Matt Cohen is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sustainability, studying public participation and urban development. Matt holds a B.A. in International Studies from Centre College, a Master of Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati and a Professional Science Masters in Climate Science and Solutions from Northern Arizona University. Before enrolling at Arizona State University (ASU), Matt lived in Flagstaff for four years, exploring the Coconino National Forest and working within the town’s sustainability community, including an AmeriCorps experience with an environmental education center. Through the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU, Matt has participated in visioning research through the Reinvent Phoenix Project, allowing him to engage with community stakeholders to shape shared visions of a sustainable future for Phoenix. He has over five years of professional sustainability experience in both the nonprofit and public sectors and as an independent sustainability consultant. Matt has one year of teaching experience in Quito, Ecuador and two years of education administration with the Willow Bend Environmental Education Center in Flagstaff. When he’s free from the demands of graduate school, Matt spends his time hiking, traveling, gardening/cooking/eating, and listening to baseball games on the radio.
Amalia Handler is a second-year Ph.D. student in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU). Originally from Briarcliff Manor, New York, Amalia received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Franklin and Marshall College in 2013. During her undergraduate training, Amalia conducted studies on topics ranging from diatom ecology, to soil respiration and human influence on urban red fox diets. At ASU, she is studying nutrient dynamics in urban wetlands along the Salt River channel. Amalia spent two semesters as a teaching assistant for a course on childhood lead poisoning and asthma, where she was responsible for coordinating students for participation in outreach activities at local schools and communities. As a Science Foundation of Arizona scholar during her first year at ASU, Amalia worked with the Ecology Explorers program to develop and deliver lessons focused on ecology and sustainability to local Phoenix area schools. She also currently serves as the graduate student representative for the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research program. Amalia spends her free time rock climbing, hiking, swing dancing, and cooking, though not usually all at the same time.
Laurel Kruke is a second-year Masters of Art in Sustainability student at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, and she is originally from the Chicago, Illinois, area. After completing her undergraduate degree at Cornell University in Design and Environmental Analysis, she moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where she worked as a corporate workplace strategist at a global architecture and design firm. During her time in Boston, she volunteered with the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and worked with the USGBC Massachusetts Education and Emerging Professionals Committees, planning events such as building tours, lectures and documentary screenings to provide industry professionals with more information about green buildings. She currently acts as the USGBC Students Regional Chair for AZ, supporting the USGBC student organizations at colleges and universities throughout the state. Through these experiences, along with a teaching assistantship during her undergrad years, her interest for sustainability awareness and education has flourished. This has influenced her master’s research and passion for K-12 sustainability and climate change education. Laurel’s master’s thesis research involves understanding climate change perceptions in high school students, focusing on high school juniors’ and seniors’ knowledge, beliefs and associated behaviors related to climate change. In her spare time, Laurel enjoys traveling, hiking, spinning (indoor cycling) and yoga.
Ben MacNeille is a second-year Master’s student in the School of Sustainability. Ben hails from Detroit, Michigan, having received a B.S. from Michigan State University in Genomics and Molecular Genetics in 2011. After graduating, he became a high school math teacher in Thailand for one semester, in addition to tutoring and teaching English to students of all ages. Ben entered the School of Sustainability in fall of 2013 on the M.S. track and is in the process of conducting research focused on microbial function in Phoenix’s urban core under the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research site housed at Arizona State University. His research focuses on how urban tree environments affect the urban systems around them, and vice versa. The sustainability aspect will assess the transformational and normative aspects of potential ecosystems services provided by this environment. Ben also spent the last academic year teaching undergraduate students as a Teaching and Research Assistant for SOS 326: Sustainable Ecosystems, where he worked closely with students to develop their systems thinking capacity necessary to scale up from analysis of simple models, to the complexity of an entire city. Ben became interested in the Sustainability Science for Sustainable Schools program through these teaching experiences, and he plans to further build his knowledge of sustainability principles and systems thinking competencies with students interested in a variety of subjects. In his free time, Ben enjoys hiking, playing sports, reading and traveling to new destinations.
Anna Novotny earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Kenyon College and her M.A. from the Arizona State University (ASU) School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC) in 2006. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at SHESC, pursuing research work in anthropology with a focus on bio-archaeology, the study of ancient human skeletal remains. Her research uses skeletal data on human health and well-being to study the social identity and worldview of ancient Maya farmers. She developed strengths in mentorship and organization leading archaeological field schools for undergraduate students in Honduras and Belize. At ASU, she has taught Human Osteology and Principles of Archaeology, in addition to serving as teaching assistant for classes such as Medical Anthropology: Culture and Health and Social Aspects of Human Genetics. She enjoys the challenge of gardening in the desert and manages the community gardens and fruit trees at her home, Spence Community Gardens. She is particularly interested in growing native plants and learning about Native American gardening techniques. She is excited to work with teachers to apply a cultural and temporal perspective to sustainability science projects. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, she loves exploring the southwest through rock climbing and visiting its many cultural and archaeological sites.
Jorge Ramos is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Environmental Life Sciences Ph.D. program at Arizona State University (ASU). Jorge was born in Texas, but was raised and attended all of his pre-college education in Mexico, primarily in the border town of Ciudad Juarez. Jorge moved back to El Paso, Texas, and received his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Biological Sciences from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2006. After graduating, Jorge moved to Washington, DC and worked for the Ecological Society of America as the SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability) Student Coordinator. After his time with SEEDS, Jorge completed his Master of Science from the College of the Environment at the University of Washington. At ASU, his research focuses on investigating desert aquatic ecosystems and their responses to different anthropogenic pressures, such as human alterations and climate change. Jorge has served as a teaching assistant and lectured at the college level for Environmental Sciences, General Biology, History and Philosophy of Sustainability, Fundamental of Ecology, and Geography for Natural Resources. At ASU, he mentors high school and undergraduate students in the laboratory and in the field and serves as the mentor for the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Student and SEEDS Student Chapters. Jorge enjoys camping and hiking in unexplored places of Arizona, checking out local music, reading biographies, and biking while discovering new places in Phoenix with friends. Photo credit: Sandra Leander.