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.

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.

Mridula Menon

Credentials: Public Practice Track with David Bart x '24

After graduating with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and working for two years as a pharmaceutical chemist, Mridula is now pursuing her passion for sustainability as a graduate student in Agroecology. She is interested in the role of agriculture in combating the effects of climate change and is also interested in public policy and its role in shifting from our current agricultural system to a system that will preserve soil health and biodiversity while ensuring food security.

Stacy Nuryadi

Credentials: Research Track with Erika Marin-Spiotta x'24

Stacy studied Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at UC Davis, where she was challenged to think of land management strategies that build ecosystem resilience for adaptation to large-scale climatic disturbances. Her graduate work will focus on exploring the links between ecosystem management, soil biogeochemistry, and global environmental change. She is particularly interested in studying how natural and anthropogenic disturbances affect soil carbon storage and how much our soils can contribute to a carbon-negative society.

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.