2013-2014 Sustainability Leadership Fellows


Jillian Lang

Jillian M. Lang, Ph.D. Student
Advisor: Jan Leach
CSU Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program
I am a molecular plant pathologist passionate about addressing large scale problems, such as international food security and environmental sustainability, through small scale science. More than half our world relies on rice, a simple grass, for food and income. My research explores a mechanism in rice for maintaining resistance to threatening bacterial pathogens, with the ultimate goal of minimizing losses in yield and reducing chemical inputs for management. I am also developing molecular tools to rapidly and accurately identify these bacteria in the field and in quarantine offices.

Read Jillian Lang's blog entry, "Will 9 Billion Humans Put Us in Mordor or the Shire?"

Chubashini Suntharalingam

Chubashini Suntharalingam, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Gregory Graff
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
Born and raised in Malaysia, I am here in Fort Collins to pursue my PhD at CSU. I have been in the work force for over 15 years with experiences in a wide variety of areas including food security and sovereignty, international trade, agricultural marketing and technology management. I am excited about GDPE and the many new perspectives the combination of Ecology and Economics has to offer, which I believe would enrich and enhance my academic and career development.

Read Chubashini Suntharalingam's blog entry, "Potential Effects of Modern Agricultural Biotechnology on Biodiversity in Malaysia"


Matthew Igel

Matthew Igel, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Susan van den Heever
Department of Atmospheric Science
Growing up, I observed that people across the globe have simultaneously a common fascination with and hatred of weather. My PhD work focuses on an aspect of the weather and climate system that is both the bane and boon of billions of people worldwide: tropical thunderstorms. In an effort to help make better predictions and forecasts, I try to answer very basic questions about the physical characteristics of these storms and how they might be affected by climate change.

Read Matthew Igel's blog entry, "Climate Change and Tropical Rainfall"

Shunsuke Nakao

Shunsuke Nakao, Postdoctoral Fellow
Mentor: Sonia Kreidenweis
Department of Atmospheric Science
I am a postdoctoral researcher at Department of Atmospheric Science. I love science. I enjoy standing on the shoulders of giants; I enjoy it even more when I realized how little is actually understood. My current research advances the understanding of how tiny particles and clouds are formed in the atmosphere, which helps people breath cleaner air and better understand global climate.

Read Shunsuke Nakao's blog entry, "Climate, Air Quality, and Particles"


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Suzan Hassan AlDoubi, Ph.D. Candidate Advisor: Sharon Anderson
School of Education
Playing different roles in my life as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, student, and educator, allowed me to be a leader for a long time. Walking through the professional leadership road, I discovered that it is not an easy path for women. Although women have gained leadership positions in various arenas worldwide, including Saudi Arabia, they are still underrepresented in playing such roles in comparison to men. I am so passionate about gender gap in leadership positions and women’s involvement in decision-making in higher education. I seek to explore the path of female leaders in order to inspire future ones. I am Suzan AlDoubi and I am a doctoral student at the School of Education. I am honoured to be part of the Global Sustainability Leadership fellowship as a starting point for my participation in changing our global community.

Read Suzan Hassan AlDoubi's blog entry, "Women's Access to Leadership Positions"



Timothy J. Assal, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Jason Sibold
Department of Anthropology and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
I am a Spatial Ecologist at Colorado State University and the U.S. Geological Survey. I study disturbance impacts on forests which can change how an ecosystem works for many years into the future. I combine field studies, satellite sensors and computer modeling to study ecosystems at regional scales to uncover when, why or where these changes took place. I believe the study of disturbance processes hold great clues to determine how our forests are changing and in the process, provide sound science to resource managers and policy makers alike.

Read Timothy Assal's blog entry, "Sustainability from Space"


Tessa Conroy, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Stephan Weiler
Department of Economics
I’m currently a fourth year PhD student in Economics. I chose to study Economics because of my interest in local economic development and inequality.   As a graduate student, I learned of the large gender gap in business ownership and performance that exists nearly everywhere in the United States.  In trying to understand this gender gap, my research focuses on the factors that drive entrepreneurs and how they might differ by gender and by location.  Further, I'm also exploring how the gender composition of business ownership affects local economic growth.

Read Tessa Conroy's blog entry, "Is Mixing Better than Matching?


Jonathan M. Fisk, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Charles Davis
Department of Political Science
Environmental issues, such as renewable energy, fracking and climate change, are increasingly dotting our natural and political landscapes. As a political scientist focusing on state and local governments, I research many of these debates in the context of political power - whose has it, who wants it and even where it should optimally reside. While, many times my work leads to more questions than answers - it is clear that power matters and that improved environmental governance is possible. My work can be found in journals such as Review of Policy Research and Environmental Management.

Read Jonathan Fisk's blog entry, "Imagine Melanie"


Liesel Hans, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Robert Kling
Department of Economics
I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Economics. I'm intrigued by how people use water and what barriers exists to households understanding the economic and environmental costs of their use. I aim to find ways to more efficiently and wisely use (or not use!) our common water resources.

Read Liesel Hans' blog entry, "Sustainable Behavior: Changing the Habit by Changing the Context"


Matthew W. Luizza, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Michele Betsill
Department of Political Science and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
I am a third year PhD student in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at CSU and a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Fellow, working with advisor Michele Betsill (Department of Political Science) and co-advisor Paul Evangelista (Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory). My passion is working with communities in remote places to protect their sacred landscapes while preserving their local livelihoods. Through collaborative conservation and engaging the science-policy interface, my research combines the worlds of ecology, ethnobotany, anthropology and political science, as I explore the integration of local ecological knowledge and geospatial mapping and modeling to address environmental challenges of indigenous communities in Alaska and Ethiopia.

Read Matthew Luizza's blog entry, "Bringing Indigenous Knowledge to the Forefront of Conservation Planning"



Paul Brewer, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Joe Von Fisher
Department of Biology and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
During my studies I have come to realize that agriculture has an enormous impact on greenhouse gases and other major environmental issues and that many of these impacts are translated through the microbes inhabiting agricultural soils. Because if this I am now studying these effects and how subtle changes in agriculture may be able to mitigate environmental damage.

Read Paul Brewer's blog entry, "A Paradox of Agriculture and Greenhouse Gases"


David Hoover, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Alan Knapp
Department of Biology and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
I have always been interested in science. I have an undergraduate degree in ecology and evolution, a master's in Geosciences and soon I'll have a PhD in Ecology. For my dissertation, I'm investigating how climate change will impact grassland ecosystems. But my research experiences have ranged from bacteria to elephants deserts to rainforests and the lab to the field. I believe this broad interdisciplinary training has given me a better perspective to tackle my research questions.

Read David Hoover's blog entry, "Drought Happens"


Clinton Leach, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Colleen Webb
Department of Biology and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
I have always enjoyed seafood but found the ocean to be largely a mystery and it's hard to wrap your head around what life is like for the organisms we harvest and harder still to imagine how they interact with one-another. I'm interested in piecing together those interactions, specifically who eats who and why, to better understand how our own interactions might cascade through, and possibly unexpectedly alter, marine communities.

Read Clinton Leach's blog entry, "Knowing What Fish Eat Can Help Us Make Smarter Choices about the Fish We Eat"


Ryan McShane, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: LeRoy Poff
Department of Biology and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
I am a stream ecologist and an outdoor enthusiast who also loves to play around water. I have been fortunate enough to commingle my love of nature and science in a career researching streams and the effects of climate change, land use and water management on the flow regime which influences riverine organisms. My desire is to help us manage rivers in supporting both the human and environmental needs for water.

Read Ryan McShane's blog entry, "Environmental Flows Offer a Win-win Strategy to Sustain Flows in Rivers While Providing Water to Us"


Mónica Páez, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Chris Funk
Department of Biology and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
I am an Evolutionary Biologist born in Ecuador. I investigate how environmental changes along elevation influence the evolutionary processes of natural populations of amphibians. I aim to elucidate the processes that promote and maintain the great biodiversity of tropical mountains.

Read Mónica Páez's blog entry, "Challenges to Biodiversity Conservation: What Can We Learn from the Yasuní-ITT Initiative in Ecuador?"



Stephanie Lynn Moon, Ph.D. Student
Advisor: Jeffrey Wilusz
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology
Growing up in Colorado, I witnessed the emergence of West Nile virus in the United States first hand, and was struck by the lack of specific treatments and diagnostics that were available. My research in the Wilusz laboratory is aimed at identifying the common molecular mechanisms by which Dengue, West Nile, and Hepatitis C virus affect host gene expression and cause disease. I hope this work will contribute to the development of a cure for this group of emerging viral diseases that are impacting humans and animals worldwide.

Read Stephanie Moon's blog entry, "Of Molecules and Mosquitoes: Molecular Biology Techniques Underlie Our Efforts to Sustainably Eradicate Mosquito-borne Viruses"



Natalie Anderson, Ph.D. Student
Advisor: Ellen Wohl
Department of Geosciences
I explore rivers. I am a fluvial geomorphologist. I am a professional whitewater kayaker. My passion for rivers is deep and swift and I enjoy sharing my intellectual and physical journey down them with others. For my dissertation, "Wood Dynamics on the Mackenzie River of Northern Canada", I am looking at how driftwood navigates a large river system on its way to the Arctic Ocean.

Read Natalie Anderson's blog entry, "Not-so-clean Hydropower is Damming Us All"


Tabitha A. Graves, Postdoctoral Fellow
Mentor: Mevin Hooten
Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology
In a single day, the grizzly bears I study can encounter roads, oil wells, subdivisions, and humans recreating. I develop innovative statistical models and use cutting-edge technologies to understand how to help wildlife flourish along with humans. I am partnering with managers to identify ways to count bears more efficiently in Alberta and answer questions about bear dispersal around Glacier National Park for my David H. Smith Conservation Research Postdoctoral Fellowship. In my free time, I like to hike in wild places, sing, play mandolin, and West African dance.

Read Tabitha Graves' blog entry, "Dissecting Dispersal"


Heidi Huber-Stearns, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Tony Cheng
Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship
As a PhD candidate and research assistant in the department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, I focus on issues of environmental governance and natural resource policy. My current research investigates incentive-based watershed programs in the western United States. Growing up in a rural environment instilled in me an ethic for land stewardship at an early age, which is reflected in my exploration of the linkages between people and their actions on land.

Read Heidi Huber-Stearns' blog entry, "If a Tree Falls in the Forest, Does It Affect the Water from Our Faucets?"


Katie Renwick, Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Monique Rocca
Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
I've studied trees as long as I can remember; first as a climber seeking the highest possible perch, and now as a PhD student studying the impacts of climate change. My research lets me explore the forests of Rocky Mountain National Park where I measure trees to track their growth and survival. Mountain forests are thought to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and some tree species may vanish from parts of their range as the climate becomes increasingly unsuitable. My goal is to better understand how climate influences which species grow where so that we can create management solutions that maintain healthy forests in the future.

Read Katie Renwick's blog entry, "Trees on the Move"