Prospective Students

I am always interested in hearing from passionate, motivated individuals who may be interested in working with me as Masters students. I am currently set up to work with students from three different graduate programs at HSU: Environmental Science & Management (ESM), Energy, Technology, & Policy (ETaP), and Fisheries. However, ESM is the most common pathway for graduate students in my lab and it is often the best fit for the types of projects we do. If you think that you might be interested in working with me, I encourage you to get in touch with me well BEFORE you apply to graduate school. Generally, I only keep 3-5 graduate students in my lab at one time so space can be limited.

Interested students should take the following steps:

(1) Read through the content on this website (including some of the lab publications) and determine if you think that my lab might be a good fit for you. I am most interested in recruiting students who work on projects related to the research themes highlighted on the Research page. You can also ask me if I have space available on any of my on-going projects.

(2) Send me an email with the following information:

  1. A description of the type of project or research that you would like to conduct at HSU and a summary of how you think your proposed work aligns with the research interests of my lab. Let me know why you would like to do Masters research here and with me. Be as specific as you can.
  2. An updated copy of your resume or CV.
  3. A writing sample. The writing sample does not necessarily need to be linked to your proposed research topic, but it must be a piece of writing that you have written on your own (no co-authored pieces). Pick a college essay or report that you feel particularly proud of. The writing sample will help me gain a better sense of who you are as a writer and of how you articulate ideas in prose.

I try to respond to all requests, but during the academic year things can get a bit hectic. If you haven’t heard back from me in three weeks, feel free to send me a follow-up reminder email. interviewWhat I’m Looking For:
HSU has a long-standing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusivity and I maintain a commitment to inclusivity in my research lab. I am interested in hearing from potential students from a variety of backgrounds and who have taken a variety of paths to end up at graduate school. Several students in my lab have been the first in their family to attempt a postgraduate degree and some the first to receive an undergraduate degree as well. I have supported graduate students of a range of ages from students right out of their undergraduate program to students who has worked in various fields for many years. You will notice one thing missing from this list: GRE scores. The ESM program no longer requires GRE scores for graduate applications and I don’t think they are at all helpful or useful for selecting effective graduate students. You do not need to submit GRE scores for me and I do not take them into account in my decision-making.

  1. Strong Writing and Analytical Skills. Writing is a crucial skill for obtaining a Masters degree and I encourage my students to develop their research into academic publications which requires an even greater attention to writing. Data analysis skills are also important and quantitative projects such as surveys will require some background in statistics and possibly GIS. However, there are classes available to advance these skills when you come to HSU. Above all I am looking for creative thinkers who can extract important patterns and themes from complex qualitative and/or quantitative data.
  2. Ability to Listen and Communicate Across Cultures. Much of the research in my lab involves talking to people. First researchers must work to build relationships of trust with communities of study, then they must seek out conversations or interviews with people and listen openly to their stories, finally the information gathered must be communicated honestly and respectfully in oral and written materials. This type of work is not for everybody. I am looking for students with demonstrated life experience, people skills, nuanced thinking, and/or ability to empathize. Above all, students in my lab must share a common vision that people – and their stories – matter when it comes to questions of environmental management.
  3. Interdisciplinary Skills and Experience. Work in our lab tends to cross disciplinary boundaries. We draw from theory and methods from a variety of fields in the social sciences and humanities. In addition, since we focus on natural resource issues, our work also has a strong grounding in the natural sciences. We often collaborate with environmental scientists and several students have done projects with social and ecological components. I am looking for students who are comfortable working between and across disciplines. Though not required, I would prefer students who have a solid grounding in natural resource science/ecology/environmental science prior to coming to graduate school.
  4. Self-direction. Learning in graduate school is less structured and I seek students who can take some responsibility for their own learning. You will need to become an expert in your area of study and from the time you arrive, you will be responsible to seeking out the pertinent readings, contacts, and information to help you successfully complete your project. In some cases you may be learning about topics or methods that are less familiar to me – I hope that you can teach me about these new concepts. I am looking for students who can thrive in that environment and who can take a little bit of direction and guidance and run with it.fish_shop

In the age of rising student debt, financing/funding is an important consideration for prospective students. Humboldt State University is a smaller school and as a result there are not as many mechanisms for funding of graduate students. Teaching or research assistantships are fairly rare and they require students who have a particular disciplinary background. Sometimes I am working on larger projects that provide grant funding for graduate students. When you contact me, you can ask me if I have any projects/funding available. Keep in mind that often this funding will not cover all of the costs of graduate school. Students can also apply for various grants and fellowships to help cover school, research, and travel costs. I encourage all students to practice their grant-writing skills and apply for as many opportunities as possible. One student in my lab received the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to fund their graduate work for three years.

Tuition costs at HSU are reasonable for in-state students. HSU is also part of the Western Regional Graduate Program which allows students from Western US states and territories to pay in-state tuition. If you are applying to come here from out of one of these states, let me know right away so we can apply for a waiver of out of state tuition. There are a limited number of waivers available for graduate students. Typically a Masters takes 2 years to complete. But, in some cases it can take students longer than that to complete their thesis – particularly if they are working at the same time. The average time to graduation is probably closer to 2.5 or 3 years. Keep this in mind as you are factoring out the costs. I strongly encourage all students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at the same time they apply to graduate school. Filling out the form doesn’t commit you to anything but it can give you more options when the time comes.

There is a growing recognition of the importance of social issues in the environmental policy and management arena. As a result there has been an increase in jobs related to socioeconomic dimensions, conflict resolution, and policy analysis in the public, private, and non-profit sectors of environmental fields. Work in our lab is often applied and connected to policy, which puts students in a great position for careers in their field when they are finished. When they graduate, students in my lab will be well situated for jobs with local, state, and federal agencies, at non-profit organizations, and for private consulting firms. Additionally, students will be well-prepared to enter PhD programs if that is their chosen path. For many environmentally related careers, advancement beyond a certain level can be difficult without a Masters degree. HSU has a very strong reputation in the natural resource sciences and a Masters here can put you in a great position for career advancement. Incoming students should let me know about their career ambitions when they enter the program. We can then work together to design your course load, your thesis project, and your written materials to best position you to achieve your goals once you graduate.


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