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Gunnar Johnson

School Partner: Mt. Tabor Middle School, Portland
Teacher Partner: Kirk Ordway
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Fountain, Geology
Degree: PhD in Environmental Science and Management


Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Gunnar took natural spaces for granted, unable to fully appreciate the vast expanses of forest and rangeland around him until got out and saw a bit of the world. After recognizing these spaces were irreplaceable treasures being squandered little by little, he decided to study ecology. After completing an Environmental Science BS at Portland State University, Gunnar is now pursuing an Environmental Science PhD. Water resources have been the focus of both degrees, with GIS spatial analysis techniques the primary theme of his undergraduate work and alpine glaciers the primary theme of his graduate work. 


Nicole Alfafara

School Partner: Dexter McCarthy Middle School, Gresham
Teacher Partner: Brie Bui
Research: Harmful Algal Bloom Ecology and Management
Advisor: Dr. Yangdong Pan, Environmental Science and Management
Degree: PhD in Environmental Science and Management


Nicole’s general research interests include aquatic toxicology, environmental chemistry, limnology, environmental education and water resource management. She received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Lake Superior State University and her M.S. in Environmental Science from Minnesota State University where she studied environmental toxicology. Nicole’s past research focused on enhancing the understanding of the toxicological risks associated with cyanobacteria exposure, looking at the impacts of E. coli in storm water discharges, and exploring how past and present human interactions have impacted water quality. Nicole’s PhD research at Portland State University aims to determine which water quality parameters are most influential in harmful algal bloom formation, how climate can confound current management efforts and the current level of public awareness. She aims to develop a proper lake management framework for harmful algal bloom mitigation that targets key triggers and acknowledges the role of climate.


Sarah Kidd

School Partner: Sam Barlow High School, Gresham
Teacher Partner: Bill Martin
Research: Wetland & riparian ecology, invasive plant ecology, restoration science and management.   
Advisor: Dr. Alan Yeakley, Environmental Science and Management
Degree: PhD in Environmental Science and Management


Sarah Kidd is a wetland restoration ecologist who has been conducting restoration effectiveness research since 2008. Sarah’s research focus is on wetland restoration and invasive species management in the Lower Columbia River Basin. As an undergraduate, Sarah studied resource management and applied ecology at Oregon State University, and graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in environmental science. After graduating from Oregon State, Sarah furthered her education and training in the environmental field by working as an environmental educator on a tall ship in Long Island Sound and as a Naturalist in Juneau, Alaska. She became especially interested in conducting wetland restoration research in the Lower Columbia Basin while working as a Trails Coordinator through the University of Oregon Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) program in the growing coastal city of Warrenton, Oregon. Sarah’s master’s degree research at PSU focused on identifying the impacts of livestock grazing and exclusion on riparian wetland plant communities and invasive plant species abundance in the Columbia River Bottomlands. For her PhD research, Sarah is working to identify ecosystem service restoration trajectories of reconnected tidal wetlands in Young's Bay Watershed in the Lower Columbia River Estuary. Through this research she would like to help enhance our understanding of how wetland ecosystem services are successfully restored, sustained and valued.


Amy Truitt


School Partner: Glencoe High School, Hillsoboro
Teacher Partner: Linda Wolf
Research: Butterfly pathology and effects of disease on population dynamics.
Advisor: Dr. Catherine E. de Rivera, Environmental Science
Degree: Phd in Environmental Science


After eight years of working as a researcher in the field of neuroscience, I found myself seeking more applicable science work and decided to pursue my Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Management at Portland State University. Two years of being employed as a Cascade to Coast GK-12 teaching assistant prepared and excited me for the beginning of the fellowship stage of the program. Currently, my dissertation research is on investigating the spread of insect diseases, with a focus on butterflies infected with the reproductive parasite Wolbachia. With the GK-12 fellowship, I am working to provide guidance and inspiration as students begin exploring their own scientific curiosity.


Gina Marchini

School Partner: Liberty High School, Hillsboro
Teacher Partner: Paul Hanson
Research: Research: Mechanisms facilitating invasion in Brachypodium sylvaticum (slender false brome)
Advisor: Dr. Mitchell B. Cruzan, Biology


Gina is a Biology PhD candidate in Mitch Cruzan’s lab at Portland State University.  Her research utilizes the newly invasive weed Brachypodium sylvaticum (slender false brome) as a model for adaptation and evolution of plants introduced to novel environments.  Her current research focuses on the combined ecological, physiological, and genetic components that result in a plant species successfully establishing in a new habitat. This research will not only assist in the management of invasive B. sylvaticum populations, but will increase our knowledge on the fate of plant populations experiencing environmental stress in their native habitats as a result of climate change. Gina received a BS in Conservation Biology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science 


Tim Elder

E-mail: telder@pdx.du
School Partner: Gresham High School, Gresham

Teacher Partner: Kathy Childress
Research: Ecology and Population Dynamics of Columbia River Salmon
Advisor: Dr. Angela Strecker, Environmental Science and Management
PhD in Environmental Science and Management 


Tim is a forth year PhD student, studying ecology and population dynamics of salmon on the Columbia River.  Prior to the National Science Foundation GK-12 Fellowship, I worked as a laboratory teaching assistant in the Environmental Science and Management department at Portland State University and as a fish biologist for the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.  My current research focuses on identifying variables that influence salmon survival through hydroprojects in the Lower Columbia River and assessing of the occurrence and possible causes of the "sneaky male" life history strategy among salmonids.


Monica Mogilewsky


School Partner: Gresham Highschool, Gresham
Teacher Partner: Jennie Richards
Research: Lemur Behavior and Ecology 
Advisor: Dr. Natalie Vasey, Anthropology
Degree: PhD in Environmental Science and Resources


I fell in love with lemurs while doing undergraduate research on inter and intra species communication for her senior thesis.  After earning my BA in Biology/Chemistry from New College of Florida, I worked for the Lemur Conservation Foundation (LCF), managing the lemur colony at their Myakka City Lemur Reserve for ten years.  LCF’s lemurs served as ambassadors, teaching students of all ages about evolution, biodiversity, science in society, and conservation; their charm, charisma, and resiliency in the face of rapid and severe environmental degradation inspired me to earn a Master’s degree in Biodiversity Conservation and Management from the University of London’s International Programme.  I am currently pursuing my doctorate in Environmental Science and Resources at Portland State University, studying the interactions between lemur behavior, ecological heterogeneity and environmental change in the Masoala National Park, Madagascar.  I am passionate about the power of biodiversity and conservation to improve peoples’ lives, both at home and abroad.


updated 10/18/14