Cohort 5 (2014-2016)
Name: Benjamin Christ
Hometown: Imperial, Missouri
Education: B.S., Fisheries and Wildlife, University of Missouri
Experience: Throughout his undergraduate career, Ben pursued research in avian ecology both in his home state of Missouri and abroad in Mexico and Puerto Rico. After spending his senior year studying in Valparaíso, Chile, Ben moved to São Paulo, Brazil to work as a Business English instructor at various companies, including Starbucks and Honda. During this time, he also volunteered at an NGO called SAVE Brasil (Sociedade para a Conservação das Aves do Brasil), the country’s official BirdLife International representative. At the University of Florida, Ben currently serves as the Graduate Director of Yulee Hall, home of the Global Living Learning Community. He and his team implement programs revolving around the themes of sustainability, multiculturalism and active citizenship for undergraduate residents.
Interests: Biodiversity conservation, deforestation and loss of natural resources, environmental economics, gender in development, governance
Name: Gabriela Polo
Hometown: Guayaquil, Ecuador
Education: B.A. in International Studies and Economics,DePaul University
Experience: After being awarded a Fulbright Opportunity Scholarship, Gabriela moved to Chicago in 2010 to pursue her B.A. Throughout her undergraduate career, she developed a passion for research that has reflected on her independent research endeavors, assistantships, conference presentations, and internships. During the summer of 2013 she received a research grant that allowed her to travel back to Ecuador to carry out field work for her undergraduate thesis. Her thesis explored the Ecuadorian Yasuní-ITT initiative, which proposed an alternative to oil development within one of the major biodiversity hotspots of the world: The Yasuní Biosphere Reserve. She was thus able to work with a community of scholars, environmental activists, indigenous leaders, and NGOs that have inspired and guided her work.
Interests: sociopolitical and environmental effects of oil extraction in the Amazon, alternatives to extraction, mining, environmental policy, indigenous rights and knowledge, natural resource governance, community-based conservation, climate change and energy, water security.
Cohort 4 (2013-2015)
Name: Dale “Beau” Bryant
Home town: Poetry, Texas
Education: B.A., History and Philosophy, Texas A&M University
Certificate in Advanced International Affairs, Texas A&M University
Experience: Beau’s first international experience was freelancing as an independent English tutor in southern Morocco amongst the Tamazigh people after his freshman year of college. After that, he spent two consecutive summers in southern Kyushu, Japan, again as an English tutor. His first sub-Saharan African experience was working on school improvement projects in central Nigeria amongst the Fulani people. After completing his undergraduate education, Beau traveled briefly to Haiti to participate in after-care efforts following the 2010 earthquake, as well as throughout central Ethiopia conducting independent research on water infrastructure and improvement systems. Beau also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for two years with a college access and completion organization called College Forward, which serves low-income and first-generation students.
Interests: Monitoring and evaluation, capacity building and sustainable organizational development, geopolitics and political economy, political philosophy and ethics, human rights, land tenure rights, educational development, non-state actors, terrorism, diplomacy, military and security affairs
Name: Samantha Davis
Home town: Orlando, Florida
Education: B.A., International Studies with Spanish minor, University of North Florida
Experience: Samantha has studied abroad in over twelve countries around the world. In 2011, she participated in the Semester At Sea study abroad program and, in 2012, Samantha traveled to Ghana with Engineers Without Borders, where she and her team successfully implemented a water sanitation system for a local orphanage. Additionally in 2012, she completed a dual-internship in Washington, DC, as she worked for a non-profit organization that helped promote healthcare throughout Latin America while also working for the Washington, DC Veterans’ Affairs Clinic. Samantha is very involved in the sport of swimming. She teaches both children and adults how to swim and believes in the importance of water-safety worldwide.
Interests: Public health, gender empowerment and equality, healthcare accessibility, economic development, governance
Name: Hans Goertz
Home town: Tucson, Arizona
Education: B.A., International Relations, Lewis & Clark College
Experience: Hans served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique, where he taught English, art and IT classes to secondary students. He was also involved in an agricultural extension project, setting up several model permaculture gardens. After returning from the Peace Corps, Hans worked for the International Organization for Migration in Haiti – first in the post-earthquake capital of Port-au-Prince, and then in a regional office in Les Cayes. During his tenure in Haiti, he worked on a wide range of activities, including community infrastructure development, watershed management, shelter construction, cholera prevention and hurricane preparedness and relief.
Interests: Environmental education, natural resource management, sustainable agriculture
Name: Antonieta Eguren Ibacache
Home town: Viña del Mar, Chile
Education: B.S. in Veterinary and Animal Sciencies, University of Chile. Professional degree of Veterinary, University of Chile.
Experience: Since her graduation in 2009 Antonieta has been working in the field of wildlife conservation research. She has served as field assistant, project coordinator and investigator in several projects with private and public entities in Chile, studying endangered species (mostly carnivores). In the last two years, her main focus has been the human dimension of wildlife conservation, and she has participated in the collection of data about the conflict between rural communities and wild carnivores in the south of Chile.
Interests: Wildlife conservation, community-based initiatives, natural resource management, women empowerment, interdisciplinary approaches to development, environmental education, international cooperation
Name: Jeremy Lambeth
Home town: North Pole, Alaska
Education: Bachelor of Business Administration – Management & Organizations, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Experience: Previously employed at the Emerging Pathogens Institute, Jeremy’s career interests include improving knowledge management systems, researching urban sustainability, and mentoring youth entrepreneurship programs. As a 2010 NEURUS fellow, he worked for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and created e-learning methodologies and GIS tools at the International Centre for Science and High Technology. Recently, he assessed a distance education platform for a USAID/HAITI agricultural training center, established internet service for malaria/cholera researchers at a public health field laboratory, and designed an internal network for a contractor improving rural health infrastructure. Jeremy has conducted focus group surveys in Amman, Jordan for the Water and Livelihoods Initiative, participated in study tours of Indonesia, and returned from Port-au-Prince as an NSEP Boren Fellow.
Interests: ICT4D, nonprofit organizational leadership, and international scholarly exchange in small island developing states
Name: Liz Poulsen
Home town: Lodi, NY
Education: B.A., International Studies, Dickinson College
Experience: Liz was involved in community service throughout her undergrad years, participating in and leading Alternative Spring Break trips to the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, and being active in Alpha Phi Omega, ESL classes, and a mentoring program for immigrant youth. She started traveling to and living in developing countries at the age of 15, first living in Cartago, Costa Rica, and later studying abroad in Ghana, where she volunteered at a local orphanage. After undergrad, Liz served in the Peace Corps for five months in Niger and three years in Guatemala, where she participated in the Youth Development program, working in middle schools to implement a Life Skills curriculum, conduct teacher trainings, build computer labs, and lead workshops with parents. She also co-coordinated a sexual and reproductive health program with a local NGO.
Interests: Monitoring and evaluation, sexual and reproductive health, climate change
Name: Alexandra Sprague
Home town: Framingham, Massachusetts
Education: B.S., Biology, B.A., Anthropology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Experience: In high school and college, Alex spent two summers volunteering on community-based conservation and development projects in the Peruvian rainforest. After that, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Mongolia for a semester, where she researched community-based conservation efforts with nomadic herders on the steppe. Just before graduating, Alex was able to pursue a side interest in disease ecology by participating in a summer internship with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. After graduating from college, Alex taught English in China for a semester, and then moved to Mongolia on a Fulbright research grant. As a Fulbright scholar, she designed and put into practice the first mobile gardening project in Mongolia: Nomadic Gardens.
Interests: Program evaluation, community-based conservation, problem solving and innovations in development, ecotourism, nomadic pastoralists, human ecology, k-12 science education
Name: Christa Roberts
Home town: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Education: B.B.A. International Business and Marketing; minor in Spanish, University of Oklahoma
Experience: Having always been fascinated by Latin American culture, Christa completed an undergraduate study abroad program in Guadalajara, Mexico. After graduation, Christa worked for 3½ years as a consultant to individuals and small business owners where she designed and implemented financial strategies. In combining her educational and professional experiences, Christa became interested in the benefits of pairing business principles and social ventures. In 2011, Christa accepted an opportunity to join UF as an employee and pursue her graduate degree concurrently. Christa currently serves as the Business Manager for the Department of Environmental and Global Health at the University of Florida.
Interests: Social entrepreneurship, small business development, family and development, community initiatives, conditional cash transfer programs, upcycling, and cultural heritage.
Name: Maria F. Checa
Home town: Ecuador
Education: B.A. Biology, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador; M.S. Entomology and Netamology, University of Florida
Experience: Maria is currently pursuing a joint degree as a PhD student in ecology and conservation, and a Master student in the MDP program. She is a field biologist, and her former research has focused on analyzing effects of climate and habitat change on biodiversity. She has researched butterfly communities for several years in priority areas for conservation in Ecuador such as the Amazonia and coastal wet forests from the Chocó Region. Maria has been committed to education and outreach to enhance public appreciation for biodiversity, and promote scientific research and conservation. As a result, she has been actively involved in teaching at the Catholic University of Ecuador, mentoring Bachelor students and training local people. Moreover, Maria has published two books and several scientific and non-scientific writings. In order to face the multidisciplinary challenges of biodiversity conservation in her home country, Ecuador, Maria is pursuing the MDP program and researching about initiatives (such as butterfly farming) to reconcile biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Western Ecuador.
Interests: Biodiversity conservation, social entrepreneurship, community-based initiatives, ecotourism, women empowerment, capacity building, environmental education, climate change.