Alumni



OCTOBER 17, 2018
A Transformational Education
Growing up in a rural, Liberian village during wartime made it difficult for Emmanuel Urey to secure an education. From a young age, he dreamed of attending school, but he didn’t have the opportunity until the war forced his family into neighboring Guinea, where he was able to begin elementary school at the age of 13. Despite these early challenges, Urey went on to attend college, earning two Master’s degrees and graduating with his Ph.D. in Environmental Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nelson Institute in May 2018. Today, Urey has returned to Liberia, where he is working to increase educational opportunities and land rights through his work with Landesa, the Salvation Army Polytechnic (T-SAP) school and his own nonprofit, One Life Liberia. Through it all, Urey is determined to use what he’s learned and the connections he’s made at the Nelson Institute to improve the lives of those in his "beloved country” of Liberia.


OCTOBER 1, 2018
An Inspirational Education
Nicolle Zellner, (1993) B.S. Physics and Astronomy, Nelson Institute environmental studies undergraduate certificate (ESC), UW-Madison M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic institute, NY While her professional credits include being a part of the STS-67 shuttle mission ground crew and working with lunar samples that the Apollo astronauts brought to earth, University of Wisconsin-Madison alumna, Nicolle Zellner says some of her most profound lessons occurred during her time as a Nelson Institute environmental studies undergraduate certificate student. It was there that Zellner said she learned how to apply her knowledge of physics and astronomy in solving environmental and societal issues. It was also where Zellner found a community of experts and peers who shared her passion for knowledge.


AUGUST 14, 2018
Four Nelson Institute alumni recognized for their impactful work
Whether it is providing life-saving care to the residents of Uganda, developing a resolution for transboundary water conflicts, providing conservation education or championing river preservation, Nelson Institute alumni are at the forefront of important efforts around the world. Such impactful work is deserving of recognition, which is why the Nelson Institute is proud to honor outstanding alumni through the annual Rising Star and Distinguished Alumni Awards.


JULY 31, 2018
Allies in Environmental Justice
The Nelson Institute strives to be an inclusive community of scholars who share a passion for enhancing the quality of life and the environment in Wisconsin. From professors and students to partners and alumni, the Nelson Institute community includes a diverse group of people working to create real change, something Nelson Institute alumna Ashley Lee is proud to contribute to through her work with Public Allies of Milwaukee.


JULY 18, 2018
Diversity and mentorship are a walk in the park
The inaugural "Hike & Learn” session took place in June. Each session will be held with a group of about 10 students and a faculty mentor exploring different pathways within the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. The next session will be held Friday, July 20, 2018 at 11:30 a.m. with Seth McGee, lab manager of the UW-Madison Biocore program. Register online here.


JUNE 25, 2018
Nelson Institute alumni lead Integrated Land Management workshop at Cornell
Collaboration is key at the Nelson Institute, where faculty and students are encouraged to take an integrated approach to research and education. For Nelson Institute alum Nina Trautmann Chaopricha, the collaborative nature of the Nelson Institute left a lasting impression, inspiring her to seek out new ways to connect students, faculty, and experts from across the world on sustainability initiatives.


MAY 29, 2018
Nelson Institute alumna selected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners
Nelson Institute Alumna Mary Ann Heidemann, PhD was officially inducted into the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) College of Fellows at the National Planning Conference in New Orleans.


JANUARY 15, 2018
Nelson master’s graduate puts environmental conservation theories into practice
After taking ornithology courses, Sandberg was on the path to find a career that would help birds in their natural habitat. Now as a wildlife rehabilitator, she is able to do just that, placing birds and other native species back into the environment where they belong.


NOVEMBER 29, 2017
Buzzworthy backstory: Nelson alum shares story of the honeybee in latest book
From the dancing of honeybees to the production of honey, Heather Swan has always found honeybees to be fascinating creatures. So, it’s not much of a surprise to hear her lifelong relationship with the honeybees eventually led to her publishing a book exploring the relationship between honeybees and humans.


NOVEMBER 21, 2017
Nelson alumni give back: Mentorship opportunities in CESP Program
Nearly 50 Nelson alumni, environmental professionals, and University of Wisconsin-Madison students participated in a "Speed Mentoring” event in October. While the event was open to all UW students, there was a focus on students enrolled in the Community Environmental Scholarship Program (CESP). CESP program managers Cathy Middlecamp, professor in Environmental Studies, and Robert Beattie, faculty associate work with students who want to explore both environmentally sustainable pathways and engage with their local communities. The program offers opportunities for students to build partnerships with environmental organizations, volunteer on campus and with the local community, and receive professional development training—like attending the Speed Mentoring event. Prior to the event, Middlecamp and Beattie had students prepare ‘elevator pitches,’ a condensed one-minute explanation of their personal interests, career aspirations and past experiences. The elevator pitches were a means for students to start conversations with professionals and explain who they are and what they aspire to become. Following the event, students reported being more comfortable networking with professionals and communicating their academic and career goals. Many also said they were excited to attend another event with more professionals and alumni from an even broader spectrum of career fields. The event wasn’t just a learning experience for undergraduates. Mentorship often works best when both parties are able to learn from each other. Mentors were impressed with the student’s passion, energy and preparation. "It is fun to learn more about student interests and it helps my work to see the range of perspectives undergrads have about the environment and the different academic and professional goals they want to achieve,” one mentor said. "The students were very well-spoken,” said another. "[The event] was very impressive and to hear all their interests, aspirations, and how optimistic they were was very uplifting.” We extend thanks to the alumni who took time to give back to the Nelson Community and look forward to partnering in the future.


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