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Student Researchers

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South Dakota State University

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Olivia Walker

Editor in Chief

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Dan Mitchell

Assistant Manager

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Noah Patterson

Programming Editor

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Tess Anderson

Art Director

  Nash Jackson received her B.S. degree in Natural Resources Ecology and Management with a concentration in Wildlife Ecology from Louisiana State University.  After receiving their degree, they were a research associate at LSU to study Louisianan’s opinion and knowledge about the reintroduced nonmigratory whooping crane (Grus americana) flock and the current conservation efforts put forth by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Now Nash is receiving their master’s degree at South Dakota State University. Their research focuses on describing how women understand and approach issues of access and mitigate potential safety issues while hunting. Also, exploring the role of women’s mentoring groups to improve land access and perceived safety for female hunters. Nash’s interests are centered around making sustainable partnerships between recreational resource users and natural resource management groups.  

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Nash Jackson

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The University of Illinois

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Anneli Cers

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Vivian Hulugh

Vivian Hulugh is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the Human Dimensions Lab within the Department of Natural Resource Management at South Dakota State University. Her research interest lies in decision-making processes for natural resource management and climate adaptation. Vivian holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management from the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria. During her undergraduate studies, she conducted research on the economic and environmental assessment of wood-based enterprises. Her work has contributed to existing literature on awareness, perception, and attitude towards urban forestry, as well as climate adaptation strategies for smallholder farmers in Nigeria, with the latter presented at the Commonwealth Forestry Association Conference in Nigeria. Currently, Vivian's research focuses on understanding conservation planning within federal and state agencies in South Dakota, and the strategies these agencies employ to adapt to climate shocks. Her research aims to provide valuable insights into effective conservation planning measures in the face of changing climates.

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Shelby Isensee

Shelby Isensee is originally from southeastern Minnesota where she started her love and passion for natural resources. Growing up she has always been involved in a variety of outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, trap shooting, boating, and hiking. This led to her attend South Dakota State University where she received her Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Law Enforcement in December of 2022. Now, she is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Natural Resource Management and her project is focused on maximizing women’s hunting and fishing retention. When she is not working on her project, you can find her continuing her passion in the outdoors or teaching others in a variety of outdoor activities through many organizations and groups. Also, she is a trap shooting coach for the Sioux Valley Trap Club.

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Blake Pulse

Blake Pulse received his B.S. in Agricultural Communications and Political Science from South Dakota State University. During undergrad, he was very active across campus most notably within the Students' Association where he served as the student body president advocating for 11, 500 students to the South Dakota Board of Regents, and State Legislature. Additionally, he worked as an undergraduate research assistant within the SDSU Native Plant Initiative where he worked on several grant-funded research projects. He is currently pursuing a master's of science within the Department of Natural Resources at South Dakota State University. His research focuses on describing South Dakota's local food system, key organizational support, government programs, and opportunities for growth. Blake's Intent is to strengthen the local food system and find ways to increase food access across South Dakota and the region. 

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Kendall Larson

Kendall Larson is a senior in the Natural Resource Management Department of South Dakota State University majoring in Conservation Planning and Park Management with a minor in Rangeland Ecology and Management. In the past, he has contributed to reports for the Climate Adaption Science Center (CASC) and South Dakota Game Fish and Parks (SDGFP). Currently, he is contributing to a study focused on finding solutions to challenges of SDGFP managers identified in earlier research and is assisting in research focused on conservation challenges in Peru and a statewide study in South Dakota focused on planning and reacting to climate change.

Past Student Researchers

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The University of Illinois

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Anneli Cers

    Anneli Cers is a junior in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. As a Global Food Security Scholar, she studies how and when women influence dietary diversity in forest-dependent families in India. She has also collected data to determine global trends in funding women-related development projects. Along with colleagues at the School of Information, we have used topic modeling and other machine learning methods to determine how the goals of development projects focused on women’s empowerment have changed throughout time. Additionally, she has worked as a research assistant to analyze global trends on financing forest-related projects and presented her results as a poster in the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

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Nikolas Merten

    Nikolas Merten earned a B.S. in Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability and B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois. He has contributed research on capacity development and has entered data related to a workshop activity from Madagascar. He is now involved in a project about the methods used to validate theories of change within the field of biodiversity conservation. Nikolas will assist with a systematic review of this literature before starting a graduate program at Ohio State University.

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Cynthia Segura

    Cynthia Segura is a graduating senior studying Natural Resources and Environmental Science with a concentration in Human Dimensions and a Spatial and Quantitative Methods minor. Her research focuses on how the narrative on women's empowerment has evolved over time analyzing policy reports from international organizations, academic documents, and media articles.

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The University of Michigan

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Samantha Russel

    Samantha Russel is an Information major with a focus on Information Analysis and a minor in Applied Statistics. Sam worked with Jennifer my freshman and sophomore years through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and the Women and Gender Summer Fellowship Program. During our time together, she studied the livelihood and climate adaptation strategies of farmers in rural India, utilizing NVivo, OpenRefine, and R along the way. Her main focus was data cleaning and model development in R. She has presented three posters at UROP symposiums and has given oral presentations at the Sustainable Development Conference and the Michigan University-Wide Sustainability and Environment Conference.

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Hanna Droessler

    Hanna Droessler is majoring in Economics and minoring in Sustainability. She worked with Jenn from 2017-2019 during my freshman and sophomore years as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and through an independent study through School for Environment and Sustainability. Her research included coding interview responses in NVivo and compiling 375 articles on income diversification in order to analyze trends in the literature and write memos. During her experience she had the opportunity to present at the Sustainable Development Conference, the Michigan University-Wide Sustainability and Environment Conference, and the UROP symposium.

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Zoe Engle

    Zoe Engle is an Erb Undergraduate Fellow majoring in Environmental Studies and Organizational Studies. Zoe was a funded research assistant during her freshman year through University of Michigan’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP).  She studied the impact of women economic empowerment initiatives on households in rain-fed, agricultural dependent regions of India. She conducted a literature review on intra-household bargaining and time allocation to learn how they affected female empowerment. Our research opened her eyes to pressures put on disfranchised groups for social development. She has presented her results at the UROP symposium and at the Michigan University-Wide Sustainability and Environment Conference.

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Pia Lu

    Pia Lu studied Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity at the University of Michigan. Pia worked with Jenn in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and the Women and Gender Summer Fellowship Program (WAGSFP) from 2018 - 2019. Pia's conducted a literature review about unexpected disturbances faced by rural smallholder farmers and wrote memos about emergent themes across  the 200 articles she collected. Pia also helped analyze data related to how quickly people in rainfed regions of India could rebound from a shock. Pia presented at the UROP symposium, the Michigan University-Wide Sustainability and Environment Conference. She was also accepted to present a poster at the 2019 Global Conference of Capacity Building for Conservation and secured a travel grant from UROP to attend.

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Shuichi Tomobe

    Shuichi Tomobe is majoring in Computer Science. He worked with Jenn his junior year through University of Michigan's Changing Gears Program, which is part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). As part of his research, he conducted a literature review on capacity building in biodiversity conservation. He also processed data for a nutritional database as part of a wider research about seasonal food security in rainfed regions of India. He presented results as part of a summer symposium through the UROP and he created a poster that was presented at the Capacity Building for Conservation Global Conference in 2019 in London.

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