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Current Students & Advisees

Current Postdocs

Erica Rieder

Erica Reider - The Larson Lab @ NCSU - College of Natural Resources at NC State University

Postdoctoral Research Associate in PRTM at NC State (started in 2023)


Background: Erica recently completed her PhD at NC State with a focus on using participatory system dynamics modeling to enhance the success of collaborative conservation efforts. Prior to NC State, Erica earned a Masters of Environmental Management from Duke University. Before returning to graduate school, she spent years working for World Wildlife Fund, first as a Social Geographer for the Community-Centered Conservation and Development Program in Sesheke, Zambia. After working with communities in Western Zambia, Erica moved back to the US to continue with WWF as a Program Officer for the Coastal East Africa program from Washington DC and then as a Senior Program officer for the US Northern Great Plains and Community Conservation programs. Erica has expertise in community-led conservation, commons theory, conservation finance, and program management. (Hometown: Essex, CT)

Research Interests: Erica’s research focuses on how collective action, group model building and system dynamics can solve wicked conservation problems. In particular, she is studying how participatory system dynamics can build skills in systems thinking and improve trust, collaboration, knowledge and strategy among diverse conservation stakeholders. Her work as a postdoc also includes studying the factors that influence minority landowners’ participation in conservation programs.

 Current Graduate Students

Sweta Dixit

Pursuing a Ph.D. in PRTM at NC State (started in 2023)


Background: Sweta has an MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the University of Tennessee (2023) and a BS in Environmental Science from Tribhuvan University, Nepal (2018). During her undergraduate degree, she developed an interest in the human dimensions of wildlife. After graduating, she conducted research on human-wildlife conflict, ecotourism potential, and anthropogenic disturbances in and around protected areas. She continued pursuing her research interest in her master’s thesis, which was focused on evaluating the effectiveness of the Park Revenue Sharing policy in reducing park-people conflict. She has also advocated for climate change and environmental education as a member, Advocacy Head for Nepal, and Chief Director of a youth-led Philippines-based organization, the Alpha Team Organization’s ClimatEducate Project, since 2017. (Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal)

Research interests: Sweta is interested in conservation social science. From her research experiences, she believes there is a significant gap in adopting appropriate protected area management strategies and managing park-people conflict, especially in developing countries that are rich in biodiversity. Therefore, she is interested in understanding different park management strategies in the global context for guiding appropriate policy decisions by integrating human activities with ecological communities, protecting and optimizing park resources, and contributing to conflict management.

Audrey Fatone

Pursuing an M.S. in PRTM at NC State (started in 2023)


Background: Audrey has a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (2021).  Her favorite courses were in plant and fungal ecology. She also enjoyed conservation work during the summers in the Adirondack Park and White Mountain National Forest. Post graduation, Audrey traveled the country via seasonal employment. Projects included tracking the recovery of rare alpine vegetation in NY state as a result of the Summit Stewardship program, a visitor use study for Utah’s National Forests, tundra plant ecology research on Alaska’s North Slope, and an outdoor education program on the coast of California.  She resumed her academic education to gain a better understanding of outdoor recreation management and how to protect the places she loves so deeply. (Hometown: Exton, PA).

Research interests: Audrey has a broad interest in visitor use management and recreation ecology. She is curious about the ways outdoor recreation can be managed to protect fragile resources while simultaneously creating an inclusive visitor experience.  Her Master’s research will include a visitor use monitoring project for the North Carolina State park system.

Julianna Duran Jolley

Julianna Jolley - The Larson Lab @ NCSU - College of Natural Resources at NC State University

Pursuing an M.S. in PRTM at NC State (started in 2022)


Background: Julianna has a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Conservation and a Minor in Biology from Virginia Tech (2020). Throughout her undergraduate career, Julianna was interested in population dynamics and wildlife physiology. She had the opportunity to intern with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study ornate box turtle distributions and was accepted into the College of Charleston REU Program where she researched Mozambique Tilapia and Nile Crocodile Lipidomics. Although her background is heavily rooted in traditional wildlife biology, she discovered the Human Dimensions of Fish and Wildlife her senior year after taking a course with Dr. Ashley Dayer. Since then, Julianna has shifted her focus to conservation social science and plans on using both branches of science to address and improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice issues in conservation. (Hometown: Washington, D.C.)

Research interests: Julianna is broadly interested in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice within environmental conservation. As a Hispanic/Latina woman, she understands what it means to be a minority in this field and the exclusion that many BIPOC communities face when it comes to conservation science and management. She plans on using her research to address environmental racism, amplify the voices of systematically marginalized groups, and implement solutions that will benefit these communities as well as the biodiversity they share land with. In the future, she plans on becoming a human dimensions professor and emphasizing her mentorship role – especially for underrepresented and first generation students.

Brooklyn Joyner

Brooklynn Joyner - The Larson Lab @ NCSU - College of Natural Resources at NC State University

Pursuing a Ph.D. in PRTM at NC State (started in 2021)


Background: Brooklynn has a Bachelor of Science in Plant Biology from North Carolina State University (2016). She spent her undergraduate and post-graduate years in the broader field of ecology, conducting research abroad for a short period of time in Brazil before acting as lab manager for a plant disease ecology lab at UNC Chapel Hill (2017 – 2021). During this time, she was also deeply engaged in teaching, mentorship, and science communication. This ignited her passion for science education and shifted her perspective on achieving environmental and conservation goals via a human-centered, social science approach. Brooklynn has now returned to NC State as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow to pursue her doctorate with this new direction. As a first-generation college student from rural NC, she aims for her research to empower local, underserved communities through accessible, equitable, and high-quality science education programs. (Hometown: Pinetops, NC)

Research interests: Brooklynn is broadly interested in exploring how informal science education programs can be used to improve scientific literacy and prompt action in public communities. Her current research focuses on the participant learning outcomes of citizen science projects and how the design of these projects can be improved as a science education tool for the public.

 Kaitlyn Tiffany

Kaitlyn Tiffany - The Larson Lab @ NCSU - College of Natural Resources at NC State University

Pursuing an M.S. in PRTM at NC State (started in 2022)


Background: Kaitlyn has a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from North Carolina State University (2021). After participating in lemur vocalizations research as an undergraduate, she shifted gears to serve as photographer for a paleontology textbook. These experiences led her to combine a love of wildlife with an interest in environmental education. Following graduation, Kaitlyn took a walk in the woods—literally—to work on invasive species, children’s programming, and wildlife monitoring at William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh. She hopes to pursue a career where she can incorporate both the “hard sciences” aspects of wildlife management with the nuances of working with people through social science. (Hometown: Clayton, NC)

Research Interests: Kaitlyn’s primary interests lie in getting people engaged with conservation. Her master’s research involves surveying boots-on-the-ground wildlife biologists and agency personnel about barriers to regional collaboration. She hopes to dig into the problems that prevent large-scale action and look at how social networks can support successful conservation.

Rich von Furstenberg

Richvon Furstenberg - The Larson Lab @ NCSU - College of Natural Resources at NC State University

Pursuing an Ph.D. in PRTM at NC State (started in 2020)


Background: Rich is a PhD student studying attitudes, beliefs, and values towards hunting and fishing. He completed a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Texas A&M (2001) at Galveston (T.A.M.U.G) and during his time there worked for T.A.M.U.G’s Sea Camp. As a camp counselor he worked to educate school-aged children about the marine ecosystem and directed a nightly fishing program for the resident campers. Shortly after graduating he branched into a medical research career focused on the study of gastrointestinal physiology and pathology at Baylor College of Medicine (2001-2007). He then went on to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2007-2015) where he completed his Masters in Cell and Molecular Physiology. He continued studying esophageal stem cells at Duke University (2015-2020). Ready for a change, he has now come full circle, back to his passion for the outdoors and seeks to engage others by first understanding their perspectives. (Hometown: Houston, TX)

Research Interests: Rich is interested in understanding the attitudes, beliefs, and values that people have towards hunting and fishing. He is especially interested in using this information to identify less obvious impediments to recruiting non-traditional stakeholders into hunting and fishing. He is also curious about cultures, subcultures, and identities around hunting, fishing, and shooting sports.

Other Students Currently Working with the Lab

Bella Insignares (, MNR student in FWCB. Hometown: Clayton, NC. Role & Research Interests: Bella is pursuing an accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s degree in FWCB, with a focus on environmental education. Bella has spent the past three years as a Park Attendant at the Walnut Creek Wetland Center, where she teaches nature-art workshops, works on her Environmental Educator’s certification, and shares her enthusiasm for urban wetlands with the public. Having the privilege to work in an area deeply shaped by environmental justice activism, Bella finds herself most interested in accessibility and communication within the field and beyond.

Genevieve Myers (, Undergraduate student majoring in Environmental Sciences. Role: Research assistant on USFS-funded project titled Engaging diverse communities in urban greening efforts: Lessons learned and pathways to success.

Are you a student interested in joining our Lab? Click here for more information.