Graduate Students in Extension
University of California
Graduate Students in Extension

Previous Graduate Researchers

Contact information for past recipients

Margiana Petersen-Rockney < >

Alana Siegner <>

Aidee Guzman <>

Reid L Johnsen <>

Summer 2017

Dylan Chapple

Aidee Guzman

James LaChance

Alex McInturff

Margiana Petersen-Rockney

Carmen Tubbesing


Reid Johnson

Reid Johnson

Reid Johnson is a doctoral student in UC Berkeley's Agricultural and Resource Economics Department. His dissertation research studies the roles of identity and community in household decision making. Reid's work as a GSE fellow examines alternative payment structures for conservation easements in the Bay Area.

Conservation easements have emerged as one of the primary channels for protecting private land against development.  Easements restrict development in designated areas, and these restrictions apply both to current and future owners of the land.  Since easements reduce development potential, resale value of the land is presumably diminished.  Landowners are typically compensated with a one-time payment from a conservation group.  However, alternative payment structures could potentially increase the welfare of both landowners and conservation groups.  Reid will survey landowners in Marin, Sonoma and Yolo counties to determine if support for alternative payment structures exists.  Additionally, he will examine the extent to which community, rural identity, and intergenerational financial stability affect support for those payment structures. 


  • Dr. Gordon Rausser, Robert Gordon Sproul Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics
  • Dr. Stephanie Larson, County Director, Sonoma Cooperative Extension
  • Dr. Van Butsic, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist


Alana Siegner

Alana 1

Both Farm to School programs and Climate Education in the US require improvements in implementation and evaluation to achieve success in terms of stated program goals. Working at the intersection of sustainable food systems and environmental education, Laney plans to adapt existing climate change curriculum to fit within farm to school programs, bringing in food and farming-specific examples to general lessons on climate adaptation and mitigation. This project builds off of her Master's project research in the San Juan Islands, using school partners on Lopez and Orcas Island to pilot curriculum before implementation in Oakland Unified School District. In order to ensure the environmental sustainability of agricultural landscapes, as well as improve nutrition and health outcomes in many public schools, it is necessary to teach students at the secondary level about the causes and consequences, both scientific and social, of climate change as it plays out in the US food system. She will work with schools in the San Juans and Oakland, as well as climate education groups and Cooperative Extension specialists, to develop curriculum and professional development resources for teachers interested in integrating climate education into farm to school program classroom components. 


  • Rob Bennaton, UCCE Alameda & Contra Costa County Director, Bay Area Urban Ag Advisor
  • Christy Getz, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist
  • Isha Ray, Energy and Resources Group Associate Professor


Laura Ward 


Laura Ward is a PhD student in the department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management studying wild bee conservation and ecology in relation to pesticide disturbance. For her dissertation, she is exploring routes of systemic insecticide exposure for wild bees in agricultural landscapes.

Bee diversity and abundance is declining worldwide due to land-use change, especially agricultural intensification, which has caused significant habitat loss and increased exposure of bees to pesticides. We owe one in every three bites of food we eat to pollinators – and to bees in particular – thus understanding the potential impacts of pesticides on bees is critical for protecting biodiversity and food security. Neonicotinoids are the most commonly used insecticides worldwide and are implicated in bee declines. While effective for management of certain insect pests, neonicotinoids have unintended consequences for non-target and beneficial insects, including honey and wild bees. In addition to the need for research on bee health in relation to neonicotinoids, extending the current available knowledge to stakeholders and the general public is requisite for any significant changes in the rate of bee declines. California residents, horticultural retailers, gardeners, beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, and policy makers are among the stakeholders demanding information on bee protection.

For her cooperative extension project, Laura will extend the best available knowledge on balancing pest management needs with pollination services via two modules directed toward Master Beekeepers, Master Gardeners, and IPM Training for Retail Nurseries and Garden Centers. The first module will cover wild bee biology, ecology, and urban conservation practices through gardening. The second module will cover systemic insecticides, their potential negative impacts, and alternative options for pest management.



  • Dr. Elina Niño (UCCE, UC-Davis, Apiculture Extension Specialist)
  • Dr. Andrew Sutherland (UC IPM and UCCE, SF Bay Area Urban IPM advisor and UC ANR Pest Management Program Team leader)

2015-2016 Graduate Student Researchers

Adrienne Marshall

2015-03-22 11.04.06 HDR

Extensive scientific work has been conducted in order to understand the impacts of climate change on California’s forests, along with the options available to adapt to these impacts and mitigate climate change. In am working to synthesize this knowledge in order to present it in a way that is useful and accessible to non-industrial forest landowners. Furthermore, I aim to ask: to what extent do climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies align with the management objectives of forest landowners? I am developing a literature review, briefs in the Forest Stewardship Series, and a lesson plan for students in order to work on these questions and communicate my findings.


  • Susan Kocher - Forestry/Natural Resources Advisor - Central Sierra Cooperative Extension

  • Amber Kerr - Postdoctoral scholar, John Muir Institute of the Envrionment, UC Davis. Coordinator, USDA Regional Climate Sub Hub for California

  • Peter Stine - Program Manager and Principal Research Scientist - Pacific Southwest Research Station, Sierra Nevada Research Center

  • Margaret Torn - Adjunct Professor, Energy and Resources Group, UC Berkeley. Program co-head, Climate and Carbon Sciences, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Kripa Akila Jagannathan

Kripa Jagannathan

In the last decade, many advances have been made in climate modeling and projections. Yet several sources still report that current tools and models are not widely used in agricultural decision-making. My project aims to bridge the gap between climate change research and farmers’ climate information needs by collaborating with Cooperative Extension, farmers, climate scientists, and the USDA. I have chosen to focus on almond crops and will conduct interviews to explore how growers in California might use climate information. Based on the research, I will develop decision-support materials that assist almond growers to better adapt to climate change.


  • Tapan Pathak – Extension Specialist - Climate Adaptation in Ag, Sierra Nevada Research Institute, University of California, Merced.
  • David Doll – Tree Nut Pomology Farm Advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension.
  • Andrew Jones – Deputy Director, Climate Readiness Institute. Research Scientist, Climate Sciences Department, Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
  • Margaret Torn – Adjunct Professor, Energy and Resources Group, UC Berkeley. Program co-head, Climate and Carbon Sciences, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
  • Amber Kerr – Postdoctoral scholar, John Muir Institute of the Environment, UC Davis. Coordinator, USDA Regional Climate Sub Hub for California.

Matthew Shapero


Rangelands are more than 50% of the total land area in the western United States, and this large, continuous landscape supports an important suite of market and non-market ecosystem services. However, invasive weeds are driving dramatic ecosystem change by lowering forage quality, altering nutrient and hydrological cycles, degrading wildlife habitat, and increasing the frequency and extent of fire. Invasive weed control is often thought about in purely ecological terms, and yet ranchers and land managers are also informed by social, economic, policy, and institutional considerations. Ecologically feasible solutions to weeds do not necessarily make for practically feasible management. Working out of the UC Sierra Foothills Research and Extension Center in Browns Valley, California, Matthew will work to understand both the ecological and social dimensions of invasive weed management, by conducting interviews with producers, organizing workshops for land managers, and participating in ongoing pasture-scale experiments statewide.


  • Jeremy James, Director, UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center

  • Lynn Huntsinger, Professor Rangeland Ecology & Management, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management

  • Fadzayi Mashiri, Livestock and Natural Resources Farm Advisor for Mariposa, Merced, and Madera counties

  • Theresa Becchetti, Livestock and Natural Resource Farm Advisor for Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties

  • Glenn Nader, Livestock and Natural Resource Farm Advisor for Yuba, Sutter, and Butte counties

Nathan Van Schmidt


Nathan is combining field data from four different labs studying how water use, irrigation policy, and climate and drought interact to affect natural and artificial wetlands in California rangelands. By feeding these field data into simulation models, he's working on disentangling how to best manage this complex human and natural system to increase the ecosystem services delivered by these wetlands (recreational value and providing wildlife habitat) while mitigating their disservices (mosquitoes and West Nile Virus). For his cooperative extension project he will be working with landowners, irrigation districts, and other stakeholders in the region to engage them in the modeling process and ensure the questions he's trying to answer are relevant to their management needs.


  • Steven Beissinger, Professor of Conservation Biology and A. Starker Leopold Chair in Wildlife Biology, UC Berkeley Dept of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management
  • Van Butsic, Land Use Change Specialist, UC Berkeley Dept of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management
  • Roger Ingram, Placer-Nevada County Director and Farm Advisor, Cooperative Extension Placer County
  • Randall Mutters, County Director and Farm Advisor, Cooperative Extension Butte County
  • Samuel Sandoval Solis, Water Management Specialist, UC Davis Dept of Land, Air, & Water Resources


Kristen Shive


Kristen's dissertation research focuses on shifting fire regimes in mixed conifer forests throughout California, with emphasis on how patterns of severe fire and post-fire management activities affect post-fire vegetation trajectories. In partnership with Cooperative Extension, Kristen is working to develop outreach programs and materials that examine the pros and cons of commonly applied post-fire management treatments, including salvage logging and rice straw mulch application.  She hopes that her research and outreach will help both private and public land owners make more informed decisions about managing severely burned landscapes in the future.


  • Susie Kocher, Forestry/Natural Resources Advisor, Cooperative Extension Central Sierra (El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties)

  • Rich Standiford, Forest Management Specialist, UC Berkeley Cooperative Extension

  • Kevin O'Hara, Professor, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management

2014-2015 Graduate Student Researchers

Graduate Student Researchers Funded through the Graduate Training in Cooperative Extension Pilot Program:

Adam Calo


Agricultural extension has historically been an expert led endeavor, where university scientists draw up improved farming regimens and recipes derived from controlled experimental plots. Inspired by the successes of participatory agricultural research, I’m interested in viewing extension as means to facilitate local farmer knowledge for improved decision making based on a diverse set of lived contexts. In particular, I hope to use participatory mapping technologies to engage small scale farmers in collaborative data collection for the purpose of engaging findings with regional policy makers.


  • Christy Getz, Associate Cooperative Extension Specialist. UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management
  • Shimat Villanassery Joseph, IPM Advisor, Cooperative Extension Monterey County
  • Rob Bennaton, County Director and County Urban Agriculture Advisor, Cooperative Extension Alameda County


Stella Cousins


Stella is interested in unraveling how and why forests change. Stella and her collaborators  are evaluating and expanding the Forestry Institute for Teachers programs, disseminating research on the impacts of drought and climate on California forests, and showing educators how to snap pictures of tree rings (and other tiny wonders) with their phones. 
  • Michael De Lasaux, Natural Resources Advisor, Cooperative Extension Plumas & Sierra Counties
  • Ryan DeSantis, Forestry/Natural Resources Advisor, Cooperative Extension Shasta, Trinity, and Siskiyou Counties
  • Susie Kocher, Forestry/Natural Resources Advisor, Cooperative Extension Central Sierra (El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties)
  • John Battles, Professor of Forest Ecology, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management
Luke Macaulay
Luke's research seeks to gather information from private landowners and managers to specifically determine how recreational hunting for big game and upland game may influence decisions regarding land-use and conservation practices. This information will help to inform how Cooperative Extension and government programs may be used to encourage practices that not only help to conserve natural resources, but also provide increased recreational benefits on private land.
  • Barbara Allen-Diaz, Vice President, Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, Director of Cooperative Extension, and Professor and Russell Rustici Chair in Rangeland Management, UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Reg Barrett, Professor Emeritus, Wildlife Biology & Management, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management
  • Van Butsic, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management
  • Julie A Finzel, Farm Advisor, Cooperative Extension Kern County
  • Larry Forero, County Director and Natural Resources Advisor, Cooperative Extension Shasta County
  • Gregory Giusti, County Director and Forests & Wildland Ecology Advisor, Cooperative Extension Lake & Mendocino Counties
  • Lynn Huntsinger, Professor Rangeland Ecology & Management, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management
  • Susan Kocher, Forestry & Natural Resources Advisor, Cooperative Extension Central Sierra (El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties)
  • Jeffery W Stackhouse, Livestock and Natural Resource Advisor, Cooperative Extension Humboldt County 


Kevi Mace


Kevi Mace-Hill is a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Nicholas Mills' lab at UC Berkeley. As an agricultural and ecological entomologist, her research is on understanding and improving conservation biological control in California walnut orchards and school gardens, with a particular focus on providing information that is applicable to and usable by farmers and gardeners. Creating and providing extension material on beneficial insect identification is a part of her project.

  • Nicholas Mills, Professor, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management
  • Virginia Bolshakova, County Director, Elkus Ranch Director, and Youth Development Advisor, Cooperative Extension San Mateo-San Francisco Counties
Hillary Sardinas


Most of native bee crop pollinators are ground nesting; making on-farm management of their populations challenging. Her research and outreach focuses on the soil qualities influencing native bee nesting habits and how nesting rates are affected by different management techniques, including hedgerows and irrigation method.

  • Claire Kremen, Professor, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management
  • Rachael Long, Farm Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension Yolo County
Kate Wilkin

People and wildland fire are integral to California. Today, people and fire are often in opposition of one another; requiring us to find ways to coexist. Therefore, I study wildland fire -- how it worked historically, how it works today, and what are the solutions to protect people and nature.

  • Scott Stephens, Professor, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management
  • Maggi Kelly, Cooperative Extension Specialist, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management
  • Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Staff Research Associate, Cooperative Extension Humboldt County
  • Yana Valachovic, County Director and Forest Advisor, Cooperative Extension Humboldt and Del Norte Counties


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