River Studies & Leadership Certificate Institutions and Advisors

The River Studies and Leadership Certificate (RSLC) is designed to offer undergraduate and graduate students who have become inspired to join the next generation of river professionals a foundation of knowledge, skills and experience in river-based science, policy, conservation, education, and recreation. 

The following universities and colleges offer courses that fulfill the certificate requirements. Faculty members from these institutions collaborate with students to design and complete a personalized academic program that empowers them to address the real-world challenges facing our nation’s rivers. Each student’s program is vetted by industry professionals, practitioners, and academics from RMS and the partner institutions.

Learn more about the RSLC and get involved by visiting our RSLC webpage.

Colorado Mesa

MacKenzie Holbrook is the Coordinator of the Colorado Mesa University Outdoor Program and instructs Swift Water Rescue, River Rafting and Leave No Trace for the OREC degree at CMU. She is passionate about education, stewardship, and protection of our rivers. She has over 10 years of experience in areas of guiding, working with USFWS, and education/program management.

Eastern Washington University

Dr. Erin Dascher is an assistant professor of geography at Eastern Washington University. Their research focuses on human-nature interactions related to river connectivity and restoration, aquatic species distributions, and water sustainability. They use geospatial tools and large datasets to analyze the history and effects of anthropogenic changes to landscape resilience, watershed connectivity, and species distributions. Through their research they examine the unique patterns of fragmentation and river connectivity caused by instream barriers and the geography of anthropogenic changes to river environments. In past research, Erin created a decision support tool to assess the potential of dam removal as a conservation technique for freshwater mussels in two central Texas river basins, where multiple species of freshwater mussels, including endemic and threatened species, must compete with increasing human demand for access to limited water resources. Erin's current research interests include river connectivity, freshwater mussel conservation, and water resource management as well as broader human – environment interactions.

Fort Lewis CollegeDr. Cynthia Dott is a Professor of Biology at Fort Lewis College.

Northern Arizona UniversityDr. Denielle Perry is Water Resource Geographer and Director of the Free-Flowing Rivers Lab in the School of Earth and Sustainability at Northern Arizona University. She has over 20 years experience working in river advocacy, research, and guiding. Her research investigates the socio-ecological dynamics of riverine ecosystem conservation, restoration, and development in the face of increasing human demands and climate change. She is Co-Chair of the international Durable River Protection Coalition, a leader in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition, and Co-PI on the NSF-RCN-UBE - The River Field Studies Network: Connecting rivers, people, & science through immersive field-based education.

Northeastern State University

Dr. Lizz Waring is an assistant professor of Biology and Freshwater Sciences at Northeastern State University. Her research focuses on plants, macroinvertebrates, and nutrients.

Prescott College

Mathieu Brown is faculty at Prescott College where he teaches adventure education and environmental studies. He teaches a number of cross-disciplinary classes such as Backcountry Skiing and Winter Ecology, and Environmental Perspectives and Whitewater Rafting. His specialty is interdisciplinary landscape-based education, and experiential field-based studies. 

University of Tennessee Chattanooga

Jennifer Boyd is a Guerry Professor of Biology and Environmental Science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. As an ecologist, her NSF-sponsored research explores the potential for rare and common plant species to adapt and acclimate to environmental change. One of her study systems focuses on the rare riparian species Pityopsis ruthii (Ruth’s golden aster), which is endemic to the Hiwassee and Ocoee Rivers in southern Tennessee.

University of Montana Western

Dr. Arica Crootof is an Associate Professor of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Montana Western. Arica is drawn to the complex and compounding challenges associated with water resources and uses her interdisciplinary education – a M.S. in hydrology and a Ph.D. in geography – to study the human dimensions of water resources in mountain environments. In Arica’s courses, students explore how human activities interact with the natural world. Whether sampling an alpine lake, attending a local watershed meeting, conducting an interview, or writing a report, students are engaged in developing collaborative practices that protect and enhance local natural resources.

Utah State University

Dominique Shore currently serves as the Restoration Consortium Director for the Department of Watershed Sciences at Utah State University. She works to provide hands-on training in aquatic ecosystem restoration for USU-students and professionals and bridge the gap between applied-academic research and management decisions. Previously, she worked for a local conservation district in Southwest Montana implementing stream and landscape scale restoration and at the Idaho Department of Environmental quality working with nonpoint source pollution. She received a B.S. in Geology from Fort Lewis College and a M.S. in Geology from Utah State University. Outside of work, she can be found mountain biking, fly fishing, skiing, or being bossed around by her corgi-mix, Oscar.

Virginia Commonwealth UniversityDr. James Vonesh is a Professor of population and community ecology, conservation biology, and aquatic ecology at VCU.

Western Carolina University

Dr. Brian Byrd is a Professor in the Environmental Health Sciences program, Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC. His research focuses on native and invasive domestic mosquitoes and mosquito‐borne diseases, with a regional focus on La Crosse encephalitis. Recent studies have investigated the role of invasive mosquito species in riverine rock pool systems along the Chattooga and French Broad rivers. He holds a PhD and MSPH from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Western Colorado University

Dr. Jeff Sellen

Micah Russell, Assistant Professor in the Environment and Sustainability Department at Western Colorado University, is an ecosystem restoration ecologist/practitioner and a passionate naturalist.  He is also the Integrative and Public Lands Management (IPLM) Track Director in the Masters of Environmental Management program.  Micah has expertise in river and wetland restoration, water supply planning, remote sensing, and project management.  He currently teaches wetland conservation and restoration, integrative skills in environmental management, GIS and remote sensing, and organizational development and management.  Micah teaches with a strong emphasis on applied science and student projects designed in concert with community stakeholders to meet their needs. Micah holds a Ph.D. in Water Resources from University of Idaho, a M.S. in Oceanography and Coastal Science from Louisiana State University, a B.S. in Environmental Biology from Pacific University, and a B.A. in Piano Performance from Pacific University.  When not on campus, he is typically enjoying a hike with his family, paddle boarding on the Gunnison river, or nordic skiing. Micah is interested in connecting Western to the River Management Society’s River Studies and Leadership Certificate because he believes it will bring a new educational dimension to Western’s interdisciplinary water-related programming, and it will enhance the employability of Western students. 

Western Washington University

John McLaughlin

Dr. Tammi Laninga is an associate professor and certified planner in the Urban and Environmental Planning & Policy Department at Western Washington University. She teaches land use regulations, environmental impact assessment, community development, and planning studio. Her research interests include land use planning for climate resilience, sustainable recreation planning, and public lands and river management.