New Faculty Round-up

ETM demo at Pathways

This fall, the College of Natural Resources is excited to welcome 13 new faculty members to the Wolfpack! They bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to all three departments from across the globe. Our new Natural Resources faculty include three new college thematic hires as a result of our “Interdisciplinary approaches to Natural Resource Challenges” outlined in the college Strategic Plan, and one Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program cluster hire in Leadership in Public Science.

Welcome to the College of Natural Resources family!

Dr. Marcelo Ardon

Marcelo ArdonForestry and Environmental Resources Assistant Professor

Area of Expertise: Ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry

Research Focus: Carbon and nutrient cycling in wetlands and streams

Fun Fact: I was born and raised in Costa Rica.


Dr. Rachel Cook

Rachel CookForestry and Environmental Resources Assistant Professor of Silviculture and Co-Director of the Forest Productivity Cooperative

Area of Expertise: Forest plantation productivity with a background in soil science and nutrient management

Research Focus: Silvicultural practices that increase forest plantation productivity across the southeast and Latin America while protecting environmental resources

Fun Fact: My favorite soil is a spodosol…what’s yours?


Dr. Bethany Cutts

Bethany CuttsParks, Recreation and Tourism Management Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions and Geospatial Analytics

Area of Expertise: environmental justice, science-policy nexus, water governance, urban ecology, participatory mapping, qualitative GIS, complex survey design

Research Focus: My overall goal is to identify science-driven solutions to enhance the social, economic, and ecological well-being of communities. Toward this goal, I aim to take a problem-centered approach to research, often collaborating with urban planners, ecologists, and engineers. Current projects investigate (a) how sediment remediation re-organizes social vulnerability in EPA-designated areas of concern near the Great Lakes (b) how foreclosure changes residential vegetation and whether it provides lessons on the efficacy of voluntary sustainability policies and (c) how recreational activities like home gardening intersect with concern for childhood lead poisoning.

Fun Fact: I taught at an (English language) international school in Rome, Italy before I went to grad school.  I began as a mid-year replacement in ninth grade biology.  At that time, I knew one Italian phrase “I would like a tea, a coffee, and a beer, please.”  I never got to use the phrase in class. I frequently used it after class.


Dr. Jodi Forrester

Jodi ForresterForestry and Environmental Resources Assistant Professor

Area of Expertise: Forest Ecosystem Ecology

Research Focus: How forest ecosystems respond to natural disturbance and silvicultural activities

Fun Fact: Fostered 11 wonderful golden retrievers through a rescue group until becoming a foster failure.


Dr. Josh Gray

Josh GrayForestry and Environmental Resources and Center for Geospatial Analytics Assistant Professor

Area of Expertise: remote sensing of vegetation, ecosystem modeling, geocomputation

Research Focus: global environmental change, carbon and water cycle, agriculture, climate change

Fun Fact: ice cream aficionado


Dr. Marko Hakovirta, MBA

Marko HakovirtaForest Biomaterials Department Head and Professor

Area of Expertise: Materials Science, Sustainability, Innovation

Research Focus: novel biomaterials, innovation management, sustainability


Dr. Madhu Katti

Mahdu KattiForestry and Environmental Resources and Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program for Leadership in Public Science Associate Professor

Area of Expertise: Evolutionary Ecology, Urban Ecology, Wildlife Biology, Animal Behavior, Biodiversity Conservation, Reconciliation Ecology

Research Focus: Evolutionary ecology and biodiversity conservation in cities and other social-ecological systems. I use collaborative interdisciplinary approaches to understand how human activities modify habitat for other species, and how other species may respond to such human impacts over ecological and evolutionary timescales. A major goal is to apply an interdisciplinary understanding of the dynamics of social-ecological systems to find ways to reconcile human development with biodiversity conservation. This approach represents a key component of a new framework for studying biodiversity in the anthropocene, i.e., Reconciliation Ecology.

Fun Fact: I coproduce and host “Science: A Candle In The Dark,” a monthly podcast and radio show that airs on KFCF 88.1FM in California’s Central Valley.


Dr. Whitney Knollenberg

Whitney KnollenbergParks, Recreation and Tourism Management Assistant Professor

Area of Expertise: Sustainable Tourism Development

Research Focus: Leadership in sustainable tourism development, policy and planning in sustainable tourism development, food tourism and volunteer tourism

Fun Fact: I used to work at the Arrowhead Inn bed and breakfast in north Durham


Dr. Katherine Martin

Katie MartinForestry and Environmental Resources Assistant Professor

Area of Expertise: Landscape and Ecosystem Ecology in the context of Environmental Change

Research Focus: Impacts of climate and land use changes on ecosystem processes and services, particularly water resources

Fun Fact: I’m getting married in October.


Dr. Krishna Pacifici

Krishna PacificiForestry and Environmental Resources Assistant Professor

Area of Expertise: Quantitative/Statistical Ecology and Adaptive Resource Management

Research Focus:  Identifying and understanding the effects of environmental stressors on populations and communities.

Fun Fact:  Our paper (Fungi identify the geographic origin of dust samples; Grantham et al. 2015) was used as the topic of a CSI episode.


Dr. Kathryn Stevenson

Kathryn StevensonParks, Recreation and Tourism Management Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions and Policy

Area of Expertise: Environmental education research

Research Focus:  I work to identify drivers of environmental literacy, mostly among K-12 students.  Environmental literacy includes environmental knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviors, so researching it takes a lot of forms.  Right now, I’m looking at how outdoor education might boost connection to nature and interest in science, how education might boost climate literacy among middle schoolers and their parents, and how agricultural communities might build resiliency to climate change through education.

Fun Fact:  I got my start in education on Catalina Island, where I worked as marine science instructor.  I spent a lot of time snorkeling with kids, and I also got to swim with dolphins, blue whales, and sharks – a wonderful time in my life!


Dr. Yuan Yao

Yuan YaoForest Biomaterials Assistant Professor of Sustainability Science and Engineering

Area of Expertise: Industrial Ecology, Sustainability Engineering, Operations Research

Research Focus: My research focuses on constructing analytical models to quantify environmental/economic/social implications of emerging technologies in industrial systems. I use interdisciplinary approaches to develop decision support tools that can analyze alternative scenarios and identify behavioral, technological, and policy pathways toward a more sustainable future.

Fun Fact: My name is the same character as Chinese currency, so basically people can find my name on most Chinese cash.


Dr. Jelena Vukomanovic

Jelena VukomanovicParks, Recreation and Tourism Management Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and Geospatial Analytics

Area of Expertise: coupled human-natural systems, exurban development and amenity migration, viewscapes, ecosystem services

Research Focus: I am an interdisciplinary scientist who studies the human dimensions of landscape change through a coupled human-natural systems framework. I’m fascinated by the challenges of residential growth – why people choose to build and live where they do, the landscape spatial distribution of their choices, and the feedbacks between those choices and changing environmental conditions. My participatory research agenda uses a mixed methods approach – combining qualitative and quantitative methods with new simulation and visualization tools from geospatial analytics – to study the complex roles that sense of place, human decisions, and landscape characteristics play in natural resource challenges. Current research includes: modeling exurban growth and landscape change; integrating revealed and stated preferences in landscape change through viewshed analysis and immersive virtual environments; and coupling human and natural systems through the ecosystem services paradigm.

Fun Fact: I’m thrilled to join the Pack and it only seems fitting – in Serbian, Vukomanovic means “of the wolf.”