LAB ASSOCIATES

Alison Bowers
Research Associate
Alison Bowers

Alison is a part-time graduate student at Virginia Tech pursing a PhD in the Educational Research and Evaluation program. Concurrently, she is also a researcher and consultant with a number of university faculty and environmental nonprofits. Her background and experience include working as a field-based environmental educator and at the national-scale with nonprofit conservation and education organizations such as Project Learning Tree. Alison also has worked as a special education teacher. Alison has an EdS in Early Childhood Special Education from George Washington University, a MFRC with a Certificate in Environmental Education and Communication from the University of Florida, and a BA in Psychology from the University of South Carolina.

Elin Kelsey
Visiting Scholar
Elin Kelsey

Dr. Elin Kelsey is a leading spokesperson for hope and the environment. In 2014, she co-founded a social media campaign devoted to sharing ocean conservation successes. #OceanOptimism has reached more than 80 million users to date and has sparked a number of optimism-based conservation campaigns including #EarthOptimism, #ConservationOptimism, #ClimateOptimism and others.She has been awarded fellowships, including a Rockefeller fellowship and a Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society fellowship, to explore the question of hope and the environment in interdisciplinary contexts. The IUCN, the largest international assemblage of government and non-governmental environmental organizations, featured Elin in their “Inspiring People” campaign. Elin is an associate faculty member in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University in Canada and the principal of Elin Kelsey and Company, an environmental communications consultancyHer research interests include environmental education (EE) and environmental communications (EC), particularly as related to investigating and evaluating the role of emotions in engaging youth, environmental educators and conservationists in marine issues and solutions.

Stephanie Rafanelli
Research Associate
Stephanie Rafanelli

Stephanie is a PhD candidate in science education at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Her research interests include adolescent girls’ participation in extracurricular science, connecting research with practice, and teacher learning. She has more than 20 years of experience in formal and informal settings, including as a classroom science teacher and a private-school administrator. She founded and ran summer and after-school programs focused on nurturing science and environmentally related interest, creative thinking, and leadership; these programs and camps have included Sally Ride Science Camp for Girls and Menlo Summer Explorations. In addition, Stephanie helped develop and launch the Center for Childhood Creativity, an institution focused on linking research on creative thinking and educational practice. Stephanie has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Teacher Education, both from Stanford.

Samantha Selby
Research Associate, Challenge Success
Samantha Selby

Samantha is a quantitative research associate with Challenge Success, where her work focuses on socio-emotional learning with youth in formal and informal settings. She continues to work part-time as a research associate with Professor Ardoin’s group. Formerly, she was a research associate and lab manager with Professor Ardoin’s Social Ecology lab and a social science researcher in Stanford’s Anthropology Department. Samantha’s research interests include international environmental education, and she has experience teaching English in Spain, as well as teaching mathematics, science, and Spanish at a nonprofit, tuition-free school in Arizona. Samantha holds a master’s degree in International Comparative Education from Stanford and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Spanish from the University of Southern California.

Mele Wheaton
Senior Research Associate, Graduate School of Education & Woods Institute for the Environment
Mele Wheaton

Mele is a senior research associate with Prof. Nicole Ardoin’s team in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Her research interests include environmental education, environmental behavior change, and nature-based tourism.  As lead on a variety of projects, Mele has studied behavior change in ecotourists in Galapagos and California, environmental identity and action in high-school students participating in an intensive conservation education program, and professional development in environmental educators. She currently manages a project exploring the various pathways to environmental literacy through environmental education programming. Mele has both an M.A. and Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is a former fellow of both the NSF-funded Center for Informal Learning and Schools and the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation for environmental leadership. She is a former board member of the California Environmental Education Foundation (CEEF). Before becoming a social science researcher, Mele taught for many years in a variety of informal education settings in Alaska, Arizona, and California.  In addition, Mele worked as a field biologist conducting botanical surveys and studying nesting bald eagles.

Emily Williams
Research Associate
Emily Williams

Emily is a research associate in Professor Nicole Ardoin’s Social Ecology Lab. Her research interests include thinking about how people connect to place and environmental behavior change. Previously she worked as an Environmental Educator at Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, in Aspen CO, where she taught both in the classroom and in the field, with mainly K-4th grade students. Emily has a Bachelor’s degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences and a Master’s degree in Environmental Communication, both from Stanford University.