Fellows

The Michigan Tech GlobalWatershed GK-12 Fellows program currently includes the following graduate Fellows.
Click a link to read about a Fellow.


 
  Brenda Bergman        
 


Brenda comes to GK-12 with a background of natural resources work in 19 countries, predominantly of Southern Africa and Southeast Asia. Her work overseas integrated natural science and community-based conservation, with the ultimate goal of improving resource stewardship and land use at the level of landscapes and river basins. Examples of her experiences include leading field-studies in biodiversity and human communities to reassess the protected area status of 17.2 million acres of land; coordinating the development of local associations and enterprises that incentivize conservation; and facilitating the establishment of international advisory bodies that integrate science into government decision-making.

Brenda is now focusing on ecosystems in the United States through her PhD research at Michigan Tech University. She currently studies the relationship between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems as mediated by large terrestrial herbivores. She became interested in this topic when observing that it was critical to, yet largely overlooked by, land use planning and watershed management efforts. The effectiveness of these efforts is increasingly important as pressures on resources continue to intensify worldwide.

Brenda's involvement in GK-12 is motivated by a theme that has been fundamental throughout her career: the importance of integrating scientific study with citizen awareness and engagement. She values helping people of all ages learn about the wonders and ailments of our natural environment, articulate the relevance of these issues to their own lives, and assemble the skills and institutional arrangements necessary to be empowered stewards of their natural resource base. She is honored for the opportunity to engage with Hancock High School students and teachers. Their potential is truly unlimited.

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  Ashley Coble        
 


Ashley is an ecosystem ecologist with research experience in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Her work experience has spanned a variety of biological disciplines including neuroscience, marine fisheries biology, and biogeochemistry. Ashley received her B.A. in Biology from Mount Holyoke College in 2005 and her Master's of Science from Northern Arizona University in 2010. Her master's research focused on atmospheric nutrient inputs (i.e., dust, rain, snow) and plant nutrient uptake along a three million year old semi-arid substrate age gradient.

Ashley's doctoral research at Michigan Tech seeks to understand how in-stream biogeochemical cycling varies seasonally and among stream sizes. Her research also seeks to identify which environmental variables may drive these changes. Without an understanding of seasonal variability in snow-dominated regions it is uncertain how climate change will affect nutrient export to downstream ecosystems.

Ashley is honored to have the opportunity to work with middle-school and high-school students at Jeffers High as part of the GK-12 Global Watershed program. She is looking forward to engaging students in scientific endeavors and contributing her own knowledge of ecology and biology to the classroom experience. Particularly, she plans to share her interests in nutrient cycling to improve students' understanding of biogeochemical linkages throughout watersheds.

Began Program: Summer 2012

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  Joshua Davis        
 


Josh graduated with a B.S. in Resource Ecology and Management from the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Michigan in 2002. Since then, he has focused his career on engaging learners with biology and ecology through non-formal education, most recently spending six years with a non-profit in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Josh has spent much of his last several years as an educator creating educational experiences centered on citizen science, in which non-professional scientists collect real and relevant data to help answer pressing scientific questions. These research efforts have focused primarily on human disturbances, including invasive species impacts and climate change, as well as cataloging biodiversity. He believes that these experiences offer a great deal to both the coordinating researcher and the citizen scientists - the researcher has access to vital data that would not otherwise be possible to obtain, while the citizen scientist gains from a unique and engaging educational experience.

Josh's PhD research is focused on understanding the potential impacts of the emerald ash borer on vegetation dynamics and nutrient cycling in black ash wetlands, and important ecosystem type across much of the northern Great Lakes states. He came to MTU specifically because of the GK12 program, feeling this project will help to address what is often a significant gap in the scientific process: communication between researchers and the general public. He is excited to be working with the students at Chassell Township schools, and hopes that the opportunities provided by the GK12 program will help the students there improve both as science learners and critical thinkers.

Began Program: Summer 2012

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  Marcel Dijkstra        
 


Marcel Dijkstra completed his MBA in The Netherlands and pursued a career in real estate management, sales and development; He was responsible for managing over 10,000 rental units for some of the world largest pension funds and the development of 3 industrial parks. After obtaining his visa he and his family moved to the USA relocating in the Traverse City area. He decided to change careers to environmental engineering, specializing in surface water quality modeling. He holds a master in civil and environmental engineering from Michigan Tech and is currently pursuing his doctorate in the same area under the advisorship of Dr. M.T. Auer.

Marcel beliefs that responsible stewardship of our milieu starts with an understanding of the past and future effects of our choices on the environment. He sees the GK-12 program as an opportunity to show students how science is used to better understand and preserve our ecosystem for future generations.

Began Program: Summer 2012

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  Valoree Gagnon        
 


Valoree Gagnon received her Bachelor's in Social Sciences with a concentration in Secondary Education from MTU in 2009. In the spring of 2011, she attained her Master's in Environmental Policy and has recently begun her doctoral degree at MTU in Environmental and Energy Policy. She currently resides in L'Anse with her husband and 4 children, all boys, ages 4 to 19.

Valoree is interested in environmental outreach and educational initiatives as well as environmental justice issues. She is currently researching Native American perspectives on environment within hunting, fishing, and gathering lifeways in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. In the summer of 2010 and 2011, she conducted hundreds of hours of volunteer work for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Natural Resources Dept. & Hatchery. This has given her the opportunity to assist wildlife and fisheries biologists and other environmental specialists in a variety of fieldwork activities. Some of these accomplishments include aiding in the opening of KBIC's brand new dome greenhouse for native species, the Sandpoint Restoration project, community environmental outreach, and the KBIC's Fishermen's Memorial.

Valoree believes that understanding environment through diverse perspectives is essential to good policy and the everyday decisions by which we live. She feels that the GK12 partnership with Heather Bradway is an excellent opportunity to share a detailed history, complex meanings, and knowledge of the local environment with Earth Science students at Hancock Middle School. With a goal in public environmental outreach, she finds her experience to be an enriching lesson in scientific and environmental communication.

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Keweenaw Bay Indian Natural Resources Dept.; Baraga, Sand Point Restoration Project, Summer 2011
 
 
 
 
       
  Emily Gochis        
 


Emily Gochis received a B.S. degree in Resource & Ecology Management from the School of Natural Resources and Environment in 2002 and M.A. degree in Education with secondary certification in 2005 from the University of Michigan. She has worked as a High School Science teacher in Wayne County and an outdoor educator in Southern California. Emily served as an environmental education Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador from 2007-2009 working to integrate participatory-based environmental lessons into k-9 education and promote sustainable resource management practices.

She began working on her PhD in the Geology Department at Michigan Technological University in 2011 advised by Dr. John Gierke and focusing on Hydrology and Geoscience Education. Emily's research goals include the monitoring and estimation of hydrologic watershed components with community participation, specifically by integrating scientific inquiry into standards-based STEM curricula. She believes that strong partnerships between scientific researchers and community members are essential for improving citizens' scientific literacy while enriching scientific studies with invaluable local knowledge.

Emily is excited to be part of the GlobalWatershed GK-12 Fellows program and is eager to share her passion for science through place based education. She looks forward to her partnership with science teacher Loretta Cox and the high school students at Hannahville Indian School.

Began Program: Summer 2012

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  Meagan Harless        
 


Meagan received her B.A. in Biology from Hiram College in Ohio in 2001. After graduation, she spent three years gaining experience in field research in various wildlife research projects across the country, including:

  • Managing waterfowl and amphibian populations in Maryland and Michigan for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Searching for nesting warblers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Monitoring quail populations in Tennessee
  • Assisting with a graduate research project on land use by migratory waterfowl for the Missouri Department of Conservation
  • Monitoring a large population of the endangered Mojave Desert Tortoise in southern California for the U.S. Army

Meagan then earned her M.S. in Behavioral Ecology at Loma Linda University in 2007 through her work concerning land use and social interactions in Desert Tortoises.

Meagan began working on her PhD at Michigan Tech in 2007. Her doctorate research focuses on determining the impact of road salt and other chemical deicers on the health and distribution of local amphibian populations. She hopes to use her research to highlight this potential pollution source and promote more sensitive winter maintenance procedures. She is thankful for the guidance of her advisor, Dr. Casey Huckins, in helping her achieve these goals.

Meagan is very excited to be chosen as a fellow in the GK-12 GlobalWatershed Program at MTU. Through the program, she will be working with local students to understand the importance of and involve them in the conservation of amphibian populations. Through this direct involvement, she will be teaching students the importance of watershed conservation and how they can help protect some of our greatest natural resources. Educational opportunities provided by the GlobalWatershed Fellowship Program are invaluable to local schools, where students may not have access to this curriculum otherwise. Meagan feels that the dissemination of this knowledge is the most important and rewarding part of the program.

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  John "Marty" Holtgren        
 


Marty has been a fisheries biologist for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians for the past eight years and a PhD student at Michigan Technological University since 2008. He received his Bachelor's Degree in biology from Bethel College and his Master's degree in biology from Michigan Technological University.

His current interest and PhD focus is evaluating collaborative opportunities between tribal and state natural resources agencies in the field of fisheries. This research will help develop a collaborative framework for the agencies to cooperate effectively in planning and conducting biological assessment and fisheries improvement activities, such as habitat restoration and fish stocking. Marty also is working on lake sturgeon restoration, an Arctic grayling reintroduction study, and fisheries governance projects.

Marty is interested in the GK12 program because of his belief in the importance of engaging communities, especially students, in understanding the complex and intertwined cultural, social, and biological dynamics present within watersheds. He also is eager to work with his high school partner-teachers in developing himself as an effective communicator of complex scientific issues at multiple levels of understanding and education.

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Marty Holtgren holds a young sturgeon with some students on "Nmé (Sturgeon) Youth Day," an event supported by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Manistee, MI.
 
 
 
 
       
  Meral Jackson        
 


Meral Jackson brings a diverse background to the GK-12 program, having worked in university research, in the private sector as a land manager, at a grass roots organization, and in outdoor recreation. Meral's research experience began on Isle Royale as part of an industrial archaeology field techniques class, followed by work in Michigan Tech's soils laboratory. Meral's M.S. in mined land reclamation explored the use of fly ash and rock phosphate as topsoil substitutes on minespoil from Appalachian coal mines; her research experience continued as a research specialist at Virginia Tech, investigating a broad spectrum of topics ranging from harvesting impacts on plant diversity, herbicide formulation development, timber stand management effects on wood properties, to forest soils and plant nutrition. While working at Virginia Tech, she moonlighted as a ski instructor, ski patroller and mountain bike guide. Her work took her across the U.S. and overseas, including a year at the New Zealand Forest Research Institute.

While working in Traverse City, Michigan, Meral co-chaired the Communications and Outreach Team with the Boardman River Dams Project. Her outreach duties within the community revolved around a locally sensitive issue: restoration or removal of three 100 year old hydroelectric dams. Her work there informed citizens on feasibility study results, environmental impact studies, and funding status via newsletters, special events, fliers and presentations to community groups. Meral returned to Michigan Tech to further focus on researching and communicating environmental issues by working on her doctorate in wetland restoration and hydrology. Meral joined the GK-12 program with the intent to meld her background in natural resource research and outdoor recreation with outreach and education.

Meral believes integrating experiential learning with community values and bringing it into the classroom connects students with nature and gives them ownership of the area in which they live. Meral's partnership with Houghton High School provides the opportunity to instill the importance of environmental stewardship into the next generation of citizens, teachers, and scientists while promoting a sustainable community.

Began Program: Summer 2012

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  Andrew Kozich        
 


Andrew Kozich completed a Bachelor's Degree in Resource Ecology from the University of Michigan - Flint in 1999. After pursuing other professions for a few years, he found himself at Michigan Tech in 2007. He completed a Master's degree in Environmental Policy in 2009, where his research focused on wetland management in the Upper Peninsula. He is currently a PhD student in Tech's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, where his doctoral research focuses on human values, perceptions, and behaviors related to water resources in the Great Lakes region.

Andrew is actively involved in several Michigan Tech research organizations, including the Society of Wetland Scientists, Center for Water and Society, and Ecosystem Science Center. He is very excited about working with K-12 students in our area as part of the GlobalWatershed Fellowship program. He hopes to help young minds get excited about science while he fine-tunes his teaching skills and prepares for a career in academia.

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  Hans Lechner        
 


Hans Lechner received a BA in Geography with a minor in Geology from Humboldt State University, CA in 1998. From 1999-2001 Hans served in Jamaica as an environmental education volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps where he worked with the 4-H Clubs helping develop and implement environmental education curriculum at a national, regional and local level. When he returned to California, he started work as an environmental educator/naturalist at an outdoor education center in the San Jacinto Mountains. Hans came to Michigan Tech in 2004 as a Peace Corps Masters International graduate student. He served a second term as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador from 2007-2009 where he used GPS to monitor surface deformation at Volcano Santa Ana. He received his M.S. in Geology in 2010 and started a Ph.D. program in the Fall of 2011.

Hans' Ph.D. research focuses on communicating hazard and risk through participatory mapping. The goal of this research is to improve understanding of volcanic events and associated hazards in Central America and facilitate enhanced communication between scientific experts and local or community stakeholders.

His interests in the GK12 will focus on using GIS, participatory mapping and place-based learning methodologies with students at E.B. Holman School. He aims to generate interest and excitement in science, cartography, watershed topography and local hazards. While working with Jean Dunstan he hopes to hone his skills communicating science to non-scientists while improving his own understanding of local knowledge and perceptions of risk and hazard.

Began Program: Summer 2012

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  Jason Reinhardt        
 


Jason earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Missouri - St. Louis in 2008. As an undergraduate, he contributed to a series of studies examining the impacts invasive plants on native ecosystems, especially with regards to consumer behavior. After graduating, he decided to continue his education and completed a M.S. degree in Biology in 2011, where his research focused on arthropod community ecology and plant defense.

Jason is currently a PhD student in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Tech. His doctoral research focuses on using both an ecosystem and landscape ecology approach to modeling current and future habitat suitability for oak savanna ecosystem restoration. Most of his field research is being conducted in the White River watershed located in the Manistee National Forest in lower Michigan, where soil characteristics, microclimate, and their relationships to soil moisture and hydrology are likely to be important ecosystem components. As part of his research, Jason is using the federally-endangered Karner Blue butterfly and its obligate larval host plant, wild lupine, as ecological indicator species for oak savanna.

Jason is excited about working as a GK-12 Global Watershed fellow because of the opportunity it offers to get young people excited about science, the environment, and conservation. He believes that public interest and literacy in science are one of the most important things to a healthy and successful modern society, and the opportunity to help foster that interest in young people is one of the most important parts of the GK12 program.

Began Program: Summer 2012

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  Matthew VanGrinsven        
 


Matt is a water quality and water resources enthusiast, and he has spent the past several years investigating water quality and water resources issues in the Great Lakes and Colorado Plateau regions. Beyond his professional endeavors with water related issues, he loves to consume, swim in, travel on, and otherwise enjoy freshwater in all seasons and climates. His love of water drives him to access remote areas, on or off trail, carrying heavy loads of monitoring equipment for the purpose of preserving and protecting our freshwater resources.

Before returning to the upper peninsula of Michigan to pursue his PhD in forest science at Michigan Tech, he worked for the National Park Service's Inventory and Monitoring Program in the Northern Colorado Plateau Network. During his time with the Park Service, Matt focused on shallow groundwater resources and water quality conditions in wadeable streams throughout the northern Colorado Plateau. Prior to his experience with the National Park Service, Matt investigated the association between streambed groundwater fluxes and coaster brook trout spawning habitat in the upper peninsula of Michigan. This research was the focus of Matt's M.S. in Geology at Michigan Tech, and the outcome of this work sought to assist current rehabilitation efforts associated with the re-introduction of coaster brook trout populations throughout the Lake Superior basin.

Currently, Matt is investigating the hydrology of black ash wetlands in an effort to gain a better understanding of these ecosystems before the projected expansion of the emerald ash borer and associated ash decline in the western Upper Peninsula. In addition, his PhD research will also examine the hydro-ecological response of these ecosystems to a simulated emerald ash borer disturbance.

As a GK-12 Global Watershed Program fellow, Matt is very excited to leverage his past skills as a coach, camp counselor, outdoor trip leader, lab instructor, and hydrologist to engage, educate, and communicate with 8th grade earth science students at Houghton Middle School about water related issues in their area. Matt and his teacher partner Sara Beiring are excited to provide students with hands on water quality and water resources experience by investigating the hydrology of a nearby wetland and its watershed.

Began Program: Summer 2012

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  Xuna (Melanie) Yang        
 


Originally coming from China, Xuna (Melanie) Yang got her bachelor of Economics from Shanghai University, bachelor of Law degree from Tsinghua University and her Master of Laws degree from University of California, Los Angeles. She was admitted to practice law in China. Her work experiences include working for a NGO in China, a law firm in Los Angeles, and Sustainable Futures Institute (SFI) at Michigan Tech.

Melanie's Ph.D. research is about China's biofuel development, policy and its water related impacts. To meet the purpose of resolving the energy shortage problem as well as fulfill Green House Gas (GHG) reduction goals, biofuels are a promising solution as an alternative to gasoline and diesel transportation fuels derived from petroleum. Recognizing this, Chinese government has made efforts in the past decade to develop biofuels in China and has become the third largest biofuels producer after the U.S. and Brazil. However, in the mean while, the impacts of large-scale biofuels production on environmental systems and social conditions, including land change, water quality and quantity, employment opportunities, etc., are largely unknown. Melanie's study of the socio-economic impact of large-scale biofuels development will help research communities and government agencies to gain a better understanding of the potential impacts brought about by large-scale biofuels development in China, thus contributing to the sustainability of biofuels.

Melanie is very excited to join the GK12 program because she truly believes that a most effective way to stimulate interest among K-12 students in STEM is to connect the knowledge of classrooms with our daily lives. Disseminating graduate research results in K-12 classrooms will encourage students to explore STEM knowledge and inspire them to develop new problem-solving skills.

Began Program: Summer 2012

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