e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Graduate Student Ambassadors

Graduate student ambassadors are available to answer questions about graduate student life, academic programs and student activities. They are happy to share their own personal experiences as graduate students at SUNY-ESF. The ambassadors also lead the campus tours. Feel free to connect with them through the email addresses below.

Chellby Kilheffer

Name: Chellby R. Kilheffer

E-mail: crkilhef@syr.edu

Hometown: Effort, Pennsylvania

Undergraduate Education: Penn State Berks – General Biology, Minor in Business (2012)

Graduate Education: MS from SUNY ESF (2014), currently PhD Candidate (expected defense: May 2018)

Leadership/Professional Experience: I was highly involved in campus activities at Penn State Berks for over three years, and I held several executive and planning positions. I also worked in two professional offices at Penn State Berks as a student assistant. I was a residence assistant for my senior year, and represented Penn State Berks on two international alternative spring break service trips. While at SUNY ESF, I was a graduate teaching assistant in the EFB Department for one year before joining a collaborative team with National Park Service biologists for my PhD field work. I recently finished two fellowships, one funded by Virginia Sea Grant to continue my PhD research and public outreach activities and one with the US Fish and Wildlife Service that required extensive collaboration with multiple stakeholders. I served as the SUNY ESF Graduate Student Association (SGA) Vice President for Professional Development during the 2016-2017 academic year and will continue that role for 2017-2018.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy hiking, fishing, exploring, reading, playing board games, and spending time with friends and family. My research interests focus primarily on biology and ecology, but they are broad and overlap with chemistry, cartography, programming, and mathematics.

Quote: “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted.” – given to the PSU Berks campus activities board by our staff advisor, Kelli Meyer.


Blake Neumann

Name: Blake Neumann

E-mail: beneuman@syr.edu

Hometown: Richmond, Kentucky

Undergraduate Education: B.S. Geography (Western Kentucky University)

Graduate Education: M.S. Water and Wetland Resource Studies

Leadership/Professional Experience: Teach For America (NC), County Planning Intern (KY), Environmental Non-Profit Intern (WV), Graduate Teaching Assistant (NY)

Hobbies/Interests: Collecting Vinyl, Biking, Camping, Hiking, Reading, Learning

Quote: I am glad that I will not be young in a future without wilderness – Aldo Leopold

Sara Velardi

Sara Velardi

Email: shvelard@syr.edu

Hometown: Monroe, Connecticut

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science (Skidmore College, 2012)

Graduate Education: Masters of Science in Environmental Interpretation, SUNY-ESF May 2014

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Science and Natural Resources Policy, Graduation May 2017

Leadership/Professional Experience:

  • Graduate Assistant, General Biology Lab, Personal/Nonpersonal Environmental Interpretation, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (August 2012-May 2014)
  • Graduate Student SCIENCE Corp Member (June-August 2013, June-August 2014)
  • Naturalist at Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville, NY (2013-2014)
  • Student Ambassador for Skidmore College (2009-2012)

Interests/Hobbies: Hiking, biking, running, reading

Quote: SUNY-ESF has opened so many doors for me; academically and professionally. I have had the opportunity to present at conferences, write for publications, and develop strong professional relationships with people in my field. Also through ESF-Outreach I have been able to make connections with members of the Syracuse community and bring what I learned at SUNY-ESF out into the public.