Agroecology students come from a variety of backgrounds and engage in a range of different projects on campus.


Ari Abbrescia

Credentials: Research Track with Erin Silva, Amanda Gevens, and Russell Groves x'23

Ari is a recent graduate of Villanova University with a B.S. in Biology. She is interested in helping facilitate the creation and maintenance of healthy agroecosystems. Her research will focus on organic pest management best-practice, and will contribute to the creation of web-based pest management resources for local organic growers.

Meg Baker

Credentials: Research Track with Julie Dawson and Claudia Calderon x'23

After spending two years working on small-scale farming initiatives with students in rural communities, Meg became interested in applying agroecological practices geared toward food sovereignty and diverse stakeholders. Her research in the Agroecology Program will focus on the blending of traditional agriculture and agroecology practices with an intentional focus on community partners’ priorities and needs.

Brooke Bembeneck

Credentials: Research Track with Randy Jackson x '20

After recently graduating from UW-Stevens Point with a Soil and Land Management B.S., Brooke is focusing her graduate work on agricultural ecosystems. Specifically, she will work with the Jackson lab to assess the effects of different livestock grazing practices on soil and water quality.

Claire Benning

Credentials: Research Track with Matt Ruark x '23

After working on small New England farms that employ ecological principles to promote environmental and human health, Claire is interested in learning about ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change on agricultural practices. Since graduating from Brown University in 2019 with a degree in Environmental Studies, Claire has been a high school science teacher and took advantage of her summer off to live in a yurt on a sheep farm in Maine. She will be working with Dr. Matt Ruark on cover crop mixtures on organic grain farms.

Grace Connelly

Credentials: Research Track with Shelby Ellison x'23

Grace is a recent graduate from Pacific University, where she studied Environmental Biology and Philosophy. She has spent the past two summers growing hemp and has been intrigued by the crop since it was legalized in 2018. Her research will focus on the effect of intercropping in hemp, looking at weed and pest management, economic impacts, and plant and soil health.

Clarissa Dietz

Credentials: Research Track with Randy Jackson x'22

A recent graduate of the University of Iowa, Clarissa is interested in agricultural systems’ potential to exacerbate or mitigate ecological and social problems. She will work with the Jackson Lab to investigate the effect on soil carbon sequestration of different management practices in cornfields.

Delaney Gobster

Credentials: Research Track with Holly Gibbs & Tyler Lark x '22

Delaney is a recent graduate of UW- Madison, having studied Environmental Science and Agronomy. Her research within the Agroecology program will focus on upcycled food and wasted food mitigation at the on-farm level. She is also interested in the relationship that wasted food resources have with food security and sovereignty.

Marnie Macgregor

Credentials: Research Track with Michael Bell x '21

Marnie approaches agroecology as someone who grew up on a fruit farm in Minnesota and has spent seven seasons on vegetable, fruit, and livestock farms in New York state. She is interested in the role agriculture plays in rural communities, the relationship between sustainable and conventional agricultural practices, and the role socio-cultural identity plays in farmers’ decision making. Marnie’s graduate research will focus on why farmers decide to transition their farming practices. Marnie is also extremely passionate about apples, and her favorite variety is Keepsake.

Monica Schauer

Credentials: Research Track with Matt Ruark x '22

Monica is a recent graduate of UW-Stevens Point with a B.S. in biology and emphasis in plant biology and conservation. She is interested in using cover crops and other nutrient management strategies to improve soil health and optimize crop yields.

Erica Shoenberger

Credentials: Research Track with Valentin Picasso x'22

Erica studied Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science at Eastern University. Before starting graduate work, she served with AmeriCorps in Connecticut working with school and community gardens and then worked on a permaculture farm in Florida. She is interested in food sovereignty, local food systems, and in training and empowering people with resources to grow their own food. She is working on nutrient management for the perennial grain, Kernza, with Dr. Picasso.

Caitlin Vitale-Sullivan

Credentials: Research Track with Michael Bell x'22

Growing up in the sagebrush steppe in Idaho, Cait has always been drawn to the interactions of humans in their environments. She is interested in the collection of farmer perspectives of language surrounding the landscapes they work in, and in examining the historical significance of changes in language to the farming culture. In an urban agriculture and educational setting, she is interested in how nature and landscape language can be used to better communicate and convey complex ideas about human-nature interactions.

Kase Wheatley

Credentials: Research Track with Michael Bell x '21

Kase is passionate about agrarian and economic democracy. He is interested in commoning the commonwealth and is curious about the role of feminism, anti-colonial politics, and the sacred within agroecology. Under the guidance of Dr. Michael Bell, Kase is working to co-create popular agroecological education in support of thriving rural communities.