Margaret McGuirk (she/her)
My roots are in the rolling hills and black Angus cattle of rural Maryland, where my both sides of my family have multi-generational farms. From Maryland, I moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Pennsylvania and completed my B.A. in English from Dickinson College with a thesis on medieval animal studies and war memory in The Lord of the Rings. My post-graduate years took me back to the land, from an organic farm in Pennsylvania to an agricultural school in Northern Greece.
I've now swapped coastal regions for the mountains, searching for a more sustainable relationship between environmentalism and livestock agriculture. This work led me to the Environmental Humanities program and a graduate assistantship at the Wallace Stegner Environmental Dispute Resolution Center. After spending the summer as the Environmental Humanities Fellow at The Taft-Nicholson Center, my thesis will focus on collaborative land management in Montana's Centennial Valley: a remote working landscape patchworked by public and private lands, hemmed in by developmental and conservation pressures in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Jazmine Lopez (she/her)
Jazmine Lopez is from a small mountain town in New Mexico. She received her Bachelors of Integrated Studies from Northern New Mexico College.
Her interest in the Environmental Humanities is looking at stories of slow hope in the face of climate devastation and environmental injustice. She is working with Healing Foods Oasis, a community garden in Northern New Mexico, and hopes to tell their story as a way to shed light on the small, community initiatives that are making a change. While large, governmental support is needed in the battle with climate change, she believes that grassroots initiatives deserve high recognition for their direct community efforts.
Jazmine grew up gardening with her grandmother and believes holding onto cultural and traditional practices, such as gardening, provide hope in our changing world.
Fiona Summers (she/her)
Fiona spent many of her childhood years exploring her backyard in the suburbs of Chicago searching for bugs, climbing trees, and playing with her cousins. Transplanted to Michigan for undergrad at Kalamazoo College, her curiosity surrounding plant biology and land management flourished. Fiona found her niche in field work after working in several labs exploring biochemistry, dog behavior, plant genetics, and finally plant ecology. During her undergraduate thesis, she investigated the influence of abiotic and biotic factors on the presence of invasive plant species populations using GIS.
Although she dreams of spending her days counting seeds, analyzing soil composition, and observing plant populations again; she believes changing the relationship humans have to the more than human world will have a larger impact on human adaptation to climate change. Her work at the University of Utah explores the intersections of Conservation Management and Restoration, Indigenous Methodologies, and Education while working at Antelope Island State Park. Her thesis will deconstruct the colonial narratives woven into State Park programming and collaborate with the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation to accurately depict the history of land acquisition, highlight their commitment to kinship beyond humans, and celebrate their long-standing relationship to the land. She believes centering the resilient voices and perspectives of Indigenous peoples are imperative to climate change adaptation.
When she is not lost in the mountains or library, she can be found spending time with loved ones, rock climbing, painting, or collecting bugs with a big smile on her face!
I’m originally from the southern California coast and have lived in many places across the U.S., primarily in the west, before moving to Utah. I’m a first-generation college graduate, receiving my degree from Southern Utah University in Communication with an emphasis in Media Studies. After graduating, I worked for Salt Lake City doing communication outreach and public engagement.
Having grown up around the ocean, beautiful mountain ranges, and Utah’s iconic red rocks, I’ve always loved the outdoors. I’ve found in navigating outdoor recreation and trying new activities however, it can sometimes be intimidating and frustrating being the only person who looks like me. A week-long river trip helped me realize I wanted to pursue my love for the environment while helping marginalized communities have more access to the outdoors. I’m beyond grateful and excited to be a Mellon Community Engagement Fellow and partner with a local organization to pursue my research interests in environmental equity, water conservation, and creative community engagement.
When not in school I can be found reading, writing, enjoying a lot of tea, adventuring, or still mourning the retirements of Carli Lloyd and Drew Brees.
Amelia Diehl (she/her)
Amelia Diehl (she/her) is a writer and community builder originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She studied English and Environmental Studies at Beloit College in Wisconsin and was lucky to study abroad in New Zealand. After graduating, she walked 200 miles solo from Paris to the United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany, where she protested with US youth organization SustainUS. This experience helped solidify a commitment to the climate justice movement: she sees the climate crisis as fundamentally a spiritual crisis, and that addressing it must be grounded in collective liberation.
Before coming to Utah, Amelia worked in the community media and journalism ecosystem in Chicago, and organized with Great Lakes-based climate justice campaigns, especially grassroots direct action and oil pipeline resistance. Concerned about mainstream media’s limitations, she’s invested in using different kinds of storytelling to historicize and make visible people’s resistance movements, especially those that are often overlooked. Her writing has been published in outlets such as In These Times, Belt Magazine, Chicago’s South Side Weekly, climate magazine The Trouble and most recently in the University of Utah College of Humanities Perspectives.
Here in Utah, she’s excited to continue learning about media as a graduate assistant at the University of Utah Press. Her research interests include queer ecology, social movements, narrative organizing and rhetoric, people’s history, and climate justice. Her work in the Environmental Humanities program explores the role of embodied resistance against extraction, using case studies of recently proposed lithium mines in the American West, as well as the Line 3 pipeline, and how resistance can create emergent possibilities for solutions. She also makes music, enjoys hiking, running, good coffee and fountain pens, and is always open to chatting about shared interests.
Jaimie Choi (she/hers)
I grew up in California, where I spent most of my weekends camping with my family in Yosemite, Death Valley, and Sequoia National Park. These early outdoor experiences drew me to the field of ecology, which eventually led me to pursue a degree in Environmental Systems at the University of California, San Diego. After taking an environmental justice class in undergrad and working with invasive species for several years, I realized science alone cannot address the most pressing environmental issues as they intersect with class, race, and gender.
My research in the Environmental Humanities centers the lived experiences of workers in the conservation corps to reveal how working conditions and social dynamics have changed (or not) since the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. I aim to connect these narratives to broader issues in the field of conservation and make a case for unionization as a way to sustain the environmental labor force.
Amelia Carter (she/her)
Originally from Western New York, I received my BA in Media Studies, Art History and Film from SUNY Purchase in 2018. My previous research has investigated ecological and cultural histories of Kodak through a set of multi-species field guides to my home town of Rochester, NY. Since graduating I’ve been making coffee and cocktails, unionizing my non-profit workplace, and creating pandemic-induced fiber arts.
I currently work as a graduate research assistant in the Exhibits department at the Natural History Museum of Utah where I’ve helped to assemble a field guide to neighborhood nature along the Wasatch Front. I am also an excited member of the team working to update our Great Salt Lake gallery with the latest science and community perspectives on Utah’s saline futures. My current research interests include (but are not limited to) queer ecology, critical tourism studies, and cultural geography of disaster. My thesis maps the intersections of class, climate, and colonial occupation in LGBT+ resort communities on Fire Island, NY. I am also on a mission to visually abolish skeps.
I breathed my first air in Houston, TX, nearly died in Oklahoma, grew, grew, grew in Colorado, and have been trampin’ my way across all the borders of nations and states ever since. With a bit of fuzzy math, a safe estimation says my adult body holds more nights sleeping outdoors than indoors, soaking in stars. My university days took me through Colorado, Spain, Ohio, and Minnesota. I’ve since hustled a living here and there: distributing resources and skills to homeless humans as a social worker, guiding at-risk youth through therapy plans as a wilderness guide/experiential educator; listening to patients play guitar as a psych hospital tech; and howling for owls, gazing at golden eagles, counting (dead) birds, and looking for new growth as a wildlife biologist all over the American West. I am currently studying the social lives of our rattlesnake neighbors.
Maddie Melton (they/them)
My passion for the environment began in earnest during undergrad when I stumbled out to the mountains to rehabilitate after a bad ankle injury. Because of this, my relationship to the land has always been grounded in relationship to the body. I hold a BA in Anthropology, Drama, Psychology, and Chinese from Rhodes University and a BA Honors in Anthropology from the University of Cape Town, both in South Africa. In the years since my undergraduate studies, I have spent more nights than not in a tent. I worked as an instructor and course director with Where There Be Dragons where I led and designed courses for high school and college students in southwestern China and the southwestern United States. Themes and experiences ranged from homestays, to backpacking trips, to explorations of social and environmental justice, and food sovereignty. When I wasn’t working, I spent my time scuba diving and thru-hiking more than 4000 miles on the Pacific Crest, Colorado, and Arizona trails. I’m most often found with a backpack, a book, and a box of dumplings on a train going somewhere.
At EH, I'm excited to be deepening my relationship to the Rio Grande through my research. I'm exploring the ways that a particular species of invasive cane intersects with the politics of undocumented migration along the border.
Juan Camilo Perdomo Marin
I am an international student from Colombia and a Fulbright scholar. I have an undergraduate degree in Anthropology from the University of Caldas. My thesis was a laureate research on the relation between indigenous perspectives on nature and the political dynamics of multiculturalism. After graduating I worked for three years as a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the same institution.The intellectual, political and environmental challenges of our times led me to the University of Utah. The Master in Environmental Humanities is for me an opportunity to learn to listen to the world more attentively, to develop multiple skills to study and portray a reality threatened by climate change. Currently I am studying the controversies in the development of infrastructure projects that seek to address the water crisis in Utah.
Tessa Scheuer (she/her/hers)
Tessa’s love and awe for the natural world began in a small farm town at the base of the Uinta Mountains. Growing up, Tessa spent her free time playing in the grass and trees, hiking around the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, and boating at Jordanelle Reservoir. In 2020, Tessa graduated magna cum laude from the University of Utah with an honors degree in Communication and minors in Linguistics and Spanish. Since graduation, Tessa has worked in the field of environmental education with organizations such as Summit Land Conservancy and Conserve Utah Valley to help spread awareness and appreciation of the natural world.
Tessa’s research in the Environmental Humanities focuses on experiential environmental education as a method of fostering resiliency and connection in the face of climate change. Tessa’s thesis work combines accessible, digital education and experiential learning methods to encourage emotional resiliency and place-based sensory connection as a way to understand and confront eco-anxiety and climate grief.
After growing up in the Washington, DC area, I moved to Southern California to attend Pomona College. For my undergraduate thesis, I used 8mm film and ethnographic research to create a short documentary and art installation exploring the 2017 shutdown of Rome, Italy’s public water fountains, il nasoni, in relation to the city’s infrastructure history, contemporary immigration politics, and environmental future. After graduating, I returned East to work at Phoenix Bikes, a community bike shop and youth education nonprofit in Arlington, VA.
Here in Salt Lake City, I’ve continued working with bikes as a volunteer with the SLC Bicycle Collective and our local Radical Adventure Riders chapter. For my work as a Mellon Community Engagement Fellow, I’m partnered with Art Access, a local nonprofit dedicated to increasing creative opportunities for disabled artists in the Salt Lake region. Together, we founded the Embodied Ecologies Working Group for artists interested in making work about disability, health, and the environment. The project will culminate in a documentary film and two art installations–one at the main branch of the SLC Public Library and one in the Digital Matters space in the Marriot Library.
I graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in history and archaeology. Since that time, I have worn many hats: vagrant cyclist, social studies teacher, climate activist, rural library branch manager, copy editor at a local newspaper, and more. I am currently interested in exploring how historical and archaeological perspectives can help frame secular eschatologies of ecological collapse. In particular, I seek to critically interrogate the relationships between environmental degradation, violence, and social change.
Maggie Scholle (she/her)
I am originally from Chicago and have an abiding love for the Midwest rooted in time spent in my parent’s vegetable garden and running along the Chicago River. I graduated from the University of San Diego in 2021 with a degree in environmental science. Brought home to Chicago at the onset of the pandemic, my undergraduate thesis studied potential explanations for the recession of sand at a beach local to my childhood home, and the work involved in that made me increasingly curious about the human, plant, and animal experiences of that loss of land. Around the same time, creative writing courses in undergrad began to reveal to me the myth I’d told myself about being a person purely invested in STEM, and led me to apply to Environmental Humanities at the U.
Since graduating, I’ve worked in my local bike shop, led field trips at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, and spent many weekends cutting buckthorn as a stewardship volunteer with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. As a student of Environmental Humanities and a GCSC fellow, I am interested in stories of slow environmental change and land loss, particularly erosive processes on hillslopes and shorelines. I hope also to engage with community groups doing ecological restoration on these changing landscapes and learn about the ecology and geography of Utah by working in it!
As a child the outdoors was my playground. I fell in love with the sun and all things it nourished with its light and energy. I grew fond of its green spaces and crawling critters, finding myself most comfortable and free under the canopy of the southeastern deciduous forests that made up my home state of Virginia. I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) with a degree in International Social Justice and minor in Environmental studies. Through my studies I grew progressively curious of the multifaceted and ever-complex issues of environmental justice in marginalized communities. This in turn led me to working and learning through local and international organizations such as Shalom Farms and Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF).
After graduation, I worked as a Research and Administrative Assistant for VCU’s School of World Studies. I also worked as a part-time nanny where I discovered a budding passion for working with children in outdoor spaces. More specifically, I grew interested in working with children of primarily underserved communities to facilitate experiential learning opportunities in and about nature that also incorporate mindful practices to promote mental/emotional sustainability and environmental stewardship. These interests motivated my application to the U’s Environmental Humanities Program where I hope to further unpack the historical and contemporary social-psychological barriers that exclude minority communities from conversations and happenings in the world of outdoor education and recreation.
Outside of school studies and my work as a Field Instructor with the Wasatch Mountain Institute (WMI), I can be found on my yoga mat, biking around the city, listening to and creating music, gardening, nerding out over ecology, and hiking/camping around the seemingly endless and vast landscape of Utah!
Pheej Lauj / Pheng Lor (he/they)
Nyob zoo! I was born and raised in Fresno, California and have spent the past 7 years in the Bay Area where I completed my undergraduate at UC Berkeley with an interdisciplinary degree in Conservation and Resource Studies. Following graduation, I explored my passions in the college access and environmental non-profit sectors where I deepened my interests in educational equity, community engagement, and environmental advocacy.
My professional and career trajectory has largely found inspiration from conservation, sustainability, and community-centered programs such as the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program (DDCSP) and the Global Sustainability Scholars (GSS) programs, which provided me internship and fellowship partnerships with the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS)and the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science's international ocean sustainability COAST Card project.
Having worked for a federal educational program like TRIO, to environmental and outdoor non-profits like MobilizeGreen and the Ecology Center, I am motivated to foster and develop informed and thriving communities. It is also with great privilege and honor that I get to ground myself with local and grassroots organizing as a Mellon Community Engagement Fellow. I am excited to expand my breadth of knowledge and practice as I embark on my Environmental Humanities graduate journey here at the University of Utah!
Esther Mathieu (she/they)
I come to Utah from the tidal estuaries of the waterlogged East Coast, a born and raised New Yorker. After a brief stint at City College in the Macaulay Honors College and the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, I transferred to Colby College, retaining my passion for design but intent to focus on a more interdisciplinary education. At Colby, I designed and graduated with honors in an independent major in Environmental Planning, Media, and Design, which drew from the Environmental Studies, Creative Writing, and Studio Art departments to examine the place of art, design, and literature in environmental changemaking. While I was in school, my first poetry collection, Constellations, was published with Hunt & Light. My photography capstone, displayed along with other seniors’ work in the Colby Musem of Art, was a series of cyanotype self-portraits examining the ways in which mental illness shapes my understanding of and interaction with the world.
After graduating in 2017, I spent some time at the International WELL Building Institute, first as a Research Intern in Standard Development, and later as a Content Marketing Intern. Most recently, I’ve spent the last three and a half years at Patagonia’s Meatpacking District Store, working as a Retail Team Lead and In-Store Environmental Coordinator, heading our store’s environmental efforts, including grants, volunteering, donations, and events. Towards the end of my time at Patagonia, I participated in the LGBT Community Group, worked with the editorial staff to write a history and land acknowledgement (written with direct instruction from the American Indian Law Alliance) for the new Brooklyn store and a history for the forthcoming Baltimore store, and served on the Vision Working Group, a committee of 11 employees selected from across the company to facilitate the creation of Patagonia’s justice and antiracism vision for the next five years.
I come to the Environmental Humanities program excited to invest deeply in my artistic and research interests and to be in community with other interdisciplinary thinkers dedicated to environmental work. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so in my studies and as a Mellon Community Engagement Fellow, and eager to begin working in collaboration with a local organization. I am particularly interested in adaptive design solutions to existing and looming effects of the climate crisis, mental health impacts of climate change, environmental art and writing, and the ecology and cultural significance of bog, marsh, and coastal ecosystems.
Skylar Fetter (she/her)
She:kon! Raised in a tiny town on the Canadian border on the edge of the Akwesasne reserve, I grew up with a forest in my backyard and a creek running at my feet. I spent every day of my childhood outdoors until the streetlamps turned on. When I graduated high school, I felt the familiar adolescent calling to leave my small town and so I moved to New York City to attend Columbia University. During college, I was a member of the Native American Council, the Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program, and the Research Cluster on Science and Subjectivity. I graduated in 2021 with a bachelor's degree in English and focused my final year on indigenous health and gender.
My work is grounded in an understanding of industry as perpetuating cycles of violence and dispossession in indigenous communities. It explores these issues through a gendered lens with a focus on indigenous women's methods of resistance. The path to this pursuit of study has not been linear but a collective endeavor of interdependent and interdisciplinary learning guided by my community, family, and friends, and is ever evolving. While I still miss the familiar rush of the St. Lawrence River and my community back east, I am excited to do work here in Utah where so many of these issues converge. Niawen.
Rune Davino-Collins (they/them)
I was raised all my life in the woodlands of northern Westchester county, New York (Kitchawank band Wappinger and other Munsee-speaking homelands) and spent much of my formative childhood years alone in the forest that surrounded my apartment complex, an old converted dairy farm. Far from the Muir model of pristine wilderness, those woods held an archive of their collaborations with local humans stretching further back than my little eyes could comprehend. I spent long days making up stories about the people who must have slept on that rotting mattress, who crashed that dirtbike. My woods felt no less magical for all the trash they contained; they also gave me the first destroying-angel mushroom (Amanita bisporigera) I ever saw, they showed me how fern leaves have a spiral grain that you can reveal by stripping them off the stem from the roots upward in your palm. My wooded friends were playmates and mentors.
Years later, I rediscovered the playfulness that grounded me in the world when I attended Purchase College SUNY for my anthropology degree. There, I turned the exploration of posthuman and ecological thought into a homebrewed tabletop roleplaying game, in which my players and I engaged with the histories, ecologies, and politics of a fictional world to grow as scholars and friends.
Here at the Environmental Humanities program, I hope to bring playfulness, games, and wonder into my environmental/social advocacy, and take cues for action and care from models of symbiotic and distributed ecological relations like lichens, clonal aspen ecosystems, and mycorrhizal fungi.
I was born and raised in southwestern Montana, and grew up roaming my native hills alongside a menagerie of creatures (most notably my canine partner in crime, Rosie). My scientist-and-rancher parents taught me to respect animals, plants, other humans, insects, even rocks and creeks—every thing had a story, a personality, a life all its own. And those stories were fascinating. Childhood exploring became adult exploring, leading to (mis)adventures all across the Northern Hemisphere.
I learned to love human stories, too: music, art, history, literature. I found human expression profoundly beautiful. Acting and writing taught me the power of words. Traveling abroad rekindled my childhood passion for myth. In college, I impulsively registered for a religious studies course; I was hooked instantly. Shortly thereafter, I abandoned my acting career to formally study human belief systems.
I received my BA from Montana State University Bozeman, where I majored in religious studies with minors in English writing and literature. My research here in Utah will examine the confluence of spirituality and ecology, with a particular focus on spiritual narratives surrounding waterways. I'm also interested in artistic expressions of spiritual belief, and how such expressions can be used as a form of public discourse.