Graduate Student Photos


Anne Wilce wearing a red cap throws a snowball at the camera

Anne Wilce

Degree Pursuing: MS, Environmental Science

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Alia Khan

Undergraduate Degree: BS in Geophysics, Western Washington University

Research Interest: My research interests are broad, but all relate to the effects of climate change and feedback processes in the cryosphere. This includes reduction in snow cover, changes in snow albedo, mass loss from ice sheets and glaciers, and glacial hydrology. Polar landscapes have always magnetized me, and this has steered my educational path. I am honored to return to WWU to work under Dr. Alia Khan on her snow algae and albedo research.

April Reed stands in a yellow field.

April Reed

Degree Pursuing: MS, Environmental Science; Certificate, Data Science for Environmental Applications

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Wayne Landis

Undergraduate Degree: WWU, B.S. in Environmental Science - Toxicology Emphasis

Research Interest: For someone who loves the methodology and application of science, I have recently become very passionate about the relatable communication of science and the collaborative work that goes into equitably reaching environmental stewardship and management goals. For my graduate work, I plan to propose a thesis that will provide me opportunities to work hand-in-hand with scientific experts, government agencies, and various stakeholders to develop a comprehensive environmental risk or natural resource damage assessment model that is meaningful and useful to all parties involved. It will most definitely involve a Bayesian Network.

About/Hobbies: I am an expert seamstress, an intermediate ukulele player, and a novice hiker. I grew up in Arizona, but I call the Pacific Northwest my home. I love Washington State and all that it has to offer from mountains to sea, but I also love to travel. Any chance I get, I hit the road or hop on a plane. I absolutely adore new places - not just for the change of environment, but for the discovery of new people, unique cultures, and... of course, delicious foods.

Ariel Shiley stands in front of a huge tree

Ariel Shiley

Degree Pursuing: MS, Environmental Science

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brooke Love

Undergraduate Degree: BS in Environmental Science, Geology Major, WWU

Research Interest: My research interest is in the effect climate change and water quality has on wildlife. I am working with Brooke Love on a project about herring adaptability to current climate change trends. I am also in the GIS Masters Certificate program, and plan on continuing GIS work after graduation.

Baleigh Rumsey poses on a sunny day on top of a mountain

Baleigh Rumsey

Degree Pursuing: M.A. Environmental Studies

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Grace Wang

Undergraduate Degree: B.A. Secondary English/Language Arts Education, Central Washington University

About/Hobbies: My spare time is often full of activities and escapades that get me outside, including Chanterelle picking in the fall, swimming in the Stilliguamish River, willing the vegetables and fruits in my garden to grow, and backpacking in the Darrington Ranger District. Having just finished a backcountry ranger gig with Olympic National Park, I am looking forward to learning how to play the banjo (optimistically) and climbing at the local gyms.

Brandon McWilliams stands in front of a green shrub with red berries

Brandon McWilliams

Degree Pursuing: MA, Environmental Studies

Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Rossiter

Undergraduate Degree: BA Environmental Studies and BA English Creative Writing from Seattle University

Research Interest: I am interested in how we talk about and make sense of the environment, particularly how people use stories to understand the large and hard-to-grasp realities of climate change and environmental damage. I hope to explore what strategies work when discussing environmental topics, and how we might apply those strategies to new mediums to encourage increased levels of positive environmental action. I am also interested in continuing to explore topics ranging from place-based education to solarpunk literature to mycology.

Colby Rand

Colby Rand

Degree Pursuing: MS, Environmental Sciences

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Alia Khan

Undergraduate Degree: BS in Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine
Research Interest: My research focuses on using drones and satellite imagery to remotely
sense snow algae in alpine and glaciated environments. Snow algae reduces the albedo of snow and ice, thus causing it to absorb more energy from the Sun. This results in increased snowmelt, which I am hoping to help quantify. I am conducting much of my fieldwork here in the Cascade Range, where I am helping to collect snow algae samples and record their GPS locations.

About/Hobbies: I was drawn to Western Washington University because of the opportunity to conduct research in the beautiful Cascade mountains and to experiment with how we can use drones and satellites to monitor changes to our cryosphere. Bellingham is the perfect place for many of my interests, including hiking, alpine and Nordic skiing, biking, camping, and visiting the local breweries and events. Having lived in Maine for much of my life, this was a great opportunity to try out West coast living and explore the PNW.

Colter Lemons holds a pickaxe on top of a snowy mountain.

Colter Lemons

Degree Pursuing: MA, Environmental Studies - Geography

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Andy Bach

Undergraduate Degree: WWU B.S. in Environmental Science - Terrestrial and Freshwater
Ecology; B.A. Geography; Geographic Information Science Certification; & Mountain Research Skills Certification

Research Interest: My research will focus on mapping glacial moraines deposited during the Little Ice Age in the Mt. Baker area. I have performed my own research in Huascaran National Park in the Peruvian Andes, studying environmental factors related to the parasitic fungi, Leptosphaeria polylepidis, and its impact on Polylepis groves. I have also performed research on fungi recolonization in the Elwha Restoration Ecosystem in the Olympic National Park.

About/Hobbies: Western Washington University's graduate program was perfect for me! With a passion for exploring all forms of topography and environments, WWU is situated in a location proximate to Mt. Baker, where I desired to perform research as well as providing access to the Puget Sound, Canada, and the wonders of the greater Bellingham area. As an avid hiker, backpacker, and mountaineer WWU was the best combination of recreational access and educational opportunity for me.

Cris Paradis

Cris Paradis

Degree Pursuing: MS, Environmental Sciences

Faculty Advisor: Manuel Montaño

Undergraduate Degree: WWU B.S. in Environmental Science freshwater and terrestrial ecology

Research Interest: Since I will be helping with a grant I am extremely excited about the fate and transport of neonicotinoid insecticides through riparian zones. I also find great interest in microplastics and their movement through the NW food web specifically focusing on the build up in Orcas through their food source of Salmon.

About/Hobbies: I am originally from Portland Maine and moved out here for college. While I enjoy my fair share of outdoor actives like climbing, I also enjoy time spent inside working on computers or doing some creative writing. I also really like film and tv and any pop culture trivia that might go along with that.

Dana Bronstein gives a thumbs-up, wearing cold weather gear in a snowy landscape.

Dana Bronstein (pronounced Dah Nah)

Degree Pursuing: MA, Environmental Studies

Faculty Advisor: Dr Kate Darby

Undergraduate Degree: B.A. in Anthropology and Ecological Ag, University of Vermont

Research Interest: Connection between Environmental Justice, climate change mitigation, and food access. As an undergraduate student I focused much of my studies and research on ecological agriculture and migrant justice while interning for Huertas, a non-profit organization that explored the impact of home gardens and the ways in which they exponentially increased access to fresh and culturally appropriate food for food insecure migrant farmworkers throughout rural Vermont. This experience taught me a tremendous amount about working with vulnerable populations and led me to my most recent position as Health Educator for Sea Mar Community Health Center here in Bellingham and then to pursue this master's degree with Western. For a research topic or thesis, I am most curious about government action and policy programs which aim to address issues surrounding Environmental Justice. I hope to use my experience working with Sea Mar to attempt to understand how we as social scientists can bridge this gap between funding, access and interest while also looking at the environmental impact that a healthier connection to fresh foods can have on the environment via supporting more diversified small farms and subsidized food education programs.

About/Hobbies: As someone who grew up in New York City, the beauty in and around Bellingham never ceases to amaze me. I am always impressed by the natural landscapes, the wildflowers and the beautiful creatures and critters all around. I am always trying to learn about the forests and rivers around me, and am usually running around outside, hiking, biking, surfing, climbing, snowboarding, or just sitting and watching in awe and trying to learn. I hope to keep growing more of my naturalist knowledge and skills and continue my passion for playing and protecting this area.

Dana Flerchinger squats down, posing with a dog with large ears

Dana Flerchinger

Degree Pursuing: MS, Environmental Science

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ruth Sofield

Undergraduate Degree: B.A. Environmental and Ocean Sciences from the University of San Diego

Research Interest: My research interests aim to further understand how anthropogenically generated contaminants impact the marine environment and to determine potential solutions for mitigating these impacts. Specifically, I am interested in the toxicology and chemistry of microplastics and tire wear particles on marine organisms.

About/Hobbies: I chose WWU for my master's program due to its plethora of disciplines within the environmental science program and because of its incredible location nestled between the Cascade mountains and the Salish Sea. I grew up visiting the Salish Sea and surrounding areas and
have only become more passionate about protecting and preserving this amazing marine environment! I am an avid hiker and whenever I have free time, you will find me hiking in the mountains. I also have a passion for being out on the water and educating others about marine wildlife.

Gary Boba looks up while holding a camera

Gary Boba

Degree Pursuing: Environmental Science MS

Advisor: Dr Aquila Flower

Undergraduate Degree: Environmental Science BS, GIS Certificate, College of the Environment

Research Interest: During my undergraduate study, I developed my skills as a Geographic Information Science expert and applied those skills to many basic ecological analyses. My goal with this program is to refine that skillet and knowledge in order to study the effects of Climate Change on certain high-profile species. In particular, my project concerns the historical current, and potential future ranges of the Western Spruce Budworm in response to rapidly changing climate variables.

About Me: I loved my time in undergrad at the WWU College of the Environment, and in particular the passion and camaraderie of the faculty. When I decided to pursue a master's degree, Western stood out as a place with a teaching environment where I could develop my skills and my passion at the same time, through the care and support of my past and future professors. And of course, I love and miss Bellingham dearly. I'm looking forward to returning both for my education, and to continue practicing my favorite hobbies, such as birding, photography, and climbing. No doubt you'll find me in the Arboretum all the time!

Henry Fisher

Henry Fisher

Degree Pursuing: MA, Environmental Studies

Faculty Advisor: Dr Kate Darby

Undergraduate Degree: BA Environmental Studies, Colorado College

Research Interest: I am interested in the impact of community-based and participatory agriculture on community well being, as well as on large-scale socio-environmental goals. Especially, how local food producers, community gardens, and grassroots organizations working together under an Environmental Justice framework can promote community resilience, health, and equity, while reducing waste and carbon intensivity. I am passionate about this focus because it addresses social and environmental goals simultaneously, ensuring that environmental solutions are also equitable.

About/Hobbies: Outside of work and/or school I love to play my flute and guitar, rock climb, create tempeh (and many other fermented foods), cultivate mushrooms, and spend time practicing meditation. I am also very excited about composting, and maintain a Bokashi compost system and worm bin. Finally, I'll be moving to Bellingham with my partner and their springer spaniel, the two loves of my life! I am highly passionate about the topics I'll be studying, and about taking action to make my community (at various scales) a better place - so I'm beyond pleased to be attending this fall!

Jenna Schroeder wearing floral garment poses in front of a flowering shrub.

Jenna Schroeder

Degree Pursuing: MS, Environmental Science

Faculty Advisor: Dr. John Rybczyk

Undergraduate Degree: BS, Environmental Science, WSU-Pullman

Research Interest: I am interested in assisting restoration efforts, particularly for estuaries. I will be studying estuaries within Washington to determine the effectiveness of current restoration efforts. With time I hope to also help guide future efforts to further maximize the impact to the ecosystems.

About/Hobbies: I am from Eastern Washington and love going on hikes and spending time outdoors. I'm excited to get over to the west side of the state and have some lush forests to explore and some new organisms to identify along the way. I like to also spend my free time continually improving on my garden that I have curated for our local pollinators and birds.

Kaitlin Macaranas

Kaitlin Macaranas

Degree Pursuing: M.S. in Environmental Science, Marine and Estuarine Science

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brian Bingham

Undergraduate Degree: B.S. in Biology at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB)

Research Interest: I am broadly interested in studying how altered environmental conditions via anthropogenic pollution, climate change, and invasive species influence marine invertebrate species interaction, community structure, and biodiversity in critical coastal wetland habitats. As a 2022 NSF Graduate Research Fellow, I will investigate the ecological impacts of an invasive polychaete worm (Clymenella torquata) on the vital eelgrass habitats in Padilla Bay, WA.

About/Hobbies: I am a first-generation, Filipino-American graduate student born and raised in the arid Central Valley of California. While at CUB, I participated in the 2021 Shannon Point Marine Center REU program and developed a project establishing the benthic macroinvertebrate communities throughout Padilla Bay. My excitement to continue and expand this project and to explore the breathtaking state of Washington collectively inspired my decision to attend WWU!

Kara Davis poses with a dog

Kara Davis

Degree Pursuing: M.S. in Environmental Science (Energy-Environmental Systems) 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Froylan Sifuentes

Undergraduate Degree: Arizona State University B.S. in Sustainability (Sustainable Energy, Materials, and Technology); Business and Landscape Studies Minors

Research Interests: My main research interests are related to improving the environmental performance of buildings and products using life cycle analysis (LCA). LCA is a tool for evaluating the environmental impacts of a product system from cradle (resource extraction) to grave (disposal). LCA results can be used to identify key areas for improvement, facilitate choices between alternatives, and inform decision-making. I am particularly interested in learning how circular economy principles can be applied during building construction and operation and empowering users to be responsible consumers. As an undergraduate, I devoted my independent studies to exploring how built and natural environments can enhance well-being.

About/Hobbies: Having grown up in the Baltimore-Washington area and witnessing rampant consumerism and sprawl, I quickly became passionate about creating a more sustainable world. I chose to attend the College of the Environment because of its reputation for preparing professionals through its curriculum, faculty, and research opportunities; and resonate with WWU's commitment to making a positive impact and values of sustainability, equity, and justice. I am also excited to live in Bellingham and explore the exquisite nature inside and outside of the city. In addition to nerding out, you can also find me cooking up a storm, chasing waterfalls, hiking mountains, or hanging out with my dog, Odie.

Kathryn Williams poses in front of a coastal scene

Kathryn Williams

Degree Pursuing: MS, Environmental Science 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Suzanne Strom

Undergraduate Degree/University: Western Washington University, B.S in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Marine Ecology

Research Interests: I enjoy studying broad scale environmental processes and how different environmental stressors can impact them. Dr. Strom's lab is a part of the Northern Gulf of Alaska Ecological Research program and studies planktonic communities in the Gulf of Alaska. I'm interested in conducting a project that will help answer just one of the Strom Lab's overarching questions which is: How do changes in climatology influence the planktonic communities in the Northern Gulf of Alaska?

About You/Hobbies: I've wanted to be a marine scientist since I was in the second grade. When it came time to go to college, I chose to go to Western Washington University because it was close to the ocean, provided undergraduate research opportunities, offered a degree in marine science, and ultimately because of the Marine Science Scholars Program at Shannon Point Marine Center.

Kenna Kuhn poses with a dog on top of a mountain.

Kenna Kuhn

Degree Pursuing: MA, Environmental Studies

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Aquila Flower

Undergraduate Degree: BS, Environmental Science, University of Denver

Research Interest: My research interests are concentrated in climate science, with hopeful focus on community resilience, regenerative agriculture, or coastal food systems. I am particularly passionate about applying research-based data to meaningful community-driven solutions.

About/Hobbies: When not in school: I am a farmhand, freelance graphic designer, and backpacking instructor. I work in a lot of all-female outdoor contexts, love to grow and cook good food, and cannot emphasize enough the importance of swimming in nearly every body of water that I come across. I am unfortunately recovering from ACL surgery, but otherwise spend most my free time on my mountain bike, in a boat, or on trail with my pup (Appa).

Nikhil Amin poses outdoors in front of a body of water

Nikhil Amin

Degree Pursuing: MS, Environmental Science

Faculty Advisor: Dr Leo Bodensteiner

Undergraduate Degree: BS in Geology, Western Washington University

Research Interest: My interests, stemming from my undergraduate research, revolve around salmon ecology. I will be studying the most significant river reaches/ tributaries according to size and function as fish habitats throughout the Skagit watershed using a spatially explicit array of microelemental signatures. These signatures will be obtained seasonally and analyzed using an Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS).

About/Hobbies: I enjoy a healthy combination of outdoor and indoor activities. I can be easily persuaded to head up to Baker or to have a beer and play some cards (I'm a lover of cribbage and euchre). After a 3-year hiatus, I cannot wait to be back in Bellingham to continue my higher education!

Susan Ridl

Susan Ridl

Degree Pursuing: MA, Environmental Studies

Faculty Advisor: Dr Steve Hollenhorst

Undergraduate Degree: B.S. Biology, Westminster College, SLCUT

Research Interest: GIS and Environmental Impact Assessments to better understand ecosystems and our relationships with natural resources.

About/Hobbies: The past few years I have been dividing my time between working in a hospital laboratory during the pandemic, working toward a new career in conservation, and remodeling a home with my partner. I enjoy listening to music and learning Spanish on Duolingo to one day do some traveling.

Yashel Kakavand poses in front of a pool

Yashel Kakavand

Degree Pursuing: MA, Environmental Studies

Faculty Advisor: Dr Rebekah Paci-Green

Undergraduate Degree: B.S. in Architecture, IKIU, Iran

Graduate Degree: M.S. in Post-Disaster Reconstruction, Shahid Beheshti University, Iran

Research Interest: My research interests include disaster recovery planning, hazard mitigation, and vulnerability assessment. My research in WWU will be about disaster recovery planning, the planning for disaster recovery before disasters occur to ensure policies and procedures facilitate rapid and equitable recovery that supports communities in reducing future losses and increasing adaptation to future hazard events.

About/Hobbies: I have worked as an architect in Iran, an earthquake-prone country. After my first M.Sc. degree in Post-Disaster Reconstruction, I learned the importance of resiliency. I believe that Western Washington University provides me the opportunity to promote my knowledge in this area.