Colorado State University Students

Bethlehem Abebe Astella, PhD

Bethlehem worked for the school of Wildlife and Ecotourism in Wondo Genet College, Ethiopia for five years before starting her PhD at CSU in 2016. She has also worked with several national parks in Southern Ethiopia including Abijata Shalla, Bale Mountains and Netchsar National Parks on topics of natural resources conflict, community based conservation, ecotourism, and protected area management. Bethlehem is interested in topics of ecosystem services, alternative protected area management approaches, livelihoods and conservation issues in environmentally and economically vulnerable regions. She is a student intern for the International Affairs Committee in the Warner College of Natural Resources and was an International Presidential Fellow in 2016.


Jacob Salcone, PhD

Jake studies ecosystem services and natural capital conservation programs in developing countries. He holds a B.A. in International Development and an M.S. in Natural Resource Economics.  Before returning to CSU for his PhD in 2015, Jake worked for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the South Pacific, conducting ecosystem service valuation for Pacific island country governments.  He is currently evaluating a Payment for Watershed Services program in Mexico as part of an NSF Coupled Natural-Human Systems project.


Ryan Roberts, PhD

Ryan has a Master’s degree in Conservation Leadership at Colorado State University. He is currently analyzing factors of success among watershed partnerships throughout the Intermountain West region. His primary research and career interests include market-based conservation initiatives in a developing country context.


Xoco Shinbrot, PhD

Xoco’s research focuses on agricultural change, behavioral economics and adaptation to climate change in Latin America. She is currently exploring coffee farmer adoption of climate adaptive strategies in Mexico, as well as the influence of program design on water conservation behavior, perception, and knowledge. She has a BA from McGill University in Environment and International Development and a MS from Johns Hopkins in Environmental Science and Policy. Xoco has given guest lectures and taught courses involving sustainability, ecosystem services, and ecosystem ecology. She is the editor-in-chief of EcoPress, a science communication blog for ecologists at CSU.

Twitter: @xshinbrot @NREL_EcoPress – LinkedinResearchgate

Katie Powlen, MS

Katie is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (Paraguay) and most recently worked in Guatemala with a non-profit focused on reforestation and environmental education. Her areas of interest are international development and community-based conservation in Latin America. Her current research is investigating how internal and external factors influence landowner participation in reforestation in Costa Rica.

University of Idaho Students

Carlos L. Muñoz Brenes, PhD, 2013-2017

Carlos worked on a NASA-funded project to examine drivers of land use change in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Carlos explored how land governance and protected areas influenced land use changes using a combination of quasi-experimental impact evaluation methods and key-informant interviews. Prior to joining UI, Carlos worked for four years as a research fellow in the Research Program in Economics and Environment for Development at CATIE, Costa Rica and for five years as the Executive Director of the Monteverde Conservation League. Carlos holds a MA from The Fletcher School in Tufts University, a MA in Political Science from Boston College, and an undergraduate degree in Ecotourism from the University of Costa Rica. Carlos currently lives in Monteverde, Costa Rica and collaborates in several conservation and climate change initiatives for the community and teaches at the Monteverde Institute.

Spencer Plumb, PhD, 2012-2016

Spencer used mixed methods to explore how institutions influence personal decisions to enroll in voluntary instream flows programs in Oregon. Spencer conducted interviews with irrigation district managers and a household survey with water rights holders. His findings shed light on barriers to incentive-based conservation in the western U.S. Spencer worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Idaho’s policy analysis group and now works with the National Forest Foundation in Flagstaff.

 Jyoti Jennewein, MS, 2013-2015

Jyoti’s thesis explored how theories of community-based resource management applied to a rural transnational conservation area in Central America. Specifically, she measured how sense of community and perceptions of water resources, among other factors, influenced willingness to participate in community-led water resources management. Jyoti also earned a certificate in environmental education from the McCall Outdoor Science School and is now working on her PhD at the University of Idaho.

Brett Miller, MS, 2013-2015

Brett’s thesis combined theories from economics, sociology and bioregional planning to measure how expected changes in streamflow in the Salmon River Basin, Idaho might impact local communities. Brett interviewed over 100 stakeholders in the Salmon Basin in summer 2014 about how they depend on the river for economic, social and cultural benefits. Brett also earned a certificate in environmental education from the McCall Outdoor Science School and is now pursing a PhD at Utah State University.

Jennifer Chaffin, MS, 2012-2014

Jenny estimated whether tourists were willing to pay (WTP) increased park fees at a national monument in Utah for her thesis project. She drew on behavioral economics approaches to explore how framing of WTP questions influenced self-reported WTP. Jenny also earned a certificate in environmental education from the McCall Outdoor Science School and is currently employed by the University of Idaho.