Student Stories

From advancing environmental justice to using technology to develop sustainable solutions, our students approach our planet’s most pressing environmental challenges from a diverse range of backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Check out how some of our future environmental leaders are making a difference, both locally and abroad.

  • Patterson in Bagaces, Costa Rica at the Palo Verde Research Station during her tropical ecology field course during the summer of 2015. Photo courtesy of Linnea Patterson

    From Lab Work to Land Management

    For Linnea Patterson, studying biology was — well, in her biology.

  • Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies UW–Madison

    Introducing the Nelson Ambassadors

    Since it first opened to students in 2011, the Nelson Institute’s environmental studies undergraduate major has seen rapid growth — after just one year, the number of declared students nearly doubled.

  • Hailey Kuhn

    An Interdisciplinary Education

    The world is Hailey Kuhn’s oyster — and she knows it.

  • Haag kayaking on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, Montana, in September. Photo courtesy of Taylor Haag

    Building a Sustainable Community

    Imagine a community where people work together to preserve natural resources, protect their watershed, and learn about the importance of conservation.

  • Heidi explaining hydric soil properties to two of her practicum cohort members in a private landowners field adjacent to Koshkonong Creek. Photo by Bryce Richter/UW–Madison

    Connecting Water, Connecting People

    For Heidi Putnam, water resource conservation is less about understanding the hard sciences than it is about understanding the communities relying on those water resources.

  • During her communications internship at the DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management through NRF’s Diversity in Conservation internship, Soumi staffed outreach at the Wisconsin State Fair.

    A Bird’s-Eye View of Conservation

    Soumika Gaddameedi’s passion for the environment began at a young age, stemming from childhood memories of hiking and surrounding herself with nature.

  • Banner drop outside of a Board of Regents Meeting. Photo courtesy of Ashley Cheung

    A Full-Course Meal

    Ashley Cheung’s life has always been intertwined with the environment.

  • Hench completed site visits as part of her internship, which focused on tire recycling and reuse. Photo courtesy of Oliva Hench

    Industry Revolution

    Making copies, sorting files, delivering documents. These are tasks one might associate with your standard internship, but they’re nowhere to be found in the lineup of duties for students participating in UW–Madison’s Corporate Sustainability Internship Program.

  • Winkler-Schor with a kitten while conducting research. Photo courtesy of Sophia Winkler-Schor

    The Psychology of Sustainable Farming

    Nelson Institute environment and resources PhD student Sophia Winkler-Schor has spent most of her life fascinated with both the environment and Latin America.

  • Travis Blomberg

    An On-Track Diversion

    If Travis Blomberg is successful, only 10 percent of UW–Madison’s waste will end up in a landfill.

  • Butterfly landing on Sanchez-Mora's nose. Photo courtesy of Angelica Sanchez-Mora

    EC Graduate and Board of Visitors Member Helps connect People to Urban Green Spaces

    Hidden among the pavement and large buildings of many urban areas are small but sacred green spaces. From a young age Angélica Sánchez-Mora was able to appreciate both urban and rural living. Now, she works to help connect those living in urban spaces to the slices of nature around them.

  • Williamson searches for salamanders on an NRF Field Trip to Red Banks Alvar State Natural Area near Green Bay, Wis.

    A Welcome Return

    Caitlin Williamson’s connection with the Nelson Institute runs deep, having graduated with the very first cohort of students to complete the environmental conservation (EC) master’s degree in 2015.

  • Alpha Advocate

    As a kid, Francisco Santiago-Ávila had a plan to become a priest.

  • Eddinger (left) while working in the Conservation Corps after graduating from his undergraduate studies. Photo provided by Jesse Eddinger

    Continuing a Legacy

    Being out in nature and working with the land is within graduate student Jesse Eddinger’s genes.

  • Jonathan Patz and Tebbe traveled to the Consortium of Public Universities for Global Health, which was held back in-person for the first time this year. Photo courtesy of Nova Tebbe

    Taking Stock of the United Nations Paris Agreement

    Nova Tebbe, a PhD student in the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, exemplifies the interdisciplinary research of the Nelson Institute.