PitE Club

Building Environmental Awareness and Relationships

Winter 2015 BEAR Coffee Chats

Have a great summer!

Join us this fall for more BEAR coffee chats!

Sign up here for this week’s Coffee Chats with Jeff Shi or Courtney Grosvenor!

Jeff Shi: Monday, 4/14, 2:00-3:30pm

Courtney Grosvenor: Wednesday, 4/16, 12:30-2:00pm


bearjeffshiJeff Shi (jeffshi@umich.edu)
PhD Student, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

My research in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology focuses on the evolution of ecological diversity across the world’s bat diversity. This means I split my time between chasing bats around in the field and modeling complex dynamics of diversification on my computer. When I’m not otherwise engaged digging bats out of mist nets, I’m an avid consumer of mass media: music, television, film, books, and so on and so forth. I was an undergraduate at Duke University, where I spent time doing field work in South Africa, and did research at the Duke Lemur Center between my B.Sc and my current Ph.D. work.

bearcourtneygrosvenorCourtney Grosvenor (cgrosv@umich.edu)
M.S. Energy Policy and Sustainable Systems

I am a first-year Masters student in SNRE, studying energy policy and sustainable systems. I am a native Texan and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in French. While at UT Austin, I was a member of the Webber Energy Group and conducted research on the environmental impacts and tradeoffs of travel and telecommunications. After graduation, I worked for two years as a project manager in the oil & gas industry in Houston, while also working with a small group researching sustainable drilling practices, corporate social responsibility, and internal sustainability within the company.
My Master’s project in SNRE is working with Habitat for Humanity of Michigan to develop a better understanding of energy efficiency in low-income housing and design ways to improve energy consumption in Habitat homes. I also do research related to the non-GHG impacts of shale gas and coal for electricity production with SNRE’s Center for Sustainable Systems. My hobbies include camping, snowboarding, cycling, fitness, and balancing life with grad school.

Check out some of this semester’s other featured BEAR Grads!


Naim Edwards (nkedward@umich.edu)
Master’s Student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

I studied Biology on a pre-med track at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. After graduating, I traveled with a friend who was touring the country as a performing artist; “roadie” is the term usually used. About a year after graduating, I did Peace Corps in Ecuador for over two-years as a Natural Resource Conservation volunteer. In Ecuador, I worked in organic coffee cultivation, managed a vegetable garden, established and orchid garden, taught English, and worked in the Tourism office.
Now, I’m a Master’s student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. My thesis work focuses on how urban garden attributes affect insect biodiversity and how species of ants can be used as pest control agents. I plan to travel more after graduating and settle in Detroit to work in urban garden management and community organizing for sustainable food systems and a better economy.

erbaugh2J.T. (James) Erbaugh (jerbaugh@umich.edu)
Ph.D. Resource Policy and Behavior

As a doctoral student, I focus on how international environmental governance is translated into an Indonesian context and with what consequences for forest communities and forest cover. I am advised by Arun Agrawal, and I am affiliated with the International Forest Resources and Institutions research network.Before I came to Ann Arbor, I studied Geography at the University of Oxford for my Master’s degree, writing my thesis and conducting field work on agro-forestry in Central Java, Indonesia. I first became interested in Indonesian forestry and forest policy when I lived there as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Grantee from 2010 to 2011. During this time I lived and taught at a vocational farm school in rural Central Java. While I taught conversational English and American culture in Indonesia, I previously taught 8th grade science (general) on the Navajo Nation through Teach For America, from 2008-2010.  I completed my undergraduate degree in Philosophy and in Environmental Principles and Practices at Miami University (OH), and during this time completed a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course (Absaroka, WY) and studied abroad at the University of Oxford.If you have any interest in discussing post-graduate opportunities like Teach For America or the Fulbright Program; if you are interested in international travel and/or research; or if you want to chat about backpacking, NOLS, or anything else, definitely reach out. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Rose Buss (rkreuser@umich.edu)BEAR Profile Pic
Environmental Planning and Policy
M.S. Candidate 2014

I am a second-year Master’s student in SNRE, concentrating in Environmental Policy & Planning. My Master’s Project is making the sustainability business case for an internal price on carbon and a supply chain sustainability database for GM. While at SNRE, I have been a member of the SNRE Student Government Alumni Committee and a sustainability fellow with the City of Ann Arbor for the past two years and last semester I was the GSI for ENV345/SOC380: Environmental Public Opinion Analysis.
I attended Boston University for undergrad, majoring in International Relations with a concentration in Environment & Development and minoring in Environmental Analysis & Policy. Between undergrad and grad school, I served six months with the Student Conservation Association in northern California doing trail work, I served a one year term in the Minnesota GreenCorps AmeriCorps program focusing on waste prevention and recycling for a park district and I temped in Human Resources for a commercial cleaning company for one year.
 I am originally from Minnesota, love the outdoors, being active and almost anything related to food. After graduation I will be moving to Milwaukee.


Allyson Green (aggreen@umich.edu)
M.S. Environmental Justice and Environmental Health

Allyson is a 3rd-year dual MS student in Environmental Justice (School of Natural Resources and Environment) and Environmental Health (School of Public Health). She helped create the UM Sustainable Food Program and Campus Farm and is also writing a thesis on stress, noise, and diet in a small-scale gold mining community of northeastern Ghana. Her love for nature and interest in environmental justice stems from growing up in Baraboo, WI, a town rooted in a strong conservation history yet facing controversies over land use and environmental health issues. After graduating from Calvin College, where she spent a semester in New Zealand and Samoa with the Creation Care Study Program, she moved to southwest Virginia to serve as an Americorps VISTA volunteer with the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team. She put her Secondary Science Education degree partially to work writing curriculum, serving as the unofficial sustainability coordinator at the local university, partnering with environmental groups working on all kinds of coal mining issues, and learning birding and mandolin playing tips from her neighbors. She then spent a couple years doing environmental education and community outreach near Milwaukee, WI before coming to UM. While she misses mucking through ponds with middle schoolers (sometimes), she’s looking forward to bringing together people of all ages to solve local environmental challenges after graduation.

Jessica Wall (walljess@umich.edu)bearjessicawall
Law and Master’s Student, Environmental Justice

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of California, San Diego; B.A. Environmental Systems (Policy), Economics (Environmental), 2009
Work Experience: GSI for ENVIRON 475: Environmental Law (Ann Arbor, 2014); Program Assistant at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (Santa Monica, 2009-11); Green Campus Intern at Alliance to Save Energy (La Jolla, 2006-09); TA for “Conservation and the Human Predicament” for UCSD Biology Department (La Jolla, 2008, 2009)
Internship: Earthjustice (San Francisco, Summer 2014); California Attorney General’s Office (Oakland, Summer 2013); U.S. Attorney’s Office: Environmental Crimes Section (Los Angeles, Summer 2012); San Diego Coastkeeper (San Diego, 2008-09)
Hobbies, Interests, and Campus Involvement: Running, triathlons, baking, teaching swimming lessons, gardening; Environmental Law Society
Travel and Other Experiences:  Studied in Sweden during college, traveled around most of Europe, spent a month backpacking around Thailand before law school, visited Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

sara 2

Sara Meerow (sameerow@umich.edu)
Ph.D. Resource Policy and Behavior, University of Michigan, ’17

I am is a second-year Ph.D. student at the School of Natural Resources and Environment. My advisor is Josh Newell and I work in the Center for Sustainable Systems. My research focuses on the challenge of how to increase urban resilience in the face of climate change. More specifically, I’m interested in energy and climate change policies for cities in developing countries. So far, my research has been focused on Southeast Asia and I’ve spent several months in both Thailand and the Philippines. This past fall I was the GSI for Environ 211 Social Sciences and Environmental Problems. 
I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, FL and did my bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida. I majored in political science and history, and minored in anthropology and public leadership. As an undergrad I spent summers studying abroad and traveling in Europe and interning at a law firm and for a member of the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC.  At the start of my senior year of college I was all set to apply to law schools, but at the last minute decided to hold off and  moved to the Netherlands to do a master’s in international development studies at the University of Amsterdam instead. After finishing my degree, I stayed on in the Netherlands for another year working on different research projects related to international urban sustainability and taught summer courses at another Dutch University. 
If you have questions about choosing graduate programs, the social sciences, studying and traveling abroad, or anything else I’d be happy to talk with you!

bearpascaltitlePascal Title (ptitle@umich.edu)
PhD, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

During my undergrad at UC Berkeley, I worked at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, as a curatorial assistant in the herpetology specimen collections, and as a georeferencer and database manager, where I did GIS tasks and found and corrected database mistakes associated with the specimen collections. I worked there for an additional year after I graduated, and during that time was involved in fieldwork for the museum. I did herpetology fieldwork in the California deserts, and also in Guatemala.
In 2009, I moved to San Diego, and did a masters in evolutionary biology, where I worked on the niche evolution of tanagers, a large group of neotropical birds.
I am now working on my PhD in Dan Rabosky’s lab, where I work on the diversification of Australian reptiles. I am particularly interested in the spatial and climatic aspects of the reptile radiations that have occurred there. I was fortunate to be able to spend 3 months in Australia over the summer of 2013, where I helped with fieldwork and gathered data from museums.
I am interested in GIS, herpetology, comparative methods and phylogenetics.

lexibrewer2Alexandra (Lexi) Brewer (abrewe@umich.edu)
Master of Science (MS), Natural Resources and Environment (Policy and Planning), ’15

I’m Alexandra, but go by Lexi; I’m a first year Master’s Student in SNRE, in the Environmental Policy and Planning and Environmental Justice tracks. Within SNRE, I’m focusing on climate adaptation strategies, and climate justice. I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Washington in Seattle (GO DAWGS), and have a B.S. in Oceanography and a B.A. in Finnish. I’ve worked in the past for the UW’s Program on Climate Change and Climate Impacts Group, as well as for NOAA. If you have an interest in climate stuff, or environmental justice; have a science background but are thinking that policy may be a good way to go; are not sure if you want to go to grad school or not; OR are interested in hearing about ways to look for funding (for undergrad AND grad school; hellooo scholarships, there are some good ones out there), come talk to me! Also come talk to me if you want to wax rhapsodic about tacos or Scandinavia (but not tacos in Scandinavia, those were a little gross).

bearerinobrienErin O’Brien (ekobrien@umich.edu)
School of Natural Resources and Environment
Conservation Ecology
M.S. Candidate 2014

Research Interests: Environmental Conservation; Human-Nature Relationships; Protected Areas; Pastoralism; Human-Wildlife Conflict; Power Relations; Political Ecology; Politics of Faith; Identity; Nature and Ontology; Indigenous Knowledge; East Africa  
A native Michiganian, I graduated from Kalamazoo College in 2010 with a major in Health Sciences and a concentration in Environmental Science.  Working for a year for a pharmaceutical company after graduating, I couldn’t wait to go back to school and joined a human-elephant conflict project in Tanzania as a field assistant to gain research experience and shift away from veterinary medicine (my prior focus during my undergraduate career).  This project in Tanzania peeked my interest in the intersection between human livelihoods and wildlife conservation efforts, which informs my thesis research and proposed doctoral studies.
This last summer I spent studying livestock grazing in the Mediterranean for my M.S. thesis work.  Really this meant hanging out on a Greek island (Naxos) tagging lizards and conducting bird counts to assess how livestock grazing influences vertebrate populations.  I also did a fair share of snorkeling, eating, and basking in the sun!  I’d be happy to talk to anyone about research, graduate school, goats, you name it!

bearlizziegrobbel Lizzie Grobbel (egrobbel@umich.edu)
Master’s Student, Environmental Engineering

I’m a first year master’s student in Environmental Engineering. I also received my bachelor’s from UM in Civil and Environmental Engineering. During undergrad, I interned with a watershed education nonprofit and a nuclear power plant. I also researched Great Lakes/Gulf of Mexico nutrient modeling. I have always been interested in corporate sustainability and interned at a private equity firm (Graham Partners) in Philadelphia after graduating last summer. My project focused on energy and water efficiency within the firm’s manufacturing plants. After graduating this December, I’ll be joining Graham Partners as their Director of Sustainability.
I am all about work-life balance and love cooking, meditating, yoga, backpacking, and CrossFit! I played on the women’s club ultimate frisbee team in undergrad and have recently taken up salsa and hip hop dance classes. I love sweet potatoes.

bearaveryrobinson Avery Robinson (averyr@umich.edu)
Master’s Student, Judaic Studies

This is my sixth year on campus! When I completed my BA in PitE and Anthropology in 2012, I realized that I loved culinary history just as much as my concentrations in sustainable urbanism and food systems. Unwilling to leave Ann Arbor and this great community, I enrolled in an MA program that would allow me to continue my study of (Jewish) American cookbooks and culinary practice.
While in undergrad, I was fortunate to have been in the inaugural class of Graham Scholars, which allowed me to fulfill my field experience and Safari-dreams in Kenya. I spent a Spring semester at the Biostation, learned geology at Camp Davis, and took an urban planning course in Detroit. This past summer (2013), I spent some time on an organic farm in New York where we only spoke in Yiddish—allowing me to bridge my interests in intentional living, resilient agriculture, and language acquisition.
I am all about the journey. I do not know where I am going or what my life will look like, but I am excited about the roads ahead. The day after my undergraduate commencement, I took a boat down the entire length of the Amazon River from Ecuador to the Atlantic. I don’t know where I will be this summer, but hope for more adventures. Let’s scheme.

bearsethbuchsbaumSeth Buchsbaum (sethbu@umich.edu)
M.S./J.D. student at the School of Natural Resources (EPP track) and the Law School

Seth Buchsbaum is a first-year joint M.S./J.D. student at the School of Natural Resources (EPP track) and the Law School. He’s from Ann Arbor and also attended Michigan for his undergraduate degree, concentrating in Interdisciplinary Physics and Political and Environmental Policy. For the past two years, Seth has been working at the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry in Washington DC. He has done summer internships at a variety of places, including for a peace group, a local campaign, the ACLU, and the White House. He’s specifically interested in climate and energy policy. In addition to his work and studies, Seth enjoys playing Ultimate, board games, cello and guitar, traveling, and reading.

bearwhitneyconard Whitney Conard (wconard@umich.edu)
Conservation Ecology

I am currently a 2nd year master’s student in SNRE majoring in conservation ecology. Prior to U-M, I did my undergraduate degree in biology at Indiana University. I have always been involved in some kind of research but my research interests have changed over the years. In undergrad, I did research in a biochemistry lab on the interaction between a retinoblastoma gene (RB) mutation and brome mosaic virus (BMV) in tobacco plants. As you might guess, I did not get to choose the topic of research then but the opportunity to learn lab techniques was something I could not pass up. Now in graduate school, my research interests revolve around aquatic ecosystems and invasive species (mostly fish). My master’s thesis is assessing an endangered catfish, Northern madtom, in the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. I have taught a number of courses both as an undergraduate teaching assistant and now as a graduate student instructor. These include Genetics, Introduction to Biology Lab, and Ecology of Fishes Lab. I have sought out my own funding for graduate school and am happy to talk about that with students if you have any questions.

Rachel Chalat (rchalat@umich.edu)
Master in Applied Economics & Master of Science in Natural Resources and Environment

Rachel is a second year graduate student at the University of Michigan. She is completing a Master in Applied Economics and a Master of Science in Natural Resources and Environment. Her area of focus is corporate social responsibility and supply chain management. Currently, she conducting research with Professor Jeremiah Johnson to create a dynamic stakeholder model to evaluate carbon mitigation options for existing power plants in Michigan. Previous to her research position, Rachel was the Program Director at the local nonprofit, the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy.  She is also a Dow Sustainability Fellow.
Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Environmental Studies from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY. She was born and raised in Evergreen, CO and enjoys spending time outdoors whether it’s in the Rocky Mountains or on the lakes

David Nowak (denowak@umich.edu)beardavidnowak
MBA/MS 2016 Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise
Stephen M. Ross School of Business, School of Natural Resources and Environment

I am a first-year student in the Erb dual-degree program, earning an MS in Sustainable Systems at SNRE and an MBA from the Ross School of Business. In undergrad, I received degrees in both Environmental Science & Engineering and Economics, and held a summer job at Argonne National Laboratory. After graduation, I completed a short internship in Poland through IAESTE. I then worked for more than 7 years as an environmental scientist at MWH Global, a large environmental engineering and consulting company. I specialized in various environmental projects focusing on remediation, compliance, and sustainability, and earned my LEED AP. I’d be happy to chat with anyone about environmental science and engineering careers, as well as general career/internship preparation.

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