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Please browse biographies of our former students involved in the Park Studies Unit.

Former Student Contacts

David Weinzimmer

David is originally from Connecticut and received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brown University in 2001. Following graduation, he worked as a research associate at the University of Michigan and Yale University, conducting brain imaging studies.

In 2011, David decided to follow his passion for conservation, protected areas, and natural resource issues to pursue a master’s in human dimensions of natural resources. He completed his degree in 2013, and currently works and lives in Salida, Colorado.

Ben Lawhon

Ben Lawhon, a natural resources management graduate of the University of Tennessee, joined the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics staff in 2001, where he serves as the education director. His current responsibilities include research, curriculum development, management of national education and training programs, international initiatives and coordinating general outreach efforts. Previously he worked as the associate regional representative for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Asheville, North Carolina, from 1997–2001. While with ATC he was responsible for open-areas management, volunteer training, oversight of regional ridgerunner/caretaker programs and trail crews. He also researched and developed strategies for sanitation at overnight sites.

He has also worked as an American Canoe Association whitewater-kayak and swiftwater rescue instructor. Ben is an avid outdoor enthusiast, enjoying whitewater paddling, telemark skiing, fly fishing and backpacking. Ben completed his master’s degree in 2013. While working full-time for the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, he is also collaborating with the Park Studies Unit to continue advancing Leave No Trace social science.

Adam Gibson

Adam received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma with a major in zoology. Afterwards, he worked as a land surveyor, counselor for the Daniel’s Fund scholarship program at Colorado State University, rock climbing instructor, and member of the North Cascades National Park Exotic Plant Management Team before returning to school to obtain his master's of science degree in human dimensions of natural resources.

Adam completed his Ph.D. in the area of methodology and application of carrying capacity measurement with respect to the management of parks and public lands in 2011. After completing a postdoctoral research associate appointment at Colorado State University, Adam worked as a temporary assistant professor in the Environment and Society Department at Utah State. Adam is now a research consultant for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Outer Banks Field Site and is pursuing research with the University of North Carolina's Coastal Studies Institute in the areas of ecosystem services, climate change, and sustainable coastal livelihoods.

Ericka Pilcher

Ericka acquired her bachelor's degree in conservation science from Muskingum College (Ohio) in 2003. After graduation, she drove west to Loa Utah (near Capitol Reef National Park) and worked as a therapeutic wilderness instructor for a year. In 2004, she returned to school to obtain a master's degree focusing on parks and protected areas management at Colorado State University with Dr. Peter Newman as her adviser. While focusing on human dimensions research and park management at CSU, she joined the NPS Natural Sounds Program at the NRPC in Fort Collins and cooperated on a variety of visitor use studies at Muir Woods National Monument, Grand Teton National Park, and Yosemite National Park. Soon after, she started work as a CESU contractor and was involved in a variety of projects related to soundscape planning, acoustics, visitor use, interpretation, and public outreach. In the spring of 2010, she received a biotech position at Bryce Canyon where she researched possible noise impacts to peregrine falcons. She joined the NPS (Denver Service Center) Visitor Use Management team in the fall of 2010, and has been working on planning projects related to visitor use in parks.

Lelaina Muth

Lelaina grew up in Southold, NY, a small town on Long Island. She attended Cornell University as an undergrad and received her bachelor's degree in natural resources management. After graduation, she began working for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Hadley, MA as a natural resource planner. With the USFWS, she helped develop comprehensive conservation plans for various refuges throughout the Northeast Region.

In November 2007, she began working with the National Park Service's Natural Sounds Program. With this program she helps to preserve and protect natural sounds throughout national park units and minimize noise impacts to wildlife and visitors.

Lelaina has always been interested in wildlife conservation, but through her work with both the USFWS and NPS she became more interested in the human dimensions aspect of wildlife management. This is what led her to pursue a master's in human dimensions of natural resources at CSU. Lelaina has recently conducted research at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California, and is currently working as a Wildlife Biologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service at Erie National Wildlife Refuge in Western PA.

David Pettebone

Dr. Pettebone is currently the wilderness coordinator at Rocky Mountain National Park. He has previously been employed as the social scientist for Yosemite National Park in the Resource Management and Science Division. His research has focused on understanding visitor travel networks throughout parks and protected areas and the resulting changes to visitor experiences and resource conditions. He has conducted visitor use related research in various national parks for five years.

He has also previously worked on NPS trail maintenance crews in King's Canyon NP, Yosemite NP, Big Bend NP, and Rocky Mountain NP. Dr. Pettebone received his Ph.D. in human dimensions of natural resources from Colorado State University.

Dave Stack

Dave is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, but has traveled around the country as part of his career with the National Park Service. His NPS career began, however, in his hometown at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine where he worked as an interpretation ranger. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Maryland, Dave continued his education at Colorado State University.

Dave’s M.S. research tested the effectiveness of educational messages requesting quiet in Muir Woods National Monument. Based on this research, Muir Woods has permanently installed signs asking for quiet in the park.

Since completion of his M.S. in the spring of 2008, Dave has worked as a research partner for the NPS Natural Sounds Program, a ranger at the Statue of Liberty and a soundscape resources specialist at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Most recently, Dave completed the NPS Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program at Northern Arizona University.