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Students & Postdocs

Rong Xu

Master's Student
Rong is a graduate student in the SEAS Master's degree program. She has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences. She is interested in studying ecosystem ecology and nutrient cycling for a Master's thesis. She is also interested in integrating quantitative tools such as modeling and statistics.
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Jannice Newson

Master's student
Jannice is from Chicago and obtained a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Missouri. She has worked on projects pertaining to shoreline restoration evaluation and GHG emissions in wetlands. She is interested in learning more about wetlands, limnology, and plant species while at SEAS.
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Joy Yakie

Master's student
Joy Yakie is a Master’s student in the Conservation Ecology track at SEAS. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Ms. Yakie is interested in Ecosystem and Restoration Ecology and she will be focusing on wetlands precisely. Her research would concentrate on human-caused disturbances in wetlands and explore various ecological approaches and responses to such intrusions.
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Liza Jenkins

PhD student
Liza Jenkins works at the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) in Ann Arbor, while working on her PhD dissertation at UM with Bill Currie as her advisor. Liza works on remote sensing of land cover, vegetation and lakes in Alaska and the Arctic.
Sarah Kiger

Sarah Kiger

PhD student
Sarah is developing a new modeling approach to model ecosystem structure and function as well as ecosystem services in the human-dominated residential landscape. She is using Biome-BGC, an ecosystem model that has been used to model wildland biomes across the globe. She is editing the model code to simulate the interaction of turfgrass and trees that is characteristic of exurban residential land in Southeastern Michigan, while also editing the code to simulate human activities such as raking leaves, mowing grass and pruning trees. She is translating model output on ecosystem structure and function into a variety of quantified ecosystem services.
Sean Sharp

Sean Sharp

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Sean is a postdoctoral research fellow broadly interested in understanding how global change, including climate change, invasive species, and nutrient pollution, translates to local changes within coastal wetland ecosystems and communities. He earned his PhD at University of Florida studying disturbance and resilience dynamics of salt marsh ecosystems of the southeastern United States. He is currently working on a NASA-funded project to forecast impacts of regional land use, socioeconomic and environmental change to Great Lakes watersheds and coastal wetland communities. Specifically, he is working with the Mondrian development team and collaborators from Michigan State University and Michigan Technical Research Institute to enhance nutrient cycling in Mondrian, a process-based simulation model, and incorporate it into a larger Great Lakes watershed hydrology model.
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Erin Barton

Master's Student
Erin Barton completed her Bachelor’s degree in Sustainability Science at Arizona State University on 2016. She worked with Bill Currie as her Master’s thesis advisor in SEAS. In 2018, Erin completed her Master’s degree that included a thesis on the relationship between Human Appropriation of Net Primary Productivity (HANPP) and biodiversity, using habitat variability as a proxy for biodiversity. She used digital geospatial datasets to focus on forested, agricultural, and mixed-use landscapes across the widely ranging variability in forest cover in the Great Lakes region. Erin, Bill Currie, and Doug Pearsall are now working to submit a peer-review publication from Erin's thesis work.
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Preeti Rao

Postdoc
Preeti Rao was a postdoctoral researcher recently working with Bill Currie and Dan Brown on a range of research projects. She conducts research in geospatial and spatio-temporal analysis using GIS and remote sensing, natural and managed ecosystems, urban ecosystems, human-environment interactions, GHG emissions, and global environmental change. She completed her PhD at Boston University in 2013 and was formerly a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech in Pasadena, CA. One of projects in our research group involved assessing the intensity of forest harvest relative to net primary productivity and evaluating the effects of forest management on species composition, age and size class structure using digital geospatial datasets. She is used US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data, combined with MODIS data on net primary productivity and other datasets to study characteristics of forests across the extreme north-south gradient in forest land cover and fragmentation within the Great Lakes region.