People

Current Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Scholars, and Collaborators

Dr. Richard E.W. Berl is a computational social scientist with a background in evolutionary theory, behavior, and cultural change, and a passion for conserving biocultural diversity and improving social good and sustainability. He has B.A.s in Biological Sciences and Anthropology from the University of Delaware, a M.S. in Zoology from Washington State University, and recently completed his Ph.D. in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at Colorado State University. His previous work has focused on cultural evolution, specifically how culture is learned and transmitted in human and animal groups and how cognitive biases in cultural transmission drive broader dynamics of culture change. His current postdoctoral work with Rebecca Niemiec’s lab group pursues a greater understanding of the influence of cultural factors on values, attitudes, and behavior related to wildlife, specifically those surrounding the proposed wolf reintroduction to Colorado and coexistence with wolves and other carnivores. Access his personal webpage here.


Cassiopeia (Cassi) Camara is a PhD student in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department. Colorado is the 17th place Cassiopeia (Cassi) has lived. Her background includes volunteer work on the red wolf reintroduction program, communications for non-profits, and the development and delivery of large carnivore education programs. Her PhD work will focus on the impacts that messaging has on behaviors, specifically regarding potential wolf reintroduction in to Colorado.

Veronica Champine is a PhD student in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department who completed her Master’s degree in the Conservation Leadership Through Learning program in 2019. She is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and studied psychology and education at University of California, Santa Barbara. Veronica is interested in how social psychology influences pro-environmental behaviors in urban conservation and education contexts. She has worked with Professor Niemiec on a review paper that analyzes how norms affect different types of pro-environmental behaviors. As a PhD student in the Niemiec lab, she is currently working on an NSF-funded project focused on wildscaping in the Front Range.

Matt Collins is pursuing a Master’s in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and is interested in the values, practices, and tools that enable coexistence with large carnivores in the American West. His backgrounds in large-landscape conservation, carnivore-coexistence, and ranching inspire his line of research. His current work focuses on understanding what cultural, interpersonal, and incentive based factors influence ranchers to employ preventative and non-lethal predator control methods. Prior to CSU, Matt worked for People and Carnivores and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation on projects ranging from climate adaptation planning to carnivore coexistence research  

Mireille Gonzalez, Ray for short, is a social and behavioral scientist with a research background in environmental anthropology and conservation psychology. She is currently a PhD student in the HDNR department, and received her B.A. in Anthropology from U.C. Berkeley and her MSc. in Primate Behavior and Ecology from Central Washington University. She has experience working with a variety of cultural groups and animal species, and a special interest in keystone species, predators, and the human-wildlife interface. Her research aims are to explore environmental attitudes and perceptions in order to enhance community engagement in conservation and to foster a more environmentally conscious society. During her time in Dr. Niemiec’s lab, she plans to focus her efforts on wolf conservation and reintroduction in Colorado state.

Dr. Megan S. Jones completed her PhD in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department at Colorado State University in January, 2020. As a conservation social scientist, she uses multidisciplinary systems approaches and mixed methods to understand processes of leadership and behavior change in biodiversity conservation. Through her PhD she investigated how women navigate gender biases and motherhood choices to advance to conservation leadership positions, and how women both give and receive support in their conservation careers. She also studied how urban residents adopt pro-environmental behaviors, such as wildscape gardening to create wildlife habitat and wildscape advocacy to encourage others to change their behavior, and how conservation organizations support these changes. She is expanding this wildscaping research as a postdoctoral scholar in collaboration with Dr. Niemiec, using mixed-methods surveys and a field experiment to test and refine behavior change intervention practice and theory. 

Dr. Stacy Lischka is a quantitative social psychologist and human dimensions researcher.  Stacy’s research focuses on understanding conservation-relevant human behavior and evaluating efforts to encourage behaviors that support conservation objectives.  She has worked for over 15 years in state and federal wildlife management agencies in the midwest and western U.S., which has given her a keen sense of how to collect and communicate science in a way that addresses applied conservation and policy needs.  Her work addresses topics as diverse as human-wildlife conflict, recreational use of public lands, natural resource decision-making, private land conservation, and environmental education.  She eagerly embraces the challenges and opportunities that arise from integrating understanding of social and ecological processes, and applying that knowledge to real-world problems.  She holds a M.S. from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. from Colorado State University. Stacy works with others in the Niemiec lab to execute and evaluate the outcomes of an experiment to encourage native gardening in residential neighborhoods in Fort Collins, Colorado.  She is affiliate faculty in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources.

Lab Alum

Martha Bierut completed her MSc in Conservation Leadership in 2019 and is now a PhD student in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology in Dr. Salerno and Dr. Solomon’s labs in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources department. A New York native with over 2 years of experience in the East Africa region, Martha is currently researching human-elephant conflict issues in western Uganda. With Dr. Niemiec, Martha was a research assistant on a study investigating environmental stewardship volunteer retention throughout the United States.

Jeffrey Rodriguez completed his M.S. in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources department at Colorado State University in 2020. His research interests include collaborative conservation, science education, and the connection between social justice and conservation. Before starting graduate school, he was an outreach practitioner for multiple government agencies at the state and federal levels (i.e. National Park Service, United States Geological Survey, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife). He also has worked in the private sector as an environmental educator and a consultant. For his master’s, he worked with Dr. Niemiec on a project studying how messaging can affect the public’s perception of wildlife management initiatives. 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Addie Sedoff, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Major, Research Assistant, NSF wildscaping study, 2020

Jenna Wyatt, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Major, Global Environmental Sustainability minor, Research Assistant, Meta-analysis of normative influences study, 2019