in Literary Studies. | contact


Kathleen Conti

An internationally awarded photographer, Kathleen Conti received her Masters in Russian and East European Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Currently pursuing her doctoral degree in History here at the University of Wisconsin, Kathleen is also affiliated with the Art History department, the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA), and the Buildings, Landscapes, and Cultures program. Her research examines the intersections of history, memory, and politics in the Soviet Union, focusing on the ways in which people constructed idenities and histories—both personal and national—through their environment. | contact


Kara Cromwell

I study host-parasite interactions as a PhD student in the Zoology program at UW-Madison. My work investigates both causes and consequences of parasitism, asking how environmental change and animal behavior interact to influence where epidemics occur, and how parasites affect food web interactions. In addition to parasite ecology, I am interested in how people perceive the creepy, crawly or "gross" elements of biodiversity and I try to find creative ways to communicate about nature's unseemly side. | contact


Andy Davey

I am a PhD student in the Geography department. I have a BA in philosophy and have worked in various capacities in the non-profit sector, including living and working with people with developmental disabilities and growing vegetables on an urban farm. I’m broadly interesting in sustainable agriculture, political ecology, political theory, environmental history, and intellectual and cultural history. My recently completed master’s thesis, examined how the values and motivations for participating farmers and consumers at Midwest farmers’ markets intersected with their politics. I was specifically interested in the congruence amongst self-identified liberals and conservatives around food, politics, and the environment, and argued that conservative views are more nuanced than many critics and scholars often acknowledge, in part because of the complexity of conservative intellectual history. I am currently developing a dissertation project, possibly a comparative study of the politics and foodways of diverse intentional communities or university campuses. | contact


Cathy Day

I am a PhD student in Geography. My interests center around climate change impacts on agricultural systems and how humans perceive and deal with climatic shifts within a complex social-economic context. My previous work was in small-scale farming systems in the West African Sahel. I am now building a project to assess how agricultural policies, including insurance provided through both government and private insurers, influence the choices farmers make in semi-arid agricultural systems in the southwestern U.S. The core of my interest is farm livelihoods and whether and how farmers can survive into the future on lands that have long been marginal for agriculture. In addition, I may examine whether policies build a basis for effective, diverse agricultural systems and allow for the persistence of smaller farmers. | contact


Sarah Dimick

As a PhD student in the English Literature department, I focus on American poetry and environmental literature. I'm particularly interested in texts that address environmental crises. After receiving my BA from Carleton College and my MFA from New York University, I studied at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, taking classes in letterpress printing, papermaking, and bookbinding. My own poetry has most recently appeared in Forklift, Ohio. When I'm not reading books or writing poems, I enjoy backpacking, particularly on the Superior Hiking Trail in northern Minnesota. | contact


Andrew Dribin

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). My research explores the stories of environmental activists in Chicago to save open spaces in the city and the metropolitan region since the 1960s. In particular, I am interested in the intertwined histories of the environmental movement and postwar suburbia. Prior to pursuing my doctoral degree, I received a Master of Architecture (from UIC in 2005) and practiced as an urban designer working with some of the tallest buildings in the world. | contact


Nate Ela

I'm a graduate student in the departments of Sociology and Community and Environmental Sociology. I'm interested in how people who are seeking to change food systems are negotiating, adapting to and re-purposing legal, economic, environmental and cultural infrastructure. I grew up in Madison, have a J.D. from Harvard, and have spent the past couple of years working first with food sovereignty activists in Colombia and then on small CSA farms in southeastern Pennsylvania and in Madison. | contact


Jake Fleming

I am a Ph.D. student in the Geography Department. My dissertation examines the ways that people interact with the walnut-fruit forest of southern Kyrgyzstan, an ecosystem notable for its biodiversity and as a center of origin of tree crops like apple and walnut. In particular, I'm looking at the role of the horticultural practice of grafting, which can be used to modify the bodies of some of the fruit trees that inhabit the forest, with consequences for conservation, forest genetics, and local livelihoods. More broadly, I'm interested in life in the post-Soviet world, nomadic pastoralism, Central Asian languages, and the often-overlooked capabilities of plants. | contact


Chisato Fukuda

I am a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology with a concentration in medical anthropology and science and technologies studies. My experience managing sustainable development projects in Laos and conducting research among biomedical practitioners in Mongolia have shaped my current interests in environmental health and political ecology. My dissertation research explores the relationship between air pollution mitigation efforts and associated public health strategies in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Specifically, I examine how emergent technologies (particulate matter monitoring stations, energy-efficient stoves, PM masks, and social media) are producing new epistomologies, reconfiguring the national discourse on risk, and mobilizing a new socio-spatial urban biopolitics in the capital city. | contact


Jesse Gant

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History. My current research examines how racial ideology and processes of memory formation shaped the rise and the development of the early western leadership of the Republican Party during the Civil War Era. As a CHE graduate affiliate, I have been particularly interested in the role of landscape as a site where memory is produced and contested at both the individual and collective levels. I am also completing a book project called Wheel Fever: How Wisconsin Became a Great Bicycling State, scheduled for release in early September 2013. It examines the problematic role the League of American Wheelmen played in advocating for road reform, sometimes as as proxy of the Republican Party itself, at the end of the nineteenth century. | contact


Nathan Germain

I am a dissertator in the Department of French and Italian. My research interests include 19th and 20th century French literature, ecocriticism, geocriticism, geography, and environmental history. I am interested in the history of ideas about nature and the environment and the expression of those ideas in literary forms. My research focuses on representations of non-human nature and humanity's relationship to it. My dissertation will examine reinterpretations of geographical space in response to fears about environmental degradation in 19th century French literature and thought. I am interested in understanding how authors and scientists may have contributed to a transformed relationship to space and place, using geography to expand the notion of human identity in a way that includes the earth and its species. | contact


Kevin Gibbons

I want to understand the connections among rural communities, resource (over)use, commodity trade, poverty, and migration. Governance of natural resources can only be effective if managers take the local context into account and if local communities are invested in the long-term success of the resource. I conduct social research in Ugandan villages around Lake Victoria to try to understand these complex dynamics through interviews, participant observation, mapping/GIS, and participatory filmmaking. I maintain Environment and Media, a blog about how we represent the environment in digital media. | contact | website


Daniel Grant

I'm a graduate student in the Department of Geography interested in place-based identities and narratives, ethnography, and the history of cultures and landscapes in the American West. I studied the West and tribal water conflicts as an undergraduate at Whitman College, and have since worn several different hats, each blending place and narrative in some way: environmental conflict mediation in the Pacific Northwest, teaching environmental education in Colorado, and working on a conservation ranch in Montana. I also write creative nonfiction and short stories. | contact


Spring Greeney

As a graduate student in the History Department, I am interested in how past Americans have conceived of their daily household activities as connected to--or distinct from--the non-human world around them. Concretely, this means that I read a lot about cockroaches, timber forests, and the paper manufacturing plants dotting my own home territory of western Massachusetts. This also means that I care a lot about creative activities like drawing, stitching, and writing. I love the mail. | contact


Sarah Groeneveld

Sarah Groeneveld is a a PhD Candidate in the department of English Literature and a Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on transnational literature and engages with the discourses of critical animal studies, postcolonial ecocriticism, biopolitics and posthumanism. Her dissertation, titled “Animal Endings: Species Necropolitics in Contemporary Transnational Literature,” examines the unexpected methods that contemporary authors use to address animal deaths. She argues that the animal endings in these texts change the narrative endings, causing ripples, breaks and fractures within the genres and modes of representation that the authors employ. | contact


Rachel Gross

I am a graduate student in the Department of History. My work on the consumer culture of outdoor recreation builds on my master's thesis "Synthetic Wilderness: Gore-Tex and the Paths to Mastery in Outdoor Recreation." The thesis examined the evolution of synthetic clothing and gear in wilderness recreation in the 1970s and 1980s. My dissertation shows how the process of selecting and purchasing outdoor clothing and gear has become central to the outdoor recreational experience since the late nineteenth century. What to buy has raised question about the role of technology in nature, who is an authority about nature experiences, and how to get back to nature the right way. Wilderness might seem far removed from consumption, but the marketplace of outdoor recreation was nonetheless persistently intertwined with the search for authentic wilderness experiences. My work explores how Americans struggled with that tension. | contact


Brian Hamilton

I am a Maine native who has come to Midwest to pursue a Ph.D. in History. My research explores the environmental dimensions of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. In my master's thesis, I examine the material contingencies of the abolition of slavery through the story of the northern reformers who traveled during wartime to the South Carolina Sea Islands to revive cotton production. I also serve as the lead author of the website Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day: The Making of the Modern Environmental Movement. | contact


Chris Hommerding

I am a graduate student in the History Department where I study Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT)/Queer History. My research focuses on non-normative gender and sexuality in rural and small-town spaces. Specifically, my research looks at the lives of queer individuals in Southwestern Wisconsin in the mid-twentieth century. It seeks to understand the interaction of sexuality and the landscape – the ways in which sexuality is spatialized and space sexualized – and to problematize and historicize the general understanding that rural space is dangerous and oppressive for queer individuals. | contact


Nathan Jandl

I am a PhD student in the Literary Studies department. I received my BA in English from Middlebury College and my MA from UW-Madison. My interests include 20th-century American poetry, environmental criticism, literary and spatial theory, and cultural geography. I am also a photographer, mainly of water and landscapes; some of my work can be seen here. | contact


Sarah Keogh

I am a PhD student in Milwaukee's School of Architecture, affiliated with the Buildings, Landscapes, Cultures Program. I completed my undergraduate degree in Art History at UW - Madison in 2004 and my Master of Architecture degree from UW - Milwaukee in 2008. My dissertation research focuses on readdressing urban histories and exploring water as an active agent in the growth of urban settings. I will explore the systemic relationships that exist between built landscapes and landscapes of water by examining urban / water boundaries and liminal zones. I hope to illuminate how water has acted to influence the evolution of urban landscapes, cultural landscapes, and how these relationships have changed regional geographies. | contact


Erin Kitchell

I am a graduate student in the Geography department studying environment and development in West Africa. My current research focuses on histories of environmental change, the multiple vulnerabilities of small-scale producers, and the ways in which social networks shape knowledge formation about climatic variability. I will work closely with faculty in the Nelson Institute, Agroecology, and Community and Environmental Sociology. I have a B.A. in History and a background in community-based programming for non-profits. My past experience includes working to integrate environmental education in public school programming, managing public health and land use planning campaigns in peri-urban Mali, and creating training curricula on gender and development issues. | contact


Stephen Laubach

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Curriculum and Instruction Department's Science Education Program. My dissertation research centers on the history of ecology teaching in American high schools between 1900 and 1980. Following 18 months in Costa Rica as a community volunteer and later as a teaching assistant for a tropical ecology course, I received a master's degree in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development in 2000 from the UW-Madison. Most recently I taught high school biology at Aldo Leopold's alma mater, The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, where I continued to develop a strong interest in field and classroom teaching of ecology. | contact


Vanessa Lauber

I am a PhD student in the English Literary Studies department, having received my BA in English and history from Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. My interests include 20th-century British and South Asian literature, photography, the transnational novel, globalization, environmental criticism, literary and spatial theory, and posthumanisms. | contact


Brian Leech

I am a dissertator in the department of history who studies ethnicity, the American West, labor, and environmental history. I have long been particularly interested in the social and environmental history of mining communities. My dissertation continues this interest by exploring neighborhood life in the copper mining city of Butte, Montana. It discusses Butte's ethnic neighborhoods, many of which an expanding open-pit copper mine devoured, as well as how the change from underground to above-ground mining affected the town's workforce, city- planning and experience with environmental hazards. | contact


Chris Limburg

I am a geographer researching naga nature spirits in the Himalaya. I am especially concerned with how naga practice and belief shapes human relationships with the environment. Primarily, I use conversations about place, agency, and nature to do this work. My aim is to bring more depth and breadth to contemporary understandings of our world. | contact | website


Adam Mandelman

I'm a PhD student in the Geography Department working on a dissertation about the history of water in the Mississippi River delta, from c. 1850 to the present. The project examines the changing ways people have negotiated the flow of water through both southern Louisiana's extraordinarily soggy landscapes and their own bodies. Working at the intersection of cultural geography and environmental history, the project brings together scholarship on landscape, race, and environmental health. My other academic interests include: material culture, memory, political ecology, and science and technology studies. | contact | website


Amanda McMillan

I am a PhD student in Community and Environmental Sociology. My research asks questions about the connections between rural communities and their natural environments through the lens of agriculture. I'm passionate about tracing connections between place, culture, and "home." I'm particularly interested in agriculture as a mechanism of community re-establishment in places recuperating from disaster or change. In the 'real world,' I worked with a non-profit nature conservation organization in France and taught at an agricultural after school club in Pennsylvania. My current research looks at the "why" of family farmland continuity in Wisconsin. | contact


Cătălina Munteanu

I am a graduate student in Forest and Wildlife Ecology, interested to learn how people and their decisions impact land change at landscape scales. I am mostly interested in historic land uses and how they modulate recent land changes such as agricultural abandonment or forest disturbance. My work is geographically focused in the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe, a region that is very close to my heart in my ways. I grew up in the Carpathians and previous to arriving at UW, I studied this region throughout my formation as a Geographer. I also worked there in multiple environmentally related activities. | contact


Garrett Nelson

I'm a PhD student in the Department of Geography, where I study the history of the American landscape in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I'm interested in how landscape design expressed genres of social reform, and in particular how a group of planners articulated a vision of both environmental management, political integration, and social uplift over increasingly-large geographic scales. I grew up in New Hampshire, and studied at Harvard College and the University of Nottingham's Landscape and Culture MA program before coming to Wisconsin. I'm also the CHE Project Assistant in 2013-2014. | contact | website


Michelle Niemann

As a PhD student in the English department, I focus on twentieth-century American literature, particularly postwar and contemporary poetry. I am interested in how poets define their work by comparing the poem to an organism, and in how the resulting concept of "organic form" in poetry connects with other conversations about organic food, organic farming, and societies or environments as organisms. I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and except for my undergrad years at Brown University, I've been a committed Midwesterner. I'm a big fan of Wisconsin's local food culture. During the 2011-2012 academic year, I served as a CHE graduate representative and a dissertation fellow for the Sawyer Seminar on Biopolitics in the Center for the Humanities. I have a minor in U.S. History and have taught literature and composition courses. This semester, I'm working as an instructor in the Writing Center. I'm always eager to talk about eco-related writing projects by grads or undergrads from whatever discipline, so if you have one underway, feel free to make a Writing Center appointment with me! | contact


Eric Nost

I am a Ph.D. student in Geography and my research focuses on markets and other payment schemes for ecosystem services in the US. What I try to understand in particular is how environmental regulators, non-profit conservationist groups, and private sector entrepreneurs produce and utilize environmental science to evaluate ecological restoration projects that are supposed to mitigate the effects of climate change. I recently finished my M.A. at the University of Kentucky. For that work I looked at how regulators, conservationists, and entrepreneurs went about planning a new ES marketplace in Oregon. Long before Kentucky, I was at Grinnell College in the great state of Iowa, a state which I call home. | contact | website


Alexander Olson

I am a PhD student in the department of History where I study Byzantium and the medieval Mediterranean. I am fascinated by what medieval sources can tell us about the climate and weather, and how medieval peoples recorded and responded to floods, thunder, lightning, and earthquakes. I am also interested in how pre-modern states and cultures altered the Mediterranean environment, particularly during the transition from the ancient to medieval periods. By extension, I am interested in how this environment altered them. | contact


Tony Pietsch

I am a graduate student in the Department of History, specializing in environmental history. As an undergraduate, my research involved issues of student dissent and administrative power in higher education, as well as disease and built environments in Wisconsin's Civil War camps. My projected research will attempt to connect issues of labor, technocracy, and environmental change in late nineteenth- and twentieth century America. I am currently considering a project that would trace how Upper Michigan's historic mining and logging industries altered the land, and how local populations adapted those alterations for recreational and economic purposes following the industries' decline. | contact


John Porco

I am a PhD student in the History Department. While an undergraduate at Grinnell College I became interested in Environmental Economics, particularly questions of valuing non-market resources. My primary interests are in the development of ideas about valuing natural resources and public goods. My Masters Thesis explores the development of ideas in Land Economics at the University of Wisconsin along with legislation geared towards reforesting the cut-over region of northern Wisconsin in the 1920s. A central theme in my work is the changing nature of economic markets in response to environmental circumstances. | contact


Katrina Quisumbing King

I am a Ph.D. student in Sociology and Community and Environmental Sociology. My areas of interest include race and ethnicity, migration, and agro-food systems. Currently, I am investigating investigate farming as a site to examine immigrant adaptation in two aspects: (1) the socio-cultural dimension of incorporation, which includes identity formation and participation (political, community, religious) and (2) economic integration as seen in the market or through self-provisioning. My work also focuses on how the structure of alternative and urban farming may both encourage and limit immigrants' and people of color's accesses to discursive and material resources. | contact


Alex Rudnick

I am currently a graduate student in the History of Science department. I grew up in Florida surrounded by waterways; this experience led me to study environmental history as an undergraduate at the University of Florida where I completed a senior thesis on the preservation of swampland in the 1950s. After completing my BA I moved to San Jose, California to teach high school biology for two years. Inspired by science and teaching I moved to Madison to complete my PhD. I continue to be interested in the American southeast, and finding the intersections between biology and history. I am particularly attracted to looking at these intersections though the study of the changing practice of agriculture and its direct and indirect impacts on the land and people. | contact


Carl Sack

I am a Cartography/GIS masters student in the Geography Department hailing from the Lake Superior region. My thesis research centers on the use of web-based participatory mapping for communicating non-dominant landscape values, which include local knowledge of ecosystem services, cultural resources, personal landscape narratives, and place-based social networks. I am working on building a web-based mapping application for use by local residents of the Bad River Watershed, which stretches through parts of Ashland and Iron Counties in Northern Wisconsin. In my free time, I enjoy exploring parks and wild places and riding my bike. | contact | website


Sarah Fayen Scarlett

I am a PhD candidate in Art History's new Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures program. Having always embraced interdisciplinary approaches to history, I earned a BA in American Studies from Yale and an MA from the Winterthur program at the University of Delaware. After years as a museum curator, I currently pursue my interests in the interpretation of spatial experience, representations of place, American housing, and material culture. My dissertation work examines mobility and social power in the domestic landscapes of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. My own place-making experiences include growing up in Connecticut, bicycling cross-country, falling in love with Acadia National Park, re-making myself as a Wisconsinite, and now as a Yooper. | contact


Caitlyn Schuchhardt

I am a graduate student in the English Department pursuing my PhD in Literary Studies. My research interests include postcolonial ecocriticism, environmental justice, indigenous studies, and the work of writer-activists. I’m passionate about environmental activism and work closely with the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal—North America, an international solidarity coalition working to address the ongoing injustices of the 1984 Bhopal disaster. Before attending UW-Madison, I graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, and served in the Minnesota GreenCorps, an AmeriCorps program where I assisted organizations and schools in Bemidji, MN, with environmental education and community resiliency initiatives. | contact


Kaitlin Stack Whitney

A doctoral student in Entomology, I grew up in the wetlands and on the beaches of eastern New York, where my love for the natural world began. My desire to bridge environmental science and policy led to a degree in international agriculture and research in a wide range of landscapes, from Alaska to Uganda. Before coming to UW-Madison, I worked for the USDA Farmer-to-Farmer program in Eastern Europe and as a staff scientist for the US EPA Office of Pesticides. My current research examines ecological and anthropogenic drivers of change in agricultural fields across Wisconsin -- a mix of quantitative insect ecology, population biology, conservation, integrated pest management, and human decision-making. | contact | website


Rebecca Summer

I am a graduate student in the Geography department interested in public parks and public lands, landscape history, and connection to the outdoors. I grew up in Washington D.C., and spent my undergraduate years exploring the mountains and forests of New England, while studying the built environment and American cultural history. My research centered on the development of the park system in Louisville, KY. I came to Wisconsin from Denver, where I worked for a nonprofit engaging the public in volunteer stewardship of Colorado's public lands. I hope to continue exploring relationships among ideologies, land use and design, and connection to nature. | contact


John Suval

I am a doctoral student specializing in nineteenth-century U.S. and Mexican environmental history. My research focuses on systems of land use and tenure, exploring what such systems reveal about attitudes toward property, nature, progress, and nation. I am particulalry interested in the social, political, and ecological consequences that attended the convergence of U.S. and Mexican land regimes following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848. Fallout from this encounter remains central to the culture and environment of the borderlands region. | contact


Heather Swan

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Literary Studies with a focus in eco-criticism. I received my MFA in poetry from the UW in 2007, and wanted to further investigate the ways in which art and literature are responding to issues of environmental destruction, exile, and extinction. I am also interested in thinking about how creativity and innovation can be promoted in disciplines such as science or math. A collection of my poems called The Edge of Damage is forthcoming from Parallel Press. | contact


Matthew Trew

Matthew joins us after completing a Masters in Anthropology and Asia-Pacific Studies at the University of Toronto in his native country of Canada. Before this, he studied visual anthropology at the University of South Carolina. Matthew works in the border province of Battambang, Cambodia, seeking to untangle the unique local culture of this highly contested region. Matthew also works on the conservation of Battambang's famous "bamboo train," a tourist attraction and important source of livelihood for locals that is in danger of being swallowed by plans for redevelopment of the railroad. For more information visit my website (under construction). | contact | website


Emmanuel Urey

I graduated with Bsc in Biology and MPH in Public Health from Cuttington University in Liberia. Currently I am pursuing another graduate study in Environment and Resources. I am also pursuing Certificate in the Energy Policy Analysis Program. My research focuses on rural land use management and the implications for the environment. I am particularly interested in how rural dwellers access land for their livelihoods and how livelihood activities affect their immediate environment. The multi-disciplinary Nelson Institute is quite a nice place for students and intellectuals and I am happy to be part of it. | contact


William Voinot-Baron

I am a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. I am interested in how ecological processes of rivers illuminate the entanglement of tribal, state, and federal narratives of governance, landscape, and meaning. My current research explores how conflicts over the use and management of riverine ecosystems contribute to the production, displacement and refusal of subjectivities, citizenships, and ways of belonging. An anthropology of rivers is interdisciplinary, incorporating law, history, philosophy, geography, medical anthropology and political ecology. I came to Wisconsin by way of Washington, Maine, Oregon, and New York City. I am presently exploring research opportunities in Maine in partnership with the Wabanaki Confederacy. | contact


Steel Wagstaff

I'm A.B.D. in the English (Literary Studies) Ph.D. program and have earned a Master's degrees in English and Library and Information Studies. I currently work full time as an instructional technology consultant in the College of Letters and Science. My academic research focuses on 20th Century American poetry, environmental criticism, and the digital humanities, and my dissertation examines the role of place, perception, and presence in Objectivist poetry. | contact


Bo Wang

I am a Ph.D student in Anthropology. My research interests include railroad ethnography, labor, environment, modernization, globalization and the Himalayans. My dissertation will explore the ecological and cultural impact that China's on-going railroad constructions in the Tibetan Autonomous Regions have on the locals. I currently plan to conduct a summer fieldwork in Lijiang--Shangri-La Railroad particularly examining how daily waste management among Tibetan locals are transformed to represent a modernized image of Tibetans for mass tourists by train. I am aslo interested in scutinizing these transformations in the global context in which China is building railroads worldwide with its migrating labor. | contact


Chloe Wardropper

I am a Ph.D. student in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology. My graduate work contributes to the UW-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate project, focusing on the governance of ecosystem services related to freshwater in Wisconsin's Yahara Watershed. My research asks how natural resource managers address issues of equity and effectiveness in the context of political and environmental change. After completing my B.A. in the College of Social Studies from Wesleyan University, I worked on public land acquisitions with the Department of Justice, assisted in soil and wetland conservation with NRCS Massachusetts, and implemented environmental practices on a USAID agriculture project in West Africa. | contact


Kiersten Warning

Addressing interpersonal violence for 18 years in the United States led me to my current research interest in Northwest Yunnan Province, China (naturally!). I hope to learn about the root causes of IPV and alternate conflict resolution mechanisms by working with a matrilineal society in the foothills of the Himalayas. Anthropology graciously welcomed me into their PhD program. Pressing for Shangri-La are China’s current economic development initiatives that are changing its physical and cultural landscape. History, law, politics, gender, culture formation, ethnic identity, neuroscience, biodiversity, agricultural production, trade, religion, education, and health are in the research mix so far. | contact


Kate Wersan

I am a graduate student in the History department where I study early American environmental history. I'm fascinated by land tenure and land use in early America, particularly the laws and customs colonists developed in relation to their changing sense of place. I encountered this topic first as an undergraduate studying the history of land tenure in colonial Gambia, West Africa. My experience in Gambia prompted me to see the importance of ideas about land and land use everywhere I looked, from courses in Soviet history to my thesis on revivalism at a small central Pennsylvania college. Since then, I've been fascinated by the ways that people define, refine, and engage their relationship to land and place. | contact


Anna Zeide

I am a graduate student in the Program of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology. My research takes food as a lens through which to understand the intersections between environmental history, consumer history, and the history of science. I am currently completing my dissertation on the history of the canning industry in the U.S. in the twentieth century. The project follows canners as their industry grew and stabilized, paying attention to the ways in which their relationship to their imagined consumers shaped their deference to scientific and governmental intervention. I am also interested in seeing how this early history of canning offers us a glimpse into the roots of the modern food industry. In addition, I am active in many food and community initiatives at the University and throughout Madison. This year, I will be working as a Public Humanities Fellow at the Madison Children's Museum, helping to develop the Museum's sustainability and health initiatives. | contact