People

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Spencer Wood

University of Washington

Spencer is an interdisciplinary empiricist and modeler who works at the nexus of social and ecological systems science. His research on outdoor recreation addresses questions about how public land management influences the distribution, behaviors, and preferences of park visitors. Spencer is known internationally for innovating the use of social media and other volunteered information as data on outdoor recreation, to supplement traditional methods for measuring visitor use. In partnership with governments, NGOs, and corporations, Spencer leads projects that develop open-source software and reproducible approaches to make big geographic data and models more accessible for decision-makers.

Spencer is a Senior Data Science Fellow at the University of Washington’s eScience Institute for Data-Driven Discovery, a Senior Research Scientist for the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University, and he leads the Outdoor Recreation and Data Lab. Spencer earned his PhD from the University of British Columbia.

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Emilia (Emmi) Lia

Research Scientist

Emmi is a Research Scientist in the UW Outdoor Recreation & Data Lab. She works closely with partners to manage research projects that combine traditional recreation research methods and social media data. She also has experience and interest in community science and the use of crowd-sourced information. Emmi is broadly interested in people’s connections to landscapes and experiences in green spaces. Emmi received her B.S. in Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation Biology. She previously worked in Mt. Rainier National Park and the North Cascades National Park studying plant community ecology.

Interests

  • Connection of people and place
  • Community science and crowd-sourced data
  • Mental health and the outdoors

Education

  • BS in Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation Biology

    University of Washington

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Lesley Miller

Data Scientist

Lesley is a data scientist with the Outdoor R&D lab. She maintains and develops the core software tools used across various recreation research projects at the lab. She loves making maps of visitor use and is interested in using the tools of data science to support sustainable stewardship and conservation of our public lands. She has a background in computational biology and genome evolution as an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Previously, as a fellow for Data Science for Social Good at UBC, she worked on mapping biodiversity across the Metro Vancouver region.

Interests

  • Software Engineering
  • Sustainability
  • Biodiversity
  • Endurance sports

Education

  • Master of Data Science

    University of British Columbia

  • BS in Land and Food Systems

    University of British Columbia

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Sama Winder

Research Scientist

Sama is a research scientist in the Outdoor R&D lab. She focuses on the quantitative aspects of the group’s work; including building better visitation models, exploring why people choose to go to particular places in the outdoors, and investigating the role that social media and crowd-sourced data can play in supplementing existing methods for learning about visitation.

Sama enjoys co-developing projects with practitioners and thinking about how science and better data can improve decision making. She brings experience in ecology, statistics, and land conservation.

Interests

  • Statistical modeling
  • Science communication
  • Enjoying the outdoors!

Education

  • MS in Statistics

    University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • BA in Biology

    Middlebury College

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Ryder Black

Research Assistant

Ryder is an undergraduate student studying GIS and Data Science, with a background in outdoor recreation and a passion for adventure.

Education

  • BA in Geography (2022)

    University of Washington

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Nathan Carter

Research Assistant

As a Research Assistant, Nathan focuses on collecting on-site visitor use data in the field, and coordinating field projects with various project partners. He has a background in GIS data collection and ecological field work. He received his B.S. in Biology from Western Washington University. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, kayaking, foraging, hunting, and fishing across Washington state.

Education

  • BS in Biology

    Western Washington University

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Grace McGrady

Research Assistant

Grace is a Research Assistant and a student at the University of Washington pursuing a BS in Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management (ESRM). Her role in the lab is focused on creating, collecting, and processing the data that the Outdoor R&D team and partners use in their research and numerous projects. She is interested in the deep connections between people and the natural landscape and how they shape the demographics and distribution of visitors to public lands.

Interests

  • Forest and fire ecology
  • Plant identification
  • Landscape drawing

Education

  • BS in Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management (2021)

    University of Washington

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Alex Yuwen

Research Assistant

Alex is a chatbot developer with the Outdoor R&D lab. Currently, he helps develop Vic, a chatbot deployed at National Forests that gathers information to help researchers understand how to improve opportunities provided on public lands. Alex is broadly interested in the application of data science and machine learning techniques towards the improvement of social wellbeing and public health. He also enjoys playing tennis, short-distance running, and composing/playing music.

Education

  • BS in Computer Science and Mathematics (2022)

    Arizona State University

  • Music Composition, Jazz Performance

    The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music

Alumni

Ryan Balkcom

Research Assistant (2019-2020)

Chloe Beck

Research Assistant (2020)

Keith Bergeron

Research Assistant (2019-2020)

Holly Callahan

Research Assistant (2016)

Dave Fisher

Research Scientist (2015-2018)

Gabe Greene

Research Assistant (2019-2021)

Chris Haberland

Graduate Student (2019), Research Assistant (2020-2021)

Vivek Kumar

Graduate Student (2019-2020)

Yian Lin

Graduate Student (2019-2021)

Shannon MacKenzie

Research Assistant (2019-2020)

Ben Makhlouf

Research Assistant (2019-2020)

Afra Mashhadi

Research Scientist (2018-2019)

Devon McDonald

Research Assistant (2020)

Stephen Moxley

Research Assistant (2018)

Carrie Sessions

Graduate Student (2015)

Michael Tomco

Research Assistant (2016-2017)