Graduate students


Biology and Society PhD Program


I received my Bachelor’s degree in Integrative Biology and my Master’s degree in Geology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I am interested in the relationship between marine conservation and human wellness. Specifically, I hope to better understand how proper management of marine ecosystems at the local level can help reduce the effects of global stressors and preserve important ocean resources.

Graduate Student Kate WeissKate Weiss

Environmental Life Sciences PhD Program

 Kate Weiss is a PhD student working with Dr. Sharon Hall of ASU and Dr. Jan Schipper of the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation/Phoenix Zoo. She studies how mammal communities filter into and assemble within cities. Specifically, she is interested in how mammalian functional diversity, community structure, and population dynamics change with urbanization. Her other interests include resilience and disturbance ecology, endangered species policy, and informal science education.

Katie Surrey-Bergman

Biology and Society PhD Program

My interest is the intersection between animal behavior and conservation. Specifically my goal is to use data and knowledge collected about particular species’ behaviors to identify areas of potential human-wildlife conflict, and ultimately to craft more efficient and less-invasive policies that best protect the interests of both groups. 

My background includes an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science, work in wildlife rehabilitation, domestic animal care and behavior, and landscape ecology.

Graduate student Kesha CummingsKesha Cummings
Biology MS Program

I am interested in wildlife, conservation, and the relationship between wildlife and human populations. Of particular interest to me are marine animals such as cetaceans, sea turtles, and corals and the local human communities that surround these significant groups.  My aim is to conduct research that provides better clarification and understanding of how human presence affects local species dynamics. Along these lines I would like to study how this information can be applied to fine-tune conservation actions and the policies that dictate them.

Graduate student Kyle Strongin

Sustainability PhD Program
I am interested in the effects current fishing practices and invasive species have on the marine food web. Currently, I am focusing on the Gulf of Mexico, but would like to better understand how these pressures are affecting various marine food webs on a global scale. I am combining this research with marine conservation efforts, specifically IUCN Red Listing and the current conservation status of marine fishes.
I am a native New Mexican who fell in love with the ocean at an early age. I earned a B.S. in Marine Biology, a B.S. in Biomedical Science, and an M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University. My career path was not a straight one due to my husbands military career. I taught various college science courses while we traveled around the country eventually landing at Arizona State University. Now I am able to pursue my Ph.D. in a more permanent situation. I have 2 little boys that I love dearly and hope to use my work to teach them the importance of our ecosystems.

Graduate student Miranda BernardMiranda Bernard
Environmental Life Sciences PhD Program

I am interested in the intersection of marine science and policy. My motivation stems from a general disconnect between people and their surrounding environments. Oceans are a complicated ecological system tied heavily to anthropogenic impacts that can change them irreversibly. I aim to better understand the impacts humans have on marine systems and determine means to conserve biodiversity.

PhD student Sarah GerenSarah Geren 
Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology at the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes PhD Program

Sarah earned her B.S. degree in Conservation Biology and M.Sc. in Biology and Society in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. During her master’s she also worked at ASU’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes. Both her undergraduate and master’s thesis studied the environmental and health impacts of dietary protein choices made by consumers.
Current research interests are broadly centered on environmental policy and societal perceptions of environmental issues. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology at the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University. 

Graduate student Tiffany LewisTiffany Lewis
Environmental Life Sciences PhD Program

Human introduced toxins are of increasing environmental concern, causing potential contamination of waterways and commonly consumed seafood.  I am interested in identifying and describing toxicants of concern, and in providing clear and accurate information to the public so we can make more informed choices.

Graduate student Tin PhanTin Phan
School of Mathematics and Statistical Sciences PhD Program

I have a wide range of interest, but my research focus is in formulation of mathematical models in sciences. I find the ability to predict future behaviors and to understand the mechanisms of natural phenomena using mathematical model fascinating. This is probably the result of my endless curiosity about how nature works and my love for mathematics. Currently, I am collaborating with various groups to work on projects within the realm of mathematical medicine, marine conservation and public health.

I spent the first 15 years of my life in Vietnam before moving to the US in 2008. I graduated from Alhambra high school in 2012, then I moved on to obtain my bachelor degrees in physics and mathematics at Arizona State University (ASU) in 2016. My first major research project is my collaboration with Professor Yang Kuang’s group to quantify the spreading rate of Ebola in 2014-2015. This motivates my current graduate study at ASU. I enjoy learning new scientific and mathematical tools and concepts from others, so I try to facilitate collaboration between groups in different disciplines. Additionally, I love looking at beautiful oceans and the creatures within, which is probably because I lived 15 minutes away from one for 15 years. Thus marine conservation seems like a natural development for me.

Graduate student Ute Brady

School of Human Evolution and Social Change PhD Program

Ute is interested in the interaction of global institutions and local socio-ecological systems (SES), in particular with regard to the effects of sustainable/subsistence use exceptions on endangered species’ protections and socio-economic conditions. She also studies small-scale fisheries, environmental ethics and environmental justice, and institutional diversity and polycentricity in governance.