The SW CASC Welcomes Two New Team Members!

Oct. 7, 2021

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Kris Metzger is the new USGS Research Coordinator for the SW CASC, where she will assist SW CASC leadership in the management and coordination of our regional science activities. Trained as a conservation and landscape ecologist, she has experience in and belief of the power and impact of collaborative conservation. Prior to her career in federal service, Kris worked in the Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania, East Africa, exploring interactions between human and natural systems and the role these interactions have on conservation and biodiversity. In her past position with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Kris worked with biologists and mangers to collaboratively tackle tough conservation challenges facing our National Wildlife Refuge System. Growing up in Oregon, her passion for conserving and protecting natural areas stems from her exploration of the beautiful places in the Northwest. Kris received her Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Oregon, and her Master's and PhD from Colorado State University. She currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Nina Fontana is a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Davis in collaboration with the SW CASC. Using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, Nina’s Ph.D. research centers on traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in forest-dependent communities in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine, specifically how TEK nurtures cultural ties to landscape, maintains health of communities, and informs adaptive capacity in supporting regional food sovereignty. Her broader research interests include socio-ecological resilience, translational ecology, Indigenous analysis of climate change, and environmental justice. Nina received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Ecology from UC Davis. Additionally, with 15 years of teaching in both secondary and postsecondary settings, internationally and nationally, Nina is also committed to fostering creativity, inquiry, and critical thinking, both in and out of the classroom. Her current research explores: 1) strategies to address multi-scalar policy barriers and opportunities to implement Indigenous-led traditional burning across land jurisdictions and ecosystems, and 2) the various scales in which Indigenous cultural burning may be applied to address climate change in Southwest ecosystems.