Adena Rissman, Associate Professor,

Christine Anhalt-Depies, Wildlife Ecology PhD,
Anhalt-DepiesMy research focuses on understanding how citizen science operates within complex social-ecological systems. Specifically, I examine the degree to which public participation in citizen science results in social outcomes, like increased knowledge or attitude change, and whether social outcomes can mediate ecological change, such as changes in private landowners’ land management practices. I have a B.A. in biology and psychology from Ripon College and a M.S in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Owen Selles, Forestry and Nelson Institute MS,
Owen SellesI am interested in historical ecology and how scientific ideas, politics, culture, and economics inform landscape management. I am completing two Master’s degrees on 1) the framing of fire and forest management in the Western U.S. and 2) historic American Indian trails in Wisconsin. I have a B.A. in geography from Calvin College.
Alex Kazer, Agroecology MS,
I am interested in the intersections between working lands, conservation, and public policy. I am currently examining the social and ecological outcomes of private land conservation and the ways in which sustainable agriculture practices are promoted through conservation easements.  I have a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Georgia.

Molly Daniels MS,
My research combines social, ecological, and policy sciences. I research the various relationships between public policy, natural resources, and private land management practices. My current work utilizes mapping and analytical technologies to better define the physical factors enhancing or impeding wildland fire management in the Northern Rockies. I have a dual-B.A. in Human Rights and International Studies from the University of Dayton.


MS/PhD committees
Jon Breschak, Forestry PhD
Sarah Carter, Forestry PhD
Kathryn Anderson, Sociology PhD
Chris Hamilton, Forestry PhD
Jessica Long, Environment and Resources MS completed in 2011, now pursuing PhD
Melissa Motew, Environment and Resources PhD
Erik Olsen, Environment and Resources PhD
Jessica Price, Environment and Resources PhD
Christine Anhalt, Conservation Biology & Sustainable Dev’t MS, graduated 2011
Andrea Bachrach, Water Resources Management MS, graduated 2011
Nina Chaopricha, Environment and Resources PhD Preliminary Examination
Kelly Crosset, Forestry MS, graduated 2011
Tiffany Grade, Conservation Biology & Sustainable Development MS, graduated 2011
James Hook, Water Resources Management MS, graduated 2010
Marty Pfeiffer, Environment and Resources MS, graduated 2010
Marie Russo, Conservation Biology & Sustainable Development MS, graduated 2011

Former lab members

Andrew W. L’Roe, Forestry PhD, (CV) (Webpage)
LRoeI am interested how forest disturbance and composition are driven by land ownership and conservation efforts. I study the conservation and monitoring of privately-owned forests in Wisconsin and the effectiveness of tools like tax policies, working forest conservation easements, and forest certification. I am originally from North Carolina and earned a B.S. in Environmental Science from UNC Chapel Hill and a Masters in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from Cornell University.

Chloe Wardropper, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies PhD,
I am an environmental governance and management scholar with a focus on water resources. I have experience working on land and water sustainability issues in the federal government and academia. I completed my PhD in Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with funding from a National Science Foundation (NSF) IGERT fellowship and NSF Water Sustainability and Climate grant. My dissertation was on the use of environmental measurement in policy formation and implementation, and the role of multi-scalar decision making in Upper Mississippi River Basin water and agriculture policies. My postdoctoral research at Purdue University, funded by a grant from The Nature Conservancy, sought to better align incentives between farmers and landowners to encourage conservation on agricultural land.

 As of November 2017 I am an assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Society at the University of Idaho. Please get in touch at

Lori Barrow, Forestry MS, (Website)
2015-01-13 20.45.50My research interests focus on improving the usability of scientific research relevant to conservation planning under novel environments. Specifically, I’m interested in the educational outcomes underlying integrative graduate education programs. Over the last decade, the growing demand for an integrative approach to graduate education has catalyzed efforts to understand how to teach for interdisciplinary and engaged learning. Looming large behind this question are larger, more complex questions such as: what should students be learning and why; what motivated students to join integrative projects and what challenges do they face? My work with Dr. Rissman explores some of these questions using the National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program on Conserving Biodiversity in Novel Ecosystems. I am originally from central Illinois and earned both my B.S. in Natural Resource Management and Masters in Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management from Southern Illinois University.

Christina Locke, Forestry PhD
I am now a Research Scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. My postdoctoral research at UW-Madison focused on pollinator management and planning. In my PhD, I studied the influences of zoning, land-use planning, and tax policy on development patterns and forest fragmentation in the Upper Midwest. I focused on private lands adjacent to public forests, areas that are both ecologically important and are attractive sites for development. Before joining the Rissman Lab in 2009, I worked on multiple projects studying ecosystem services, pollinators, and pests in agricultural systems. Fieldwork for these projects took me to California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Wisconsin’s Northwoods. I graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science.

Sean Gillon, Postdoctoral Researcher
I am now on the faculty at Marylhurst University. While working as a postdoctoral researcher, my research focused on: environmental governance; political ecological and institutional analyses of nature-society relations; and agri-food systems and agroecology. I was affiliated with the Water Sustainability and Climate Project, working with Dr. Adena Rissman. I earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz in September 2011. My dissertation research explored the social and ecological dimensions of US Midwestern biofuel production and governance.

Menka Bihari, Postdoctoral Researcher
I am now a senior business analyst with Highmark Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA. My research interest lies in exploring connections between communities, regional planning and resource conservation particularly in the context of climate change and sustainable development. I am interested in exploring the efficacy of land use planning measures in mitigating risks and hazards by enabling increased community participation. As a postdoc, I was involved in a collaborative project to assess the legal and ecological vulnerability of conservation easements in changed climate conditions. Our goal is to develop adaptive capacity to reduce the vulnerability of conservation strategies to the negative impacts of climate change, and formulate guidelines for drafting future conservation easements. Additionally, the research will identify other tools for meeting conservation objectives on private lands.

Amber S. Mase, Postdoctoral Researcher
I am now an Evaluation Associate at the UW-Madison Environmental Resources Center. As a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) project, I focused on assessing the long-term Yahara2070 scenarios, as well as the outreach, from a social science perspective.  I explored the usefulness of the WSC’s Yahara2070 scenarios for long-term planning and thinking in the Yahara watershed, particularly in the context of a changing climate and other ecological and social changes.  Before joining the Rissman Lab in 2014, I completed my PhD in Natural Resource Social Science at Purdue University, with a focus on Midwestern farmers’ and advisors’ perspectives of climate change and agricultural adaptation. I earned an MS in Natural Resource Social Science at Purdue, and a BS in Development Sociology from Cornell University.

Chad Rittenhouse, Postdoctoral Researcher
I am now an as Assistant Research Professor, Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation Center, Dept. of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut. My research interests span landscape ecology and wildlife ecology, with a strong desire to improve science-management-policy connections.  My research projects with Dr. Rissman examine the impacts of future land cover change on carbon sequestration and storage, impacts of and adaptations to climate change in forestry operations and snow-based recreation activities, and adaptation to invasive species and climate change by natural resource agencies.

Bob Smail, Environment and Resources
I am now working at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the Water Division. I joined the Rissman lab in the fall of 2010 to work on a project geared towards understanding how environmental performance is measured and reported across different policy networks. This project compares top-down, devolved, and market-based governance networks for private land conservation. I also examined network approaches for targeting reductions in agricultural nonpoint water pollution. More broadly, my research interests are focused on the interaction between environmental policy, people and places. I am particularly interested in understanding how different scales and types of policy are bridged by conservation professionals and programs. I obtained my M.S. in Natural Resource Policy from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and my B.A. in History from Carroll University in Waukesha, WI.

Ellen Geisler, Forestry MS,
I am now with UW-Extension in Marinette County, Wisconsin. For my MS, I studied logger perceptions and management guidelines related to seasonal environmental change, forest management, and logger economic challenges in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Before joining the Rissman Lab in 2012, I worked with beekeepers in Paraguay for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and started my own beekeeping business in Wisconsin. I earned a BA in Latin American Studies from UW-Madison in 2007.

Katelyn Budke, Research Assistant
Catherine Harris, Undergraduate Research Assistant
Blake Draper, Graduate Student Research Assistant, Certificate Program in GIS
Patrice Kohl, Graduate Student Research Assistant, Life Sciences Communication
Ryan Squires, GIS Manager
Luke Straka, Undergraduate Intern
Cory Wiltgen, Intern