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Inaugural Future Rivers Cohort Announced

Future Rivers is proud to announce and welcome their first cohort of students for the 2020-2021 academic year. Six master’s and six doctoral students from fisheries, forestry, landscape architecture, public health, and civil and environmental engineering will join the program this fall. From Massachusetts to Bangladesh, these students bring with them a wide-range of multi-disciplinary experience and a passion for transforming freshwater science:


Hannah Besso, PhD, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering – College of Engineering Andy Oppliger, MS, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences – College of the Environment
Sofi Courtney, MS, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences – College of the Environment Claire Schollaert, PhD, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences – School of Public Health
Jessica Diallo , MS, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences – College of the Environment Sabikunnahar Shorna, PhD, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences – College of the Environment
Liz Elmstrom, PhD, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences – College of the Environment Carina Thompson, PhD, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering – College of Engineering
Sara Faiad, PhD, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences – College of the Environment Gabriel Wisswaesser, MS, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences – College of the Environment
Rachel Fricke, MS, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences – College of the Environment Erynne van Zee, MS, Department of Landscape Architecture – College of Built Environments

With a changing climate and environment, little is known about potential impacts on communities and freshwater ecosystems that supply our world with critical food, water, and power. There is an urgent need for scientists from a range of disciplines to work together in innovative ways to solve this problem and enhance sustainability of these vital freshwater ecosystems. The Future Rivers program is here to build a dynamic workforce to meet this need – starting with this first cohort. 

As an EarthLab initiative, these students will learn to work in applied ways within career fields outside of academia through an inclusivity and equity lens. Throughout the 18-month program, they will deepen their learning and ability to translate science into actionable results through a graduate seminar, speaker series, science communication and filmmaking workshops, a week-long Summer Institute, and trainings on inclusivity and equity. 

The cohort is starting the program by reading The River That Made Seattle: A Human and Natural History of the Duwamish over the summer.  This core reading will provide a foundation for common language around the intersection of people and the planet, and the importance of Indigenous voices in conservation. 

As the first cohort begins their journey, Athena Bertolino, the Future Rivers Program Specialist, says she is most looking forward to “seeing the exciting conversations and research that develop through such a diverse and interdisciplinary group of students that will become exemplary leaders in the world of freshwater ecosystems and the communities they support.”

The Future Rivers program will begin recruiting for its 2021-2022 cohort this fall, with applications opening in mid-November. Students in all disciplines are encouraged to apply. For further information on any aspect of the Future Rivers program from a public, faculty, or student perspective, please contact futurerivers@uw.edu.