Meet Our Staff


Dr. Christa McDermott

Dr. Christa McDermott is a social psychologist whose work focuses on environmental behavior change at institutional and individual levels. She has a long history of involvement in environmental policy, the use of social science to inform behavior change, and advocacy for better materials management. As an APA Congressional Fellow and AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, she worked for Senator Robert Menendez, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy on projects that ranged from climate change policy to improving uptake of energy efficiency initiatives. While working in federal government, she kept active in local zero waste efforts, serving on the advisory board of SCRAP-DC, an affiliate of Portland’s SCRAP. She holds a joint Ph.D. in Psychology and Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan where she conducted research on the relationship between personality and environmental attitudes and behaviors. She was hooked on reducing waste before graduate school, starting a recycling program at her undergraduate college and helping run an NCRA conference on recycling in California. As a psychologist, Dr. McDermott has a special interest in our emotional relationships with possessions, how we construct identities through consumption, and hoarding. She looks forward to working with CES students, PSU faculty, and community partners on using a lifecycle approach in materials management, improving social equity and environmental health while reducing waste, and finding ways to encourage re-use. She likes to process ideas by taking ‘walking meetings’ but know that if she invites you to one, she inevitably ends up with her hands full of litter picked up along the way and she might ask you to hold some when she spies that 'last' piece.

Contact Christa McDermott 


Joshewa Fulton

Joshewa Fulton is the Interim Program Administrator at CES. He joined the team in the spring of 2018 as a Project Assistant and soon after became the Project Lead for the Portland Event Recycling program. An undergraduate student pursuing a double major in Geography and Urban and Public Affairs. Joshewa has a history of supporting students through his role at CES and previous work at the Student Sustainability Center.

Contact Joshewa Fulton


Ben Acord-Becker

Ben Acord-Becker is the Solid Waste Assessment Team Project Lead at CES. He is a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning Candidate at Portland State University with an emphasis in environmental planning and sustainable development. His current career aspiration is to work in climate-action planning. He graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Philosophy from Pacific Lutheran University in 2018. Ben has been interested in working in waste diversion since 2015 when he began working as a waste technician for the department of Waste Diversion at PLU.


Antonio Leiva

Antonio Leiva joined the CES team as the Administrative Assistant in August 2017. He provides administrative and office support to CES. Antonio is currently pursuing an undergraduate in Community Development. Prior to joining CES, Antonio earned an Associate in Arts degree in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement. He worked at the Boys and Girls Club of Salem, Marion, and Polk Counties as a Teen Coordinator. Antonio has a background of working at Chemeketa Community College as a Student Ambassador, and has experience of being “community oriented” due to his involvement in non-profit work and community outreach. In his free time, he likes to play basketball and volunteer. In the Fall of 2018, Antonio was apointed to be the Student Trustee on the PSU Board of Trustees. 


Karissa Pavlik 

Karissa joined CES in 2015 as a Project Assistant and is currently the Data Coordinator for the Port of Portland on our Waste Minimization Team. As a project assistant, she primarily worked on Materials Assessments and Portland Multifamily Recycling. She is in OHSU-PSU's Master of Public Health program with a focus on Management and Policy.
Alexandra Vargas
Alexandra is the Recycling and Reuse Coordinator at the Port of Portland on our Waste Minimization Team. She is a graduate student in the Professional Science Master in Environmental Science and Management program at PSU, building on her bachelor degree in Environmental Engineering. She has seven years of experience working in sustainability in the private sector back home in Peru. She is a specialist in carbon footprint management and has developed clean production projects. Additionally, Alexandra has implemented environmental education tools and carried out awareness campaigns because she is confident that environmental awareness is the first step to achieve global change. For her master degree she is working in a team integrated project studying PSU’s approach to stormwater management.
Virginia Saraswati 
Gina Saraswati originally joined CES in 2016 as a Project Staff while she was completing her Bachelor's in Economics and a Minor in Sustainability. She has returned to PSU for graduate school and is pursuing a Master's in Economics degree. She is now taking over the Project Lead position for the Portland Multifamily Recycling Program as well as the Single-Family Can Weight Study Program. She hopes to use her data analysis skills to help inform policy decisions in pursuit of a more sustainable future. In addition to waste reduction and resource conservation, her other interests include hiking, exploring the outdoors, yoga, rock climbing and sketching with watercolors.

Karen Lowe

Karen Lowe joined CES as a Project Assistant in January 2020 and is focusing on business communications and outreach. An MBA candidate, she hopes to reduce waste in supply chains and promote circular economy principles in the private sector post-graduation.


Kevin Perkins

Kevin Perkins is the Project Lead for Portland Event Recycling at CES. He is actively pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Geography with a focus on climate change and sustainability. Previously, Kevin served in the United States Army as an Infantry Squad Leader in various locations around the world. When not taking classes and working, Kevin loves to read, write, travel, practice photography and spend time with friends. After travelling from place to place for many years, Kevin is happy to call Portland home. 


Alondra Flores Aviña

Alondra Flores Aviña joined CES in January of 2020 as a Project Assistant. She is currently pursuing an undergraduate in Community Development with a focus in Civic Leadership. Alondra’s interest in sustainability started at Portland Community College and since transferring to PSU she has been involved with the Student Sustainability Center. She volunteered with the Beekeeping Task Force for two years and is currently the student fellow for the Garden Task Force. Alondra also works for a local nonprofit that focuses in sustainability and working with marginalized communities. Through her community work she has found an interest in community outreach, environmental justice and youth development. In her free time, she enjoys reading books, painting, hiking, and watching movies.