Graduate Student Profiles


Class of 2023:

Person smiling in front of green background outside.Kevin Moriarty

Kevin graduated from the University of Louisville in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Geography. After realizing he had a passion for environmental issues, Kevin moved to Missoula to pursue journalism at UM. He is a budding photographer and writer interested in telling stories about wildlife, climate change and whatever else piques his interest. In his spare time, he enjoys sunny days at the skatepark.


Gentry Hale looking at camera in front of green background.Gentry Hale

Gentry grew up along the Wasatch foothills of Salt Lake City, where she spent her time snowboarding and playing in the mountains. She got her undergraduate degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies at the University of Utah before moving to San Diego. where she spent two years surfing. Now, she is working hard at environmental journalism in Montana. Her writing often focuses on wildlife and land management and she dreams of writing for National Geographic in the future.


Person smiling in front of green background outside.Izaak Opatz

Izaak is a songwriter and nature boy, and loves hearing what people do to make a living. Having grown up in Montana and spent the bulk of his life in the state, he's interested in the many ways there are to be a Montanan and a westerner, and how those ways are changing. He loves a good lemony eggs benedict and Breyer's Natural Vanilla ice cream, thank you very much, and can't wait to go on his next bike tour.


Person smiling in front of green background outside.Richard Forbes

Richard grew up wandering the forested lowlands of southeast Pennsylvania before moving west in 2011, where he studied ecology and journalism at Colorado College. He's spent the last 12 years guiding in the backcountry, researching plants in mountain environments and educating the public about conservation and stewardship. He believes that narratives shape the world and hopes to use storytelling to help people question their assumptions and find empathy for themselves and others. In his free time, he's either looking at maps, taking photos and videos, or out in the landscape trying to climb up things.


Person smiling in front of green background outside.Rachel Neal

Rachel grew up surrounded by the golden marshes of Southeast Georgia. She earned undergraduate degrees in Ecology and Media Studies from the University of Georgia, combining her passions for the environment and storytelling. Rachel taught environmental education in rural Georgia, New York City and Butte, Montana, where she realized the need for environmental literacy and accessible scientific knowledge, which brought her to journalism. She hopes to create multimedia journalism that engages audiences with science and the natural world.



Person smiling in front of green background outside.Amelia Liberatore

Amelia grew up in the oak-forested hills of southern Oregon. She earned a BA in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Food and Farming in 2017 from the University of Montana. She then served on the board of directors for a nonprofit connecting sustainable agriculture with renewable energy to foster local food systems in Montana. She then shifted to field research, studying desert ecology and soil remediation in Israel for 18 months. Her time in the Middle East yielded understanding of cross-cultural conflict and community building. She learned that most conflicts grow out of communication issues, and by speaking (or writing) differently or more often, people can build relationships that both inform and transcend social and political conflicts. She aims to promote this kind of communication as a writer and community member.


williams_grad-cohort-photos-keely-larson.jpgKeely Larson

Keely grew up in Montana and received undergraduate degrees in Religious Studies and History from Montana State University in Bozeman. Keely developed a love for community journalism and driving circuitous routes through small towns working for The Madisonian and the Lone Peak Lookout for two years. With these weeklies, Keely received awards from the Montana Newspaper Association including the Mark Henkel Outdoor Writing Award in 2020. While undergoing the Environmental Journalism grad program at the University of Montana, Keely freelanced for the Missoula Current and Outside Business Journal. She will be interning with Montana Free Press this summer and carving out time to run around the mountains.


Person smiling in front of green background outside.Kathleen Shannon

Kathleen learned to love the outdoors while living in a wall tent and working on farms in Midcoast Maine. She hit the road in 2017, taught herself to backpack in Glacier National Park and got some on-the-ground lessons in wildfire and water scarcity while farming in Colorado. There, she stumbled into the newsroom at KDNK Community Radio and produced stories about public lands, wolf reintroduction, mining and more that got airtime as far as Utah and Wyoming and received an award from the Colorado Broadcasters Association. She hopes to write investigative audio stories on environmental justice issues and, meanwhile, can be found exploring the mountains with her dog, Zuki.


Class of 2022:

Person smiling in front of green background outside.Sarah Mosquera

Sarah is a Chilean-American photojournalist with a passion for documenting environmental justice issues. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Colorado State University. She is working to expand her skills as a multimedia storyteller to amplify the voices of people facing food and water insecurity. Sarah spends her free time hiking to alpine lakes and watching true crime documentaries.


Person smiling in front of green background outside.Bowman Leigh

Bowman’s love for the natural world began in her front yard in Portland, Oregon, where she learned the fine art of tree climbing. After graduating with a degree in human ecology and communication from the University of Puget Sound, Bowman worked as a naturalist in Colorado. A storyteller at heart, Bowman is drawn to the tales that remind us just how linked we are to each other and to the places we live.


Person smiling in front of green background outside.AJ Williams

Aj is a Midwesterner who boomerangs between the West and The Great Lakes. Their background is in social documentary work and environmental science. Most recently, Aj worked as a PBS videographer and freelance editor in Minneapolis. Aj identifies as a public media addict, bookworm in-training, imprecise baker and squeaky wheel.



Person smiling in front of green background outside.Patrick Shea

Patrick was born and raised in Urbana, Illinois, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. During his time in the Northwoods, he developed a love for plants and writing. He is interested in reporting on policy issues surrounding the Great Lakes watershed. In 2017, he biked from Wisconsin to New Orleans along the Mississippi River. In 2018, he biked from Wisconsin to Newfoundland.



Person smiling in front of green background outside.Mak Sisson

Mak grew up in Delaware and studied environmental science at Towson University in Maryland. Mak has taught environmental education to children on the East Coast. Her current interests are wastewater treatment and invasive species control. She has published in the literary magazine Grub Street.



Person smiling in front of green background outside.Abbie Lauten-Scrivner

A native of Sacramento, Abbie cut her journalism teeth as a beat reporter at a daily newspaper in California’s Central Valley. Abbie studied journalism and public relations at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She is interested in writing about environmental justice and issues of disparity.



_dsc0478-beck.jpgLena Beck

Originally from Oregon, Lena came to Missoula by way of Washington State. After completing an undergraduate degree at Seattle University, Lena worked in the restaurant industry. Baking bread, pouring beer and managing an Italian cafe inspired in her a love for what local food systems can bring to the table. Lena has written for Seattle Magazine and was managing editor for the Seattle University Spectator. In her free time, Lena reads detective novels and tries to convince her houseplants not to die.


Person smiling in front of green background outside.Jessi Mejia

Jessi is a wildlife biologist who grew up in New Jersey. After graduating from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in wildlife and conservation biology, she worked on a variety of projects focused on endangered species. She’s inspired to transition her wildlife career into journalism, sharing solutions and turning conservation despair into optimism.


Person smiling in front of green background outside.Sierra Cistone

Sierra grew up in the oak woodlands of Northern California where she became an avid birder and outdoor enthusiast. She received a bachelor’s degree in wildlife conservation and management at Humboldt State University. She has traveled the world volunteering for nonprofits and helping researchers study wildlife species including owls, tigers and mountain lions. In her free time, she can be found running with her dog, Goose, or looking through her binoculars or camera lens.


Person smiling in front of green background outside.Jordan Unger

As an undergraduate student in history, Jordan gained a deep appreciation for writing, research and learning others’ stories. He plans to focus on improving his narrative and multimedia skills in order to tell the stories of marginalized groups. He enjoys reading, jazz-funk and any type of aquatic situation.



Person smiling in front of green background outside.Erica Zurek

Erica is a freelance photographer who grew up in the Midwest and has spent the past 20 years living in and roaming around the West. Prior to turning her professional focus to photography, she worked in violence prevention, taught high school and managed a community health program at Western Washington University. She’s inspired to produce investigative multimedia projects at the intersection of environmental justice, public health and science. Erica is most at home in the mountains and by water. She loves exploring the natural world in running shoes and on skis.





Person looking at camera.Pete Zimmerman: Pete is a writer and storyteller whose work focuses on the intersection of people and the environment.  When not working on his craft you can find him clinging to cliff faces or making snow angels.  In a former life, he worked as a mountain guide in the Coast Mountains of Southeast Alaska.




Person looking at camera.Kylie Mohr: Kylie grew up in Washington state, studied at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and loves the mountains in the middle. Kylie cut her teeth writing for NPR and CNN in college before migrating to Wyoming, where she worked as a newspaper reporter for three years. While a grad student at the University of Montana, Kylie's freelanced for National Geographic, Bitterroot Magazine and High Country News, and had stories air on Montana Public Radio and Wyoming Public Radio. She plans to do her externship above the Arctic Circle this summer with a researcher studying snowy owls in Utqiaġvik, Alaska before reporting her Master's project on caribou and climate change in the northwest corner of the state.


Person looking at camera.Geneva Zoltek: After receiving a Bachelor's degree from Montana State University in 2017, Geneva moved to Hawai'i where her passion for the environment was ignited. After a year on the Big Island, she lobbied for her alma mater at Montana's 2019 Legislative Session and realized that climate policy issues were not being covered by the press. That's what inspired her next chapter and she applied for journalism school. Endemic to Kalispell, Montana, Geneva is just a stone's throw away from home, but she plans on taking her career international. As she continues to pursue journalism, Geneva hopes to cover international conflicts and resolutions surrounding climate change while working on her social media identity and platform Eco-Current. 


Person looking at camera.Katie Hill: Still branded by her Connecticut license plates, Katie considers herself the classic “East Coast Transplant.” She got her degree in journalism from Emerson College in downtown Boston and interned for AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club. After spending three summers working on a ranch in the Big Horns of Wyoming, she discovered a preference for running Big Sky country’s trails to Boston’s crowded streets, and made the drive West. Katie believes the best way to tell any environmental story is through the eyes of the people most affected. She is the worst kind of Guinness-slurping Boston sports diehard, and yes, she is wicked sorry about it.


Person looking at camera.Melea Burke: A Southerner with a love for wide open spaces, Melea wasn’t born in the West but got here as soon as she could. Melea has worked as a reporter, photographer and editor in community news around Montana for several years and designs newspapers for Adams Publishing Group. She hopes to combine her thirst for adventure with her passion for storytelling through documentary film. Melea’s happy place is the rowing seat on Dory, her bright blue raft, whether tackling whitewater or a multi-day float trip.



Person looking at camera.Mary Auld: Mary grew up in the boreal forest of interior Alaska and the hay fields of upstate New York. A lifelong writer, she developed a concern for the environment as a long-distance hiker and manager for her school gardens. She plans to meld her experience with local reporting and environmental education to tell vivid stories that connect people to the earth. Her first pets were worms in the compost bin.




Person looking at camera.Hannah Welzbacker: Growing up with views of the Hood Canal and Olympic mountains, Hannah has always felt drawn towards the protection of water quality and national parks. Before graduating from Washington State University, Hannah wrote for The Daily Evergreen covering everything from BPA alternatives to soil acidity across the state. When she wasn’t writing Hannah was screaming at her teammates as a coxswain on the women’s rowing team. She wants you to know she says more than row, row, row your boat.



Person looking at camera.Kelsea Harris-Capuano: Finding joy and meaning among western landscapes, Kelsea became an outdoor educator to facilitate transformative experiences for young people. A job as a copy editor during a difficult time rekindled her love of storytelling and altered the direction she thought her life was headed in. She's inspired to use writing to connect people to the natural world and to each other.  Kelsea went on a three-month bike trip in Chile where she acquired the nickname the “flying brick.”



Person looking at camera.Anthony Pavkovich: Anthony focuses on crafting multimedia narratives based on the landscape and people of the West. He is inspired and shaped by the wild and public lands surrounding his home in the northern Rockies. To better understand the landscape, he once ran 240 miles out his front door. 




Person looking at camera.Sofia Stuart-Rasi: Sofia Stuart-Rasi was born and raised in Denver, Colorado speaking English and French. Having the Rocky Mountains in her backyard, she’s spent most of her life outside at high altitudes with a camera in hand. After getting her BA in Studio Arts, Sofia was a ski bum in Telluride, CO. She had a life changing epiphany when she realized she could combine both of her loves: nature and storytelling. Sofia is excited to continue learning, all while having her dog by her side.



Photo by Charles Bolte CHARLES BOLTE spent the better part of his 20s in the U.S. Army before landing in southwest Montana seeking a new direction. After six years of wandering, he came to the realization that he was a storyteller with a keen interest in environmental issues - especially those regarding the grizzly bear. When the weekend is long and the weather good, you'll find Charles pulling up to the trailhead in his suspicious-looking Astro Van, ready for the next hike, climb, or game of cribbage.




Photo by Conna BondCONNA BOND enjoys taking risks and trying new things—as long as it doesn’t involve jumping out of airplanes. Last year, she left her position as an associate marketing professor to return to Montana where she and her husband raised their family. She has degrees in history and law, but journalism is her first love. She’s anxious to make her four children and two grandchildren proud by writing about things that matter.





Photo of Michael CastMICHAEL CAST was raised on sweet, sweet Rocky Mountain snowmelt that left him with an unquenchable thirst for cold trout and getting lost—but ultimately found—in streams, seas, woods, and, of course, the snow. In order to keep ink in his pen and a lens on his camera, he moonlights as a commercial fisherman and offshore environmental consultant in Alaska. The community newsroom and a gypsy life have taught him that everyone has a story, and this salty reporter is here to listen to yours.




Photo of Jenny GessamanJENNY GESSAMAN is a Montana journalist focused on natural resource science and the public policy it affects. Growing up in Highwood, population 200, taught her to choose the mountains over a metropolis. Driving one of Glacier National Park’s iconic red buses taught her to love connecting visitors with the broader environment, too. Jenny works that theme of connection into each news beat, from infrastructure to agriculture. When not meeting deadlines, she enjoys biking, horror stories and petting her flat-faced cat, Caramel Loaf.




Photo of Louise JohnsLOUISE JOHNS is a freelance photojournalist and National Geographic Young Explorer with a passion for documenting relationships between humans, animals and land. She hopes to expand her skills as a multimedia storyteller in order to amplify the voices of rural people and the places they live and work. You might also find Louise working with her horse, hanging out with ranchers or running on a trail with her beloved pup, Jade. Most of the time, she’ll have a camera with her.




Photo of Breanna RoyBREANNA ROY has known video was her medium of choice since she was in grade school. Her older sister gave her plenty of practice learning how to react when an impromptu interview goes sour. That came in handy during Roy’s broadcasting career at CBS affiliates in Missoula and Spokane, Washington. While she remains most comfortable alone in an edit bay, graduate school is taking her to new heights – most recently to the Crown of the Continent where she’s been capturing the story of the whitebark pine. 




Photo of Jason SantaJASON SANTA learned to love science from the young children he sought to teach. A Montessori teacher turned writer, Jason finds inspiration on Mount Sentinel or walking along the urban part of the Clark Fork River. Jason had a paper route as a kid. He took pride in the way he could toss the papers so they made soft landings. When on occasion a paper bounced into a flower pot, he’d screech his brakes and run up to the door in dread - hoping the journalists were the only ones with breaking news.




Photo of Kevin TrevellyanKEVIN TREVELLYAN is a San Diego native who amplifies voices with journalism, formerly at an eastern Idaho newspaper that let him cover everything from food baskets to radioactive waste accidents. Seeing the impact of land use issues while tromping in hiking boots through the northwest inspired his pursuit of environmental journalism. Kevin will sponge all available knowledge from those around him at the University of Montana—and hope they forget he snuck in from California.




WENJIE CHEN: Wenjie is from a Chinese family that is crazy about TV. She started her journalism career as a television reporter in China covering breaking news. Her dream is to have her own science talk show on TV and be the most memorable science reporter ever. Maybe in the future someone might say, “I love that Chinese chick on that science show, she is awesome!” Or someone might think she doesn’t know what she is talking about. Either way, she wants to help people talk about science. Although she doesn’t have any super power or kickass skill right now, she is on her way to finding them.




SuzeDowning2.jpgSUZANNE DOWNING: Advocating for literacy in Africa and Latin America opened doors for Suzanne to dance with indigenous people in the mountains of Oaxaca and photograph howler monkeys in the Belize jungle. A writer and photographer, she hopes her cross-cultural work will complement her environmental science style, giving her a unique voice. She’s a firm believer that you’re never fully dressed without a smile, and that a healthy mix of wilderness and freeze-dried astronaut’s ice cream feeds the soul.



HEATHER FRALEY: Heather is a summertime interpretive forest ranger, using her wildlife biology undergraduate degree to tell people about shrew caravans and carnivore teeth. She grew up pulling in cutthroat trout and running down trails in wilderness areas with her two competitive brothers, leading her to run cross country and track for the Montana Grizzlies. She is interested in writing stories about what happens when humans and wildlife interact or have to coexist on the landscape, particularly in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. She was initiated into a life in the wilds of Montana when her parents dipped her toes into the cold, clear waters of McDonald Lake in Glacier National Park when she was just a few months old.



AMELIA HAGEN-DILLON: Amelia is a cartographer whose maps help adventurers dream up excursions in the wildest corners of western Montana. Raised in the Green Mountain State, she came to the northern Rockies for a summer job in college and started a love affair with the landscape here that continues 10 years later. She runs a lot and reads a lot and thinks a lot and hopes to add writing to the list of ways she explores the texture of Montana's landscape.




MIKENSI ROMERSA: A freelance photojournalist with a passion for documentary filmmaking, Mikensi finds inspiration outdoors. She hopes to use visual storytelling to create a dialogue about food security and other resource issues. When she doesn’t have a camera in hand she is either chasing Phish, mastering the art of lucid dreaming or at the river with her better half, Baloo.





MAXINE SPEIER: A rock climber and lover of unending road trips, Maxine has criss-crossed North America in pursuit of new landscapes and old histories. As a freelance writer and radio journalist, she reports on public land use and energy policies in an effort to document the political and personal stakes in America's changing energy landscape. Although she’s lived in New York and the Bay Area, Maxine is most at home in small town gas stations and dive bars where everyone knows she's not a local. 




SAMANTHA WEBER: As the sole reporter for a weekly newspaper in southwestern Montana, Sam spent the last two years covering everything from outraged parents to neighborhood moose. She hopes to use her eclectic storytelling skills to personalize complex climate issues for diverse audiences. When she’s not daydreaming about how to get paid to write about skiing, Sam is baking too much bread or procrastinating with an obscure craft project. She is an avid mountain romper, despite her poor navigation skills.




portrait of Zachariah

ZACHARIAH BRYAN: A community, business and general freelance reporter, Zachariah has covered a number of environmental issues in the past five years, from fish management on the Kuskokwim River and a land use fight over protection of the endangered Mazama pocket gopher, to a water-rights lawsuit masterminded by Yelm-based cult Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment. He still enjoys listening to the scanner and chasing sirens by bicycle from time to time.




photo of Matt RobertsMATT ROBERTS: Matt has firm academic roots in scientific research and writing within the fields of ecology, genetics, and population biology. He has worked as a technician for a cancer diagnostics lab, an agricultural development communicator and an ethanol preparation and distribution specialist (bartender), all of which took him from the U.S. to East Africa and back several times. Now a photographer and journalist-in-training, Matt loves engaging in conversations about scientific ethics and the sociology behind environmentalism.




photo of Chris ReedCHRIS REED: An Appalachian American by birth and a nomad by trade, Chris travels to engage in the soul of a place – from the heaving ruminations of  the planet, to the quirky, salt-of-the-Earth humans clinging to dying ways of being.  Having taught high school physics and calculus, as well as  environmental philosophy, Writing 101, and agricultural methods at the college level, he’s passionate about conveying scientific and environmental  subject matter in a way that is entertaining, engaging, and accessible to a wide audience.  When he’s not in a coffee shop, you might find Chris on a  bridge at sunset, swimming in natural bodies of water, or creating questionable music with amazing friends.



photo of Katie RiordanKATIE RIORDAN: Several years of living and reporting in Yemen and the Horn of Africa inspired Katie to seek out new ways of telling stories of global  climate change and international development. As a graduate student at the University of Montana, she’s looking to expand on multimedia skills she  was first introduced to during her bachelor’s degree at the University of Colorado. Given that her Arabic is still a painful work in progress, she hopes  the ability to report in her own language will ease the transition from east to the west.



Graduate Student Diana SixDIANA SIX: After years of conducting research on biological systems and writing and editing for scientific journals, Diana has shifted her focus to translating science for the public, particularly in the area of climate change. For her master's project, she will be investigating how humans are assisting the migration of nature’s climate refugees - organisms that can’t keep pace with shifts in their habitats due to warming. She is an intense lover of nature and the outdoors and is one of the few people in Montana who thinks bark beetles are cute.

portrait of Beau

BEAU BAKER: Beau practices journalism in the West, where he grew up. He is a child of NPR, morning newspapers and the Palouse. College radio and chickens have figured prominently in his last decade. To address the issue of food security, he farms for himself and several other families.  He is often dragging his feet to catch up with the modern world.

portrait of Matt

MATT BLOIS: A biologist by training, Matt chased jaguars in Mexico and condors in California before pursuing a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Montana. In another life he would have been the lead singer of a rock 'n' roll band, except he never looks good in tight leather pants. He still sings for fun. Lover of radio. Easily distracted by colorful birds.

portrait of Nora

NORA SAKS: Nora is a freelance radio and print journalist investigating themes of environmental justice in the Crown of the Continent and beyond. Having lived both north and south of the 49th parallel, she's inclined to use the term "bioregion" a little too frequently when describing her interest in exploring boundaries based on ecology rather than politics. She's finally made it to the other side of her first Saturn Return, thank goodness.

portrait of Carly

CARLY VESTER: Carly is a visual journalist whose work incorporates editorial writing, design, and multimedia. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, she specialized in marketing and publishing before deciding her camera could be better used to make the public aware of environmental challenges facing the west. Her first magazine spread in Alaska Magazine introduced her to a brazen, expertly attuned ferryboat captain: her grandfather.

portrait of Jamie

JAMIE DRYSDALE: Jamie is just as fascinated by the many conservationists choosing to live in cities attached to their devices as he is by the rural folk who live off the land, sleep and wake by the sun while fighting tooth and nail against any environmental protection. He believes the problem is a lack of constructive engagement and fights for a revival of our valued connection to the natural world.  A musician, photographer and writer who enjoys organic farming, environmental advocacy and outdoor adventures, Jamie knows his education in journalism can only serve to benefit his lifelong pursuit of enrichment, satisfaction and bankruptcy.

portrait of Olga

OLGA KREIMER: A writer and photographer, Olga didn't start learning English until she was 6 years old, and hasn't stopped learning it since. She traded coastal living for bear country to transform herself into a journalist who researches the endless connections between the natural world and education, community health and art. She once won a fight with a rooster using only her words.

portrait of Henry

HENRY WOROBEC: Henry pivoted to video-journalism after a knee injury stunted his career as a carpenter. He’s since produced an award-winning film on wilderness and worked in remote areas of North and South America. He aims to engage the millennial generation on natural resource conflict issues.

portrait of Maddie

MADDIE VINCENT: Maddie is a journalist, collegiate goalkeeper, lead vocalist and work in progress. A Butte native, she’s familiar with the negatives of mining and the positives of stream habitat reclamation. When she’s not swimming in the Berkeley Pit, she’s goalkeeping, singing or trying not to bite off her fingernails.

Photo of Katy SpenceKATY SPENCE: Katy has nurtured a love of native prairie plants, fantasy novels and photography since elementary school. At Truman State University, she combined those interests to visually and textually explore the relationship between humans and nature. She also wrote and copy-edited for Detours, the university’s award-winning travel magazine. When she’s not working on her graduate degree in journalism, you can find her learning the harmonica, exploring personality theories or marveling at the contrast between the mountains of Montana and the flat mile-sections of her Kansas hometown.

Graduate Student Jayme DittmarJAYME DITTMAR: Jayme has mushed into the Gates of the Arctic, consumed whale blubber with Inuit elders and fled from grizzly bears, all in a quest to capture words, video clips and photos that connect a disengaged public with the most remote places of the North. She earned a bachelor’s degree in conservation biology and Journalism from the University of Minnesota, then traded a city newsroom for Denali National Park in Alaska, where she worked as a backcountry kennels ranger. A social media maven, she’s provided both nonprofits and government entities with a presence online. She prefers to only work with the equipment that will fit into a dogsled.

photo of Madison Dapcevich

MADISON DAPCEVICH: Madison grew up on an island in Southeast Alaska, where she learned to tie a fisherman’s knot before she could walk. As part of her journalism education, she wrote and edited for The Lumberjack Newspaper and The Osprey Magazine before moving to Washington, D.C., to work in politics and international media development. When not honing her skills building community networks surrounding environmental issues, particularly by way of social media, she climbs mountains with her Border Collie, Ruka, and teaches people to get bendy in the yoga studio.

photo of Courtney Gerard

 COURTNEY GERARD: Courtney’s love for teaching and passion for all things biological led her to seek a career in science journalism. After closely  observing the effects of climate change on agriculture in her home state of California, she decided to focus her efforts on inspiring others to take a  deeper look at our changing atmosphere and the ramifications of climate change on both land and seas. When she isn’t consumed in research, she can  be found running through the forest, floating down rivers, climbing peaks and embracing her need for adventure.

photo of Mona Nazeri

 MONA NAZERI: Mona is a conservation ecologist who earned her Ph.D. in Applied Remote Sensing with a dissertation on modeling the habitat of the  Malayan Sun Bear. Her main research focus is on predictive spatial modeling of species distributions. She hopes to inform and engage the public with  stories about new scientific findings in the field of ecology. Mona is also an accomplished watercolor painter, whose work has been exhibited at art show right here in town.

photo of Benjamin Alva Polley

 BENJAMIN ALVA POLLEY: After growing up among fundamentalists and street gangs, Ben worked as a trail crew leader, ranch hand, backcountry ranger  and citizen scientist across the West. He once spent 70 days straight as a fire lookout in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and, for a wolverine study,  carried hindquarters of a deer 15 miles back on cross-country skis. His non-fiction, poetry and photography have been published in the Whitefish  Review, Written River: A Journal of Eco-Poetics, Black Heart Magazine and Montana Headwall. He serves on the editorial board of the Whitefish Review and strives to be a freelance writer who travels the world.

Photo of Sophie Tsairis

SOPHIE TSAIRIS: Originally from Maine, Sophie spent the better part of her post-collegiate years expanding her backcountry knowledge by exploring the Rocky Mountains on foot and rope. Determined to extricate herself from the league of the writing baristas, she opted to pursue environmental journalism. She hopes to improve her ability to articulate knowledge and experiences about the environment in a way that will motivate people to listen and move them to change. So far, journalism has mostly increased her consumption of espresso.

Photo of Jana Wiegand

JANA WIEGAND: Before Jana could truly pursue studies in environmental science journalism, she felt that the wilderness needed to come closer to the writer. So after many a midnight at the Science Museum of Minnesota and waitressing until the witching hour, Jana traded the metropolis for mountains. Now she enjoys skirting city limits just as quickly by foot as by bike. When not immersed in the latest astronomy abstracts, Jana’s busy pawning off the pesky olives spawned in potluck pastas.

Graduate Student Shanti Johnson

SHANTI JOHNSON: After spending two years studying the impact of climate change in the Mekong Delta for her master's project, Shanti now works for the University of Montana, hosting international visitors studying global environmental issues. Her focus is on the cross-cultural communication of science, environment and education. She also freelances for local papers and Mongabay. When she's not working, you will almost certainly find her on the dance floor.

Graduate Student Nicky OuelletNICKY OUELLET: Nicky joined Montana Public Radio in May 2016 as the Flathead Valley reporter, covering land management, politics and race. Some of her stories have been featured on NPR, including her Crown Reporting Project piece on commercial mushroom pickers. She's also a regular contributor to National Native News. Before receiving her master's degree in environmental journalism, Nicky studied English at Oberlin College, taught on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, was a cultural ambassador in Russia and a ski bum in northwest Montana.

Graduate Student Ken RandKEN RAND: Ken is a photographer and journalist in the Crown of the Continent exploring history, conservation and the environment. A native son of Bozeman, he lives between Missoula and Flathead Lake.  In his work he seeks solutions to complex environmental problems, participates in wildlife conservation and ways to tell untold stories about the challenges of ecosystem conservation.  Look for updates here:

Graduate Student Erik PetersenERIK PETERSEN: Erik is a freelance photographer and filmmaker based in Clyde Park, MT who has been photographing life in Montana and around the world for almost two decades. His film, The Hard Way, was a finalist in the Banff Mountain Film Festival in 2016. Father, husband, student, teacher, picture taker, cabin dweller, wood cutter and son of a biology teacher who taught him early on how to identify edible mushrooms and butcher an elk. But reading Goodnight Moon to his sons at bedtime still brings him the greatest joy in life.

Graduate Student Celia TalbotCELIA TALBOT TOBIN: Celia is a documentary photographer and multimedia storyteller whose work often focuses on the connections between humans and their environment. She was a farm kid, raised alongside sheep and bees in central New York, and studied photojournalism and Latin American history at the University of Florida. She cut her teeth in several newsrooms before pursuing freelance work full-time, and makes it a habit to bounce in and out of the country to work on long-term projects. Celia is currently based in Missoula, and is particularly fond of hammocks, strong Irish tea and growing things in the ground. She also never stops eating. Her recent publications and clients include: The New York Times, High Country News, Newsday, amNY, UNICEF, YMCA and other local editorial outlets.  

Graduate Student Andrew GrahamANDREW GRAHAM: Andrew is currently based in Gillette, Wyoming, as a reporter for WyoFile - a non-profit, investigative journalism outfit. He’ll be in Cheyenne covering the legislative session in 2017. A native of Maryland, he brings a fresh eye to Wyoming, and has a keen interest in how natural resource industries affect not just the landscape but also the people and culture that gather around it. His first story for WyoFile was an investigative report on oil pipelines under rivers, a pivotal experience that led him to pursue in-depth reporting. When not working, he likes to drive long distances and explore new country.

Graduate Student Charlie EbbersCHARLIE EBBERS: Charlie left New Mexico as a young man to find different vistas and soon found himself working on a trail crew in Glacier National Park. During his time in the UM journalism program, he wrote for Bugle magazine and the Montana Kaimin. He narrated a PBS documentary and produced two feature audio stories for the podcasts Last Best Stories and Rest Stop Radio. His master's degree in hand, he moved back to New Mexico to start a fellowship with Outside magazine and be near his family.

Graduate Student Breana MilldrumBREANA MILLDRUM: Breana is currently working for an environmental conservation organization with the state of Hawaii called Three Mountain Alliance. TMA is a watershed partnership that protects ecologically important lands throughout Hawaii Island by restoring endangered native plant species and surveying and removing noxious invasive plant species. She also does outreach work through TMA and works with elementary and high school students to get them involved in preserving and caring for their watershed. Breana spends her free time helping her family, loving her partner and playing outdoors.

Graduate Student Kevin DupzykKEVIN DUPZYK: Kevin is a senior associate editor at Popular Mechanics in New York City, where he published his master's thesis, a narrative feature about a small town's effort to move a lighthouse away from the edge of fast-eroding coastal bluffs. At Popular Mechanics, he edits stories for the front of the book, writes about everything but especially infrastructure and the environment, and works hard to maintain the illusion that he's far more handy and capable with a power tool than he actually is.

Graduate Student Nate HegyiNATE HEGYI: Nate is a journalist, musician and cyclist. In 2009, he covered the W.R. Grace asbestos trial, the largest environmental crimes case in U.S. history. After graduating, he wrote about caribou for the Guardian, bighorn sheep for Undark Magazine, and travelled down to Mexico to sharpen his Spanish and begin working on a story about jaguars. Evidently, he’s really into big animals. Who knew?

Graduate Student Abbey DuFoeABBEY DUFOE: Abbey is a web producer at Climate Central, a non-profit journalism and research organization in Princeton, New Jersey, where she works on production and social media. Her master's project focused on the upward trend in avalanche deaths across the U.S. Abbey originally came to the University of Montana by way of I-94 from the Philadelphia suburbs. While in school, she produced digital versions of the Montana Journalism Review and Native News and served as a web editor for the Montana Kaimin

Graduate Student Kasey RahnKASEY RAHN: Kasey is currently working as an assistant editor at Bugle magazine, the publication of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and lives in Missoula. She previously was a natural resource reporter in rural Wyoming at the Buffalo Bulletin. She covers a range of Western environmental issues, but has been focusing on sage grouse, orphaned oil and gas wells and water pollution. Kasey has done some seemingly absurd things in the name of science and journalism – like waking up at 4:30 a.m. to search for birds’ nests. Her great loves in life are polar bears, coffee, and avoiding sports that require hand-eye coordination.

Graduate Student Laura ScheerLAURA SCHEER: Laura joined the Missoulian staff as a news editor after graduation. Her master’s project was a deep dive into the competition for railcar space between Montana wheat farmers and oil shipments coming out of the Bakken. She previously covered shale gas development in the Midwest for Ohio University’s student newspaper, The Post. Laura enjoys spending her time outdoors, cooking without instructions and coconut oil in her morning coffee.

Graduate Student Tom KuglinTOM KUGLIN: Tom began working as a natural resources reporter for the Helena Independent Record with a semester left in his master’s degree. He is still there, covering everything from wildlife to forestry, mining, conservation and state agencies. The job meant a big change for him and his wife, Dusty, who left their home of 10 years in Missoula and moved to Helena. The adventure has paid off with a career that he loves. When Tom’s not at the paper, he is in the outdoors hunting, skiing and backpacking.

Graduate Student Kindra McQuillanKINDRA MCQUILLAN: Kinda currently lives in Oregon, and is pursuing another master’s degree, this time in public health. She hopes to become a Ph.D. candidate in 2017 and is trying to whittle down a dissertation proposal on economic policy, environmental change, and public health in Latin America. Though she has followed her heart to a field beyond journalism, she feels well equipped to research and communicate complicated issues, which she predicts will come in handy.

Graduate Student Alison MillsALISON MILLS: Alison currently works as a science and technology writer for Michigan Tech in Houghton, Michigan. She enjoys weaving audio and informational graphics into her projects. She has also launched a website that digs into the behind-the-scenes drama of research and encourages faculty members to become better science communicators. Alison focused her graduate studies on Superfund cleanup sites in Montana and produced a multi-media website dedicated to telling the story behind the towns affected by these environmental legacies. In addition to her master’s degree from the University of Montana, she studied geoscience as an undergrad at Northland College. She considers herself a radio geek and occasional rock licker.

Graduate Student Stephanie ParkerSTEPHANIE PARKER: Stephanie lives near Blacksburg, Virginia, and is currently working as the communications coordinator for the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab, a USAID-funded program based at Virginia Tech. She does the writing, photo, video, and editing for the Feed the Future program, which implements IPM solutions for agricultural pest problems in developing countries. She started this position in January 2016, and one of her favorite parts is traveling for work. So far she’s gotten to go to Cambodia, and is slated to go to Nepal next year. After graduating from UM, Stephanie worked as an editorial assistant for the Cinnabar Foundation. Her master’s project looked at the effects of the coffee rust epidemic in Central America on a small community in Nicaragua through print, photos and a multimedia piece. She continues to prioritize seeing as much of the world as possible on a limited budget.

Graduate Student Krysti ShallenbergerKRYSTI SHALLENBERGERKrysti is currently an associate editor for Utility Dive, a trade publication reporting on transformations in the energy sector. A new traveling companion entered her life in the shape of a red heeler-boxer mutt who is steadily chewing through her books. She is based in Washington D.C.

Graduate Student Kate WalkerKATE WALKER: Kate is currently working for the education division of NBC News and makes videos for the web. She is also directing an independent feature documentary about African Americans in the food and farming movement. Previously, she produced a video for an exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC on the human microbiome. She has also produced video work for OnEarth and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Her master’s documentary project, The Missouri Compromised, aired on three Midwest PBS stations. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Graduate Student Kelly CondeKELLY CONDE: Kelly is based in Pocatello, Idaho, and works as a conservation manager for the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust. Her main objective is to work with willing landowners to conserve their property. In her new role, she enjoys the hands-on work she gets to do to protect open lands. Kelly enjoys running, rafting, reading and the shuffling of feet to the strumming of strings in her spare time. In 2014, the Society for Environmental Journalists awarded Kelly second place for outstanding feature story for her project called “The Damage Done” - a story about groundwater contamination from antiquated oil drilling practices on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Graduate Student Emily WendlerEMILY WENDLER: Emily signed up for graduate school determined to follow in the footsteps of Michael Pollan, the famous food and agriculture journalist. She loaded her school schedule with agricultural science classes to begin honing her expertise. But as her journalism prowess developed, she found a niche in radio. She put her newfound talent to use and produced a 30-minute radio documentary on one family’s trials and tribulations eating only local food in Missoula, which aired on local radio stations, MTPR and KBGA. Emily continues to inform and engage radio audiences as a reporter at KOSU Radio in Oklahoma City. Her work is frequently featured on NPR Morning Edition.

Graduate Student Apoorva JoshiAPOORVA JOSHI: Apoorva is a doctoral student at Michigan State University, where she is an Environmental Science and Policy Program Fellow. She will be pursuing a specialization in environmental science and policy. Her research will focus on environmental risk communication and conservation criminology. She is currently a research assistant at the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at MSU. Previously, she worked as an independent correspondent for, and as a web producer with KBZK/KXLF-TV in Bozeman. Her master’s project examined the sustainability of tiger tourism in India’s Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve.

Graduate Student Sam LungrenSAM LUNGREN: Sam lives in Missoula and is the editor-in-chief of Backcountry Journal, a publication of the conservation non-profit Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. He also does freelance writing and photography for other outdoors publications including The Drake, Gray’s Sporting Journal, The Fly Fish Journal, Fly Rod & Reel, Stonefly and Bugle magazines. Sam is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and was recently elected to American Fly Fishing Trade Association’s board of directors. A member of Montana Wild Media, he has appeared in and helped produce several fly fishing films, including the award-winning "Bucknasty Browns." His graduate professional project about salmon and steelhead hatcheries received a book offer from the University of Washington Press, though he has yet to finish writing it.

Graduate Student Will FreihoferWILL FREIHOFER: Will works for Warm Springs Productions where he deals with media operations and helps create outdoor and reality television shows that have appeared on the History Channel, Animal Planet and National Geo Wild. He moved to Missoula from small-town New Hampshire in 2005, and received a degree in print journalism from the University of Montana. In pursuing his master’s, Freihofer produced a multimedia project on a group of paddlers working to make kayaking legal on the rivers of Yellowstone National Park, which appeared in High Country News. Will's interests include animal behavior, hockey, lacrosse, skiing and whitewater kayaking.

Graduate Student Monica GokeyMONICA GOKEY: Monica Gokey fled to Alaska with a UM journalism degree in her greedy little paws. After holding down a handful of jobs in print journalism, she signed on at Alaska Public Media as a radio producer, and was later promoted to web editor for the Alaska Public Radio Network (26 stations strong!). After a couple years in public radio heaven, Monica landed her most challenging job yet -- becoming a mom. She currently files freelance stories in print and radio from a cattle ranch in central Idaho -- that is, when kids and cows don't need wrangling.

Graduate Student Kris HeitkampKRIS HEITKAMP: Kris lives in Montana and is a freelance writer for children's science publications, including Muse, ODYSSEY, and Faces magazines. She’s written six books for Rosen publishing, on topics ranging from ancient history to science and technology. She also does freelance research for National Geographic books. Part of her master's project will be published in the Fall issue of Gastronomica - a journal of critical food studies. She focuses on media platforms that can build alliances between the environment and society. When she is not exploring northwestern Montana with a fishing pole or hiking boots, she can be found plein air writing.

Graduate Student Jason Belts KauffmanJASON BELTS KAUFFMAN: Jason’s company, Alpenglow Press Productions, keeps him busy in Boise, Idaho. The company produces photo and video content for his ever-expanding clientele which includes nonprofit organizations, conservation groups and commercial companies.  For his master's project, Jason produced, filmed and edited, “A Season of Predators,” a full-length documentary that investigated how ranchers in Idaho and Montana have learned to live with gray wolves and grizzly bears. When not behind a camera, Jason and his wife, Elizabeth, are busy chasing their energetic and inquisitive 4-year-old son, Bridger. Their family will expand by +1 in late 2016 with the arrival of their second child.

Graduate Student Kevin RadleyKEVIN RADLEY: Kevin is currently a finish editor and colorist for Warm Springs Productions, a rapidly growing TV production company in Missoula that produces shows for Outdoor Network, the History Channel, Travel Channel, Fox News, HGTV and many more. As a master's student at the University of Montana, he created a 35-minute multimedia story showcasing the realities of modern-day underground coal mining through the story of ranchers in Musselshell County. He loves living in the Rocky Mountains, where he can enjoy boating, fishing and sailing in the summer and skiing and hunting in the winter.

Graduate Student Montana HodgesMONTANA HODGES: Montana recently finished her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies at UM. Her research on early Jurassic corals was published on the cover of GSA Today, the Geological Society of America’s magazine. She now teaches communications and geology at Mendocino College and Woodland College in Lake County, California. Her journalism master’s project, called “Dinosaur Wars”, was about the sale of dinosaur fossils in the U.S. and was published on the cover of High Country News. Montana has also contributed a series of outdoor books for Falcon Guides and is anxiously awaiting the day her royalties exceed her expenses. 

Graduate Student Breeana LaughlinBREEANA LAUGHLIN: Breeana is a writer and photographer who has covered topics from bull riding to the capture of a turkey thief. As a graduate student, she focused on how development impacts the environment and societies. Her professional project investigated a Native American tribe's efforts to capitalize on natural resources on their land by taking over the operation of a hydroelectric dam. After graduation, she lived in New Zealand and worked for an educational travel company doing communications and logistical work. Since returning to the U.S., Breeana has worked as a natural resources reporter at the Summit Daily News in Colorado and has been published in the Denver PostAspen Times and Vail Daily

Graduate Student Ann FleischliANN FLEISCHLI: A transplanted Wisconsin lawyer, Ann found that writing can be inspired by a horse, mountains and by a different cultural experience. Her interests included writing stories that combined law and environmental issues. Her professional project, a website entitled, described a collaborative model of neighborly, respectful, community-based activity designed to preserve the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana. Ann passed away at age 73 on March 20, 2016.

Graduate Student Gary OramGARY ORAM: After receiving a master’s degree in journalism, Gary worked for a year as a non-degree seeking student in the Material’s Science Ph.D program at the University of Montana. At present, he is finishing an associate degree in energy technology at Missoula College. He studies hydrogen as an alternative for transportation fuel and is working on a viable alternative to the Shell-Claus de-sulfurizing process. Gary’s recently co-authored a paper called “Entropy Acceleration, Shannon Information and Socioeconomics: Quantitative Examples,” which was published in the International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics.