Matt_HeadshotMatthew Bevil is a marine biology concentrator interested in the processes that generate and maintain coastal ecosystems. He is working on a joint project with fellow undergraduate Sinead Crotty in collaboration with Professor Mark Bertness (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology). The group is working to assess the recent spread of salt marsh die-off into Narragansett Bay. Creek bank die-off has been documented in Cape Cod marshes, but only recently arrived in Rhode Island. The team has investigated how patterns of die-off relate to shoreline development, recreational fishing, and other human and environmental factors. Through this project, they hope to inform future coastal conservation and management. Matthew is from Mary Esther, FL and is on the Track & Field Team at Brown.

Erin Capra is a Biology concentrator interested in conservation biology. She is working with Professor Dov Sax (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) and Nancy Green (US Fish and Wildlife Service) to assess the risk that climate change may pose to endangered plants.  She will investigate whether areas beyond the native ranges of these endangered plants could be suitable for relocation of at risk species. Erin is a member of Brown’s women’s Ultimate team and the Meiklejohn peer advising program.  She loves lakes, playing board games, being outside, and reading.



Elizabeth Castner is an environmental science concentrator interested in sustainable agriculture and climate. She is working with Professor Meredith Hastings and postdoctoral scholar Rebecca Ryals to study the impacts of fertilizer amendments on field-level nitrogen cycling at sites within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Fertilizers derived from poultry waste are an important topic of study in this area because highly concentrated poultry production is a large source of nitrogen and phosphorus. During the summer she collected soil samples from plots treated with various fertilizers at agricultural field stations in Delaware and Pennsylvania, as well as assisting with sample collection at an organic poultry farm in Virginia. She collaborated with Mark Dubin and Matthew Johnston at the Chesapeake Bay Program through attending a policy oriented conference at the beginning of the summer and by visiting the program’s offices to learn about the predictive model used to estimate nutrient loads within the watershed. She hopes to use the watershed model to scale up the results of her field study and to look at the potential for transportation as a useful management practice for poultry manure. The policy aspect of the project brings to light the connections between ecological health, management practices, and model-based planning. Elizabeth is an active member of West House, Brown’s environmental program house, and plays the flute in band and chamber groups. She enjoys traveling around Rhode Island by bike and taking care of chickens.

Karen Cortes is a Marine Biology concentrator interested in marine conservation science and policy. She is working with Professor Heather Leslie (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology/Environmental Studies) to apply the Ocean Health Index to Narragansett Bay. The Ocean Health Index framework provides an integrative measure of ocean health, based on a range of benefits provided to people by coastal and marine ecosystems, including food provision, carbon storage, coastal protection, and clean waters. Karen’s particular interest is in clean water and how changes in water quality influence the provision of a wide array of benefits provided to people by estuarine environments like Narragansett Bay. By downscaling the ocean health framework to the Bay, Karen hopes to contribute knowledge relevant to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, The Nature Conservancy and other governmental and non-governmental institutions engaged in marine management and conservation.

Snapchat-1956This summer, Sinead Crotty worked with fellow undergrad, Matt Bevil, to assess the recent spread of salt marsh die-off into Narragansett Bay. Creek bank die-off has been extensively documented in Cape Cod marshes, but only recently arrived in Rhode Island. The pair looked at how patterns of die-off relate to shoreline development, recreational fishing, substrate hardness, and nutrient loading into Narragansett Bay. They used historical aerial photographs to map the spread of die-off into the Bay and quantified Sesarma reticulatum densities, burrow densities, substrate hardness, nutrient levels, herbivory rates, and predation rates to explain the spatial relationship between these variables and creek bank die-off.



JHL_picJin Hyung Lee is an environmental studies concentrator interested in forest management and conservation. In collaboration with Professor Caroline Karp and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), she has been working closely with the USDA, Forest Service Forest Legacy Program and how Rhode Island could be a more active participant in the Forest Legacy Program. In particular, she is focused on determining the best method of protecting private forestland via conservation easements that the Program provides strong applicants grant money for. As part of her project, she has developed a GIS map prioritizing the most valuable forestland where RIDEM ought to focus its efforts. In doing so, she hopes that RIDEM will be able to submit more competitive applications to the Program and acquire the grant money required to place valuable private forestland under conservation easements.

Dara.LizardDara Illowsky is an environmental science concentrator with a focus in conservation biology. She spent this past summer based at UC Santa Cruz where she studied habitat requirements of the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, an endangered species endemic to central California. In collaboration with Dr. Barry Sinervo (UC Santa Cruz) as well as Drs. Dov Sax and Jack Mustard, she is currently expanding this project into a senior thesis using remotely sensed data to develop a habitat suitability model for the blunt-nosed leopard lizard. By combining vegetative biomass field data collected around California’s Central Valley over the summer, information from past studies of the species, and satellite imagery, Dara’s model will serve as a visual guide for land use and wildlife management policy decisions.

Arisa Lohmeier is an Environmental Science concentrator interested in botany and reconciling development and conservation goals. Together with Professor Erika Edwards (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), Voss postdoctoral associate Radika Bhaskar, and Francisco Mora (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Arisa plans to investigate tropical dry forest regeneration in abandoned pastureland in Jalisco, Mexico. Arisa’s ultimate goal is to understand how management can facilitate forest regeneration, and in turn contribute to sustainable land use practices. Arisa is from Rhode Island, and was the sustainability coordinator for A Better World by Design 2012. She also was a coordinator for the Brown Market Shares Program.



Megan Palmer is a Biology concentrator interested in ecology and the management of dynamic ecosystems. She is part of the Leslie lab and is involved in research on coastal marine ecosystems. With Professor Heather Leslie, Megan worked on a project exploring the connection between ocean health, management, and renewable energy harnessing technologies. She also works with PhD candidate Sarah Corman Crosby researching coastal salt marshes. The research investigates the morphology and temperature response of the foundation species Spartina alterniflora at local and regional scales. Megan is a member of Brown’s Cross Country and Track team and is also interested in writing and digital photography.

484743_551786821499871_999309336_nRebekah Stein is a senior Geology-Biology concentrator at Brown, initially from Woodbridge, Connecticut. She is studying biogeochemistry in Puerto Rico, particularly nutrient uptake efficiency of Phosphorus and Nitrogen in the roots and leaves of Colorado trees. Distribution of nutrients to different parts of large trees can help us predict the outcomes of increased anthropogenic nutrient addition into the natural environments. She is doing her research with Professor Stephen Porder (EEB/Ecology and Evolutionary Biology).






Good pic for posterElena Suglia‘s interests focus primarily on the way humans have altered salt marsh community structure and the mechanisms that underlie salt marsh ecology. Nearly 40 years of recreational fishing on Cape Cod has depleted top predators and released the marsh crab Sesarma reticulatum from predator control. Sesarma’s populations have since increased and the crab has wreaked havoc on the marsh through its burrowing and herbivory, which denude the marsh of cordgrass and lead to sediment erosion, creek bank calving into the water, and wide swaths of die-off along the New England coast. Salt marsh die-off is a serious conservation issue because salt marshes are one of the most valuable ecosystem service providers on the planet, providing essential services including storm buffering, biochemical processing of terrestrial runoff, carbon sequestration and storage, and nursery ground function for commercially and recreationally important fin- and shellfish. My research involves experimentally triggering die-off in healthy salt marshes. In doing so, I directly and unambiguously test the hypothesis that predator depletion triggers Sesarma-driven creek bank die-off. My research will provide data on the drivers of Cape Cod marsh die-off that can inform state and NGO conservation and management efforts.

Conor Sullivan is a Geology-Biology concentrator interested in how geologic processes influence the functioning of ecosystems. Conor is working with fellow undergraduate Rebekah Stein and Professor Stephen Porder (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) to explore how geologic factors influence landscape-scale variation in nutrient limitation in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico. Using the results of a nutrient limitation experiment conducted in Fall 2012 by the Porder Lab, Conor will investigate how the availability of key nutrients limits plant growth, and whether this limitation varies on a landscape scale with topography and soil parent material. Conor is from San Jose, California, and is a Brown Outdoor Leadership Training (BOLT) mentor. He enjoys rock climbing and backpacking.

headshotCooper Tamayo is a senior concentrating in Environmental Science. He is interested in studying nutrient cycling and biogeochemistry. Over the summer, he worked with Prof. Stephen Porder, conducting soil research in the Luquillo Tropical Forest in Puerto Rico. Currently he is working on a senior thesis with Prof. Porder investigating the controls of nutrient availability in tropical forests, specifically looking at how erosion rates alter phosphorous and nitrogen concentrations in the Luquillo forest. 

Cody Zeger 1075678_10102254934649693_13698621_n (1)is a senior concentrating in Environmental Studies with a focus in environmental health and policy. He is primarily interested in the ways in which the changing climate affects human populations and what can be done to prevent or address those issues. His most recent work deals with the community responses to the relicensing of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, MA and the ways those responses have affected decision making in the area. Cody is from Northern California and grew up next to Muir Woods spending his summers in Yosemite National Park.

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