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Master’s Students

First Year

Krysta Best
Aja Conrad
Evan Elderbrock
Avni Pravin
Shawn Rodine
Ashley Studholme
Aakash Upraity
Jordan Wyant

Second Year

Keyyana Blount
Erin Crnkovich
Emily-Bell Dinan
Kassandra Hishida
Euell Macke
Jared Pruch
Andrea Willingham

Continuing

There are no continuing Master’s students for the 2016-2017 school year.

First Year

Krysta Best

Krysta Bestkbest@uoregon.edu

Krysta graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2013, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Philosophy, and a minor in Sociology. During her time as an undergraduate, she served as the student director of an environmental ethics outreach program for underserved youth. She was inspired by how enthusiastic and insightful young people were regarding philosophical questions. Thus she discovered an appreciation for environmental education with a primarily philosophical approach.

After graduating college, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in southwestern Colorado, collaborating with other creative minds in the community to develop a program through which youth learned about sustainable agriculture and food justice by growing food for rural, low-income communities. During this time she also had the pleasure of working as a volunteer naturalist, leading first graders on hikes at the local nature center. Both of these experiences affirmed in her a love of working with children.

For Krysta, the sunrises, orioles, snow-covered pastures, and mountains of Colorado’s Western Slope, the work of 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, and the poetry of Mary Oliver (among many things) all contributed to a growing interest in the philosophical study of aesthetics and phenomenology, including and especially, environmental aesthetics and ecophenomenology. Just a few months into her year and a half working for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in northern Arizona, Krysta became fiercely interested in existentialism, but desired an existentialist philosophy that did not make any claim of human superiority to the natural world. She knew that it was officially time to formally explore these questions, and that is what she is doing while pursuing concurrent Masters degrees in Environmental Studies and Philosophy at the University of Oregon. She hopes to explore the possibility of an environmental education that is both arts-based and philosophical.

Krysta has spent most of her life in the arid Southwest, but, being from the Caribbean, prefers the climate of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, she can be found singing, listening to records, reading poetry, and learning about vintage fashion.

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Aja Conrad

img_0014aconrad@uoregon.edu

Growing up in a small remote town tucked away in the Siskiyou Mountains and nestled along the Klamath River in the heart of Karuk territory, I spent nearly all of my time outdoors as a kid—fishing, swimming, camping, you name it. With a population of just 200 and the nearest grocery store being a two hour drive away, I imagine visiting my slow-paced hometown would be like travelling back in time for some.

My tribe has lived there since time immemorial, and with such deeply rooted connections to my community and environment, I developed an early childhood appreciation for my natural surroundings. My passion for protecting and helping heal the world has lead me a wide range of interests in environmental health and community development. I landed at UC Berkeley as a first generation college student and my experience at Cal shaped my views on the challenges and limitations American Indian students face in higher education, I dedicated much of my time to making it a more attainable goal for youth from rural areas like that in which I grew up.

Upon graduating, I spent some time teaching at the small elementary school in my hometown and grew increasingly aware of how constraining early childhood education curricula can be to students whose cultural worldview doesn’t reflect those of the institutions that created them. In the summers, I would stay busy outdoors as a wildland firefighter for the Forest Service in an effort to expand my knowledge of federal land management practices and fire suppression tactics. Not so coincidentally, my research interests involve understanding the impacts of wildfires as they relate to the loss of traditional burning and other management practices; as well as why recognizing the importance of traditional ecological knowledge is critical for maintaining access to traditional diets and medicine.

In my free time you might catch me out taking advantage of the beautiful hiking and fishing spots around Eugene, or playing basketball at the rec center.

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Evan Elderbrock

Evan's Bio Piceelderbr@uoregon.edu

From a young age, I have always enjoyed adventuring in the outdoors. In early elementary school I was fortunate to have an inspiring science teacher who took every opportunity to engage students in the many mysteries of the natural world. During summers, I paddled the lakes and rivers of Ontario and northern Minnesota. As an undergraduate at Macalester College, I continued to gain an understanding of the natural world through coursework and research in Geology and Biology. My fascination with relationships between the biotic and abiotic, led me to study abroad in the rain forests and reefs of Queensland, Australia. From snorkel research on the Great Barrier Reef to organic farming in Vermont and Thailand, I have had the opportunity to explore the world through an always changing lens. These types of outdoor experiences inspired me to provide similar opportunities for kids. I spent the past four years teaching at The Ecology School in Saco, Maine, and at Sempervirens Outdoor School in Boulder Creek, California, helping children make connections to nature through hands-on, ecosystem based education.

It was through my work in Environmental Education that I discovered Permaculture, a landscape design theory that applies ecological knowledge to create thriving perennial food systems. The systems that humans rely upon for survival alter the physical and biological landscape, often leading to disastrous unintended ecological consequences. As I travel through cities, suburbs, and farmland, I find myself thinking about the quantity of misused and underutilized space. There is an opportunity to implement designs that increase resiliency of landscapes, require fewer fertilizers, and promote nutrient deposition and water infiltration. While Permaculture practices are unlikely to completely reshape our food economy, I believe that through community outreach programs we can turn urban landscapes into more productive, beautiful and functional ecosystems. Aside from my interests in Ecology and Landscape Architecture, I love spending my time making music, playing sports, biking, hiking, paddling, swimming, cooking vegetables, composting, and planting seeds.

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Avni Pravin

Avni Bio Photoapravin@uoregon.edu

As a kid visiting relatives in India, it was not uncommon to see children my own age walking the streets in tattered clothing, without shoes, asking for something to eat. As I grew older, I began to wonder why I had been given a family that loved me and bought me nice clothes and good food, yet another person just like me had been given so little. It was only when I delved into environmental science in my senior year of college that I realized these economic disparities translated into environmental disparities as well. While some have the benefit of plentiful resources, clean air and water, and the enjoyment of nature, others are relegated to the slums of cities or infertile farmland where they must struggle for survival.

However, learning about innovative solutions in sustainability such as aquaculture and green urban infrastructure is extremely heartening. There are many such creative ideas that could help ensure an equal distribution of resources for everyone. I also hope to intertwine a global perspective into my studies, as there are many people in the world who do not have voices that are speaking out for them. My main goal at UO is to learn how to write and analyze policy in order to promote these innovations while clearing away policies that are no longer effective.
When I’m not working, I enjoy kayaking, riding my bike, baking terribly inedible desserts, and reading. As an east-coaster relocating, I also hope to hike part of the PCT during my time out west.

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Shawn Rodine

Shawn Rodinesrodine@uoregon.edu

I grew up in the town of Kearney which is located in south central Nebraska. After finishing high school, I attended Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa where I studied social work and Spanish. As I became involved with student groups and campus initiatives to reduce resource use and divert waste streams on campus, I grew increasingly concerned about the impacts humans were having on the natural environment. Toward the end of my undergraduate studies, I decided that I wanted to continue to work on both social and environmental issues in the future.

After graduating from Buena Vista, I worked for two years in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as the Education Coordinator with Green Iowa AmeriCorps – an AmeriCorps program whose mission is to make Iowans more energy efficient. As the Education Coordinator, I provided and organized energy and environmental education programs and events for various community groups. As a team of five members, we also performed home energy audits, low-impact home weatherizations, and participated in community outreach events. Additionally, our team worked with Matthew 25 (a local nonprofit and our team host site) to maintain an urban farm on the northwest side of the city, rehabilitate old and neglected homes, and run a tool library program. Furthermore, I was involved with BikeCR – a group of citizens and municipal employees helping the Cedar Rapids area to become more bicycle-friendly.

My research interests include: urbanism, bikeability and walkability, energy and efficiency, resource use and consumption, and social and environmental justice. In my free time I enjoy keeping up with current events, listening to podcasts, learning languages, and being active in the community.

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Ashley Studholme

Ashley Studholmestudholm@uoregon.edu

Growing up in the suburbs of DC in Northern VA, I spent my time training in taekwondo, being active in my high school theater group and in the fall, banding hawks. All three of these activities, though very different, shaped my adolescence and instilled in me a sense curiosity about both culture and nature. This set me on my path to volunteer at an ecological park in Guatemala shortly after graduating high school. Here, I learned the importance of listening and engaging local communities to create more sustainable stewardship practices that are in service of both the people that rely on natural resources and wildlife that rely on intact habitat. This propelled me to study Biology at the University of Virginia and after graduating, I worked for a time at the Water Resource Department for Albemarle County where I supported stormwater BMP inspections, monitored groundwater and managed a grant encouraging private landowners to vegetate riparian buffers along perennial streams. Soon though, I grew restless and yearned to see something new. My natural tendency to take the scenic route, manifested itself into a seven year journey in the Ecuadorian Andes. I arrived as a Natural Resource Peace Corps volunteer working with rural communities in co-developing an integrated watershed management plan. Living in the Andes left me feeling both humbled and intrigued. I was humbled by the vastness of my surroundings and intrigued by the varied ecosystems tucked in every nook created by the irregular topography. So I stayed as a scientist and explored high altitude stream ecology and carbon flows and fluxes through an iconic Andean woodland. Through these experiences, I have seen a rift between the “wilderness” and “human” worlds, but this rift is construct; clearly there is only one world, one earth. My aim as a graduate student and beyond is to contribute to the development of more stable, sustainable and resilient socio-ecological systems. Given my training as a biologist, I am interested in the roles green space and green infrastructure play within urban environments and how we interact with and within these spaces. Specifically, I would like to explore how these spaces contribute to the biodiversity of the urban ecosystem, how citizen science can be a valuable way in which residents interact with these spaces and how policy can support the development of both. My experience developing environmental education programs and being a citizen scientist has exposed me to the role citizen science can play in not only fostering pro-environmental behaviors, but also in facilitating a much needed dialogue between citizens and scientists.

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Aakash Upraity

email

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Jordan Wyant

WyantBioPicjwyant2@uoregon.edu

I come to the University of Oregon from Oakland, CA, where I worked as a crew leader for the Student Conservation Association. I led high school students in conservation work projects throughout the Bay Area, as well as in North Cascades and Yosemite National Parks. My academic interests center on what answer the humanities have for the question of how to live well in an age of environmental catastrophe. I am also interested in finding new ways to incorporate core humanistic values—empathy, the importance of community, thinking not limited to oneself—into environmental education curricula. I have a BA in English from the University of Michigan. In my spare time, I like to coach and play soccer.

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Second Year

Keyyana Blount

kblount@uoregon.edu

KeyannaBlount

I grew up in Waldorf, Maryland, and extended suburb of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. As a resident of the Chesapeake Bay, I became intrigued with environmental health and ecology. This interest, among others, lead me to Salisbury University where I received my B.A. in Environmental Studies, with a minor in Biology. This program trained me to adopt an interdisciplinary lens while examining complex environmental issues, drawing on both the traditional sciences and the humanities.   At Salisbury University I also completed a two year undergraduate fellowship with the EPA. The fellowship included an internship at the EPA Atlantic Ecology Division lab in Narragansett, RI. There, I worked alongside a post-doctorate student studying the climate change effects on coastal wetland plants.

My research interests include ecosystem ecology, restoration ecology, wetland ecology, climate change, environmental policy, and natural resource management. . I hope to eventually work at the interface between science, policy and management. I am particularly interested in examining the effects of climate change on ecosystem processes and health, concentrating on coastal regions.

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Erin Crnkovich

ecrnkovi@uoregon.eduErin Crnkovich photo

I would like to think that I have always had some sort of environmental consciousness. As a child, this amounted to things like keeping my showers under five minutes and obsessively shutting off the lights as I left a room (which may have helped the earth somewhat but mostly seemed to result in me stubbing my toes as I rooted around in the dark for the hall light).

As a student at Macalester College, I chose to minor in Environmental Studies in favor of a German Studies major, due in equal parts to my love of the language and my desire to participate in the 6 month study abroad program offered by the department. Upon graduation, I became an English teaching assistant in Austria. I was placed at an agricultural secondary school in Wieselburg, a town so small that most Austrians have never even heard of it (although many are well acquainted with Wieselburger beer). The vast majority of my students had grown up on farms, and they were bitterly disappointed to learn that, despite hailing from Nebraska, I came from the city and did not own my own tractor.

In interacting with my students, who gave presentations on such topics as the many uses of sugar beets and the most viable way to slaughter a cow, I came to realize just how far removed I and so many others like me were from the process of my own food production. I could not name the country most of my food comes from, let alone the farmers themselves. This is something that I deeply wish to help change about our society. Now, exactly how I am going to do that is something I’m eager to discover during my time at the University of Oregon.

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Emily-Bell Dinan

edinan@uoregon.eduEBDinan Bio Pic

A New York City native, Emily-Bell was working as an environmental educator with Brooklyn community gardens when Super Storm Sandy ripped through her hometown in 2012. As climate change accelerates and sea levels continue to rise, the intensity and frequency of coastal storm events puts more communities at risk. Healthy, robust wetland ecosystems help mitigate flooding, attenuate wave action and even filter pollutants from the water column. Therefore, in order to help make coastal resiliency and science-based decision making possible, she is now at the UO studying wetland ecology and natural resource management.

Emily-Bell studied Political Science and History at the City University of New York, Hunter College and is an alumnus of the Aquatic Research Environmental Analytics Center at Brooklyn College. Most recently she worked as the Program Educator for the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, leading youth development programming through dune restoration, beach stewardship, transit advocacy, and scientific research mentoring. As the former NYC Compost Project Coordinator at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the NYC Department of Sanitation, Emily-Bell also has a strong dedication to helping community gardeners keep their cities growing green with healthy soils. Having served as an educator with Million Trees NYC, Solar One, and Manhattan’s Lower East Side Ecology Center, she is well experienced working with environmental non-profits ensuring urban residents have equal access to nature.

In her free time, Emily-Bell can be found gardening, cooking, or napping with her very awesome dog and cat.

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Kassandra Hishida

khishida@uoregon.eduhishida

During my junior year of high school, I enrolled in Environmental Science because I was intimidated by physics, overwhelmed by chemistry, and had heard that this class included field trips. Little did I know, this course would eventually lead me to pursue a science degree as an undergraduate. After a year of studying soda bottle ecosystems, carrying around our trash in tote bags, and a series of awesome field trips (as promised) I was hooked! The lessons from this class challenged my worldview, inspired me to take action, and changed me forever. When it came time for me to declare a major in college, I chose Environmental Science and never looked back.

For the next four years I took classes from every corner of campus and got involved in a variety of projects. I enjoyed many geology field trips, spent two summers working on Orcas Island as I worked on benthic habitat maps of the San Juan Archipelago. Mid-way through college I became part of a project that was one of the most defining components of my undergraduate career. I joined an incredible team of students, staff, and faculty passionate about facilitating a campus-wide culture of sustainability at a campus not known previously known for being a leader in environmental issues. Though things started slowly at first, we’ve come along way in just under two years. This spring we were presented our work to our university President and his cabinet, who have since committed to developing Fresno State’s Sustainability Institute.

At the University of Oregon I hope to focus on two topics that are well aligned with my previous experiences, my future goals, and my interest in the overlap of traditional subjects: Environmental Education and Environmental Justice. My most meaningful experiences have been the ones in which I was able to take ownership of the project and feel that I had made a tangible difference in my community. My hope is that approaching environmental education and environmental justice through the lens of service-learning will challenge students to become leaders in their communities as well.

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Euell Macke

emacke@uoregon.eduDSCN1361

From my first day on Earth I have been immersed in the beauty and wonder of the natural world. For this I thank my parents. As homesteaders in rural Eastern Oregon they taught my brothers and I how to love the land and revere nature. My childhood was spent playing in the garden, caring for our cattle, and endless exploration of the streams, pastures, and mountains around our home. A passion for insect collecting lead me to work with a Forest Service entomologist throughout high school. I earned a BS in biology from Oregon State University and continued fieldwork in insect ecology across the Great Basin. As an ecologist I have studied and worked in Argentina, the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Galapagos, and Honduras. During my travels I became fascinated with different cultural perspectives on nature. My current research interests are broad, ranging from conservation biology and ethnobotany, to art and folklore. My goal at UO is to gain the skills and knowledge to be a better advocate and activist for the environment and human rights. I am project oriented and love to get my hands dirty doing meaningful work that has immediate results.

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Jared Pruch

jpruch@uoregon.eduPruch

Born and raised right here in Eugene, the clear rivers, deep forests, high desert and rocky coastlines of Oregon featured prominently in my upbringing. Time spent in wilderness has always felt important, and my undergraduate studies at Colorado College were focused on the ways that religion and philosophy shape the way humans interact with and value our environment. After several years of teaching at outdoor science schools in northern California, I relocated briefly to Moab, Utah to work for the Canyonlands Field Institute, then to Hood River, Oregon where I led environmental education programs for a rural charter school. In 2007, I moved home to Eugene for a job as the executive director of the School Garden Project of Lane County, a nonprofit that helps schools create and sustain school gardens. My interests in education, natural resources management, nonprofit administration and sustainable agriculture led me to a new position in 2011, launching a Demonstration Farm at the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area on the McKenzie River. Managing habitat and water conservation priorities alongside agricultural production systems has proved to be a rich and dynamic challenge, one that I hope to continue to focus on as I transition back to the academic world. I’m specifically interested in the role that conservation incentive programs can play in fostering improved stewardship of agricultural landscapes, and in the use of conservation easements and other land-use planning tools to preserve farmland as farmland. When I’m not working, I’m usually up in the woods picking mushrooms, canoe camping in the Cascades, cross country skiing, or cooking food with my fiancée Josie and our dogs Opal and Fiona.

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Andrea Willingham

Andrea Willinghamawilling@uoregon.edu

I have always been fascinated by the human relationship with the natural environment. It was this thirst for understanding that drove me from my hometown of Tampa, FL after graduating from Eckerd College, to embark on the adventure of a lifetime in Alaska. During college, I volunteered and studied abroad in London, Honduras, and Iceland, and became enthralled with the many ways our societies interact with our local ecologies, and moreover, how those interactions evolve with environmental changes. While living in Alaska and working for the National Park Service, I was able to observe these connections firsthand in the subsistence practices of Alaska Native communities that rely on the ecosystems of the region for their livelihoods. As I became acquainted with these communities and how they are adapting to the rapidly changing climate of the Arctic, I started questioning the ways we connect with our natural resources, both in situ and from afar. It is within this framework that I am now studying the roles of Local and Traditional Ecological Knowledge and science related to climate change in southeast Alaska. With concentrations in media and geography, I am producing a documentary and multimedia story collection for my Master’s project. Aside from working as a park ranger in Alaska during the summers, I can usually be found hiking somewhere with my camera in hand, birding, writing, traveling, or cooking.

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Continuing

There are no continuing Master’s students for the 2016-2017 school year.

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