Research Team

Carena van Riper, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. She studies how human values and attitudes influence behavior that impacts the environment. Drawing from the theory that informs her home discipline of conservation psychology, Dr. van Riper models decision-making to develop new strategies for behavior change. She also specializes in survey research and design to solve problems facing the sustainability of social-ecological systems, including the interactions between people and birds. You can read more about her research here:

Twitter: @vanRiperlab

Mark E Hauber, PhD., is the Harley Jones Van Cleave Professor of Host-Parasite Interactions at the University of Illinois and its Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior. Shifting gears between behavioral, developmental, physiological, and molecular tools, he is studying the social and genetic consequences of species recognition in avian brood parasites, such as cuckoos, cowbirds, and whydahs, and their hosts. He is a graduate of Yale (BS) and Cornell (PhD) Universities and completed his postdoctoral training at UC Berkeley. You can read more about his work at: and @cowbirdlab 

Henry Pollock is a Postdoctoral Research Associate and integrative biologist whose research combines physiology, ecology and behavior to promote effective wildlife conservation. His current research focuses on human-bird interactions to understand how and why people value natural areas for their avian biodiversity, and how this information can be used to preserve and expand these areas for future generations.


Twitter: @HenrySPollock

Seunguk Shin is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Illinois. Stemming from his background of a Bachelor’s degree in environmental education and a Master’s of Science degree in forest sciences, Seunguk is broadly interested in nature’s benefits to people and the relationship between people and nature. His main research interests include promotion of pro-environmental behavior and the psycho/physiological benefits of contact with nature. Connecting nature-based outdoor recreation and human environmentalism, Seunguk is pursuing better understanding of how people’s experiences with nature can impact their environmental attitudes and behavior.

Devin Goodson is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, advised by Dr. van Riper and Dr. Hauber. He received his B.S. in Zoology with a minor in Biological Bases of Behavior from The Ohio State University in 2019. Devin is passionate about using community-based research to understand the connections between nature and people. The overarching goal of his scholarship is to build more inclusive conservation practices through the amplification of local stakeholder knowledge in combination with the collection of ecological data.


Twitter: DevinJGoodson


Riley Andrade, Ph.D. is a geographer and landscape ecologist focused on the dynamic connections between people and biota (wildlife, plant, and other non-human life) in cities. When not working, she can be found gardening, biking, or out on her kayak. The opportunity to experience nature on a daily basis drives her professional interests to help make cities places that can mutually support both human well-being and biodiversity. She is excited to contribute to this project to help understand the diverse array of interactions between people and urban birds in Champaign-Urbana to promote inclusive conservation in the city!

Dr. Susannah Lerman is a Research Ecologist with the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station. She has a BA in American History from the University of Delaware, a MS in Conservation Biology from Antioch University, and a PhD in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Massachusetts. With expertise in wildlife ecology, citizen science and urban social-ecological systems, Susannah’s research aims to improve the sustainability of urban and urbanizing environments for birds, bees and other wildlife, and advance human well-being through strengthening connections between people and nearby nature. Her research emphasis is on private lands, which provide opportunities for the public to participate in science, conservation, and shared stewardship. Her research program also aims to broaden participation in STEM, addresses environmental injustices, and she proudly mentors a diverse and exceptional group of young and early career scholars.

Jessica Vestal is an undergraduate student majoring in Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences, with a concentration in Environmental Science and Management, as well as minoring in Chemistry. She is involved in research focused on human-bird interactions and their role in shaping environmental stewardship. While working with Dr. Van Riper, Jessica hopes to gain experience in undergraduate research that may inspire her to someday begin a research project of her own. In the future, she hopes to attend law school and become an environmental attorney. In her leisure time, she enjoys playing volleyball and volunteering.