Colorado State University Students

Luke Chamberlain, MS


Luke is a second year master’s student with a B.S. in Ecosystem Science from Cornell University. Luke spent the last four years working in the US Air Force before returning to CSU for his M.S. His research and academic interests include translational ecology, ecosystem services, and the effectiveness of partnerships for ecosystem management in Colorado. For his thesis project he is conducting a spatial socio-cultural valuation of ecosystem services in Colorado and analyzing which areas of high ecosystem services demand are at high risk for wildfire.

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’s dissertation research focused on assessing the role of scientific evidence in the decision-making processes of collaborative watershed partnership groups investing in wildfire mitigation treatments throughout the Intermountain West. His broader research interests include exploring conservation finance initiatives that support sustainable natural resource management, payments for ecosystem service mechanisms, ecotourism, and community-based conservation. Ryan is currently employed as a conservation social scientist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Xoco Shinbrot, PhD

Xoco’s dissertation research focused on the influence of conservation strategies on behavior change in Mexico. Before earning her PhD, she earned a BA from McGill University in Environment and International Development and a MS from Johns Hopkins in Environmental Science and Policy. Her research interests include: resilience and adaptation to natural disasters; economic instruments of behavior change; sense of place; social norms; public participation in research; indigenous knowledge for disaster risk reduction; gender and conservation; science communication. Xoco is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Cornell University.

Twitter: @xshinbrot @NREL_EcoPress – LinkedinResearchgate

Katie Powlen, 2016-2018

Katie’s thesis explored the motivations and barriers to reforestation on farms in the Bellbird Biological Corridor in Costa Rica. In addition to completing her master’s degree in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, she earned a certificate in International Development from the Office of International Programs at CSU. Prior to pursuing a master’s degree, Katie served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay and worked with a small non-profit, Alliance for International Reforestation, in Guatemala. She is now pursuing a PhD at Colorado State.

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.