Faculty Profiles

Core Faculty

Our core faculty are your teachers, mentors, and guides throughout the quarter. The average student-to-faculty ratio is 5:1 or lower.

Ken Tabbutt, Ph.D., Member of the Faculty, The Evergreen State College. Ken is a geologist who has team-taught a wide range of interdisciplinary courses with artists, social scientists, humanities faculty, and other scientists over the past 25 years at Evergreen.  His research and teaching interests include reconstruction of the Pleistocene landscape of the southern Puget Sound, aqueous chemistry of natural waters, hydrogeology, environmental geology, climate change, and geochronology of sedimentary rocks. He rotated into academic administration for several years and has a passion for landscape photography.  

Peter Impara, Ph.D., Member of the Faculty, The Evergreen State College. Peter is a geographer with interests in landscape and disturbance ecology, climate change science, and wildlife conservation, especially regarding habitat mapping and assessment. He teaches programs in wildlife conservation that include significant considerations of socio-political issues surrounding conservation.

Nalini Nadkarni, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, University of Utah and Professor Emeritus, The Evergreen State College. Nalini is a forest ecologist. She carries out research on the ecological roles of canopy-dwelling plants and animals in tropical and temperate rainforests, using mountain-climbing techniques to ascend trees in Costa Rica and Washington State. She is also deeply interested in public engagement of science.. She has innovated collaborative projects to bring science lectures, conservation projects, and nature imagery to those who do not or cannot have access to science and nature, such as urban youth, seniors, and incarcerated men, women, and youth. She is currently working on integrating interdisciplinary aspects of disturbance, recovery, and the resilience of human-affected systems.

Shawn Olson-Hazboun, Ph.D., Member of the Faculty, The Evergreen State College. Shawn is an environmental sociologist whose work focuses on community responses to environmental and economic change, as well as general public opinion on environmental risks and policies. Shawn has graduate degrees in environmental studies and sociology, and has taught college-level field study programs in Alaska, Montana, Alberta, and British Columbia.  

Participating Faculty


Your unique learning experience in the Wrangells is also due to a large and diverse set of participating faculty. They include long-time community members, park rangers, artists, writers, policy makers, and scientists conducting research on climate change, hydrology, ecology, glaciology, and anthropology.

Ben Shaine, Ph.D., Resource Faculty, The Evergreen State College. Ben participated in research and policy advocacy during congressional designation of the national park in Wrangell-St. Elias, has more than forty years experience working with college field programs in the Wrangells, published a novel set in the McCarthy area, and is actively engaged in park management planning issues. www.livingonunstableground.com

Barry Hecht, Senior Principal Hydrologist and Geologist, Balance Hydrologics, Inc. Berkelely, CA. Barry has been conducting hydrologic, geomorphic, and hydrogeologic research in the southern Wrangells and Copper Basin since 1972, including co-authoring the aquifer management plan for the region, and conducting geomorphic mapping of glacial deposits around the Kennecott Glacier.

Tim Bartholomaus, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences, University of Idaho. Tim is a glaciologist, geophysicist, and professor whose research reveals the factors leading to fast glacier flow and rapid ice loss. Tim and his students apply a variety of field, satellite-based and modeling techniques to uncover the physics of glacier change in Alaska, Greenland, and elsewhere. Water flow through glaciers and iceberg calving are particular focuses of his work, and he is an expert on the glaciers of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. http://tbartholomaus.org

Sophie Gilbert, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology, University of Idaho. Sophie studies how animal behavior, populations, and communities respond to environmental change. The goal of her work is to improve conservation and management of wildlife in the modern world. She collaborates closely with management agencies, non-governmental organizations, and stakeholders to identify wildlife research questions that are important for society and ecosystem health, and answers these questions in a diverse array of habitats and systems, from Alaska's temperate rainforest to Canada's boreal forest and the rugged landscapes of the Mountain West. http://www.gilbertresearch.org

Karen Mager, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Environmental Sustainability, Earlham College. Karen is a wildlife ecologist who takes an interdisciplinary approach to addressing environmental problems. She loves to teach outdoors and conduct collaborative field research with students.

Stephens Harper is district ranger with the National Park Service and a 15-year McCarthy resident. He addresses unique aspects of NPS management in Alaska, including the evolving relationship between this agency and local communities. 

Kristin Link, B.A., has a certificate in Science Illustration from California State University Monterey Bay. She teaches field sketching. and has been involved with The Wrangell Mountains Center. in many capacities. www.kristinillustration.com

Leif Mjos, B.S., is a broadly trained naturalist and summer resident of McCarthy. He is interested in topics such as avalanche ecology, which link ecology and geology. When not in Alaska, he works in the lower 48 to conserve desert tortoises.

Mark Vail is a 30-year local homesteader with a Naturalist/Historian background, sharing stories and insight into homestead living and boreal forest ecology.


Banner photo: The crossing. Photo credit: Sophie Gilbert.