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


Fort Lewis CollegeDr. Gigi Richard is currently the Director of the Four Corners Water Center and Instructor of Geosciences at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. Her research interests include watershed hydrology in Colorado, from snowmelt-driven systems to intermittent desert streams, and human impacts on river systems, including the study of downstream impacts of dams, levees, and other human activities on rivers in Colorado, New Mexico, and New Zealand. She holds an M.S. and Ph.D. from Colorado State University and a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in Civil Engineering with a water focus.

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.


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. 

Sierra Nevada College
Darryl Teittinen

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.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. James Vonesh

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


Western Washington University

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.

John McLaughlin