See our Opportunities page for postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate positions available.

Matt Burgess (PI)

I am an Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies, with a courtesy appointment in Economics. I am also a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). My research interests are broad, but these days largely focus on exploring possible economic growth futures and their implications for the environment and society, natural resource management and conservation, and strategies to reduce political polarization of environmental issues. I use a combination of mathematical and computer modeling, data synthesis, and collaboration with stakeholders, in order to make conceptual advances and link them to practice.
I spend most of my spare time with my wife and two sons--activities typically include anything involving planes, buses, trucks, and bouncy balls. My other hobbies include music, basketball, and golf.
Email: matthew.g.burgess@colorado.eduLinks: CV, Google Scholar

Ryan Langendorf (Postdoctoral Scholar)

My dream is to help people live empirically, making decisions with data rather than principle or intuition. We as a society need to debate desired outcomes rather than their causes. I want to help more than anything. This is why I study causality. What is causality? Don’t worry, you are not alone. There is no single operationalized definition of it, and I would argue causality is a metaphysical concept for our intuition of the apparently mechanical interactions we experience all around ourselves. Then, perhaps more to the point, I reconstruct networks using time series.
How did I wind up building causal networks? Lots of chance and luck. You need only look to my identical twin brother to see how random our paths through life can be. I grew up with him in Chicago before studying in Maine. I then meandered through research gigs in Anchorage, Missouri, Arkansas, and Nevada before coming to Colorado and the Doak lab for a PhD studying ecosystems. But, I am actually drawn more to questions than any particular system, so since graduating I have expanded the kinds of data I work with. At Arpeggio Biosciences I use snapshots of nascent RNA transcription to understand the regulatory functioning of non-coding regions of our genomes in genetic diseases. And now, in the Burgess lab, I am studying the causal autonomy of social systems. We have tremendous troves of high fidelity spatiotemporal observational data on ourselves and our societies, but too many features are coupled such that variables can be combined into compelling stories on the causes of our roles in everything from extinction to poverty to extreme weather. These stories are particularly effective because people tend to side with the norms of their social group over scientific evidence. I try every day to create and disseminate tools able to explain the causes of these most daunting challenges we all face.

Tara Ippolito (Ph.D. Student - Environmental Studies)

I am an ENVS PhD student who completed an undergraduate degree in mathematics at University of Redlands. I am interested in questions at the intersection of development, the environment, and data science. In my spare time, I enjoy trail running and making homemade pasta. I am also deeply passionate about ice cream and eat it at least once a week.

Margaret Hegwood (Ph.D. Student - Environmental Studies)

I am an ENVS Phd Student and a USDA Food Technology and Food Security Fellow. I am interested in building an improved understanding of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of new food technologies. Before coming to CU, I received my B.S. and M.S. in Biological Engineering from Purdue University, where I acquired significant experience working on food security internationally through internships and research. I aspire to use my technological background to advise domestic and international governments on critical global agriculture issues. In my free time, I enjoy writing poetry, traveling, horseback riding, and exploring the outdoors.

Renae Marshall (UROP Fellow 2020, Honors Student 2020-2021)

I am a senior ENVS student exploring bipartisan climate solutions related to decarbonization in pursuit of an Honors thesis. Before transferring back to my Colorado roots as a junior, I studied at Loyola University Chicago as an Environmental Policy major and Irish danced professionally around the world for two years. My goal is to study energy policy at a graduate level after completing my degree.

Lab Alumni

Josh Hartmann (Honors Student 2019-2020)

I am a recent graduate of the CU Environmental Studies Honors program, for which I wrote a thesis on managing the risks posed by the Emerald Ash Borer through localized policy. I plan to attend graduate school in Fall 2021, studying either US law at an American institution or international relations/politics/development at a UK institution (which I may actually be able to afford). As a first generation immigrant, I hope to make use of my international background as a foundation for a career in global cooperation and international relations in some way, particularly as they relate to climate, poverty, and armed conflict.

John Shapland (Honors Student 2019-2020)

I graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in the Spring of 2020. Where I earned the Latin distinction of magna cum laude in environmental studies. My honors thesis explored forecasted 21st-century economic growth slowdowns and their impact on carbon emissions.

Naya O'Reilly (UROP Fellow 2019, Honors Student 2019-2020)

I am a First-Generation Multi-Racial student from Southern California. At CU I was an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) Fellow and received cum laude level of latin honors for my honors thesis on the socio-environmental factors and bacterial pollution in Los Angeles. Through that project I earned skills in creating meta-analysis , geo-spatial visualization in R and managing caffeine addiction. My passions include conservation, ecology and the intersectionality of environmental issues. I graduated from CU from the Environmental Studies Program with a minor in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences after three years and through a global pandemic. My curiosity and determination draws me to research and through all the hurdles that come with such a pursuit. I am currently a master's thesis graduate student in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Charlotte Chang (David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow, 2019-2020)

I am a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow. Beginning in 2020, I will join the faculty at Pomona College as an Assistant Professor of Conservation Biology. My research combines theoretical and statistical models and broadly focuses on socio-ecological systems to improve conservation science and practice. I develop models and methods for researchers and practitioners to quantify how different stakeholders interact with the environment, ranging from conservation constituencies in different countries to illicit wildlife hunting to managing agroforests to better support habitat specialist taxa.
In all of my projects, I work with local community leaders, practitioners, and colleagues. My collaborators are leaders in conservation science and practice in the US, China, and India, and include Ruichang Quan (Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG), Chinese Academy of Sciences), Mingxia Zhang (XTBG), Sophie Williams (Bangor University and XTBG), Krithi Karanth (Wildlife Conservation Society, India and Centre for Wildlife Studies), Yuta Masuda (The Nature Conservancy), and Zhijun Ma (Fudan University). I have benefited from generous mentorship and I seek to foster inclusive excellence in society and science through research mentoring, community service, and structured academic programs.

Vincent Wroble (Summer Research Associate, 2019)

I graduated from CU summa cum laude in Political Science with and minor in Economics and a certificate in western American studies in May 2019. I previously interned in both the Colorado State Senate and the U.S. Congress. My article on small unmanned aerial vehicles and how they can be most effectively utilized is pending publication by the U.S. Naval Institute. In my spare time, I raise puppies for wheelchair assistance.