Meet our Graduate Teaching Fellows 2008-09 | ESF Science Corps | Experiential Learning & Outreach | SUNY ESF
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Meet our Graduate Teaching Fellows 2008-09ESF Science Corps


Keith Bowman

My name is Keith Bowman. I was born and raised in Minnesota and even after living elsewhere for over twelve years I still consider myself a Minnesotan. Growing up in the countryside of Minnesota I developed a curiosity about plants and as I began my undergraduate studies at Connecticut College in New London, CT, I declared myself a botany major almost immediately and have not looked back. I was given the opportunity to work in the College’s Arboretum and Greenhouses and also as an undergraduate Botany Teaching Assistant. As a student I was part of a team that carried out research on salt marsh health following the application of various vegetation control methods and even carried out my own research on the role of substrates on forest regeneration as part of my honors study. While at Connecticut College I was introduced to a group of plants called bryophytes (mosses, liverworts, and hornworts), which piqued my interest. 

From Connecticut I moved to Tennessee to earn my Master’s in botany from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. My research focused bryophyte diversity and resulted in a floristic analysis of the 22,000 acre Fall Creek Falls State Park, providing the park managers with an inventory of their bryological resources. Beyond my research I invested much time in developing my teaching skills serving 3 years as a Teaching Assistant for introductory biology; adding coursework focused on science education; and participating in many summer workshops for primary, middle, and secondary science and math teachers. 

I am currently working on my Ph.D. in Forest Ecology at SUNY ESF where I am using my interest in bryophyte floristics to understand bryophyte community structure in conifer swamps that are influenced by agriculture, with the hopes of better understanding how to preserve unique plant communities. Though I am a researcher, it is teaching that is my real passion. Much of my teaching experiences have focused on labs for general courses and therefore, I have worked closely with small groups of incoming students. Last year I was given the task of teaching the lecture portion of General Botany with an enrollment of about 120 and my desire to teach was strengthened. I hope to bring my passion and experience to the NSF GK12 program to make it an amazing experience for the students, teachers, and the other fellows.


Shannon Buckley

I grew up in a small town in western NY and, from an early age, knew that I wanted to work with the environment in the future. My grandfather, an ESF alum, used to take a car load of my cousins and siblings out around the area and teach us anything from catching fish with homemade fishing poles to tree identification and meteorology, while sometimes overtly recruiting for ESF. It was these early experiences that have influence my education since! I received my BS from the University of New Hampshire in Environmental Conservation (with a dual major in international relations). The greatest part of my undergraduate experience was working with the Climate Change Research Group and AIRMAP program, where I was exposed for the first time to issues of air quality and climate change and put in a research environment. I continued to explore climate change during my Master’s at Columbia University in the Climate and Society program; a one year intensive program focusing on climate science and how changes in climate will effect human populations. I then went to work for NYS DEC for a brief period, helping out with the NY’s participation in the RGGI program. In hopes of combining the areas of my two degrees, I am beginning my first year in the EFB department pursuing my PhD. I am interested in the interactions of urban forestry with CO2 and climate change. I hope that by better understanding these interactions, management plans can then be updated to maximize forest impacts and maintaining tree health. Or that is the plan for now! I am very excited to be part of the NSF GK12 program because I feel it is essential to get young people educated on and involved with environmental issues. 


Lindsay Cray

A native of Rochester, NY, Lindsay Cray is returning to ESF this fall to start her second year as a Master’s student. After graduating in 2004 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, she has focused her work mainly in the tropics. Over the last four years she has worked on the island of Puerto Rico as a research assistant for the US Forest Service.  Her work experience also includes: outdoor education, both in the in the Catskills and in Puerto Rico, Arborist technician, Ecotour Guide (rappelling, canyoneering, kayaking and team building). Lindsay uses her spare time to pursue whatever sports are in season like climbing, surfing, snowboarding or soccer. Her current program of study at ESF is Environmental Systems and Risk Management. Her research focuses on Promoting Ecosystem Sustainability through Renewed Forest Management Frameworks and Community Integration. It might also interest you to know that Lindsay is fluent in Spanish and you can feel free to test her on her Italian.


Mitch Graves

My name is Mitchell Graves and I am a native of suburban Syracuse and a graduate of East Syracuse Minoa High School. In 2001 I attended Nazareth College of Rochester where I competed in Varsity Tennis and received a B.S. in Biochemistry. After 4 years of undergraduate study I worked as an analytical chemist for Prevalere Life Sciences of Whitesboro, NY. While there I investigated properties of compounds that were of interest to various pharmaceutical companies.

I joined ESF in the fall of 2006 and am working towards a PhD in Bioprocess Engineering. My research investigates the potential use of enzyme hydrolysis in ethanol production. In the fall of 2007, I studied for 6 months at the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, China. There I researched chemical means by which to degrade crystalline cellulose.

In my free time I enjoy sports such as tennis, skiing, soccer, hiking, sailing and volleyball. I am extremely excited to be a first year member of the NSF GK12 program and am looking forward to sharing my experiences.


Catherine Landis

My name is Catherine Landis and I’m very excited about participating in the NSF GK12 program here at ESF. I grew up in the hills around Syracuse and have a deep appreciation for the local landscape, its lakes, streams, forests, wetlands and meadows, its glacial geology and soils. I am currently finishing up a Master’s degree in Forest Biology at ESF while also beginning a doctoral program. My Master’s work focuses on Onondaga Creek and ways to restore streamside (riparian) plant communities along its urban reaches. I have a keen interest in renaturalization of ageing infrastructure in cities, i.e. rethinking urban form to include natural communities and the multiple ecosystem services they provide. This interest extends from scientific research to discussion with local artists on ways to incorporate the arts in promoting ecological literacy and even ecosystem function. I recently assisted ESF Outreach office in creating a classroom module designed to teach students about native plants as well as methods to propagate and sell them to local markets. 

In the past I worked as a field biologist for the Forest Service in Utah, where I tracked peregrine falcons and Mexican spotted owls in remote canyon bottoms, conducted point counts for migratory songbirds, and wrote contracts for bat surveys in abandoned uranium mines. One of my favorite jobs was a naturalist position at Clark Reservation. 

Currently I am helping to collect data on the ash component of riparian forests throughout New York State, in anticipation of the probable arrival of the invasive insect, emerald ash borer. I look forward to working with teachers and students in the GK12 program, sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm in whatever ways are fruitful, through the inquiry-based learning process. And learning much in turn, I’m sure!


Neil Patterson

Neil Patterson Jr. is currently enrolled in a M.S. program in Forest and Natural Resources Management at ESF. He is founder and director of the Tuscarora Nation’s Environment Program and a member of the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force since 1992. Patterson has a B.S. in Environmental Forest Biology from SUNY-ESF, 1996. His environmental research interests include the use of Geographic Information Systems for environmental decision making, incorporating indigenous knowledge, and biomass development. His personal interests include fishing, hunting and backpacking.


Yazmin Rivera

Yazmin Rivera was born in Puerto Rico growing up among rainforests, rivers and little “coquies” (=cute but noisy little frogs).
She received her B.S. in Agronomy in 2003 at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. As an undergraduate, she worked in several projects; Pepsi Co. sensory panel, evaluating the use of artificial wetlands to remove contaminants from a dairy wastewater, studying the effect of auxin on Phaseolus vulgaris lateral roots at different Phosphorus levels, and evaluating sorghum germplasm collections looking for resistance to different pathogens.
In 2006 Yazmin received a Master’s degree in plant breeding and studied the variation for sorghum anthracnose resistance within the sorghum germplasm collection from the Kayes region of Mali, West Africa. While finishing her thesis, she worked at the rainforest as a research assistant for the Long Term Ecological Research, Luquillo Forest Dynamics Plot in the Caribbean National Forest in Puerto Rico.

Yazmin started her PhD at SUNY-ESF during the fall 2007. Her research interests are forest fragmentation and how this affects population structure and genetic diversity of organisms, specifically fungi. She is currently working in the Adirondacks looking at genetic diversity of Suillus pictus using microsatellite markers. She is also looking at the changes in genetic structure of an introduced mycorrhizal species in Puerto Rico and the ecological implications of this introduction. Yazmin is interested in disturbance, invasions, biodiversity, land use history and the interactions between them.


Anna Stewart
I am excited to be returning as a Fellow for a second year! I grew up outside of Syracuse and attended Syracuse University for my undergraduate degree, where I received a B.S. in Environmental Biology. My studies at S.U. ranged from issues in social justice and indigenous rights, to environmental chemistry and tropical ecology.

As an undergrad, I spent one summer at the Cornell Biological Field Station investigating the effects of the zebra mussels on benthic primary production. This led to three years of research in the biology department at Syracuse University. During this time I spent six months working on a field crew in Yellowstone National Park studying the interactions between large, ungulate grazers and grassland primary production. I also conducted independent research on the temporal dynamics of grassland root growth and mortality, research which later became the basis of my honors thesis. 

After finishing my undergraduate degree, I began my graduate studies at ESF. This is my second year as a PhD student under Charles Hall in the department of Environmental and Forest Biology. For my doctoral research, I am studying the biophysical (e.g., climate) and socioeconomic (e.g., urbanization) drivers of health and disease transmission in coastal Ecuador. I have been lucky to work on this project with postdoctoral fellows at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. I am concurrently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, with a focus on international development and policy.

This past year I became involved with ESF’s graduate student association and will be the Vice President this year. When I have a free moment you might find me doing yoga, downhill skiing, playing my violin, gardening, cooking, or spending time with loved ones.

wynneNicole Werner

My name is Nicole Werner and I grew up in Torrington, CT, just minutes from the beautiful Berkshire Mountains. I began my undergraduate studies at University of New Hampshire where I studied environmental conservation. Outside of the classroom, I enjoyed exploring tide pools and backpacking in the White Mountains and Presidential Range. During the summer after my junior year, I volunteered at Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve in Lee Vining, CA as an Environmental Interpreter for the Student Conservation Association. I returned to finish my B.S. degree at SUNY-ESF where I developed an interest in plant diseases and went on to gain an M.S. in Botany and Plant Pathology at Michigan State University.

After graduation, I worked as a research assistant studying the management of various diseases on horticultural and agricultural plants in Michigan and Florida. I then took a position at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY where I helped develop a disease forecasting model for managing a fungal disease of strawberry. After some time, I changed my focus to study the biological control of fire blight, a devastating bacterial disease of apple, and was fortunate to travel to Poland and Germany to attend and present at international meetings.

Recently, I decided to come back to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in Forest Ecology. I have a strong interest in forest health and the social and economic issues relating to invasive species and land use change. This summer I’ve gained a new appreciation for insects as I prepared for a Forest Entomology course I’ll be taking this fall. I enjoyed teaching my young nephews about the ecology of insects as I created a collection that is a requirement of the course. I am a member of Dylan Parry’s research group in the department of Environmental and Forest Biology and am currently preparing research proposals to study invasive species of forests. I hope to combine my interest in ecology and my love of travel in a research program that will assist the scientific community’s understanding of the effects of invasive species on forest communities.