Pre-College Programs
Students Engage in Learning about the Environment at Haffenreffer Estate

Brown Environmental Leadership Lab: Rhode Island Faculty

Kisa Jo Takesue is the Director of Leadership Programs in The School of Professional Studies at Brown University.  Raised in Hawai'i and Massachusetts, she received an A.B. in American Studies from Brown University and Master's in Social Work from the University of Texas in Austin. She worked as a community-based social worker, providing supportive services to teen parents, immigrant families, and medical patients before returning to Brown to serve as a dean in the Office of Student Life and, later, as the inaugural director of the Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center and the Student Activities Office. During her tenure at Brown, she has collaborated with students and colleagues to implement a wide range of educational programs and courses focusing on leadership and diversity. Takesue is a volunteer with Youth in Action, a Providence non-profit organization where young people work for positive social change.

Lauren Watka graduated from Brown University with a Master's in Environmental Studies in 2012 and continues to explore the natural, and specifically marine, world at every opportunity. She received a B.S. in biology and has conducted research at Brown University, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Dartmouth College in subjects from micro- and molecular biology to ecology. In addition to research, Lauren has worked as a fisheries scientist on a few New Bedford commercial fishing boats and as an educator with the New England Aquarium in Boston.  Now back at Brown, as a Program Manager, she enjoys the opportunity to learn alongside seasoned environmental education veterans and students new to the field. As a Providence resident, Lauren supports local food and fishery initiatives, bikes as a means of transportation, and serves with her church in the city.

Kurt Teichert is a Lecturer in Environmental Studies and Manager of Environmental Stewardship Initiatives at Brown University. He teaches courses and advises students on Sustainable Design and Environmental Stewardship. In 1990, Brown established an environmental education and advocacy initiative that links student research and education efforts with university operations to implement programs that reduce the negative environmental impacts. Kurt came to Brown in 1992 to support that initiative. He is a LEED Accredited Professional and has been involved in research, design and construction of high performance educational facilities for 20 years. Teichert serves as a Stakeholder in the Rhode Island Greenhouse Gas Initiative to develop and implement a state climate action plan. Prior to coming to Brown, Kurt served as Research Associate and Facilities Manager at New Alchemy Institute. He holds an M.Sc. in Resource Economics from Oregon State University and a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College.

Ross Donihue is the Founder and Creative Director at Maps for Good, a visual storytelling team that makes custom maps and digital media for conservation initiatives in the U.S. and abroad. Ross is a 2011 graduate of Macalester College, where he majored in Environmental Studies and Geography. He started his career as a cartographer at National Geographic, where he developed a passion for making maps that communicate conservation stories. Soon thereafter, he helped start the conservation mapping program for the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Today Ross works with conservation initiatives around the world to help tell their story and connect people with places through maps. He enjoys leading workshops focused on conservation, mapping, and photography. He was an instructor with BELL Rhode Island in 2015 and BELL Costa Rica 2016. He is excited to join the BELL Rhode Island team again this summer. Ross is a certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and lives near San Francisco, California.

Kimberly McCabe is currently a high school science teacher at Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, Ma, where she teaches molecular biology, ecology through aquaponics, anatomy and physiology, and environmental science. She holds a B.S. in biological sciences from Connecticut College and a Masters in Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University. After college, she taught the marine science curriculum for a high school semester at sea program where she used hands-on exploration of coastal and pelagic marine ecosystems to teach students about ecology, climate change, and sustainability. In 2012, she participated as a volunteer researcher on a plastic research expedition to the "Giant Pacific Garbage Patch", and continues to educate people about the impacts of plastic on the ocean as a teacher, blogger, and public speaker. She also worked for the Visitor Education Department at the New England Aquarium from from 2012 to 2014, focusing on teaching volunteers how to effectively communicate scientific concepts and conservation messages to the public. An avid SCUBA diver, ocean-lover, and fish-impersonator, she also leads marine science and conservation trips for National Geographic Student Expeditions in the summer to locations including Monterey Bay, Belize, and most recently Bali. In her rare downtime in her current hometown of Pembroke, Ma, you will find her spending quality time with her dog, growing vegetables, and making ceramics.

Jane Diener is currently working on a Ph.D. at the University of Georgia (UGA), where she is completing research on sustainability in on-campus student housing. Jane works for University Housing as the Sustainability Coordinator—a position that allows her to work with staff and students on campus to promote sustainable behavior and environmental awareness. Jane holds a B.S. in Forest Resources from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at UGA, where she also completed one year of a Master of Science before transitioning to the Ph.D. program. Jane started working in environmental education with the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office, where she worked with a diverse population of children and adults in her community. She also worked in various summer camps to establish and implement nature programs. Jane currently lives in Athens, Georgia where she enjoys running, hiking, live music, supporting local restaurants, and cheering on the Dawgs during football season. This will be Jane’s third summer returning to BELL Rhode Island.

Erik Donofrio recently finished his M.S. from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. While there he looked at the relationships between foraging success, optimal microhabitat selection, and water velocity in juvenile Chinook Salmon. Erik holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Lynchburg College in Virginia, where he double majored in Environmental Science and Environmental Studies. He had the amazing opportunity to work with students as a Resident Assistant for 4 years as an undergraduate and as a Teaching Assistant for 3 years as a graduate student. In his time as a Teaching Assistant, he helped run the lab section of the Ecology class for the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. In between degrees, he worked for The Nature Conservancy on the Massachusetts Chapter’s Fire Management Team, where he assisted with the management of fire-adapted communities using prescribed fire and mechanical treatments. He has also worked with the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, where he helped create sustainable trails to two 14,000-foot summits in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range in Colorado. Originally from South Windsor, Connecticut, he now resides in Athens, Georgia where his hobbies include playing and watching sports, reading, birding, cooking, eating good food, and exploring the great city of Athens.