World class faculty, interdisciplinary research, exceptional location and resources.

With unrivaled strength in environmental research, education and application, UW College of the Environment is one of the largest and most prestigious environmental academic organizations in the world. We offer the ideal training ground for future scholars and leaders interested in addressing some of the biggest scientific challenges of our time.

Meet a few of our graduate students. They represent each department’s graduate programs and some of the paths that you can choose at the College of the Environment.


Miku L SEFSMiku Lenentine

Ph.D., Environmental and Forest Sciences

Background

  • Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
  • Undergraduate Institution: Western Washington University
  • Undergraduate degree: Bachelor of Science, Terrestrial Ecology
  • When I was a kid, I wanted to become: a zoologist

Research

  • The social acceptability of biofuels in the Pacific Northwest
  • Location of research: Pacific Northwest

Career aspiration

Professor of Human Dimensions

Why do you study the environment?

Growing up in the wilds of Alaska, I loved how alive and connected I felt. I want future generations to have the same opportunities.

What has been your most meaningful moment in graduate school?

I was at a focus group with environmentalists searching for common ground in sustainable forestry. One gentleman got so angry his face turned red and he pounded his fist on the table.  By the end, though, he admitted there was actually hope and even started advocating for the new plan.

Faculty advisor

Stanley Asah


Brandon RayBrandon Ray

Ph.D., Atmospheric Sciences

Background

  • Hometown: Canton, Connecticut
  • Undergraduate Institution: Northwestern University
  • Undergraduate degree: Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics, Geography and Geological Sciences
  • When I was a kid, I wanted to become: a teacher

Research

  • Investigation of the limits of sea ice predictability in the Arctic
  • Location of research: the Arctic

Career aspiration

Arctic Policy Adviser

Why do you study the environment?

I have always been fascinated with the weather and the ocean, and studying the environment is just a natural extension.

What has been your most meaningful moment in graduate school?

In my first year, I was selected to work on a project that connected natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities in examining the Arctic as an emerging world region, allowing me to work with colleagues to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries — which is what I aim to do with my career.

Faculty advisor

Cecilia Bitz


Vega ShahVega Shah

Ph.D., Oceanography

Background

  • Hometown: Arcadia, California and India
  • Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Berkeley
  • Undergraduate degree: Bachelor of Science, Environmental Sciences, concentration in Biology
  • When I was a kid, I wanted to become: a scuba diver or fashion designer

Research

  • How bacteria in oxygen minimum zones control nutrient cycling in the global ocean
  • Location of research: Pacific Northwest and deep ocean in North Pacific Ocean

Career aspiration

Environmental microbiologist

Why do you study the environment?

The idea of venturing to places where no other person has been before is exciting.

What has been your most meaningful moment in graduate school?

When I was on a cruise in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. It is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture in the lab, but in the field everything matters; the weather, winds, temperature. This complexity is what makes oceanography a challenging subject and that’s why I’ve come to love it.

Faculty advisor

Robert Morris


Brian TraceyBrian Tracey

Masters, Marine and Environmental Affairs

Background

  • Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
  • Undergraduate Institution: Rutgers University
  • Undergraduate degree: Bachelor of Arts, Life Science
  • When I was a kid, I wanted to become: a marine biologist, chef, stuntman, football player

Research

  • Intersection of marine science and socio-cultural norms
  • Location of research: University of Washington

Career aspirations

To increase underrepresented minorities in science.

Why do you study the environment?

The same elements found in rocks and trees can be found in us. To understand nature is to understand ourselves.

What has been your most meaningful moment in graduate school?

My work on UW committees and councils, especially the Graduate/Professional Student Senate. This involvement has evoked a sense of ownership and allowed me to facilitate important conversations on campus, providing others with a safe space and similar sense of ownership of this university.

Faculty advisor

David Fluharty


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Elizabeth Phillips

Ph.D., Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Background

  • Hometown: Tacoma, Washington
  • Undergraduate Institution: Western Washington University
  • Undergraduate degree: Bachelor of Science, Biology
  • When I was a kid, I wanted to become: a detective or doctor

Research

  • Predation risk of juvenile salmon during their migration to the ocean
  • Location of research: Columbia River Plume and Washington coast

Career aspirations

To explore, inform and preserve.

Why do you study the environment?

Humans are only one part of a vast ecosystem. Curiosity about the natural world and species interactions fuel my research and inspires stewardship.

What has been your most meaningful moment in graduate school?

Graduate school is like being on a sailboat. Some days are smooth and sunny, with the horizon beckoning across a blue ocean. Other days are rough and cloudy. The best moments are I when I reach out and receive advice, support and encouragement.

Faculty advisor

John Horne


shean_psc_photoDavid Shean

Ph.D., Earth and Space Sciences

Background

  • Hometown: Derwood, Maryland
  • Undergraduate Institution: Brown University
  • Undergraduate degree: Bachelor of Science, Geology-Physics/Mathematics
  • When I was a kid, I wanted to become: an entomologist, artist and marine biologist

Research

  • Using satellite, airborne and field observations to study ice sheet changes
  • Location of research: Antarctica, Greenland, Pacific Northwest glaciers

Career aspirations

Research Scientist.

Why do you study the environment?

After studying ice/climate on Mars for several years, I shifted focus to study the Earth’s ice sheets, because I am one of the 7 billion people affected by their ongoing changes.

What has been your most meaningful moment in graduate school?

Flying in a helicopter at low altitude near the calving front of Jakobshavn Isbrae — Greenland’s largest and most dynamic glacier — after staring at satellite images of the same location for months. The experience provided a new appreciation for the scale and remarkable beauty of my research subjects.

Faculty advisor

Ian Joughin