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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


Maxwell Taylor

Although I was born in San Diego, CA, I’ve spent most of my adult life living in Washington State. My undergraduate degree is in Environmental Science and Geology from Central Washington University. I am currently working on my Environmental Sciences and Management here at Cal Poly, and my project is on the effects of fuel-reduction mitigation strategies on wildfire emissions in California. I hope to pursue a career in environmental consulting for local and state governments in the Pacific Northwest upon graduation.

Braden Povah

I am from the Agoura Hills area of Los Angeles County, California. I received a B.S. in Forestry and Natural Resource Management from Cal Poly in 2019 with a concentration in hydrology that introduced me to soil science. I decided to pursue an M.S. in Environmental Science with an emphasis in soil science to bolster my background in soils for a future Ph.D. in the field. For my duration at Cal Poly I will be researching and modeling the link between soil properties and sudden oak death.

Daniel Keeley

Daniel Keeley 

I am from a tiny town called Three Rivers, California. I completed my undergrad at the University of California, Santa Barbara with a BS in Biology. After spending several years working a variety of jobs both domestically and abroad I decided to come home for graduate school. I am currently working with Dr. Richard Cobb studying management of sudden oak death in Humboldt county. After graduation I plan to use my degree as a field instructor both domestically and internationally, ultimately, I hope to leading canopy related field work and teach scientific tree climbing. 

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Deirdre Sommerlad-Rogers 

I am originally from San Jose, CA.  I have earned several different degrees: San Jose State University, MS. In Sociology and Bowling Green State University, Ph.D. in Sociology. I am getting my M.S. in Forestry with a concertation in Environmental Management   My thesis is looking at simulation modeling of carbon sequestration in grasslands with Dr. Chiu. I decided to come back to school to get a M.S. in Forestry after a number of years of my research’s focus shifting toward issues if Eco-justice and sustainability. I decided to come to Cal Poly after moving to the area to fill in some gaps in my knowledge as well as create local networks of like-minded scholars.

Simon Marks 

I am from Lodi, CA. I am returning to Cal Poly as a graduate student after completing my undergraduate degree in Environmental Management at Cal Poly in June 2019. My graduate degree emphasis is in hydrology. Accordingly, I am working on a thesis researching the hydrology of a conifer encroached meadow in Lassen County, California. I intend on pursuing a PhD program in hydrology after completion of my degree. 

Derron Dike

I am originally from Santa Clara, CA. I received my A.S. degree in Horticulture from Foothill Community College in 1991. I transferred to Cal Poly and received my B.S. degree in Horticulture in 1994. After graduating, I stayed in San Luis Obispo and worked as a small farmer and a landscaper (also have worked in wholesale and retail nurseries). I have been working for Cal Poly in facilities since 2015, and have been taking classes in anticipation of pursuing the Master of Science degree in Environmental Sciences and Management. My emphasis is in agriculture and environmental law and policy. My project is looking at potential development of Farm Bill programs in relation to climate change and the Green New Deal. Accomplishing a master’s degree from Cal Poly will improve my competitive advantages to advance my career.

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.

Olivia McKay

I was born in San Diego, CA and moved to Scarsdale, NY in high school. After my first few winters in New York I just knew I had to come back to California, and what better place to live than San Luis Obispo! I completed my undergraduate studies at Cal Poly in 2020 with a B.S. in Environmental Earth and Soil Sciences. I am hoping to refine my knowledge during this time at Cal Poly, focusing my studies on sustainability and policy as I hope to teach Earth Science in the future. I am really looking forward to this next year and am grateful to be here!

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.

Allison Trutna

I am originally from Yuba City, California and I recently graduated from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois with a BA in Mathematics. I decided to pursue the MS in Environmental Sciences & Management to better prepare me for a career in natural resources. I will be working with Dr. Doug Piirto and Dr. Dierdre Rodgers to re-measure plots and compare them to previously collected pre-fire data in the Año Nuevo Monterey pine forest.

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.

Davis Harrison

I grew up in Upland, California, I went to the University of Arizona where I received a BS in Economics. After which I lived in San Diego for a few years before going back to school. In my personal time I enjoy rock climbing, hiking, trail running, camping, and really anything outdoors. While in the MS program here at Cal Poly I will be studying forest sciences and environmental policy. I, along with fellow student Allison, are working with Dr. Rogers and Dr. Doug Piirto on a professional project researching the effects of a recent fire, as well as relocating, re-establishing, mapping, pitch canker plots in the Año Nuevo Monterey Pine Forest. After graduation I hope to work in forestry and natural resource management.

Nicolas Cary

Hello everybody! I hail from San Francisco. I’m a man of all things outdoors but I’m most interested in alpine climbing, backpacking, gardening, research, and music. I’m pursuing my graduate degree in Natural Resource Management so I can do my part in preserving the natural wonders of the world.

Alexis Montgomery

I am a naturalist studying Environmental Sciences with an emphasis in Environmental Policy, Indigenous People’s Law and Policy, and Ecology. I currently work at the Cal Poly Multicultural Center as a Graduate Assistant and am interested in resourcing and holding space for underrepresented students to dream and vision. I am in a process of discovering strategies that can support people with limited means in reclaiming their wellness, personal autonomy, and relationship to the natural world. Outside of academia, I am passionate about the continuum of human life on this planet--centering attention on protecting and stewarding birth and postpartum, attachment systems, community, food and resource systems, and ecological health.

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.

Timothy Chen

I grew up in the town of Riverside, California. I graduated from Cal Poly in 2020 with my B.S. in Environmental Management and Protection. My area of interest is in that of surface water and groundwater quality. I am currently a proud intern for the County of San Luis Obispo Department of Public Works Water Quality Lab and my project will be conducted in partnership with the County and Dr. Bwalya Malama. It will consist of updating the Santa Margarita Water Sanitary Survey for Well Four, which provides domestic water for the town of Santa Margarita. Upon graduation I hope to translate my passion for public service into a career with the County or a commission in the NOAA Officer Corps. In my spare time you will find me cycling, playing the violin or walking my dog Taro.

Kelly McFadden

I was born and raised in upstate New York where I received a B.S. in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Oneonta. After graduating, I moved to California and worked for non-profit and government agencies doing various natural resource management work. I am pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Sciences and Management from Cal Poly to further my education and fine tune my forest science knowledge by working with California State Parks and studying the Eucalyptus forest ecosystem in Montana de Oro State Park. After graduation I hope to continue working with State Parks and promoting sustainable forest management in our state parks system through use of prescribed fire and fuels reduction efforts.

Kyle Rathbone

I grew up in the small town of Loomis on the outskirts of Sacramento, and then moved to Santa Cruz before coming to SLO. I completed my Bachelor’s in Environmental Management and Protection from Cal Poly in 2020, and I am now studying environmental sciences with an environmental policy emphasis. My project will be a socioenvironmetnal analysis of cellular-based aquaculture based on a review of current literature, laws, and regulations. After graduation, I hope to find work relating to researching and implementing environmental policy.

Sophie Moser

I am from Portland, OR originally and I have lived in San Luis Obispo the last four years completing my Environmental Management and Protection undergraduate degree with a minor in Spanish. My graduate research is an ecological and economic analysis of vegetable intercropping systems. I am passionate about sustainable agriculture and the intersectionality of social and ecological dimensions of environmental issues.

Micaelina Sarmineto

I am from Escondido, California. I received my A.A. in Science and Mathematics from Palomar College in 2014, transferred to UC, Riverside and received my B.S. degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in natural science in 2016. My interest in hydrology was developed when I worked as a research assistant for Dr. Sickman under the supervision of Delores Lucero. I assisted in the ongoing research for Dr. Sickman’s study of how high-altitude lakes are being affected over time from pollution in China. Additionally, I assisted Mrs. Lucero in measuring isotopic nitrogen using gas chromatography of water samples that were sent to our laboratory. Later, working as a laboratory technician gave me insight on how critical water quality is in the products we use daily. Subsequently, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in Environmental Science and Management at Cal Poly to further my knowledge in water quality monitoring. My project studies the water quality of three bar-built estuaries with Creek Lands Conservation in Central California with Professor Wydzga and Dr. Surfleet. This research will help determine the health of these specific estuaries and determine whether any remediation needs to take place. After graduating, I plan on working in water quality monitoring.

Lisel Ballmer

Instead of a hometown, I grew up moving all around the state (northern, southern, and central valley). To head somewhere new, I came to the central coast for Cal Poly and a B.S. in Environmental Management. I spent most of my time in greenhouses with both horticulturally exotic and California native plants. Escaping into the trees and the many different local plant communities was how I found my deep interest in the natural world that still motivates me in my work as a Forestry Aide with Fire Management at California State Parks. With Dr. Chris Dicus advising, my project with State Parks will include writing a Coastal Development Permit for fuel-reduction and stream restoration and a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for Black Hill’s wildland-urban interface. I am emphasizing in environmental policy to help build my skillset for permitting work with a government entity and a future in environmental planning. Eventually, I’d like to pursue an MBA to combine my interest in economics and environmentalism.

Madison Gilmartin

My undergraduate degree in Environmental Management and Protection with minors in GIS and Philosophy. My background is in timber harvest operations and wildfire management. My interest and focus are in Forestry and Forest Sciences. I am currently working with California State Parks and will be completing my professional project with them at the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument.

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.

Chris Klier

I grew up in Orange County, California and have been in San Luis Obispo for the past four years completing my undergraduate B.S. degree in Environmental Management and Protection at Cal Poly.  I graduated in 2020 with a minor in Sustainable Environments and a focus on Environmental Planning.  I had the chance to spend two of my summers during my undergraduate degree at Cal Poly's Swanton Pacific Ranch, where I was blessed to be able to learn the practical applications of my knowledge in natural resource management and enjoy the beautiful setting.  I am currently pursuing my M.S. in Environmental Science and Management with emphases on environmental policy and sustainability.  My research project will be working with Dr. Babin to create a survey which will examine viticultural producer perceptions of climate change vulnerability and adaptation. My future ambition is working in climate policy, and this program and project will give me practical experience to help me towards this goal.

Other Students

  • Ky Dupuis
  • Spencer Gordon
  • Dustin Tran
  • Elena Strom

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