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Alumni notes and awards

Fall/Winter 2013

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Jill Baumgartner (Ph.D. ER ‘10) is an assistant professor at McGill University, jointly appointed in the Institute for health and Social Policy and the Department for Epidemiology, Biostatistics and occupational health.  

Chris Bocast (Ph.D. ER ’13), an audio specialist with the Wisconsin Sea Grant College Program, produced a 10-part podcast series, “Sea Grant and Lake Michigan, Waters in Transition.” Bocast composed and performed the theme music and filled the series with location audio recorded on the shores of Lake Michigan. To listen:  

Leif Brottem (M.S. ER ‘08) is an instructor in political science at Grinnell College. 

Matt Covert (M.S. ER ‘12) serves as Green Downtown Project Manager with 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, researching and advocating for smart community planning.  

Kathryn De Master (M.S. LR ’03, Ph.D. ER ‘09) joined the University of California-Berkeley as assistant professor of agriculture, society and food security in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management.  

Daniel Einstein (M.S. LR ‘95) spoke at a ceremony on the UW-Madison campus in June honoring John Muir, with a plaque dedicated near the legendary preservationist’s dorm room in North Hall. Einstein is the university’s historic and cultural resources manager and has been researching Muir’s five terms at UW.  

Jane Elder (M.S. LR ‘91), executive director of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, moderated a discussion in October with writer and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams for the annual Jordahl Public Lands Lecture in Madison.  

Craig Ficenec (M.S. LR ‘03) joined the Sand County Foundation as program director for the Water As A Crop initiative, which empowers landowners with knowledge and resources to inform and inspire responsible water stewardship and recognition of the value of water.  

Christine Finlayson (M.S. WRM ’94) has published her first mystery novel, Tip of a Bone. The book blends Finlayson’s background in environmental science with her love of mysteries to create a fast-paced read, set on the Oregon coast, about buried bones, a missing eco-activist and a deadly arson fire.  

Lion Guardians, founded by Leela Hazzah (M.S. CBSD ’07, Ph.D. ER ‘11), was featured in the BBC/Discovery television series Africa in February and in National Geographic magazine in August. The innovative program aims to end lion hunts and retaliatory killings in eastern Africa by placing guardians from local Maasai communities in areas where lions are present or conflicts have been frequent (see “Guarding the predators,” In Common spring/summer 2012). Stephanie Dolrenry (Ph.D. ER ’13) is the program’s director of biology.  

Daniel Jaffee (M.S. LR ’96, Ph.D. LR ‘06) is an assistant professor of sociology at Portland State University. His research examines the effects of economic globalization and neoliberal policies on social and environmental conditions for rural communities.  

Curt Meine (M.S. LR ’83, Ph.D. LR ‘88), a senior fellow with the Aldo Leopold Foundation, spoke with NPR’s All Things Considered in March about a soundscape that Nelson Institute faculty affiliate Stan Temple and alumnus Chris Bocast (Ph.D. ER ‘13) created from Leopold’s meticulous field notes. The soundscape recreates how birds must have sounded at the iconic naturalist’s Sauk County shack in the 1940s. To listen:  

Michelle Miller (M.S. LR ‘92) is project leader for the Eco-Fruit Program, a collaboration between Wisconsin fruit growers and the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, where Miller is associate director for outreach. The program aims to reduce grower reliance on pesticides and support growers in finding the best farming practices.  

Milford Muskett (Ph.D. ER ‘03) is now dean of the Public Services and Social Science Division at the Delaware County Community College.  

Erik Olson (M.S. ER ‘10, Ph.D. ER ‘13) has joined Northland College as an assistant professor of natural resources, where his interests span interdisciplinary scholarship and an array of conservation- and ecology-based questions.  

Madeline Ostrander (M.S. LR ‘00), senior editor of YES! Magazine, recently published an article in The Nation about cap and trade and environmental justice issues in California. View the story and an accompanying video:  

George Reistad (ESC ‘11) has joined Michael Fields Agricultural Institute as assistant policy director. The organization works to nurture the ecological, social and economic resiliency of food and farming systems.  

Brian Robinson (Ph.D. ER ‘11) is an assistant professor of geography at McGill University where he studies livelihoods, the environment and development.  

Nathan Schulfer (M.S. CBSD ‘12) serves as professional programs coordinator for the Nelson Institute Environmental Conservation professional master’s program, assisting students in defining and reaching their professional goals. Schulfer also helps build a network of partner organizations that can offer leadership placement opportunities for students and travels extensively to build awareness of the program.

Anne Shudy Palmer (M.S. CBSD ‘09) is an environmental scientist and project manager at Green Seal, an organization that develops life cycle-based sustainability standards for products, services and companies and offers third-party certification for those that meet the criteria.  

Heather Shumaker (M.S. LR ‘97) has published It’s OK Not to Share… And Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids. The book draws on Shumaker’s experiences as the mother of two, as well as the work of child psychologists, pediatricians and educators.  
Andrew Stuhl (M.S. ER ‘07) joined Bucknell University as an assistant professor of environmental studies. His teaching and writing intersects environmental history, history of science and environmental studies.  

Christopher Uejio (Ph.D. ER ‘11) is an assistant professor of geography at Florida State University, where his research interests include extreme heat and human health, disease, and assisting public health departments in adapting to climate change.  

Christine Vatovec (Ph.D. ER ‘10) is a research assistant professor of human health and the environment at the University of Vermont, holding a joint appointment between the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and the College of Medicine.  

ES denotes environmental studies undergraduate major; ESC, environmental studies undergraduate certificate. Graduate programs: CBSD, Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development; EAP, energy Analysis and Policy certificate; EM, environmental Monitoring (through 2005); ER, environment and Resources (after 2007); LR, Land Resources (through 2007); and WRM, water Resources Management.

Nominations sought for new alumni awards 

Nearly 4,000 Nelson institute alumni work in government, business and nonprofit organizations, applying their knowledge and skills to make the world a better and more sustainable place. Many also volunteer with environmental or humanitarian causes. To spotlight some of their accomplishments and impacts, the Nelson Institute is seeking nominations for two new annual alumni awards. 

The early career alumni award will recognize alumni who have graduated within the past ten years, having attained a notable degree of success or impact through their professional accomplishments and/or community service. 

The distinguished alumni award will honor alumni who have demonstrated considerable professional achievement and impact, and/or community service, since graduating at least ten years ago. 

Nominees must have earned a graduate degree or certificate or an undergraduate major or certificate from the Nelson Institute. For 2014, the nomination deadline is Feb. 3. Award winners will be selected by March 1 by a committee of institute faculty and staff, with awards presented at the annual Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference in April. For more information or to submit nominations: 

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