Kevin Burke is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology. He is currently writing his dissertation, which is a cultural history of forest science research in the US titled Forests for the Futures: A Political Biogeography of Forest Genetics Research in the American South. He has also worked with the US Forest Service Philadelphia Field Station on an ethnographic study of environmental education programs, and he is currently designing a project on the transition from "gray" to "green" stormwater infrastructure in the city. In a past life, he studied monkeys.
Shereen Chang is a PhD candidate in Philosophy investigating how people reason about cognition and what can be learnt from research in animal cognition. For instance, how do we justify making inferences from the cognition of one animal to another? Shereen’s work emphasizes avian cognition, especially parrots, who share many social and behavioural traits with primates.
Akudo Ejelonu is a dual degree student in Public Health and Environmental Studies (MPH/MES) with interests in community service, social justice, medicine, and global health. Her research focuses on community-based participatory research (CBPR) to investigate the role of community participation in the development of ecotourism in Puerto Rico. CBPR is a partnership approach to research in which results both come from and go directly back to the community members who need them most and can make the best use of them. Her study focuses on quantitative and qualitative studies of community assessment and support for the development of an ecotourism project. Akudo was born in Nigeria and grew up in Boston.
Billy is a doctoral candidate in City and Regional Planning with a background in landscape architecture and urban policy development. He graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Arkansas where also served as the Student Government President during his final year. Upon graduation, he was presented with the Senior Citation Award, which honors the top undergraduate man and woman across the entire campus.
After graduation, Billy worked in the White House Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Urban Affairs during the first term of President Obama’s Administration. His portfolio covered the Sustainable Communities Initiative and the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative (National Parks Service) among others. His dissertation work – which is tentatively titled “End of the Line: The Nature of Landscape in Coastal U.S. Cities” – is focused on the use of what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers refers to as “nature-based strategies” within the broader coastal resilience efforts in Galveston (TX), Norfolk (VA), and New York (NY).
Gregory Koutnik is a PhD Candidate in the Political Science department at the University of Pennsylvania. His concentration is in political theory. His research interests include environmental political thought, political economy, and questions of property and belonging, and his dissertation seeks to explore the ways in which human beings pursue being-at-home in the world in various modes, all of which have ecological valences and all of which deserve attention in the study of politics. He is also interested in populism, the politics of place, and phenomenology.
Kaushik Ramu is a PhD candidate in the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation studies the significance of inhuman timescales – as in fossils, extinction and drifting continents – in the shaping of a planetary commons, in its selection of twentieth-century novels and earth-scientific archives; in this, it speaks to debates across ecocriticism, postcolonial studies and disability studies. Among his broad questions are how humanist turns to concepts like ‘species’ or ‘planet’ negotiate their own political risks, how literary form has related to mental difference, and what the life-worlds of anything from the deep sea might be like.