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Meet the New Au Sable Graduate Fellows 2012-2013

Dec 31, 2012

Au Sable Institute welcomes ten new graduate fellows to its Au Sable Graduate Fellows program for 2012-2013. New Graduate Fellows enter a community of 28 Christian graduate students spread across five chapters at Cornell University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Graduate Fellows program gives graduate students an opportunity explore their academic work and vocational calling in light a Christian worldview that takes seriously God’s creation of the natural world and humanity’s place and responsibilities in it. 

New fellows will join monthly discussion meetings on Christian faith and the environment with students, faculty, and staff who share a vision for creation care, receive a stipend for the purchase of books in developing their own environmental stewardship library, and participate in program-wide conference where they will have the opportunity to meet all of the other graduate fellows at the Great Lakes Campus in January. This year's fellows include:

Jesse Antuma

Jesse Antuma is pursuing a MS degree in Conservation Ecology from the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment. His BS was completed at Calvin College where he studied biology and Spanish. He also was heavily involved in the Recreation Department where he managed the climbing wall and designed and led extended outdoor trips for Calvin’s Wilderness Orientation program. It was this experience that brought together his passions for the natural world, education, and outdoor recreation. Jesse believes God’s creation is a wonderful teacher, a gift that has the capability to clear one’s mind and heart, bring people closer together and ultimately, closer to God. Jesse is at SNRE to further develop his interdisciplinary studies and increase the depth of his scientific knowledge, with special interests in botany and ecology, so that he can better perceive and share God’s presence, as can be found in the natural environment, to those he is with. It is Jesse’s career goal to continue (re)introducing God’s creation to people with hopes that it will incite within them not only a greater appreciation and emotional connection to the natural world but also to the one who created it. He enjoys spending time with his wife Jorie, watching movies, reading, rock climbing at the local climbing gym, baking bread and being outdoors.

Brian Flanagan

Brian Flanagan is currently working towards a Masters in International Agriculture and Rural Development at Cornell University. He is studying  mango production in Haiti; looking at how small scale farmers can continue to be involved in increasing their production for both the international and local markets while improving their local environmental conditions. Before returning to school, Brian worked seven years in Haiti on development and environmental projects with rural farmers and the urban poor. In Haiti he saw how the Christian community can be active in environmental stewardship in some of the toughest conditions. Brian and his wife Robin attend New Life Presbyterian Church in Ithaca. When not in Ithaca, Brian enjoys traveling to tropical countries and eating tropical fruit.

Abby Hart

Abby Hart is a graduate student in International Agriculture and Rural Development at Cornell University. She is studying how conflict affects socio-ecological relationships in agricultural landscapes, especially multi-stakeholder groups and their ability to adaptively management their landscapes to be more resilient to change. She sees her work as an opportunity to share the ways in which God’s restoration and shalom can be shown through international development. An Ohio native, Abby attributes much of her love for agriculture and the outdoors to her rural upbringing and her family. After graduating with a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Wheaton College, she worked with a rural agricultural development organization in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Since moving back to the U.S. in 2010, Abby has worked at Cornell as part of the Ecoagriculture Working Group where she researches opportunities for integrating agricultural development, environmental conservation and socio-economic well-being for rural landscapes. Abby is actively involved in her local congregation, Christ Chapel, and Cornell’s Graduate Christian Fellowship. When she can escape work and studies she enjoys wandering around the many nearby state parks, and looks forward to cooking, gardening and salsa dancing with friends.

Samantha Miller

Samantha Miller is a first year MS student at the University of Michigan in the Environmental Justice track of the School of Natural Resources and Environment. She began exploring the intersect of environmental development and social justice issues while studying at Calvin College, where she studied Biology and International Development. Samantha's desire to further gain an understanding of the entwining of these issues led her to an AmeriCorps program in which she served alongside others doing environmental and community outreach. She spent a year working with the Animal Rescue League of Boston before moving to New Zealand to work with the Creation Care Study Program (CCSP) as the Ethical Food Coordinator. The two years spent in the New Zealand and CCSP community confirmed her desire to both study issues of environmental justice and find ways to live out right relationships with all of creation. She enjoys hiking, cooking, dairy products, finding creative outlets, and (in warmer months) sitting on her front porch.

Anna Noveroske

Anna Noveroske is currently a MS student in the Botany and Plant Pathology department at Purdue University where she is working to develop a fungicide sensitivity monitoring program for the disease Fusarium Head Blight of wheat. Her broad interests include using plant pathology and agroecology as tools in sustainable international development, as well as working with the Church to bring about a better understanding of creation and how to care for it. She completed her BS in biology at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2012. During her undergraduate years she was an active member of the John Wesley Honors College and became a founding member of the Creation Care Alliance, a student organization focused on promoting sustainability and environmental awareness within the IWU community. She also had the opportunity to study abroad in New Zealand and Samoa through the Creation Care Study Program during the spring of her junior year, an experience that furthered both her love for exploring and her understanding of the connection between creation care and whole, Christ-centered living. She is currently a member of Intervarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship and enjoys hiking, cooking, learning, traveling, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Erin O'Brien

Erin is a current master's student at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. She is pursuing a degree in conservation ecology and is interested in studying the complex relationships between humans, animals, and the environment. Erin studied health science and environmental science as an undergraduate at Kalamazoo College. She loves traveling and has spent time in France, studied abroad in Kolkata, India and volunteered for a wildlife conservation non-profit in Iringa, Tanzania. As an academic, she hopes to incorporate social justice and policy issues into ecologically based work. Erin plans to embark on research this summer studying savanna vegetation dynamics under different off-take methods in Maasai-Mara Kenya. While not in the classroom or the field, you can find her running, practicing yoga, cooking, crafting or lost in a good book.

Will Pluer

Will Pluer is pursuing a MS/PhD in Water Resources Engineering at Cornell University, working in the Soil and Water Lab of the Biological/Environmental Engineering department. His research concentrates on systems designed to encourage microbial processes to remove excess nitrogen from agricultural runoff. He completed his BS from NC State University in Biological Engineering focusing on design of best management practices for urban stormwater treatment. While an undergraduate, he studied abroad in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for a semester, studying interactions between marine ecosystems and communities. Through this trip, and countless other awe-inducing experiences in creation, Will feels blessed to be in a field that allows him to work outdoors and care for a passion of his. He is excited to be joining a community in Ithaca that values God’s beautiful creation, and he looks forward to exploring his role its stewardship as he pursues his call to be a professor. In his free time, he enjoys volleyball, cooking, and reading, and is always up for a good outdoor adventure.

Derek Rosenberger

Derek Rosenberger is a PhD student in Entomology at the University of Minnesota studying forest entomology and conservation biology. Derek’s research is in invasion ecology and involves studying the mountain pine beetle’s ecological and climatic potential for successful incursion from its native western range into eastern pine forests due to newly warmed northern corridors. Derek received his BS from Messiah College in Biology with a minor in Environmental Science. He has taken courses at Au Sable’s campuses in Michigan, Washington, and India. While at the India program he got to know Ashley Beck, a fellow student who he eventually married. Following Messiah Derek interned at ECHO where he studied tropical agricultural development in rain forests. He then completed an MA from Taylor University in Higher Education with thesis research in environmental service learning. Most recently Derek and Ashley directed the Creation Care Study Program in Belize, a study abroad program focusing on the intersection of ecology, sustainable development and faith and environmental ethics. Derek and Ashley have a young son named Isaac who lives up to his name and is a source of much joy and laughter.

Brian Schaap

Brian Schaap is pursuing a MS degree in Environmental Policy and Planning from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment. After graduating from Calvin College having studied both biology and religion, Brian spent a year in East Africa working with the Mennonite Central Committee in Tanzania. His work there centered on the development of an agriculture and economic development project in partnership with the local Tanzanian Mennonite church. This experience confirmed for Brian his desire to work internationally at the intersection of conservation and development, and compelled him to pursue further interdisciplinary studies at SNRE which would equip him for this work. Brian’s personal and academic interests in science and theology translate into a strong desire to educate and mobilize the church to better fulfill its mandate to be faithful and responsible stewards of God’s creation.  When needing a break from reading and studying, Brian finds fulfillment and renewal in spending time in the beauty of the outdoors, either going for a walk through the woods or a long bike ride on scenic country roads.


To meet all 28 of our Graduate Fellows, visit the Au Sable Graduate Fellows webpage.