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Environmental Interpretation

M.S., M.P.S. & Ph.D.

environmental interpretation

Environmental interpretation sharpens the cutting edge of communication among scientists and various public sectors. Graduate study enables students to explore interpretation / conservation education processes through application to specific projects in the natural sciences and science education.

Students pursue career pathways in natural resource agencies, in nature centers, museums, aquaria, botanical gardens and especially in the science classroom. The environmental interpretation program incorporates a 15,000-acre reserve in the heart of the Adirondack Park and an associated Adirondack Interpretative Center with trail system. Internships and partnerships with a variety of conservation-based programs are vital to the program. Students develop their course of study from a large palette of graduate courses in Environmental and Forest Biology.

Participating Faculty

  • Melissa K. Fierke; mkfierke@esf.edu
    forest entomology, forest ecology, invasive forest pests, insect-tree interactions, tree defenses
  • Elizabeth Folta; efolta@esf.edu
    natural history & interpretation, informal biology education, environmental education.
  • Donald J. Leopold; djleopold@esf.edu
    forest and freshwater wetland ecology, conservation, and restoration, peatland ecology and conservation, local and regional controls of species richness and rarity, dynamics of plant communities as affected by man and environment, management for unique communities and rare species, dendrology, native plants, restoration ecology, rare species conservation
  • Gregory McGee; ggmcgee@esf.edu
    ecology, management and restoration of forest ecosystems; STEM education
  • Rebecca Rundell; rrundell@esf.edu
    evolutionary biology, conservation biology, speciation, adaptive and nonadaptive radiations, biogeography, phylogenetics, systematics, Pacific island radiations and biodiversity conservation, land snails, marine/aquatic microscopic invertebrates
  • Stephen A. Teale; sateale@esf.edu
    forest entomology, insect behavior, pheromones of forest insects, insect ecology, pest management, chemical ecology, evolution of pheromone communications
  • Alexander Weir; aweir@esf.edu
    conservation mycology, fungal biodiversity and conservation, fungal-arthropod interactions, biology of parasites and symbionts, systematics and evolutionary biology of fungi, fungi and humans, biology of parasites and symbionts


Current Graduate Students in Environmental Interpretation


Only currently registered students appear—new student names are added at the start of the academic year.

Tiffany Deater

Environmental Interpretation
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Weir and Turner

Xue Dong

Xue Dong

Environmental Interpretation
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Folta and Fierke

Previous Graduate Study: Beijing Normal University (Curriculum and Instr)

Graduate Research
With the development of cloud computing, 4G communication and popularity of smart phones, QR codes have been used in our daily life in almost every aspect. Most of the traditional interpretive signs are incapable of providing a popular, direct and convenient way to meet young visitors’ needs about some exploratory topics. However, the applying of QR codes as the new interpretive media could deal with this problem effectively.

Favorite Quote
"Women and children can afford to be careless, but not men."

Home Page
Web Link

Jade Johnson

Environmental Interpretation
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): Folta and Fierke

Thomas Mackey

Environmental Interpretation
Degree Sought: PHD
Advisor(s): Folta
Undergraduate Institute: Colgate University

Previous Graduate Study: Boston College (Secondary Biology In)

Graduate Research Interests
My interests lie at the intersection of environmental justice and teaching/learning. My research will focus on the pedagogical relationship between race and modern American colonialism in urban, rural, and wilderness contexts.

Marissa Nolan

Marissa Nolan

Environmental Interpretation
Degree Sought: MS
Advisor(s): Folta and McGee
Undergraduate Institute: Mcgill University (Wildlife Biology)