Meet the 2011-2012 cohort

Clint Basham


Clint grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and attended Arizona State University, where he earned a BS in Landscape Architecture.

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The theory of Urban Planning and Sustainable Development propelled him to excel. After graduation, he worked designing Master Planned Communities for 12 years.

Concerned with urban sprawl and wasteful resource management practices, he pursued a more green approach, earning an accreditation in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design through the US Green Building Institute. Due to market problems in the housing industry throughout the country, and especially in Phoenix, he had to explore other interests.

This led to a year in Alaska with his wife on a journey of both professional and personal ventures. Exploring the backwoods of Alaska and reflecting on possible career paths led him to conclude that graduate school was the best available option.

The Climate Science and Solutions program at Northern Arizona University provided him with two amazing opportunities: the chance to break into an emerging field of flourishing possibilities, and the chance to move back to Flagstaff. He is excited about the move to the warmer climate of Arizona and into a career heating up with global implications.

Colleen Cooley 


Colleen graduated with a BS degree in Environmental Sciences with an emphasis in Management from Northern Arizona University in 2008.

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Colleen is originally from Shonto, a small rural community on the Navajo Nation, where many families have lived and are still living without electricity and running water. Yet the water and mineral resources have been extracted to provide electricity for cities off the reservation and this has sparked her interest in climate change issues on tribal lands.

As an undergrad, Colleen worked on a research project looking at water, soil, and plant contamination from uranium mining on the western part of the Navajo Nation. Colleen comes into this program with hopes of understanding the language and science of climate change and taking this knowledge back to indigenous communities to help them find with ways to adapt to climate change. 

Chanda Durnford 


Chanda grew up primarily in Florida and Ohio and earned her BS in Civil Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York while serving in the US Air Force.

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After graduating with honors in 2001, she began her construction management career with Turner Construction Company in Washington, DC, where she worked on large projects at the Pentagon, Walter Reed Hospital, the US Patent and Trademark Offices, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Richmond Convention Center.

She later joined Balfour Beatty Construction, where she became a LEED Green Associate and served as Quality Control Manager on military base expansion projects in Virginia.

Chanda's experience in the sustainable construction of energy-efficient buildings motivated her to join the program. Eventually, she hopes to implement her knowledge of renewable energy systems and sustainable technology to promote energy independence and reduce environmental impacts in the future.

Avi Henn 

Avi has a M.S. in environmental sciences and policy from Northern Arizona University.

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Avi was born and raised in North Israel on the Mediterranean. Avi came to the United States in 2001, and graduated summa cum laude with a double major in conservation biology and conservation social science from the University of Idaho. 

Following graduation, he worked for Defenders of Wildlife in designing and developing an online national website which compiles on-the-ground conservation actions. In 2007, he started the master’s program in environmental sciences and policy here at Northern Arizona University.

In 2008, Avi was honored by receiving the prestigious Doris Duke Fellowship and worked with the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit to assess the state of fluvial restoration in the San Juan River Basin.

Since graduation, Avi has been working for Northern Arizona University to develop and coordinate an electricity savings project on campus. Avi also supervised a team of students who visited buildings every night and turned off lights and electronic devices. Recently, he has become very interested in international climate change mitigation policy and innovation.

Jason Langer


Jason moved to Flagstaff from Youngstown, Ohio, where he attended Youngstown State University and received a BS in Environmental Studies with a minor in Geology.

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During his undergraduate studies, Jason assisted with extensive research on a small, secluded island in the Bahamas called San Salvador.  The research included:

  • the studies of shoreline change due to natural erosion, tropical storms, and hurricanes
  • evidence of sea level change through geologic time
  • natural protection barriers and their relation to shoreline conditions

During his studies at YSU, he was also hired as an intern for Global Green USA to collect data and draft a carbon emissions report for the city of Youngstown's first greenhouse gas inventory. 

He then worked for the City of Youngstown writing neighborhood revitalization plans which incorporated urban agricultural, pocket parks, and recreational areas with an emphasis on sustainability to reclaim and reuse vacant properties.  His interests are environmental planning, greenhouse gas inventories, and the effects of climate change on coastal areas.

Christopher Menges 


Chris joins the Climate Science and Solutions program via Crested Butte, Colorado, where he directed the Climate and Clean Energy program for High Country Citizens’ Alliance, a highly effective environmental NGO.

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Chris’ work at the High Country Citizens’ Alliance involved:

  • working with regional utilities to plan for future capacity needs with cleaner energy alternatives and DSM
  • participating in the development of regional greenhouse gas reduction action plans
  • developing principles for renewable energy sitting on public lands
  • educating the community on climate and energy issues accompanied by practical and affordable solutions

Chris earned a BA in Environmental Studies with a minor in Political Science at Western State College of Colorado in 2003, after which he interned with Friends of the Earth in Washington, DC. There, he worked on topics of international environmental policy. Since interning, Chris has worked as a river ranger, raft guide, and safety kayaker in the outdoor industry and with several environmental NGOs.

Chris was born and raised in Washington, DC, but has lived out west since 1997, mostly in Crested Butte and Salida, Colorado. He believes that his DC upbringing, combined with over a decade of living in rural western communities, provides an effective and well-rounded perspective through which to work on climate and energy issues. 

Kaitlin Meszaros


Kaitlin received her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Fairfield University in Connecticut.

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With that background and a special interest in energy conversion systems, Kaitlin has found a passion for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Her internship with the Nature Conservancy of Connecticut, led her to the Climate Science and Solutions program at Northern Arizona University.

Professionally, Kaitlin is interested in the connection between policy-making and technology, specifically related to renewable energy. Outside of the classroom, Kaitlin enjoys reading, running, and listening to and finding new music.  

Alexander Oden


Alex graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a minor in spanish in the fall of 2010.

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A two-time brain cancer survivor, Alex set out in the psychology field with the intent of counseling kids and young adults with cancer and those facing life-threatening illnesses.  Alex’s plans changed in 2009, while working as a lead student researcher in a project investigating the sustainability behaviors of students living in the residence halls on campus.

Growing up with an environmental engineer mother and having spent much of his youth outdoors, climate change has weighed on his mind for as long as he can remember.  The project rekindled his passion for the issue and he has been on a mission to solve it ever since. 

With a strong background in public speaking and years of work as an advocate for the cancer community, coupled with his understanding of human behavior, Alex intends to use the knowledge he gains through his degree in the Climate Science and Solutions program to help shape national policy to solve the problems we face from climate change.  His main interest area is solutions to our climate and energy problems through waste-to-energy plants using biodigestion. 

Adrian Peshlakai 


Adrian grew up in Coalmine, Arizona, located in a remote area of the Navajo Reservation.

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She graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2010, with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies. During her undergraduate education and through participation in internships, Adrian developed an interest in renewable energy and water conservation. She is particularly interested in issues relating to the challenges in “urban” settings on the Navajo Reservation.

Her goal is to study innovative and energy-efficient planning, design, and development. Ultimately, Adrian would like to help reduce or eliminate dependence on fossil fuels, such as coal, in reservation communities, and to help mitigate the effects of climate change through alternative, renewable, energy sources.  Adrian will work to link the knowledge and resources of modern science to the traditional values of her Dine people. 

Sarah Renteria


Sarah received her BS in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at El Paso.

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While there, Sarah worked on projects that assessed aquatic ecosystem degradation.  Water quality issues on the border made her realize the need for effected bi-national policies to maintain and prevent further degradation of our shared natural resources.

She is interested in community education and interdisciplinary approaches to promote sustainability and conservation on both sides of the border.  Communication is an important component in combating global climate change. Sarah is excited to learn about community-based approaches to sustainability and methods to empower communities to take on challenges like climate change.  

Stephanie Jackson 

Stephanie Jackson, a Navajo woman born and raised in Arizona, received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Northern Arizona University in 2008.   

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Working in a soil ecology lab as a lab and field assistant during her undergraduate career and the proceeding 2 years upon graduating, heightened her interest in climate change.  Being a native woman from the Navajo Reservation located in Arizona, also home to a number of tribal reservations that are being affected by climate change brought awareness to this field of study.  In a sense, these tribal reservations do not have the resources or technology to educate and prepare communities that are still in the process of being economically developed and affected by a “change” that is out of their hands. She is particularly interested in youth/community outreach and education in the field of adaptation and mitigation to climate change in the Southwest.  In 2007, she became a river guide on the San Juan and Colorado River.  She continues to works as a guide with Grand Canyon Youth, where she hopes in creating interdisciplinary lessons in education, experiential learning, and outdoor adventures to inspire youth to invest in their future by becoming environmental stewards.

Katharyn Woods


Katharyn received her degree in earth science –geology from Portland State University.

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Katharyn grew up in the Pacific Northwest where she was involved in environmental science and education from an early age.  Katharyn studied botany and plant pathology at Oregon State University before moving to Portland State University to complete a degree in earth science-geology, with a minor in chemistry.  She also worked as a naturalist and field guide for 5 years developing, implementing and teaching earth-systems science curriculum.  Katharyn's focus in the Climate Science and Solutions program is on climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, specifically forest restoration, forest carbon, and REDD+ strategies.  She hopes to develop and implement adaptation and restoration projects to protect forest resources and avoid large-scale carbon dioxide emissions due to disturbances such as wildfire.