Current Students, Research Associates,Visiting Scientists and Former Students

December 2013
Bottom row, left to right, Amy Goodrich, Derek Fedak, Dr. Kristen Kaczynski, Betsy Bultema, David Millar, Erick Carlson, Andrew Panel.Top row, left to right: Andrew Carlson, Edward Gage, Derek Schook, Dr. David Cooper, Dr. Stephanie Gaucherand (France), Andrea Borkenhagen, Jeremy Shaw, Cristina McKernen, and Dr. Jozef Sibik (Slovakia).


Andrea Borkenhagen, Ph.D. Candidate

Following my degree in Biological Sciences and a Botany Major, from the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, I worked as a vegetation ecologist in Calgary for an environmental and engineering firm. I gained experience in vegetation and ecosystem data collection, report writing, and project management throughout the province.  Over the years, I narrowed my focus to wetlands and acted as the wetland assessment consultant on pipeline, monitoring, and reclaimed wetland projects. After four years as a consultant, I returned to academia to further develop as a peatland restoration ecologist.

My project is an interdisciplinary initiative located in the oil sands of Alberta where the first self-sustaining reclamation fen is being constructed on an abandoned extraction site. The project is a collaboration between Colorado State University and three Canadian Universities, involving fen ecology, hydrology, and geography. My research focuses on determining the appropriate moss and vascular species and most effective approach to establish vegetation and initiate peat-forming processes on the constructed fen by examining various water levels, cover treatments and planting methods.  The overall research goal is to create a functioning fen comparable to natural systems in the region.


web site:

Erick Carlson, Ph.D. candidate
Erick has a masters degree in GDPE working on stream classification.  He then worked for the Colorado Natural Heritage Program for two years before stating on his PhD.  He is a National Science Foundation I-Water scholar, and is working on the ecology of wetlands created and maintained by irrigation water in the western U.S.


Erin Cubley, MS, Ph.D. candidate

Derek Fedak, Ph.D. candidate

Originally from St. Louis, MO, I received my undergraduate degree in Biology from Boston College and a Masters of Environmental Management from Duke University with a focus in Ecosystem Science and Conservation. My past research projects include studying the space-use of urban coyotes in the greater Boston area, an ecological assessment of a mangrove system adjacent to a beach resort in Costa Rica, and assessing methods to mitigate human-lion conflict throughout Africa for National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative. Following graduation from Duke, I worked for the non-profit Wildlands Network creating large-scale habitat connectivity models throughout the Southeast U.S.

    For my Ph. D, I am studying ecosystem state-transition and trophic cascades in Yellowstone’s Northern Range using a combination of field data collection and ecological, geospatial, and statistical modeling. My research focuses on the feedbacks that control how elk-grassland systems are transitioning back to beaver-willow wetlands following the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone. I am currently co-advised by David Cooper and Tom Hobbs. When I’m not analyzing stable isotopes, developing Bayesian hierarchical models, or exploring the backcountry of Yellowstone, I’m generally biking around Fort Collins or cross-country skiing with my wife and two dogs.

Dana Flett, MS candidate

I received a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Studies and a minor in Forestry and Natural Resources in 2011 from UC Berkeley.  After my undergraduate work, I worked as a field technician, an Environmental Consultant, and a Teacher’s Assistant at UC Berkeley’s Forestry Field Camp.

I am interested in relationships between hydrology, vegetation, and ecosystem processes.  Specifically, I am excited about optimizing water holding capacity in headwater ecosystems through restoration.  My master’s work will investigate the factors that contribute to peat accumulation in fens in the northern Sierra Nevada of California.  We hope to define the thresholds of peat accumulation in order to inform management and restoration of these diverse ecosystems.  My methodology includes carbon sampling, modeling, vegetation analysis, and hydrologic monitoring.
I am from the mountains of northern California and I am excited to explore the tall peaks of Colorado.  I enjoy climbing rocks, backcounty skiing, kayaking, mountain biking, and spending the sunset hours in my garden.



Dan Kotter, MS candidate

After graduating from the University of Southern Indiana and working for a year with the Kentucky Geological Survey, Dan moved to Northwest Montana to start what would be seven years as a researcher with the National Park Service, United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the University of Montana.  As a scientist with the USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, Dan began working full time with the aquatics program, including the assessment of climate impacts on native aquatic ecosystems in the Flathead River watershed and in-stream flow modeling and geomorphic assessment of Bull Trout and Westslope Cutthroat Trout habitat in Northwest Montana. In 2011, he continued work with the USGS and the University of Montana as a GIS Specialist on the Grizzly Bear DNA project.   After project completion in 2013, he assisted with a Colorado State University research project in Glacier National Park and subsequently as an Environmental Specialist with a consulting firm on the Colorado Front Range.  For his M.S., he will be working on a National Science Foundation long term research project studying state transition and trophic cascades in Yellowstone National Park’s Northern Range.  The emphasis of his research are the feedbacks between beavers, geomorphic stability, and groundwater – surface water interactions. When not at the office, Dan enjoys fly fishing, mountaineering, birding, cooking, and photography.

Lewis Messner, MS candidate

I hail from the Great Lakes State of Michigan, and after receiving my Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University, I started my career in the environmental sector as a wetland consultant. During the following 3 years, I was introduced to wetland management practices, and was quickly drawn to wetland design and mitigation. In 2013 I started with the Kickapoo Nation in Kansas as their wetland program manager, focusing mainly on cataloging wetland condition and developing their wetland program. The culmination of these experiences led me to pursue my masters degree in Ecology here at CSU.

My research takes place on the Nikanotee peat-fen reclamation site in Alberta, Canada, where I have the opportunity to work with multiple Canadian universities in recreating a fen system successful at sequestering carbon. My piece of the overall picture is to help further understand community interactions between key vascular species on the fen in the presence of varying salinity gradients. By understanding the extent that competition, plant morphology, and salinity tolerance plays in developing a vegetative community, we can help offset disturbances and create reproducible and sustainable future fen reclamation sites.

Several distractions I enjoy outside of my career activities include, running, hiking, live music, and dancing.

Jeremy Shaw, MS Watershed Science, Ph.D. Candidate

My interests are focused on the ecohydrology of fluvial networks, from the scales of organisms to landscapes. What excites me about these topics is the challenge of integrating hydrology, geomorphology, and ecology. My background and experience are centered on surface water hydrology and riparian plant ecology, particularly in arid environments. My recreational pursuits include angling, paddling, backpacking, photography, gardening, and fermentation.


Evan Wolf, PhD candidate

Evan completed his MS at CSU working on riparian zones influenced by heavy elk browsing in Yellowstone National Park.  He has worked as a research associate with Dr. Cooper since 2002, lives in California, and currently is completing his PhD at University of California, Davis, working on factors that limit natural recovery of meadow vegetation in Yosemite National Park, California.

Visiting Scientists,Post-Docs,Collaborators

Dr. Yongheng Gao is a visiting scholar (2015) from the Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Chengdu, China, where he is an associate professor


Dr. Edward Gage, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Fellow

A native of the Detroit area, I received my BS in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan, working as a field technician on several forest health projects in Michigan before moving to Colorado in 1998. I developed and implemented a wetlands inventory while working as a seasonal plant ecologist for the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department, which sparked an interest in wetland and riparian ecosystems that has been the focus of much of my subsequent professional work.

Soon after, I started a MS program in the Graduate Degree Program (GDPE) at Colorado State University, working in the Cooper Lab on issues of willow and riparian ecology in Rocky Mountain National Park. After finishing my degree, I stayed on in the Cooper Lab, working as a Research Associate on a wide variety of applied and basic research projects for the National Park Service, US Forest Service, and others, before returning to the GDPE to start a PhD program in 2009.

My dissertation research explores functional relationships between vegetation and hydrological processes in urban areas of the Colorado Front Range. Working at the scale of individual parcels, I’m employing ecophysiological measurements and modeling to evaluate different biological and environmental factors influencing evapotranspiration from and deep drainage beneath turf and tree cover types. At broader scales, I’m leveraging LIDAR and multispectral remote sensing data to develop a high resolution land cover data set for use in GIS analyses relating landscape structure, historical land use, and socioeconomic variables to ecohydrological processes. The results of this research will have applications to water law, water resources management, and urban planning, here in Colorado and elsewhere in semiarid and arid regions.


Dr. Jozef Sibik, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia

Dr. Sibik, is a 2012 Fall Research Scholar with the Slovak-American Foundation. He was in residence at CSU for the entire calendar year of 2013, and worked on the long-term effects of livestock grazing on alpine tundra in the western U.S.

Dr. Kristen Kaczynski, MS Geography, Ph.D. Ecology, Post-Doctoral Fellow  EMail:

I am interested in how the interactions of large and small scale disturbances affect plant communities. My dissertation research examines the question of why the willows are dying in Rocky Mountain National Park, investigating the relative roles of large scale, climate drivers, and local scale herbivory, drought and fungal infection.  Kristen won the 2012 Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit (RM-CESU) Student Award. 

Stephanie Gaucherand, Ph.D., Visiting Scientist, IRSTEA, Grenoble, France


Stephanie works at the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture, based in Grenoble, France.  She was on a one year assignment at CSU studying approaches for restoring mountain wetlands in the U.S. Below in wetland near Telluride, CO.


Dr. Sarah Bisbing. Assistant Professor, Silviculture & Forest Management, NRES Department, California Polytechnic State University, 1 Grand Ave, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, 805-756-2721 (office),  Twitter: @SarahBisbing  Blog:

Dr. David Millar, postdoctoral fellow, Department of BIology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY

Dr. Kristen Kaczynski, Assistant Professor, California State University, Chico, CA.

Dr. Lindsay Reynolds, postdoctoral fellow, USGS, Fort Collins Science Center.

Dr. Rodney Chimner, associate professor, School of Forest Resources, and Environmental science, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI.

Dr. Kristin Marshall, National Research Council Post-doctoral fellow, based at NOAA, Seattle, WA

Dr. Cherie Westbrook, Associate Professor, Wetland Ecohydrology Research Group, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan, Canada,

Dr. Chris Williams, Assistant Professor, Geography, Clark University, Worchester, MA

Dr. Danielle Bilyeu (Johnston), Researcher, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Grand Junction, CO (

Dr. David Merritt, Riparian Plant Ecologist, Stream Systems Technology Center, USDA Forest Service

Dr. Christopher Arp, Assistant Research Professor (hydrology), Water and Environmental Research Center, Institute for northern engineering, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Cristina McKernen, M.S. Ecologist, US Army Cold Regions Research Lab, Hanover, NH

Betsy Bueltema, M.S. Ecologist, US Army Cold Regions Research Lab, Hanover, NH

Joshua Rose, MS, Aquatic biologist, Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, Fairbanks, AK (

Derek Schook, MS, PhD Candidate, CSU. (

David Schimelpfenig, MS, Ecologist, NOLS, Alaska and Mexico.

Julie Kray, Biological Science Technician, USDA-ARS Rangeland Resources Research Unit, Crops Research Laboratory, 1701 Centre Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80526, 970-492-7128

Katherine (Katie) Driver (now Haynes) MS, Botanist, Medicine Bow & Routt National Forests, Laramie, WY (

Gay Austin, MS. Botanist, Bureau of Land Management, Gunnison, Colorado.

Joanna Lemly, MS, Wetland Ecologist, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Fred Wurster, MS. Hydrologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia.

Adam Birken, MS, Researcher, USGS, Salt Lake City, UT

Jennifer Jones, MS, State Wetlands Coordinator for the Utah Geological Survey, Salt Lake City, UT (

Lindsay Patterson, MS, Natural Resources Program Supervisor, State of Wyoming, Department of Environmental Quality, Cheyenne, WY

Donald D’Amico. MS, Wetland Manager, City of Boulder Mountain Parks and Open Space Program.

Shaunda Wenger. MS. Private wetland consultant, Utah.