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Preparing passionate leaders driving change in sustainability and stewardship of the environment.

  —Our Mission

M.S. Environmental Sciences and Management Students

Max McCool

Hi all! My name is Max McCool. I am from the fabulous, rainy city of Portland, Oregon. I am a graduate student working with the amazing Dr. Charlotte DeCock on my thesis project. My project centers around the utilization of cover crops and mycorrhizae to reduce GHG emissions on Lemon Orchards. This is an amazing project due to the faculty I get to work with, but because it broadens my horizons beyond my initial B.S. in Environmental Management. My plans for the future are to obtain a J.D. and Ph.D in a joint program and eventually work for the Sierra Club or the NRDC to lobby for de-privatization of water rights throughout the nation.

Natalie Nemeth

California really seems to call to me, from the Southern California beaches to the rugged Northern California landscapes! I was raised in San Diego, later working as an Ocean Lifeguard for eight years with Fire and Rescue. I attended the University of San Francisco receiving an undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a minor in Spanish sharpening my degree interests to study sustainable food systems and food justice. I am now eager to embark on the graduate program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on the central coast! I am hopeful to focus my studies within soil sciences and land rehabilitation. My applied field project is to establish a baseline vegetation study of the amount and type of cover, density of perennial plants, and species diversity of the West Fiscalini Ranch Preserve (West Ranch) Monterey pine forest understory and compare that to models of less disturbed Monterey pine forest habitats. Upon graduation, I intend to gain experience domestically and internationally within Spanish speaking countries pursuing environmental and socioeconomic consultancy with aspirations of mitigating the effects of the climate crisis.

Natalie Fontana

Hello! I was raised in the beautiful city of Seattle, Washington where I spent most of my time hiking in the mountains or exploring marine life around the Puget sound. I was awarded a Bachelors of Science in 2019 from Western Washington University’s Huxley: College of the Environment. My undergraduate studies were heavily science based with a focus on ecology and water quality which kept me very busy with research in the field and lab. I am pursuing a Master’s degree from Cal Poly’s NRES program because I am extremely interested in sustainability solutions. Specifically, I will be studying how water quality management on agricultural lands can be used to mitigate climate change.

Dyani Frye

Expanding my breadth of soils knowledge from coast to coast! I’m a 2019 graduate from the University of Maryland, where I participated on the soil judging team for 2 years. I got a chance to visit Cal Poly during the 2019 National Soil Judging Contest, and I was immediately in awe of the school, people, and landscapes. I’m fascinated by how soils develop, how they are classified, and most importantly how to protect and sustain our most precious natural resource. I am working alongside Dr. Gordon Rees on my thesis project to adapt portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy for use in testing properties of CA soils. pXRF technology makes it possible to quantify the elemental profile of a soil sample which can be used to refine or develop models that predict other soil characteristics such as pH. I look forward to an exciting career as a soil scientist, traveling the globe and getting my hands dirty.

Joe Murphy

I grew up in Bellingham, Washington and came to SLO to attend Cal Poly in 2009. I graduated with a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering, spent a few years working in the field in SLO, and eventually found an opportunity to apply my civil engineering to conservation and restoration work at the local Resource Conservation District. Now I'm working towards my Master's in Environmental Sciences and Management to get a better grounding in the ecological aspect of my work, and better combine environmental science with engineering. My thesis work is with Dr. Surfleet studying the hydrologic impacts of the removal of encroaching conifers in historic meadows in the Southern Cascade Mountains of California.

Nora Bales

I am from a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills, where my love for natural resources and the environment began. My life has been shaped by the beauty and brutality of California, and my love for the natural world drove me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Here I found my niche in botany - botany gave me a new lens to see the world through: taxonomy provided organization and structure to chaos, and my botany and ecology classes taught me to deeply understand and appreciate the world around me. Since completing my bachelor’s degree in 2018, I have been working professionally as a botanist for three years. However, when faced with questions concerning restoration ecology and resource management, I realized I was often missing one of the most fundamental components of any natural system: the soil. To develop a more holistic ecological perspective, I have returned to Cal Poly as a master’s student to pursue a graduate degree in environmental sciences with an emphasis in soil science. 

Aaron Lee

I grew up in Pasadena, California with my fantastic family until I decided I wanted to take off to Montana to work on my grandfather's farm. It was there that I fell in love with farming and working the land. From there I went to UC Davis and received a degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, which led to my current job as the Agricultural Management Specialist at Swanton Pacific Ranch. My thesis project is centered around the carbon sequestration potential of compost applications on California Rangelands. 

Adriana Stagnaro

I grew up in the forested hills of the beautiful and diverse landscape of Sonoma County, CA in the northern San Francisco Bay Area. In 2017, our county started to burn in a way few thought was possible. Through Cal Poly's MS in Environmental Sciences & Management, I hope to explore forest management strategies, forest treatment effectiveness, wildland fire and pathways for public engagement. Empowering landowners and the community to be active stewards of California's fire-dependent landscape is my professional goal. I look forward to learning from and working with CP faculty, partners, and the greater community while here in SLO. 

Brandon Hurd

After graduating from Cal Poly in 2015 with a BS + MS in Engineering, I worked as a mechanical engineer for a few years before shifting focus. I had the privilege of volunteering and working in a handful of farming communities that showed me a lifestyle where agriculture and conservation are connected. Now I am working with Professor Nick Babin to develop a small agroforestry plot in the Student Experimental Farm and studying how to reintegrate Oaks as a food crop, while raising Elderberry, European Chestnuts, Figs, and other climate-appropriate crops that could be (eventually) dry-farmed and naturalized in organized restoration efforts that mimic our Oak Savanna ecosystem in San Luis Obispo County.

Dalis De La Mora

Hello there! I am originally from Los Angeles, California and am a returning Environmental Management Cal Poly SLO 2021 graduate. My graduate degree emphasis is in sustainability as I am super interested in the concept of climate neutrality and in management solutions to reach that goal. I am pursing my master's degree to further my skills and knowledge in environmental management as well as for the chance to dive into studies surrounding sustainability management. My project focuses on the physical, social, and economic impacts of climate change on underserved communities and intents to inform the City of SLO Climate Action Plan.

 Jesse Stewart

I was born and raised in San Diego, CA so I wanted to go a bit north for college and ended up in San Luis Obispo! I received my Bachelor's of Science in Environmental Management and Protection with a minor in GIS at Cal Poly, and wanted to return for a master's degree. I decided to return to Cal Poly to further my education since I wanted to expand upon my knowledge on hydrology and refine my GIS skills. Plus, I love the beaches and hiking trails that San Luis Obispo offers. I will be working with Dr. Surfleet and Dr. Chiu to create a long term monitoring plan for San Luis Obispo and Stenner Creeks. I'm looking forward to a year of building connections and furthering my hands-on education.

Mia Berg 

Hello! My name is Mia Berg and I am originally from the San Jose Bay Area. I completed my undergraduate degree in Environmental Management and Protection here at Cal Poly in 2021, and was eager to return to SLO to continue my studies! While in this program, I hope to take coursework surrounding the topics of sustainability, environmental policy, and planning. My project involves working with the SLO Microcommunity Collaborative on an assessment of climate impacts on residents. I hope to continue in the field of environmental planning after my completion of the program, and I’m really excited to further my education this year!

Ben Rocha 

I am from Livermore, California. I completed my Bachelor’s in Environmental Management and Protection at Cal Poly in 2021 and am now pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Sciences and Management. My studies focus on environmental justice in the United States. During my free time I enjoy exploring the outdoors, hiking, swimming, and camping.  

Carson Bristol 

I am originally from Colorado Springs, CO and graduated from Cal Poly in Spring 2021 with a degree in Environmental Management & Protection. I'm extremely excited to be pursuing a master's degree at Cal Poly to expand my knowledge about quantitative sustainability in supply chains and businesses. My graduate research will focus on conducting comprehensive life cycle assessment in the American hop and brewing supply chain in an effort to increase sustainability in commercial hop production. I hope to utilize my work at Cal Poly to gain a better understanding of the emissions associated with supply chains to identify what stages of product production can be best utilized to boost sustainability.  

Jack Dimmock 

Recently graduating from University of Redlands, I majored in Environmental Science and minored in Spatial Studies, inspired by my passion to learn more about how Earth systems are affected by physical geography. My semester in Australia helped broaden my environmental understanding of hemisphere, continent, coast, region, seasonality, climate, and culture. For my professional project, I am working with the Micro Community Collaborative to advise the City of San Luis Obispo Climate Action Plan. 

Sina Schwenk-Mueller 

I was born and raised in Southern California. I completed my undergraduate education at Cal Poly in June 2021 with a B.S. in Environmental Management and Protection, and minors in Sustainable Environments and City and Regional Planning. I wanted to pursue a Master of Science degree to expand my knowledge in certain areas, such as environmental science, sustainability, and public policy. During my graduate studies, I will be researching an environmental screening system called EJScreen, focusing on potential improvements regarding its air quality metrics to ultimately benefit the affected communities. 

Amanda Gersoff 

I grew up on the coast in Santa Barbara, California and have enjoyed living in San Luis Obispo over the past four years. I recently graduated from Cal Poly with a B.S. in Environmental Management and Protection and minors in Land Rehabilitation and Restoration Ecology as well as Indigenous Studies in Natural Resources and the Environment. Currently, I am working with Dr. Seeta Sistla on my master's thesis about the ecological effects of photovoltaic solar arrays on agricultural rangelands. After completing my master's degree, I hope to pursue a career in restoration ecology or conservation biology. I look forward to applying the skills and experience gained from this program to my future work.  

Scott Soderquist 

I was born and raised in Davis, California and graduated from Cal Poly in 2021 with a B.S. Environmental Management & Protection. My undergraduate courses engendered a passion for environmental policy, water policy and aquatic ecosystems. I am pursuing a M.S. in Environmental Sciences & Management to make the largest impact within the environmental field that I can. My project focuses on the water quality in central coast bar-built estuaries in coordination with Creek Lands Conservation’s estuary data monitoring. In my free time, you can find me exploring local hiking trails and taking in all Cal Poly sporting events. 

Robyn Brooks 

Hi all! I grew up in the small town of Healdsburg, CA, where I learned to love the outdoors with a tight knit group of family friends. Every summer we found a new place to explore, and learned to appreciate the humbling force that is nature through multi-day backpacking trips. I worked on a small organic farm in Healdsburg before coming to Cal Poly to study Environmental Earth and Soil Science. The two experiences solidified by passion for soil, and drove my motivation for furthering my education through the ESM master’s program here at Cal Poly. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and cannot wait to see where it will take me!  

Matthew Crockett 

Hi all! I am from Sacramento, California. I am thankful to be returning to Cal Poly as a graduate student after graduating in environmental management and protection in June 2021. I will be working with Dr. Surfleet studying the effects of wildfire on soil erosion and stream sedimentation at Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch, and area recently impacted by the CZU Lightning Complex fires. I will also be seeking to identify policies that can be implemented to facilitate improved post-fire response. I have career interests in forest management policy and post-fire restoration, and I am eager to enhance my knowledge pertaining to these topics throughout the completion of my graduate degree. 

Other Students

  • Ky Dupuis
  • James Raney
  • Reed Williams
  • Jacqueline Royer
  • Elizabeth Luck
  • David Feldtkeller
  • Cameron White
  • Sarah Miller

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