NC State
The Larson Lab

Current Graduate Students

Katie Krafte

Ph.D. Student at Clemson (started in 2014); Email:

Background: Prior to beginning her program at Clemson, Katie taught middle school science for 5 years in North Carolina. Katie double majored in biology and education as an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina and earned her MA in Zoology from Miami University’s Global Field Program in 2013. Through experiences gained at field sites around the world (including locations in Belize, Australia, Guyana, and Vietnam), Katie has focused her research on community-based conservation programs and how they can be applied to protect endangered species, mitigate human-wildlife conflict, and enable community growth. 

Research Topic: Katie’s dissertation research is investigating the social components that contribute to a region’s suitability for conservation projects. To do this we will be studying communities impacted by varying levels of conflict with predators both in the US and abroad. Within these communities we will be examining components such as social capital, economic and environmental resilience, and tolerance for predators and other wildlife. 

Devyani Singh

Ph.D. Student at Clemson (started in 2015); Email:

Background: Devyani has a Masters degree in Environmental Sciences from the Institute of Science, Mumbai University, India. After completing her Masters she was involved in projects based on environmental education, tourism and community studies in tiger reserves. Before joining Clemson, she was working with an NGO in Mumbai as a Program Officer. Devyani’s research interests are in the areas of conservation education, community-wildlife interactions and tourism in protected areas.

Research Topic: Devyani’s research focuses on the complex interaction of wildlife tourism and conservation around tiger reserves in India. She is studying perceptions of and support for both tourism and conservation across a variety of different stakeholder groups.

Kyle SmithKyle Smith

M.S. Student at NC State (started in 2016); Email:

Background: Kyle is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but has called many places on the east coast home. He holds a B.S. in Recreation Management from Appalachian State University, and is a past resort, campground and recreational vehicle industry professional. In conjunction with school, Kyle works with Recreation Resources Service, a technical assistance program for parks and recreation agencies in North Carolina, as their Graduate Extension Assistant. His research interests include tourism carrying capacity, community parks and recreation fund development, and outdoor recreation behavior.

Research Topic: Kyle is currently working on a thesis project which aims to better position municipal parks and recreation agencies for participation in external grant processes, examining the factors which lead to grant success and how they relate to organizational capacity.

Charmaine Pedrozo

M.S. Student at NC State (started in 2017); Email:

Background: Charmaine is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, as well as minors in Agricultural Communication and Botany. As an undergraduate student, she completed her internship programs in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Cortland, New York, and Everglades National Park in south Florida. These experiences focused on wildlife and the environment, but she eventually gained a passion for including humans in the equation and understanding their relationship with wildlife and the environment. After graduating, Charmaine completed another internship program that took her to several national parks in the western United States, including Yellowstone National Park and Mt. Rainier National Park. This program provided the opportunity for her to exercise her abilities in communicating science to the public. Her research interests include human dimensions of wildlife and environmental education.

Research Topic: Charmaine’s thesis aims to evaluate the effects of the Candid Critters Citizen Science project on its participants, which includes adults and youth in K-12 classrooms. She is studying whether participation in the citizen science program can affect the participants’ beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors with respect to conservation.

Undergraduate Students Currently Working with the Lab

Allie Dinwiddie

Background: Allie is a Park Scholar senior undergraduate at NC State from western North Carolina. She is pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Engineering, a minor in Applied Ecology, and is part of the University Honors Program. Outside of her studies, Allie participates in various environmental education, service, and university improvement projects through the NC State Stewards Program as a Project Manager and as Co-President of the WolfPack Environmental Student Association. Through NC State’s Center for Leadership, Ethics, and Public Service she also planned and led a two-week student service trip to Belize, which focused on aiding in-country nonprofit conservation, environmental education, and sustainable agriculture efforts. These experiences have encouraged Allie to pursue a career in public service and environmental outreach, and she plans to join AmeriCorps after graduation.

Research Topic: Allie’s Honors Capstone research project will consist of curriculum development for the Candid Critters Citizen Science project and will attempt to identify and evaluate best practices for teacher engagement within the project. She is studying effective environmental education lesson planning and why teachers choose to incorporate citizen science programs in their classrooms.

Other Students Currently Working with the Lab

Brandon Harris

Ph.D. Student at Clemson (started in 2014); Email:

Background: Originally from Florida, Brandon came to Clemson from Chicago. Brandon holds an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Sports Marketing and Management and a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. He has had the opportunity to work in program and event design for numerous private organizations, including: Trader Joe’s, Bank of America, and The Chicago Bears.  Brandon’s outside interest include spending time with friends and family, weight training, standup paddleboarding, and attending music festivals. Upon completion of his PhD Brandon hopes to either work in an academic setting or consult.

Research Topic: Brandon’s research areas include the role urban parks play in influencing crime in urban areas, the relationship between neighborhood stigma and recreational behaviors, deviant behavior, and ecological gentrification. More specifically, Brandon has a profound interest in using recreation as a mechanism for change in at-risk neighborhoods in the Chicago area.

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

Lab Alumni & Former Advisees

StaytonBrett Stayton (MS, 2017)

Hometown: Fort Wright, KY; Education: Eastern Kentucky University (BS in Wildlife Management), Clemson (MS in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management)

Research interests: Human dimensions of wildlife conservation, hunter recruitment and retention, innovative funding avenues for conservation. Thesis Title: Colleges and universities: Prime habitat for hunter recruitment and retention

Sarah Wilcer (MS, 2017)

Hometown: Lombard, ILEducation: Western Illinois University (BS in Biology), Clemson (MS in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management)

Research interests: Environmental education/interpretation, wildlife conservation, human dimensions of natural resource management; Thesis Title: Understanding hiking participation and benefits: Lessons learned from the First Day Hikes initiative

Current Position: Interpretive Ranger at Grand Teton National Park, WY

Elizabeth Boles JohnsonElizabeth Boles Johnson (online MS, 2017) 

Hometown: Rock Hill, SC; Education: Clemson University (BS in Business), Clemson (online MS in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management)

Research interests: Environmental education, interpretation, native plans, and human (and pet!) dimensions of park managementProject Title: Pets, parks, and conflict: An exploration of visitor attitudes towards dog walking at Lake Conestee Nature Park

Current Position: Park Ranger at South Cove County Park (Oconee County, SC)

Tara Chapmon (online MS, 2016)

Hometown: San Diego, CA; Education: US Naval Academy (BS in Oceanography), Clemson (online MS in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management)

Research interests: Human-nature interactions, stewardship behavior, surfing and adventure recreation; Project Title: Visitors’ pro-environmental attitudes, behavior, and place attachment on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Comparing surfers and other recreationists

Current Position: Educator & Trip Leader, Outward Bound (multiple locations in western US)

Sam Keith (MS, 2016)

Hometown: San Antonio, TX; Education: Texas A&M (BS in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences), Clemson (MS in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management)

Research interests: Urban green space and greenways, trails, cycling, GIS, park planning and design; Thesis Title: Urban greenway use and benefits in diverse cities: A tale of two trails

Current Position: PhD Student at University of Georgia, Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources (Athens, GA)

Ami Flowers Staples (MS, 2012)

Hometown: Augusta, GA; Education: Univ. of Georgia (BS in Forest Resources; MS in Natural Resources Recreation & Tourism)

Research interests: Environmental education, art, wildlife biology; Thesis Title: The effects of an art-based environmental education program on children’s environmental perceptions.

Current Position: Marine Fisheries Biologist, NC Department of Environmental Quality (Washington, NC)