Doctoral Students

Julie Bacon
Tim Christion Myers
Sierra Deutsch
Erica Elliott
Jean Faye
Paul Guernsey
Shane Hall
Sonja Kolstoe
Taylor McHolm
Briana Meier
Lucas Nebert


Julie Bacon
julieb@uoregon.edu

Focal Department: Sociology

Kwey! Perhaps as a reflection of our beautifully complex world, my voyage has been deliciously varied. I am interested in the emotional and social implications of environmental injustice. I also study the experiences of allies within indigenous-led environmental justice struggles.

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Tim Christion Myers
tcc@uoregon.edu

Focal Department: Philosophy

My research interests encompass the social, cultural, and philosophical factors that influence how we relate to the natural world. More specifically, I am interested in the phenomenology of place, metaphors and narratives of nature, and the relationship between social and cultural change. My B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies at UC Berkeley drew on various disciplines in the social sciences and humanities (e.g. anthropology, sociology and philosophy) in an attempt to investigate the ways in which Western culture understands and reasons about its environment. My M.A. in Environmental Ethics at The University of North Texas continued this line of research, focusing more particularly on the philosophical (especially phenomenological) aspects of the human relationship to place. I have work experience in environmental education (I love introducing youth to the natural world), and my nonacademic interests include birding, backpacking, mushroom hunting, gardening, and spending quality time with my wife Jen.

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Sierra Deutsch
sierrad@uoregon.edu

Focal Department: Sociology

Research Interests: Marine conservation in developing countries, human dimensions, veterinary medicine

When people ask where I’m from, I never know how to answer. My life started out on the east coast where I grew up in New Jersey. Then I headed to the west coast where I received a B.S. in 2002 from Humboldt State University, Arcata, California. My majors were marine biology and zoology with a minor in women’s studies and a veterinary medicine focus. After taking some time off to travel, I headed to the Gulf coast to earn an M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University. My Master’s research was conducted in New Zealand, so I also lived there for 9 months.
My research experience has mostly been in conservation and behavioral ecology in the form of field studies on marine mammals. I have studied grey whales and harbor seals in California, right whales in South Carolina, sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico, and dusky dolphins in New Zealand. I also have a long-standing interest in traveling, human culture, and psychology.
For my dissertation, I’m interested in the encouragement of sustainable use of marine resources in developing countries in such a way as to include locals in the policy-making process and provide jobs for them. I am a seasoned traveler and have spent a good deal of time in developing countries, particularly in SE Asia, southern Africa, and Central America. The stunning natural resources and rich cultural diversity of these countries have led to my desire to find a way to preserve both.
Aside from traveling, I enjoy running, biking, hiking, backpacking trips, horseback riding, surfing, swimming, SCUBA diving, and dancing. After a few years on flat land, I’m really excited to return to the mountains

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Erica Elliott
eelliot1@uoregon.edu

Focal Department: English

Concentration areas: Ecology and Geography

My research and teaching are currently focused on the forms that toxicity takes in the contemporary world (including radioactive waste, e-waste, pesticides, and endocrine disruptors) as well as the forms that represent it in environmental narratives and popular culture (what ecocritic Lawrence Buell calls «toxic discourse»). I am particularly interested in how we treat and think about landscapes that have been irrevocably scarred by military and industrial activities. My comprehensive exam project will focus on the environmental and ethical implications of converting former nuclear sites into wildlife refuges.

The work I have done so far at UO has helped me to develop my interests in 19th and 20th century American literature, environmental justice ecocriticism, indigenous environmental movements, community ecology, food politics, ecological collapse, and the Hanford nuclear site. I enjoy thinking about what it means to do truly «interdisciplinary» work that takes multiple perspectives, methodologies and theoretical lenses into account.

When left to my own devices, I enjoy reading Alice Munro stories, sleeping near the banks of the Metolius River, trying new recipes, studying William L. Sullivan’s hiking guides, listening to fiddle music, and playing with dogs and children. My heroines include Patricia Nelson Limerick and Rebecca Solnit.

I’m interested in sharing ideas and syllabi with other teachers of Environmental Studies (especially those who specialize in the environmental humanities) so please get in touch if you’re interested in a pedagogical swap.

Previous degrees:
B.A., Kenyon College, English and Biology
M.A., University of Oregon, English

Courses taught:
WR 121: College Composition I
WR 122: College Composition II
ENVS 203: Intro Environmental Studies: Humanities
ENVS 411: The Hanford Nuclear Site: Environmental Disaster in the American West

Courses for which I have been a TA:
ENVS 201: Intro Environmental Studies: Social Sciences
ENVS 202: Intro Environmental Studies: Natural Sciences
BI 132: Animal Behavior
BI 140: Science, Politics and Biology

Coming soon, to an ENVS program near you:
ENVS 411: Living in a Toxic World (academic year 2010-2011)

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Jean Faye
jfaye@uoregon.edu

Focal Department: Geography

I am a farmer from Senegal, West Africa, a country confronted with multiple environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural problems due in part to the loss of traditional survival skills and climate change. The traditional rain-fed subsistence farming is now in jeopardy due to increased population density and unpredictable weather patterns exposing farmers to crop failures. I hope to address these problems by applying sustainable agroforestry techniques to improve livestock conditions, increase crop production and diversity, and thus mitigate climate change to enhance overall quality of life in the Sahel.

I completed my BS in Conservation and Resource Studies at UC, Berkeley with an emphasis on Sustainable Agriculture.

Before joining the UO, I have done extensive community development work in West Africa, especially Senegal and The Gambia, as well as in the US, the Bay Area – California. At the University of Oregon, I earned my MA in International Studies, with an emphasis on development studies and agrarian change, exploring Agroforestry and food security in the Sahel.

For my dissertaion, I intend to look further into the interplay between indigenous heritage and applied agro-forestry (on-farm experiments) in stressed environments to mitigate climate change and improve agricultural productions.

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Paul Guernsey
guernsey@uoregon.edu

Focal Department: Philosophy

I grew up in the suburbs of San Jose, CA and started my academic career at a local community college. I completed a B.A. in Philosophy with a minor in Classical Studies at UC Santa Cruz and continued at the same institution as an M.A. student. I wrote my Master’s paper under David Hoy and Abraham Stone on the concepts of truth and appropriation in Martin Heidegger.

After UCSC I took 3 years off from school and co-founded a non-profit in northeastern Arizona in the Navajo Nation. Our main focus is to provide opportunities for the local community to participate meaningfully with its own ecology. We do this through sustainable agriculture, permaculture, landscaping, land restoration, plant propagation, and vocational programs. Here is our website: www.sunriseschool.org.

My current philosophical interest is the confluence of phenomenology, ecology, pedagogy (especially Dewey) and the critique of political economy, attempting to practice these disciplines in solidarity with women, children, minorities, and the non-human biotic community. I’m particularly interested in how changes in perception, education, art, relations to geography, and economic forces can be leveraged simultaneously to grow thriving communities and places.

In my spare time I enjoy beekeeping, gardening, mushroom hunting, dancing, and talking with friends.

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Shane Hall
shaneh@uoregon.edu

Focal Department: English

A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I’ve spent most of my adult life at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, which is located in Historic St. Mary’s City, on the banks of the St. Mary’s River in St. Mary’s County. The location made up for its lack of name diversity by excellently accommodating my obsessions with fishing, kayaking, sailing and otherwise being outdoors near some water. Other penchants I bring cross country are good coffee, books, birding and biking. My BA is in English; after graduating I worked coordinating sustainable initiatives at my alma mater, such as starting a small organic-practice farm, energy efficiency programs and environmental education, and I have also worked registering voters. My research interests focus on the ways “environmental” issues are identified, misidentified or not identified, and portrayed in mass media and literature. Fueled by my travels in Africa and South America especially, I am also interested in the effects of so called “eco-tourism” on the Global South, and sustainable development.

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Sonja Kolstoe
skolstoe@uoregon.edu

Focal Department: Economics

Research Interests: Non-market valuation, environmental sustainability, welfare effects of Pigouvian taxes and their implications for externalities; the impact of policy decisions on efforts to maintain and restore ecosystems.

My current research is a non-market valuation study about the influence of seasonal bird populations on the value of bird watching destinations to bird watchers. I am developing a model to estimate the marginal values of attributes of bird watching sites, including the numbers and types of birds observed. This model will make it possible to address the potential welfare effects of processes such as urbanization and climate change that may impact bird watching opportunities. Compared to plant populations and terrestrial animals, birds are highly mobile and thus provide a unique way to observe more immediate responses to environmental changes in their habitat areas. These changes can be valued indirectly by observing the choices among alternative destinations by bird watchers and controlling for a measure of the travel costs people are willing to incur to be able to see different types or numbers of birds.

I grew up in Western Washington State and enjoyed the beauty and many outdoor recreational opportunities the region provides. My childhood was filled with outdoor recreational outings, primarily hiking and skiing. The biology, chemistry and marine biology courses I took in high school inspired me to pursue a B.S. in Biology at Washington State University (WSU). While there, I joined the Ray Lee Laboratory and completed my undergraduate Honors Thesis, “The Symbiont Community of the Scale-Worm Lepidonotopodium Piscesae.”

For my UNLV Master’s thesis I worked with Dr. Mary Riddel on Risk Preferences. I used Cumulative Prospect Theory to compare subjects’ risk preferences in the financial and health domains using self-identifying groups: a student control group and three different recreational sport groups: rock climbers, SCUBA divers and Porsche Club of America members. The findings suggest that risk preferences are best indicated by group affiliation and differences in risk preferences between the financial and health domains are primarily driven by differences in probability weighting.

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Taylor McHolm
tmcholm@uoregon.edu

Focal Department: English

As a native of Orange County, California, I can remember smelling orange trees from my backyard as a child. Now, all that remains of oranges is their titular role. I’d like to spin this into some elaborate metaphor about my interests in Environmental Studies and Literature, but the only real connection is that I wanted to leave Southern California as soon as I graduated from high school. From there, I went to UC Davis, where I was first educated and made aware of environmental issues in an academic realm (the real first exposure probably came from Captain Planet or that owl that taught me to “give a hoot.”) From there, I moved to New York City, earned my MS in Education, taught 8th grade in the Bronx and then worked in a non-profit educational reform organization. Each step along the way made me consider my interests and passions, and I left Brooklyn for Eugene, exchanging one version of “wild and scenic” for another. Here, I worked on my MA in English, focusing on literature and the environment, which then propelled me to pursue a PhD with the emphases slightly reversed (but only slightly). I’m interested in Western American literature/literature of the American West and its overlap with policy and cultural conceptions of these environments.

I enjoy the out-of-doors, whether it’s by bike, boat, board or boots. I also like Westerns. Finally, I think that the Arnold Palmer is the greatest drink ever created.

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Briana Meier
meier@uoregon.edu

Focal Department: Geography

Through interdisciplinary work in environmental studies and geography I aspire to understand ways in which concepts of nature are produced and environmental issues are problematized. At present, my research interests focus on the following:

  • the relationships between public space and political-cultural economies and how the relationship with the material engages a relationship with the political, specifically around urban public spaces;
  • the social production of nature and the relationship between social systems of power and relationships with nature;
  • cultural landscapes, particularly conceptions of land as commons and as sacred, as compared with conceptions of land as resource or commodity; and
  • philosophy of nature and environmental ethics in general, including their applications to and relays with each of the fields listed above.

I plan to begin deeper study around conceptions of nature/human relationships within Buddhist philosophy this fall (2013).

My professional background is in urban planning and sustainable urban development, including open space planning and development. For a number of years I studied and experimented with engagement with the built environment through informal urban development and unplanned interventions in public spaces. I moved to Oregon in 2007 and completed a master’s degree and certificates in urban planning, design and development at Portland State University. Before that, I worked in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a few NGOs, including the Center for Resilient Cities, where I helped to develop outdoor public spaces, including restored natural areas, community gardens, green school grounds and city parks. My roots remain firmly connected to the wooded hillsides of northeast Iowa.

13-0907 bkmeier uo bio pic

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Lucas Nebert
lnebert@uoregon.edu

Focal Department: Biology

I’m a dirt-loving, microbe-evangelizing, nerdy scientist farmer. I love a good story and I think life’s evolutionary story is the greatest of them all. I’m particularly interested in the role that microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) play in our ongoing evolutionary story. It’s not an easy tale to tell from the data, and the plot has many layers, but the unfolding story challenges the way we perceive the world around us. It makes us ask a wealth of different questions we would never think to ask, such as, “if 9 of 10 cells of our body are microorganisms, are we an ecosystem, too?” Also, the microbial story may change the ways in which we act.

After completing an undergraduate thesis in theoretical biochemistry (B.A. in biology and chemistry at Willamette University), I decided to find a more practical focus – agricultural ecology. I spent two and a half years in the Netherlands (Wageningen University), carrying out an experiment to figure out how earthworms interact with soil microorganisms, and taking classes to earn a M.S. in Soil Quality. I interned on a coffee farm in Chiapas, Mexico to ask similar questions about ground-dwelling ants, and their benefits to natural processes in the agroecosystem in which they reside.

For my PhD, I ask the question, how can we team up with microorganisms for more sustainable, adaptive agricultural ecosystems? I hope this question will be answered by farmers and gardeners, who are constantly interacting with microbes of the soil, and microbes that inhabit the plants they grow, ever affecting plant health and resilience. As microorganisms get passed along in the seed of the plant, they may play a profound role in the inheritance of a plant’s microorganisms over time. I’d like to see how much of a role farmers already play in the evolutionary process of microbial inheritance, and whether they want to engage more deliberately with these complex, vibrant microbial communities.

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