heather_oct13-headshot-213x300Professor Heather Leslie is interested in understanding the drivers of ecological and social processes in marine systems, and how to more effectively integrate science into marine policy and management. As a professor in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, her research areas include coastal marine ecology, design and evaluation of marine conservation strategies, and human-environment linkages in coastal areas. A member of the Brown faculty since July 2007, Heather Leslie received an A.B. in Biology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Zoology from Oregon State University. Before arriving at Brown, she was a research fellow at Princeton University. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, and reading. Heather lives on the East Side of Providence with her husband, Jeremy and children, Isaac (8 years old) and Eva (almost 5).

Elena pic for vossUndergraduate Teaching Assistant Elena Suglia’s interests focus primarily on the way humans have altered salt marsh community structure and the mechanisms that underlie salt marsh ecology. 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. Her research involves experimentally triggering die-off in healthy salt marshes to test the hypothesis that predator depletion triggers creek bank die-off by a nocturnal marsh crab, Sesarma reticulatum. Her work provides data on the drivers of Cape Cod marsh die-off that can inform state and NGO conservation and management efforts.

AdaBersoza_pictureAda Cecilia Bersoza Hernández is a Biology concentrator from Monterrey, Mexico interested in ecology and conservation. She is working with Professor Dov Sax (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) and Dr. Qinfeng Guo (USDA Forest Service) to explore the extent to which climate conditions limit species high-latitude or high-elevation boundaries. She is comparing temperatures experienced by woody plant species across the West Coast of the United Stated at their highest latitude and altitude to help inform the extent to which climate limits species distributions. This analysis will provide insights that will be used to help develop conservation approaches in the context of climate change.

Allie ReillyAllie Reilly is an Environmental Studies concentrator interested in grappling with climate change through a policy-oriented lens. As a New Jersey resident, she and members of her family were impacted directly by Hurricane Sandy. This experience motivates her research. In collaboration with Caroline Karp (Environmental Studies), Corey Dean (Environmental Studies) and Amanda Martin (RI Statewide Planning Program), she has been researching the impacts of Hurricane Sandy and other major climatic disasters post-2010 on coastal management policies in New Jersey and Rhode Island. This summer, she conducted a legal examination of municipal ordinances, local land use plans, and hazard mitigation plans to determine how cities and towns are working to adapt to climate change. Following this, she analyzed relevant state level policies to determine the influence respective state governments have on municipal level adaptation. Through this study, she hopes to inform coastal management practices in a region that is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Alyssa Leigh BrowningAlyssa Leigh Browning is a dual concentrator in Environmental Science and Religious Studies. She is interested in how the intersection between humans and nature is influenced by worldviews. She spent the summer of 2014 working in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy on Martha’s Vineyard collecting data on flowering plants as well as bee and butterfly abundance and diversity. He work focused on preserves and Vineyard Habitat Network (VHN) properties. Community based conservation programs like the VHN can foster public participation and investment in conservation projects and outcomes. Through her research, she hopes to provide metrics to evaluate the efficacy of the homeowner-implemented land restoration program as well as to recreate valuable baseline data for later studies.

unnamedBrooke Osborne is a PhD student in Stephen Porder’s lab working to better understand how nitrogen and carbon cycling are controlled in lowland tropical forests. Tropical forests, which make up <7% of earth’s land cover, exchange an enormous amount of carbon with the atmosphere every year (~1/3 of the global total!). An understanding of what drives that exchange is important when trying to predict how it may be affected by our changing environment. Brooke has also been known to think about the effects of global change in her other favorite extreme ecosystems: the alpine and arctic.
In addition to her research Brooke enjoys designing and participating in creative communication efforts that connect the public of all ages with science as well as outdoor recreation and stewardship.

Emily Longman

Emily Longman is a Biology concentrator interested in wildlife conservation. She is conducting honors thesis research with Professor Dov Sax (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology), and studying the impacts of introduced mammals on island biodiversity. As part of that work, she hopes to determine the extent that biotic homogenization or differentiation is occurring at various spatial scales. During the summer of 2014, Emily conducted field research on the population dynamics of the endangered California Least Tern as part of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. She also works as a teaching assistant for Biostatistics and Conservation Biology.

Hank BakerHank Baker is a Biology concentrator broadly interested in ecology and biogeochemistry. He is particularly interested in fish-related aspects of ecosystems. Striped bass support an important recreational and commercial fishery in New England. Each spring, striped bass travel up the Atlantic coast, presumably to feed and forage in more northern waters. However, little is known about how striped bass use coastal New England ecosystems. His research uses stable isotope analysis to study striped bass food webs in saltmarshes. Specifically, he is examining the extent to which different primary producers contribute to the striped bass food web, and how that productivity reaches the bass. He is working with Dr. Jimmy Nelson from the Marine Biological Laboratory and Professor Heather Leslie at Brown in the Plum Island Estuary Long Term Ecological Research site in northern Massachusetts.

Mahalia ClarkMahalia Clark is a Chemistry concentrator interested in soil chemistry and agricultural ecosystems. She has collaborated with Postdoctoral Fellow Rebecca Ryals of the Hastings Lab to investigate the effects of biochar, a charcoal-like soil amendment, on nitrogen cycling in agricultural soils. Last summer she was able to compare nitrogen release from biochar with that from other fertilizers through an UTRA with Professor Meredith Hastings. She expanded on this work last fall while participating in the Semester for Environmental Science program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. There, she worked with Professor Jim Tang to investigate the long-term stability of nitrogen added to soils as biochar. This semester she will further explore the effects of biochar on soil chemistry. Mahalia spends her free time playing the cello and fiddle. She enjoys hiking and being outdoors.

Patrick Holland-StergarPat Holland-Stergar is a geoscience concentrator focusing on paleoclimate. He is working with Professor James Russell (Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Science) to create a high- resolution temperature record of North-Central Alaska for the last 21,000 years. Climate changes acutely affect Polar Regions, and understanding the specifics of the most recent glacial to interglacial warming will aid understanding and management of current and future warming in the region. Pat is from Butte, Montana, and is a member of the Brown Club Hockey team and ARRR!!! Pirate a capella group.

Steven HagertySteven Hagerty is an Environmental Science and Economics concentrator interested in conservation and management of natural resources. He is working with Professor Mark Bertness (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology) and Stephen Smith (Cape Cod National Seashore/National Park Service) to study how human-induced salt marsh die-off affects communities of small marine invertebrates that live in coastal New England. This research should help more clearly identify the structure of New England salt marsh food webs, the complete effects of human activity in coastal ecosystems and provide general implications for trophic cascades. Steve leads trips for several outdoor programs at Brown and facilitates writing workshops in prison. He enjoys backpacking and writing.

Victoria BrownVictoria Brown is an environmental studies concentrator and a student in the Program in Liberal Medical Education with an interest in the environmental determinants of global health. Over the summer, she worked with three medical students under the guidance of Dr. Rebecca Reece, an infectious disease fellow at the Alpert Medical School. The team was focused on the Komfe Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. One of her projects was a retrospective chart review of the past 10 years looking at the adherence to antiretroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS. The second project was a survey determining the facilitators and barriers for patients to attend their appointments at the HIV/AIDS clinic. Victoria is from South Texas and enjoys cooking, yoga, and drawing.

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