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

University of Washington EarthLab

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, 2015

    University of Washington

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Lesley Miller

Data Scientist

University of Washington EarthLab

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

  • Bsc. in Land and Food Systems

    University of British Columbia

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Sama Winder

Research Scientist

University of Washington EarthLab

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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Chris Haberland

Research Assistant

University of Washington

Chris is an application developer and researcher, and in 2019 he was a graduate research assistant in the Lab. He is currently creating a conversational chatbot to facilitate the flow of information between visitors and managers of public lands. Chris is interested in understanding the ways in which advances in language technologies and large scale data proliferation are changing the practice of public policy, and their interplay with social systems more broadly. He holds an M.S. in Computational Linguistics from the University of Washington and an M.P.P. from the University of Virginia.

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Vivek Kumar

Graduate Student

University of Washington

Vivek is a graduate researcher in the Outdoor R&D lab and a graduate student at the University of Washington, working towards a masters degree in Data Science. He develops data APIs and dashboards that enable the team and partners to fully explore and visualize the modeled and social media data on outdoor recreation. He brings his prior software engineering experience and finds the most reliable ways to add new features and visualizations to the dashboards.

Interests

  • Software Engineering
  • Deep Learning
  • Coding for Fun

Education

  • MS in Data Science, 2020

    University of Washington

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Yian Lin

Graduate Student

University of Washington

Yian is a graduate researcher in the Outdoor R&D lab and in the Quantitative Ecology and Resource Management (QERM) program at the University of Washington. She is currently working investigating relationships between humans and nature, using Twitter data and applying sentiment analysis tools. The project focuses on associations between the surrounding environment and people’s moods. She enjoys working with data, building statistical models, and thinking about the most appropriate way to make inferences and extract useful information from the data. She brings experience in Statistical Science and Psychology.

Interests

  • Statistical Modeling
  • Humans and Nature
  • Conservation
  • Sustainability

Education

  • BS in Statistical Science (Minor in Positive Psychology), 2018

    University of California, Santa Barbara

Research Assistants

Ryan Balkcom

Research Assistant

Chloe Beck

Research Assistant

Keith Bergeron

Research Assistant

Gabe Greene

Research Assistant

Shannon MacKenzie

Research Assistant

Devon McDonald

Research Assistant

Grace McGrady

Research Assistant

Alumni

Holly Callahan

Research Assistant (2016)

Dave Fisher

Research Scientist (2015-2018)

Ben Makhlouf

Research Assistant (2019-2020)

Afra Mashhadi

Research Scientist (2018-2019)

Stephen Moxley

Research Assistant (2018)

Carrie Sessions

Graduate Student (2015)

Michael Tomco

Research Assistant (2016-2017)