2014 Faculty & Students


Alison Anastasio

Alison AnastasioI earned my PhD in ecology and evolution in 2009 and I manage the graduate programs in two biology departments at University of Chicago. My interests primarily center around conservation genetics, plant populations in Sweden, history of American ecology, and bringing attention to the benefits of healthy natural areas in the Calumet region. I grew up in suburban California and spent summers on the north coast with my family hiking in the redwoods and the headlands, staying a safe distance from harbor seals, and gazing into tide pools for hours.


Maddie McLeester

I am a PhD Candidate in Anthropology, specializing in archaeology and pollen analysis. My research investigates how Native Americans shaped the environment prior to European arrival here in the Calumet Region. I grew up camping every summer with my family and even still head back home once a year to grab a weekend of beach camping. I am an avid birder and look forward to the warblers coming to Chicago during migration season!


Sabina Shaikh

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 10.36.08 AMI am an environmental economist on the Faculty in the Program on Global Environment and Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago, where I teach Environmental Management and Planning in the Calumet Region. I grew up in Milwaukee and have fond memories of going to Doctor’s Beach on the shores of Lake Michigan with my family. I currently work with several Great Lakes and Calumet stakeholder organizations to help understand the economics related to the environment and natural resources in the region.


Ali Feser

Ali FeserI am a PhD student in Anthropology, and my research explores the social history of Kodak film production in the 20th century, as well as the lingering effects of analog photography in archives, art practice, and built environment. I study the effects of industry and its withdrawal upon ecology and social life in the Great Lakes region. I grew up in upstate New York, where I spent my summers hiking, biking, gardening, and reading epic novels on the beach.


Leigh Alon

I am a third year biology major, interested in studying medicine in the future. Stewardship is important to me from a personal perspective, as I grew up with a great appreciation for nature and it holds many fond memories for me–my family spent a lot of time together hiking our way through national parks. Outside of Calumet Quarter, I am involved in the Green Economics Group, which provides consulting services as well as conducts research regarding environmental issues.


Patricia Brandt

Patricia BrandtI am a fourth year biology major, environmental studies minor from Great Falls, Virginia. I love home, not just because my family and friends are there, but also because Great Falls is a beautiful, rural area where I enjoy hiking and running. Fall in Great Falls is my favorite time of year! In addition to spending time outdoors, I love reading, baking, traveling, and making jewelry.


Blaire Byg

Blaire BygI am a fourth year majoring in Political Science and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. I grew up on a family farm in Ohio and have been interested in the intersection between agriculture and the environment for many years. I wrote my senior thesis on the development of self-reliant agricultural systems in Palestine. The coolest thing I ever did was trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp two years ago. I spend a lot of her time running and playing with my cat, Gatsby. I wish I were better at cooking, computers, and other practical life skills.


Hannah Flynn

Hannah FlynnI’m a second year environmental studies and visual art double major from Los Angeles, California — or as my neighbor once put it, “so you want to take down the big bad oil companies and then paint about it.” Growing up in an urban environment, I would get my nature fix by sneaking into a beautiful fenced-off field in my neighborhood. I have begun to synthesize my two fields of study with my first graphic novel, Gust or Bust, which is about climate modeling and wind power. I am in the process of writing my second graphic novel now, which is about hydraulic fracturing (fracking).


Leah Garner

Leah GarnerI am a second year environmental studies major from Palm Bay, Florida. Right before I left home to go to college, I saw a sea turtle lay her eggs just two feet away from me at a local beach–it was a life-changing experience, and I consider that moment to be a formative nature experience. Fun fact: I have been dancing since I was four and I love it!


Lily Gordon

Lily GordonI am a third year environmental studies major, creative writing minor, from Villanova, Pennsylvania. Spending my summers in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York, I am still in awe of the mountains, lakes, rivers, and wildlife that exist there. In the past year, I have visited eight countries while studying abroad: Israel, Jordan, Spain, Portugal, France, Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands.


Bryan Graybill

Bryan GraybillI hail from Austin, Texas, and am a second year environmental studies major. My favorite national park is Big Bend out in the corner of west Texas for its unique and monumental landscape. Being in nature has shaped my personality from a young age, and so I chose to enroll in the Calumet Quarter in hopes that it would serve as a bridge from the personal to the professional. In the future, I hope to travel and work with the environment.


Kylah Johnston

Kylah JohnstonI am a second year in the college, double majoring in environmental studies and public policy. Originally from Harbor Springs, Michigan, I grew up helping my parents grow garlic and raise turkeys on our 200-acre co-op farm. In my free time, I enjoy playing the banjo, climbing trees, and hammocking.


Colin Parts

Colin PartsI am a first year from Baltimore in the Calumet Quarter majoring in environmental studies. While I didn’t quite get it the first few times we went, I fell in love with nature because of all the camping trips I took with my dad. I love to run/bike/swim, play guitar, read, and hang out with my family/dog. My interesting fact? I have never eaten meat.


Hanna Petroski

Hanna PetroskiI am a third year environmental studies major/visual arts minor from Boise, Idaho, where I spent most of my summers hiking up mountains and most of my winters skiing down them. In my free time, I tend to doodle, write, read, and make terrible puns.


Roberta Weiner

Roberta WeinerI am an environmental studies and political science major at the University of Chicago. I am originally from West Lafayette, Indiana, but have also lived in Berlin, Germany and Boulder, Colorado. I use my spare time to organize around environmental causes at the grassroots level, and grow as many plants as possible in my dorm room.


Sam Zacher

Sam ZacherI’m a second-year majoring in environmental studies and economics, and I grew up in Columbus, Ohio. Spending summers on Ten Mile Lake in northern Minnesota is what draws me to nature and environmental studies. I’m a huge Ohio State sports fan, and I also love playing basketball and baseball, chillin’ with my dogs, hanging with friends, and visiting my family (especially my three nieces and nephew), and adventuring in nature!


Bailey Zweifel

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 10.35.32 AMI am a third year environmental studies major from Fort Collins, Colorado, where I spent my childhood biking and hiking along the Rocky Mountain Front Range. When I’m not in the library or in the lab, I enjoy gardening, watching old episodes of Scrubs on Netflix, and thinking of witty comebacks to things people said long after the fact.