Staff Bios

Portrait: Maryan Abdi.

Maryan Abdi | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Undergraduate Research Assistant
Maryan is a Global Landscapes Initiative undergraduate research assistant. A native of East Africa, Somalia, she is doing her undergraduate degree in statistics and a minor in public health with an emphasis on human health and environment. She has the basic skills of analyzing and interpreting data. She is also interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the interaction between the growing population and the environment.

Portrait: Brett Bayles

Brett Bayles | Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Brett Bayles is a postdoctoral research fellow at IonE studying the linkages between ecosystem services and human health. After earning a B.A. in biological anthropology from the University of California at San Diego, he spent time volunteering in Tanzania and working in HIV/AIDS prevention for the Department of Defense. He earned his M.P.H. and Ph.D. from the School of Public Health at Saint Louis University, where he studied emerging infectious diseases. When not at IonE, you can find him running uncomfortably long distances or catching a movie at the local movie house.

Portrait: Brian Bell

Brian Bell | Acara Challenge Program Coordinator
As program coordinator with the Acara Challenge, Brian supports entrepreneurs addressing environmental and societal dilemmas in developing societies. Brian has experience with water, waste and sanitation infrastructure in the U.S., Uganda, Haiti, Nepal and India. He has worked most recently with St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, Engineers Without Borders, UN-HABITAT, the Indian government and Envest. Brian holds a bachelor's in civil-environmental engineering from the University of Minnesota and a master's in sustainable development from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He was the USA Youth Delegate to UNESCO in 2009.

Portrait: Dominique Boczek

Dominique Boczek | Undergraduate Student Assistant
Dominique is an undergraduate student assistant with IonE's Sustainability Education program. She is a blog manager and website developer, and contributes to outreach, event planning and social media communication. Dominique is a junior studying bioproducts, marketing and management with a focus in residential building science technologies and a minor in sustainability. She has a passion for the environment and plans to work with renewable energy and sustainable building. She enjoys spending her free time volunteering at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and participating in the Indian Student Association.

Portrait: Kate Brauman

Kate Brauman | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Postdoctoral Fellow
Kate Brauman is a postdoctoral fellow with the Global Landscapes Initiative. She received her doctorate from the Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, where she evaluated the effects of land use change on water resources. Using the framework of hydrologic ecosystem services, Kate designed and led a project on the Big Island of Hawai'i quantifying the effects of pasture and forest on groundwater recharge and calculating the associated costs of water extraction. At IonE, Kate is looking at the global distribution of water use in agriculture and at its effects on downstream water quantity and quality.

Portrait: Molly Buss

Molly Buss | Events and Special Projects Coordinator
As the events and special projects coordinator, Molly Buss assists in the planning, production and management of all IonE events. She also acts as the liaison for the Commons Meeting and Art Space and manages a wide array of administrative projects. Molly graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in communications and a minor in mass communication. Her interests include yoga, learning to cook and live music.

Portrait: Kimberly Carlson

Kimberly Carlson | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Postdoctoral Fellow
Kimberly Carlson is a postdoctoral fellow with the Global Landscapes Initiative. She earned her Ph.D. at Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she studied land use change driven by agribusiness development in the tropics. Coupling remote sensing and spatially explicit land change modeling with socio-ecological field data, her dissertation examined the influence of oil palm plantation expansion on land cover and ecosystem processes at nested spatial scales in Indonesian Borneo. At IonE, she is assessing trade-offs between agriculture and the environment. When not doing science, you might find her on a yoga mat, trail running or practicing her Portuguese.

Portrait: Ellison Carter

Ellison Carter | Postdoctoral Fellow
Ellison Carter is a postdoctoral research fellow in energy, air pollution and health. She is developing novel approaches to air pollution measurement to evaluate health and climate benefits of new, low-polluting cooking and heating stoves in China. Her research interests include pollution control technologies that integrate well into built environments, assessment of long-term environmental exposure, and relationships between health and housing, especially in low-income settings. Ellison earned her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in civil engineering through the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering program as an EPA STAR fellow and NSF IGERT trainee at the University of Texas at Austin.

Portrait: Luyi Chen

Luyi Chen | Graduate Student Assistant
Luyi Chen is a Graduate Student working in NiSE at the Institute on the Environment. Luyi studies the renewable material supply chain from an engineering perspective. Her research is about applying Life Cycle Assessment method to solid waste management, with a special focus on the downstream impacts generated by sustainable bio-PET. Luyi is currently a first year Ph.D student in the Bioproducts and Biosystems Science, Engineering and Management program. Previously she majored in Environmental Engineering in Shanghai University and conducted basic research on biochar-loaded catalyst production. She has more than fifteen years of piano performing experience.

Portrait: Barrett Colombo.

Barrett Colombo | Graduate Sustainability Education Network
Barrett is a program associate for the Resilient Communities Project and supports the Boreas Leadership Program and the Sustainability Faculty Network. Barrett is also a curriculum developer and teaching assistant for "Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It?", a new undergraduate challenge course to be taught by IonE director Jonathan Foley in Spring 2013. He has worked previously as a policy analyst as well as a high school teacher outside Boston and in Washington, D.C. Barrett has a master's degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Portrait: Emily Dombeck.

Emily Dombeck | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Junior Scientist & Assistant to the Director
Emily Dombeck is a junior scientist with the Global Landscapes Initiative, where she is both a researcher and assistant to the director. She received her B.S. in ecology, evolution and behavior from the University of Minnesota, and has worked at the U for over 10 years. Emily is interested in finding creative ways to encourage environmental stewardship and sustainability, and she will be assisting with GLI's research in sustainable agriculture. Her interests include reading, hiking, swimming, photography and reattempting failed home improvement projects.

Portrait: David Doody.

David Doody | Associate Editor/Writer
David Doody is the associate editor/writer for IonE and Ensia. Prior to joining the communications team at IonE, he was the senior editor at METRO magazine, an associate editor at Utne Reader and the blog editor at Guernica magazine. He graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in English with an emphasis in writing. One of his proudest accomplishments is actually finishing—and understanding (for the most part)—Ulysses.

Portrait: Monique Dubos.

Monique Dubos | Communications Associate
Monique Dubos is a freelance writer, editor and photographer, and began her work with IonE as a volunteer on the communications team. She has an environmental studies B.S. from the University of Minnesota and a liberal arts B.A. from The Evergreen State College. She has visited over 30 countries and relishes the insights gained through engagement with people from other cultures. Other pursuits include justice, equanimity and the perfect french fry. She is happiest hanging with friends and dancing to live music - swing, country, salsa, you name it!


Portrait: Vince Dzik.

Vince Dzik | Undergraduate Research Assistant
Vince Dzik is an undergraduate research assistant at the IonE. He primarily works with Derya Eryilmaz mapping and predicting energy production, consumption, and other related variables. Vince is also interested in computer science and contemporary literature.


Portrait: Peder Engstrom

Peder Engstrom | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Junior Scientist
Peder Engstrom is a junior scientist with IonE's Global Landscapes Initiative. As a student of geographic information systems and science, Peder provides assistance with maps and other data requests from GLI's corporate and NGO partners. If you see Peder at IonE, chances are he is looking at, talking about or making a map. In his spare time, he also loves hiking where there are no trails, gardening, cooking and live music.

Portrait: Derya Eryilmaz

Derya Eryilmaz | NiSE Research Assistant
Derya Eryilmaz is a research assistant with the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise. She is currently working on IREE Grant on energy efficiency and demand response integration in the Midwest ISO electricity markets. She is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Applied Economic at the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation research focuses on optimal investment decisions on wind power considering policy uncertainties and dynamic spatial demand analysis in the Midwest ISO electricity markets. Derya has M.S. degrees in Natural Resources Science and Management from University of Minnesota and Sustainable Development from Uppsala University in Sweden and B.S. in Economic from Ankara University in Turkey. Her past research investigated the policy evaluation on natural resources and the relationship between the environmental assets and development.

Portrait: Nancy Ferber

Nancy Ferber | Resilient Communities Project Graduate Research Assistant
Nancy Ferber is a graduate research assistant with the Resilient Communities Project and supports the Sustainability Faculty Network. She is new to the Twin Cities, and is currently pursuing her master's degree in urban and regional planning at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs with an emphasis on sustainable development and urban design. When she's not wrangling up her backyard chickens, Nancy enjoys yoga, exploring new cities, and biking to local farmers' markets. Nancy holds a B.A. in geography from Portland State University.

Portrait: Kari Foley

Kari Foley | Graduate Research Assistant
Kari Foley is a graduate research assistant at IonE supporting Jan Gerstenberger in fund development and management and Lewis Gilbert on various research initiatives. After earning a BS in nonprofit/public management at the Carlson School of Management, Kari worked as a field officer for a small NGO in rural Sierra Leone. She is an avid traveler with a variety of corporate and nonprofit experience that will help her create and maintain strong partnerships for IonE. When not at IonE, you can find her working in her garden, reading and planning her next great adventure.

Portrait: Jamie Gerber.

Jamie Gerber | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Chief Science Officer
Jamie Gerber is the Institute on the Environment's chief science officer, as well as thescientific program coordinator for IonE's Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI). In this role, he assists with research and analysis related to the global environmental consequences of land use and land cover change. Prior to joining the IonE, he worked as the senior hydrodynamics researcher at Ocean Power Technologies, helping to develop devices to convert ocean wave energy to electricity. Jamie has a doctorate in physics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and their two children. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, soccer, hockey, cooking and practicing his French and Spanish language skills.

Portrait: Jake Grafenstein.

Jacob Grafenstein | Undergraduate Service Desk Technician
Jacob Grafenstein is a service desk technician in the Institute’s Information Technology department. He is currently an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota with an interest in computer science and web design. Jacob also has a passion for music, which has driven him to learn to play several musical instruments and to form groups outside of a typical classroom setting. Jacob has a long history of customer service positions and cares about being sustainable, believing that there are simple tasks, such as turning off lights or running water, that everyone can afford to perform for the betterment of the environment.

Portrait: Jennifer Hager.

Jennifer Hager | Administrative Assistant
Jennifer is a student administrative assistant at IonE. As a senior undergraduate in CFANS pursuing a B.S. in dietetics, sustainability and environmental issues are close to her heart. After completing her degree she plans to earn an R.D. and provide nutrition education and support through the public health program, WIC, focusing her attention on the needs of pregnant women and young children. Jennifer enjoys exercise, crochet, gardening and having brave new cooking adventures. When not in class or working at the Institute, she spends her time at home with her husband and daughter.

Portrait: Lewei He.

Lewei He | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Undergraduate Research Assistant
Lewei He is an undergraduate research assistant working with Global Landscapes Initiative. He is majoring in geography with an emphasis on studying geographic information science (GIS), and a minor in retail merchandising. Lewei has a strong interest in studying mapping technologies and real-world applications of maps, especially online interactive maps such as Google map and Google Earth. His other interests in life include reading, swimming, boomerang-throwing and discovering new places in Twin Cities.

Portrait: Bridget Henning

Bridget Henning | Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellow
Bridget Henning is a Ph.D. student in conservation biology and an interdisciplinary doctoral fellow at IonE. Her research examines the application of neoliberal conservation, such as payments for environmental services, in Melanesia. More specifically, she is using economics, cultural anthropology and biology to investigate the Wanang Conservation project in Papua New Guinea to understand the different ways the project is understood and valued. Bridget received her bachelor’s degree in zoology and conservation biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked on conservation issues with the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.

Portrait: Mary Hoff

Mary Hoff | Principal Writer/Editor & Editor in Chief, Ensia
Mary Hoff joined the IonE communications team in 2010 after contributing to a broad range of science- and environment-related communication efforts as an independent writer and editor. She holds a B.S. in zoology from the University of Wisconsin and an M.A. in mass communication/science communication from the University of Minnesota. Interests outside of work include backpacking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, running, reading Sherlock Holmes, baking bread and bantering. She and her husband have three grown children—all of whom mysteriously ended up math majors.

Portrait: Liz Hoke.

Liz Hoke | Communications Assistant
Liz Hoke joined IonE as a communications assistant in September 2013 while an undergraduate student in the College of Biological Sciences. Prior to joining the IonE team, she contributed two summers of neurobehavioral toxicology research for the Children’s Environmental Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She has channeled her passion for sustainability through internships at the 2013 Washington Youth Summit on the Environment as well as the 2013 Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation Ecology Week. Liz plans to keep sustainability education and activism part of her life as she builds her career as a biological research scientist.

Portrait: Meagan Hume

Meagan Hume | Master of Development Practice Student
Meagan Hume is a master of development practice student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. After completing her B.A. at Bryn Mawr College, she worked with AmeriCorps helping newly arrived refugees access health care in Philadelphia. Meagan was most recently a program assistant at the Center for Poverty Research at the University of California, Davis. She is interested in researching humanitarian relief. In her free time, Meagan enjoys biking, yoga and bad television.

Portrait: Ben Janke

Ben Janke | Postdoctoral Research Associate
Ben Janke is a postdoctoral researcher at IonE through a Discovery Grant. He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State and his MS and PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota, and has a background in hydrologic and heat transfer modeling in urban watersheds. In graduate school he studied thermal pollution of cold-water streams, with particular emphasis on storm water impacts. At IonE, Ben's research will focus on improving knowledge of the linkage of land cover and public/private land management decisions on nutrient loading and water quality in urban landscapes.

Portrait: Alyssa Johnson

Alyssa Johnson | Undergrad Administrative Assistant
Alyssa is a student administrative assistant at IonE. In her role, Alyssa assists with administrative tasks and projects, ensuring daily operations run smoothly. She is currently a sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities but spent her freshman year at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Alyssa is pursuing a political science degree with a focus in international relations and a minor in economics. She hopes to either attend law school in the future or work for the federal government. Alyssa enjoys traveling, attending sporting events, going to movies and spending time with her friends and family.

Portrait: Suhyun Jung

Suhyun Jung | Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellow
Suhyun Jung is a Ph.D graduate student in Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. His research interests include environmental regulation, corporate responsibility, and valuation of ecosystem services. His current research project investigates the role of agricultural multinationals and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help mitigate deforestation and improve provisioning of ecosystem services in the Brazilian Amazon. After graduation, he is looking forward to teaching and researching in the area of environmental and resource economics. You will find him running along the lakes, swimming in the pool, or travelling awesome places when he is not in his office.

Portrait: Sarah Karnas

Sarah Karnas | Creative Director
IonE creative director Sarah Karnas' duties range from branding and strategic communications to promotion and graphic design (including Ensia). Prior to her current role, she coordinated consumer events for Minnesota Monthly and designed materials for the Uptown Art Fair and other local clients. A Minneapolis native and an alumna of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Sarah enjoys travel, photography, yoga, the Chain of Lakes and seeking out the best vegetarian fare in the city. At home, she spends time with her sports-obsessed husband Matt, her raccoon-sized cat Vinny and her teeny-tiny dog Lou.

Portrait: Bonnie Keeler

Bonnie Keeler | Natural Capital Project Lead Scientist
Bonnie Keeler is a staff scientist at IonE where she leads the Minnesota-based Natural Capital Project team. Bonnie earned her Ph.D. in Economics, Policy, Management and Society in the Natural Resources Science and Management program at the University of Minnesota (2013). She has a M.S. in Ecology from the University of Minnesota (2007) and a B.A. in Biology from the Colorado College (2001). Her dissertation research investigated the human well-being consequences of changes in water quality. In her work with the Natural Capital Project, Bonnie is applying ecosystem services approaches to improve water management, quantify the externalities associated with land-use change, and support decision-making in urban and agricultural ecosystems.

Portrait: Matt Kilpo.

Matt Kilpo | NorthStar Initiative Undergraduate Research Assistant
Matt Kilpo is an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota studying environmental science, policy, and management with an emphasis in corporate environmental management. His research is focused on environmental labeling and marketing, environmental reporting, life cycle analysis, and materials cycling. As an undergraduate research assistant with NiSE, Matt is currently gathering and analyzing market research for the Materials Cycling Initiative. He also has an interest in renewable technologies and energy efficiency projects. While he hasn’t spent a great deal of time with renewable technologies or energy efficiency projects, those areas are of interest to Matt as he moves forward with his career.

Portrait: Kate Knuth.

Kate Knuth | Boreas Leadership Program Coordinator
Kate Knuth runs the Boreas Environmental Leadership Program. She is also pursuing her Ph.D. in conservation biology. Kate is a citizen member of the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board and served three terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Kate previously worked at Hamline University's Center for Global Environmental Education. She holds a M.Sc. from Oxford University and a B.A. from the University of Chicago, and was a Fulbright Fellow in Norway. Kate enjoys cross country skiing and the occasional sprint triathlon.

Portrait: Dan Kunitz.

Dan Kunitz | Digital Content & IT Professional
Dan oversees the Ensia and IonE online presence while supporting the technical needs of faculty, staff and researchers. He holds a B.S. in graphic design from the University of Minnesota's College of Design with a minor in information technology. Dan is always exploring methods of conservation and efficiency, while experimenting with small-scale solar electricity.

Portrait: Mo Li.

Mo Li | NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise Research Fellow
Mo Li is a research fellow with IonE's NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise (NiSE). Her research focuses on applications of life cycle assessment (LCA) on renewable energy, energy efficiency and industrial supply chains. She is currently employing LCA-based methodologies to develop a decision-making tool to help procurement managers in manufacturing industries improve procurement decisions from the environmental perspective. Mo received her M.S. in natural resources science and management from the University of Minnesota and her B.S. in environmental sciences from the Renmin University of China. Outside work, she enjoys traveling and sports (supporting Arsenal F.C. from England).

Portrait: Eva Liu.

Yang Liu (Eva) | NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise Research Assistant
Yang Liu(Eva) is a research assistant with the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise. Eva is an undergraduate student with a double major in environmental science and economics, with a specialization in corporate environmental management. She is interested in sustainable management and urban sustainability development using spatial and economical analysis methods. Currently, Eva is working on a Smart Delivery project. Born and raised in Beijing, she enjoys traveling and outdoor activities that get her close to nature.

Portrait: Graham MacDonald.

Graham MacDonald | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Postdoctoral Research Scholar
Graham MacDonald is a postdoctoral researcher with the Global Landscapes Initiative. Graham received a Ph.D. from McGill University, where he studied human impacts on phosphorus cycling at large scales. His research combined spatial analysis and data synthesis to examine diverse issues surrounding agricultural phosphorus management, often incorporating cross-scale or historical perspectives. At IonE, Graham is assessing the role of global trade on linking agricultural production and consumption with environmental outcomes across regions. Graham completed a B.A. in geography and M.Sc. in renewable resource management from McGill, and enjoys exploring Twin Cities by bike in his spare time.

Portrait: Lauren McCarthy.

Lauren McCarthy | Sustainability Minor Adviser
Lauren McCarthy is the sustainability minor adviser and a scholarship coordinator for CFANS undergraduates. Lauren worked with scholarships, orientation services and honors students at the University of Iowa. She received her B.A. in political science and international studies from the University of Iowa in 2006 and her M.Phil. in Latin American studies from Cambridge University in 2007.

Portrait: Moana McClellan.

Moana McClellan | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Postdoctoral Research Scholar
Moana McClellan is intrigued by the links between society and environment, which serve as the umbrella under which she guides her research questions. More specifically, she is interested in how forest ecology and forest ecosystem services are affected by human decisions. She spent last year in Costa Rica on a Fulbright Fellowship conducting fieldwork in tropical dry forests and interviewing local landowners. She loves to make ice cream and bake pies.

Portrait: Nathan Michielson.

Nathan Michielson | Sustainability Studies Undergraduate Employee
Nathan Michielson is an undergraduate student studying environmental sciences, policy and management, focusing on policy and law. His double minor will encompass social justice and sustainability studies. Nathan plans to focus on environmental justice and work towards social and policy change surrounding environmental oppression, such as environmental racism. He is involved with the Research Apprenticeship Program and Dean’s Engaged Leaders Program, both within CFANS, and plans on joining student organizations with sustainable and social change goals. In Nathan’s free time, he enjoys hiking, cross country skiing and going to farmers’ markets.

Portrait: Laura Nieland.

Laura Nieland | Graphic Design Intern
IonE graphic design intern Laura Nieland's duties include designing a variety of print and electronic materials, coordinating print production and assisting with image research and concepts for print and online, including Ensia magazine. Laura is pursuing a B.F.A. in graphic design at the University of Minnesota and hopes to gain valuable experience with this internship. She has a passion for all things art-related, whether it be painting, photography or good music. She also loves spending time outdoors and with loved ones, including her three dogs Buddy, Bailey and Marley and her cat Maica.

Portrait: Jacob Nokovic.

Jacob Nokovic | Communications Assistant
Jake Nokovic is a communications assistant with an emphasis in photography and videography. He records and archives events, creates various media projects and promotes IonE through social media. Jake is pursuing a career in psychological research here at the University of Minnesota. In his free time he likes to discover music, solve Rubik's Cubes, analyze film and meet new people.

Portrait: Christine O'Connell

Christine O'Connell | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Graduate Research Fellow
Christine O'Connell is a doctoral student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior and a research fellow with the Global Landscape Initiative. She uses ecosystem ecology to explore the role ecosystem services can play in sustainable tropical forest management. Christine's dissertation investigates the effects of increased agricultural production on Amazonia’s contribution to global climate, biodiversity and nitrogen cycling, using statistical modeling and fieldwork in Mato Grosso, Brazil. Christine received a B.S. from Stanford University in earth systems with a focus in biology and spent several years teaching high school biology in an urban charter school in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Portrait: Rylie Pelton

Rylie Pelton | Graduate Research Assistant
Rylie Pelton is a graduate research assistant with the NorthStar Initiative. Her research focuses on developing a life cycle analysis tool that will help to identify which environmental claims lead to sustainable product performance, and assessing the environmental performance of solar bio-gasification technology. Rylie holds a B.S. in corporate environmental management and is currently pursuing her master's degree in the Natural Resources, Science and Management program, with an emphasis on sustainability in business, at the University of Minnesota.

Portrait: Nel Pilgrim-Rukavina

Nel Pilgrim-Rukavina | Undergraduate Research Assistant
Nel Pilgrim-Rukavina is an Undergraduate Research Scientist for the NorthStar Initiative. Through NiSE, Nel is assisting with data synthesis and analysis related to the Carbon Disclosure Project. Nel is majoring in Applied Economics with an emphasis on Natural Resources and the Environment, along with minors in Design and Spanish. After completing her Bachelor’s Degree, Nel plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development or another related field. In her free time, Nel enjoys skiing, cooking, reading, and traveling to new places.

Portrait: Deepak Ray

Deepak Ray | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Research Associate
Deepak Ray is a research associate with IonE's Global Landscapes Initiative. He is studying how global crop areas and yields have changed over time. He has published 18 peer-reviewed articles on topics ranging from satellite remote sensing to regional climate modeling, land use change modeling and population studies. Deepak's research projects have covered international locations, including Central America and Australia. He holds a doctoral degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In his free time, he enjoys observing the antics of his cat (Sundari), taking Sundari for walks, reading novels and watching movies.

Portrait: Alex Reich

Alex Reich | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Graduate Research Assistant
In his research with GLI, Alex investigates the environmental implications of dietary choices and eating patterns. He graduated with a B.A. in biology from Grinnell College; he then spent a year in the Arctic on a Watson Fellowship, learning about the local impacts of climate change and globalization as seen through the diets and traditional harvesting activities of indigenous northern peoples. Recently, Alex cooked in a restaurant, worked on a farm, and helped start MinuteEarth, a YouTube channel focused on environmental science and sustainability. He loves to run, ski, cook, eat and be outside.

Portrait: Lloyd Rivera

Lloyd Rivera | Graduate Student Assistant
Lloyd Rivera is a graduate student of bioproducts and biosystems engineering and doing research through NiSE at the Institute on the Environment. He is working on projects that include valuation of natural capital and promotion of bioenergy generation in the USA. In Costa Rica, his native country, Lloyd worked as research manager at CIMS, from the INCAE Business School, doing research and strategic advise on sustainability and supply chains for companies like Nestlé, Walmart and Rainforest Alliance. Lloyd has a B.S. sustainable agriculture from EARTH University.

Madison Rogers

Madison Rogers | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Undergraduate Research Assistant
Madison Rogers is a undergraduate research assistant working with the Global Landscapes Initiative. She assists in organizing global food production data and works with other team members to develop skills and research based on the data collected. Currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the University of Minnesota, she is interested in water resources and management. In her free time she enjoys reading and hanging out with her family.

Portrait: Sima Sajjadiani.

Sima Sajjadiani | Sustainability Education Program Graduate Assistant
Sima Sajjadiani joined IonE in September 2012 as a graduate assistant overseeing the logistics of sustainability education programs, including recruitment, registering and tracking students, running focus groups, administering student feedback surveys and supervising students using the Web and social media to communicate and market sustainability education programs and events. Sima is a graduate student in the Carlson School of Management. She holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and an MBA. If time allows, she enjoys cooking, watching movies and traveling.

Portrait: Jennifer Schmitt

Jennifer Schmitt | NorthStar Initiative Research Fellow
Jennifer Schmitt is a research fellow with the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise. She is working on projects that include corporate embedded sustainability and smart network applications in Tanzania. Jennifer's prior work in sustainability has been coordinating a proposed graduate sustainability minor and assisting with sustainability reporting. Jennifer has a M.S. in applied economics and Ph.D. in conservation biology from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in biology and international relations from Beloit College. Her past research has included conservation policies and socioeconomics in the Serengeti ecosystem, Tanzania.

Portrait: John Sisser

John Sisser | Communications Intern
John is an undergraduate student in the environmental sciences, policy and management (ESPM) major with an emphasis on policy and law. In his time at the U of M, John has been involved in multiple research projects covering topics such as municipal policies, residential landscape management and agricultural water runoff. He is particularly interested in understanding different policy approaches to improve and maintain water quality. In his free time, John is an avid runner and also enjoys biking, reading and junk food.

Portrait: April Snyder

April Snyder | Associate Administrator
April became IonE associate administrator after working in finance and grants management in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. Her role includes assisting with program implementation, managing finance and HR workflows and managing internal and external grants. She started her career in contracts management while serving in the U.S. Air Force. Between then and now, she has moved across the country and overseas, and ended up right back in Minnesota. With a growing family, April works hard to make time for gardens full of food and flowers on her small plot of land in the city.

Portrait: Amanda Stemig.

Amanda Stemig | Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellow
Amanda Stemig is a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry at the University of Minnesota and an interdisciplinary doctoral fellow at IonE. Her research focuses on the role of nanoparticle accessible surface area in the degradation of environmental pollutants, with an emphasis on pesticides, in simulated groundwater systems. During her residency at IonE she hopes to better understand the societal perceptions and consequences of introducing nanoparticles into the environment via remediation systems. Amanda earned her B.S. in chemistry from the University of St. Thomas. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching hockey and football, and teaching dance at a local studio.

Portrait: Shipeng Sun.

Shipeng Sun | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Postdoctoral Research Scholar
Shipeng Sun is a postdoctoral fellow with the Global Landscapes Initiative. He studied geographic information science (GIS) and human-environment interactions at the University of Minnesota Department of Geography. After graduating in 2009, he worked for the Spatial Land-Use Change and Ecological Effects (SLUCE) project and continued research on land use change, land markets, carbon dynamics and other human-environment issues in exurban America using GIS and agent-based modeling. At IonE, Shipeng is working on Web mapping GLI data using Google products and on other research activities.

Portrait: Mary Swenson

Mary Swenson | Fiscal Lead
Mary Swenson works with the Institute on the Environment as the fiscal lead, which entails overseeing budgetary needs and accounting. The University of Minnesota has been a common thread throughout Mary's life, and one that has come full circle. During her years as an undergraduate, she met her future husband and they graduated together after earning bachelor's degrees in business from the Carlson School of Management. Mary returned as an employee 14 years ago. Now empty-nesters except for a tiny (but ferocious) miniature pinscher, Mary and her husband attend Gopher games and other activities as alumni.

Portrait: Paul West

Paul West | Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI) Chief Collaboration Officer
Paul West is chief collaboration officer for IonE's Global Landscapes Initiative. His work is related to increasing global food production while decreasing environmental impacts. Paul conducts research on sustainably managing ecosystems with emphasis on the effects of agriculture. He also works with leaders from agribusiness, NGOs, foundations, technology companies and public agencies to increase accessibility and relevance of GLI's research. Before joining the U of M, Paul worked 17 years at The Nature Conservancy. He has published in leading science journals. His main hobbies revolve around rediscovering the wonders of the world through the eyes of his two young daughters.