Students: Water Cohort

Cohort 1 was accepted in Fall 2014


James Arruda (York)
Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 5.27.16 PM

James has an undergraduate degree in economics from Concordia University, Montreal, and is now pursuing a Masters in Environmental Studies (MES) at York University. His interest lies in Ecological Economics and Indigenous knowledge. As a scholar in the E4A program, he wishes to push the barriers of Ecological Economics as a dynamic, inclusive and interdisciplinary field of study.

Matthew Burke (McGill)

As a PhD candidate in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences at McGill University and member of the Economics for the Anthropocene program, Matthew Burke examines the social-ecological dimensions of energy transition and renewable energy policy in eastern Canada and northeastern United States. Matthew holds a Master of Public Administration and Graduate Certificate in Ecological Economics from University of Vermont, a Master of Arts in Environmental Education from University of New Mexico, and a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from Ohio State University. Matthew is a Research Fellow at The Next System Project and a Graduate Research Fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (U.S.). He receives support through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Kesha Fevrier (York)
Kesha Fevrier

Kesha is a PhD student at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. She has a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies, a BA in Geography and a Diploma in Project Management. She has a worked in both the public and private sector in the areas of edcation (teaching), low income housing development, community development, public consultation, health research and environmental management and planning. While her professional experiences may seem non-linear, her greatest desire is to combine her knowledge and experience in these areas, to deliver initiatives that seek to improve the lives – environmentally, economically, socially and culturally – of the poor and marginalized in the global south.

Jennifer Gobby (McGill)

Jen was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. At the age of 20 she traveled west to British Columbia and landed on a remote, off-the-grid island. There she learned to grow food, build shelter, chop wood and live in community. In 2003 she attended a six month residential course in green building. Upon completion she founded the MudGirls Natural Building Collective and together with these women she builds affordable and eco-friendly homes, as well as teaches building techniques and permaculture principals ( In 2008 Jen was elected by her island community to serve on the local government ( During her three year term in office she initiated and completed several projects related to climate change. In 2011, Jen returned to Quebec to embark on a BA in Environment at McGill University. During this degree it slowly dawned on her that without a total overhaul of our current economic systems, there is no hope for avoiding disastrous climate change. She is now pursuing a PhD in Renewable Resources through the Natural Resource Science department at McGill, supervised by Professor Peter Brown. Her research will investigate ecological economics, climate justice and indigenous resistance to resource exploitation. Meanwhile, she still spends summers on the little island building, growing food, chopping wood and living in community.

Courtney Hammond Wagner (UVM)

Courtney is a PhD student at the Rubenstein School and a fellow in the Gund Institute’s Economics for the Anthropocene program. Her interests lie in complex Social-Ecological systems and in water systems in particular. Courtney’s research focuses on the interaction between ecosystem resilience and the institutional arrangements and policy governing water allocation. Courtney grew up in the Pacific Northwest and received her bachelor’s in Psychology from Dartmouth College. Following graduation, Courtney worked as a research associate in at ecology lab at Dartmouth, spent two summer field seasons in Greenland investigating Arctic soil carbon storage, and worked as a community outreach coordinator for a science consortium in Barrow, AK. Prior to starting her doctoral studies at UVM, Courtney was an Energy Efficiency Consultant with Navigant Consulting, where she researched and evaluated energy efficiency programs.

Anna Kusmer (McGill)

Anna is pursuing a Master’s degree in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences department at McGill University. Her research is centered around the impacts of agricultural practices on landscapes, particularly relating to nutrient pollution of fresh waters. Her work aims to understand the role that different landscape features play in absorbing and buffering anthropogenic phosphorus pressure. More generally, Anna is interested in agroecology, food systems, resilience, and socio-ecological transformation towards a more safe and just society.

Christopher Orr (McGill)

Picture_OrrChristopher is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences at McGill University. His research aims to understand how empirically grounded political philosophy and institutions such as governance can foster a thriving human-nature relationship. He holds a B.Sc. (physics and biology) from the University of Toronto and an M.S. from McGill University. His master’s thesis examined the legitimacy of collaborative water governance in the context of the Quebec Water Policy. Christopher is coauthor of a future scenario for the Great Lakes Futures Project, and he enjoys collaborating in diverse ways. He conducted environmental monitoring as Assistant Leader of EnviroMap projects at Engineering Seismology Group, developed projects during a Canadian International Development Agency internship in Nicaragua, and travelled to India on behalf of a research team at the University of California, Berkeley to design and build a prototype to remove arsenic from groundwater.

Alvaro Palazuelos (York)

Alvaro is pursuing a PhD in Environmental Studies at York University. His research is focused on investment in natural capital and management of ecosystem services in developing countries, with a special emphasis on water ecosystems. He has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies from University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Universidad de San Andres (Buenos Aires, Argentina). In the past he worked as Sustainability Manager for UNBC and as project manager for different non-profit organizations working with underprivileged people in Buenos Aires, his home city. Through his PhD, Alvaro is looking to increase his knowledge about Ecosystem Services Management and Valuation methods, Steady-State Economics, and Conservation and Development in Developing countries.

Phoebe Spencer (UVM)

Phoebe Spencer is a Ph.D. student at UVM working with the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics. Her studies focus on issues of gender equity in economic systems, including the disconnect between the neoclassical economic paradigm and justice. In the fall of 2014, Phoebe completed an internship with the United Nations Statistics Division working on the World’s Women 2015 report. At UVM, Phoebe completed a Graduate Certificate in Ecological Economics in 2015, her MS in Community Development and Applied Economics in 2013, and a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Transportation Systems and Mobility in 2012. She completed her BA (Joint Honours) at McGill University in 2011 in Anthropology and Geography with a minor in Hispanic Languages. Phoebe currently serves as a volunteer member on the Board of Advisers for the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at UVM, the UVM Traffic Board of Appeals, the Essex Junction Bike Walk Advisory Committee, and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission’s Active Transportation Plan Advisory Committee.

Michael Wironen (UVM)

IMG_5130Michael is pursuing a PhD in ecological economics at the Gund Institute at UVM.  Michael’s research will explore how ecological economics can inform sound decision-making in the management of water resources and food production systems at different scales. Prior to joining UVM, Michael worked as a senior sustainability specialist at an international environmental consulting firm. He helped private and public sector clients integrate sustainability best practices into development projects and large-scale master planning and regional planning initiatives in the United States and abroad. He has also worked as a researcher focusing on biogeochemical cycling in forest and wetland ecosystems. He holds a Masters in Sustainability Science from Lund University in Lund, Sweden and a Bachelor’s in Physical Geography from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.