Meet the 2022-23 Diana Liverman Scholars

Suvi Birch is a sophomore at the University of Arizona studying environmental science with an emphasis in soil, air, and water. Suvi found her passion for nature through exploring and spending time with her maternal family in Finland, as well as taking an environmental science course in high school. Suvi is currently an employee of the UA Herbarium where she maintains plant specimen collections, including imaging, filing, and databasing. Suvi is a UA Student PIRGS intern, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassador, and an Arizona’s Science, Engineering, and Math Scholar. She actively volunteers at the UofA Community Garden through Students for Sustainability. Suvi hopes to use her experiences in the Liverman Scholars Program to address the issues of climate change and environmental justice through research and environmental communication.


My name is Jacob Blais and I am a Natural Resources major with an emphasis in Global Change Ecology and Management and am obtaining a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). My passion for the environment and ecology stems from my addiction to trail running in high school. Exploring the various landscapes that southern Arizona has to offer sparked my curiosity for how ecosystems function and change. Since starting college, my love for the environment and ecology has only grown stronger, and I have been lucky enough to dig deeper into how ecosystems respond to change through my academic endeavors. I am a research technician in Dr. William Smith’s Ecosystem Climate Dynamics Lab where I study Sonoran Desert soil respiration. Outside of school and work, you can catch me riding my bike all over Tucson, trying new cafés, and going to concerts. From this experiential learning program, I aspire to improve upon my collaboration skills, enhance my creativity, and be a part of quantifiable positive change in my local community.


Joe Bronstein
I am a third-year student majoring in Environmental and Water Resource Economics. Being from Colorado, I’ve spent countless hours exploring the outdoors and appreciating what nature has to offer. I'm vice-president of the photography club and enjoy spending time capturing images of the natural world through my photography. I enjoy studying the economics of natural resource management and environmental social justice issues. I think it’s important to practice environmentalism that is not only good for the planet but also economically sustainable and efficient. I hope to pursue a career in natural resource management or a related field.


Hello! My name is Claire Case and I am a second year Junior from a small town in northern California. I am majoring in Agricultural Economics and Business Management: Business Management Emphasis and a minor in Business Administration. On campus, I am a part of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Collegiate Program through the Farm Bureau, Rodeo Team, and Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority. My career goal is to manage and produce livestock shows and rodeos on a national scale. I am thankful to be apart of the Liverman Scholars Program and further develop my communication skills this year.


Hoa Hoang
Hello, I am a sophomore majoring in Graphic Design at the University of Arizona's College of Fine Arts. I was born and raised in Quang Ngai, Vietnam, and migrated to America 15 years ago. Growing up in such a beautiful country has made me passionate about preserving the beauty of the environment. I want to raise awareness for our environment and communities through visual communications with my passion for the arts. I believe that the integration of science and art is important to the development of education and knowledge. I am currently planning on working with more environmental justice nonprofit groups to help develop visual awareness alongside creating sustainability apps to encourage better environmental practices.


Halley Hughes is a senior at the University of Arizona double majoring in Natural Resources & the Environment: Global Change Ecology and Urban & Regional Development. She is completing her Honors thesis on heat mitigation and climate resiliency in vulnerable communities with Dr. Kear. As a Tucson native, her interest in sustainability and the environment stems from her love of the Sonoran desert and the multicultural communities in Tucson. She believes strongly in the power of empathy, diversity, hope, and their ability to create impactful change and navigate crises. Halley has a rich scientific background as an alumnus of the KEYS research program and a current researcher for the Arizona Institutes for Resilient Environments and Societies' Bridging Biodiversity and Conservation Group. She is passionate about water conservation and water rights and is thrilled to be the next co-chair for the Hydrocats subcommittee in Students for Sustainability. Halley is excited to use her skills from her Planet Forward Correspondanship to give back to the community of Sonora that has given her so much. She is planning to pursue a career in science communication and journalism.


Virginia Javier is a junior majoring in Natural Resources with a Wildlife Conservation and Management emphasis. She was born and raised in San Diego, California and has always been passionate about the environment and spending time outdoors. As a student at the University of Arizona, Virginia has becoming increasingly interested in natural resource management and how societal norms impact the overall health of the Earth. She has explored this topic through her First Year Project in the WA Franke Honors College titled, “The Gentrification of the Sustainability Movement” and by volunteering at Lions, Tigers, and Bears, a big cat and exotic animal rescue in Alpine, CA last summer. Virginia is also the Event Coordinator for the Filipino American Student Association and a second-year mentor in the Partnerships Through Honors program. In the future, Virginia hopes to conduct research to try and understand how ecosystems interact with the rapidly changing climate, as well as help mitigate the effects of climate change for future generations. As a part of the Liverman Scholars Program, she is excited to learn more about how to effectively communicate environmental issues and spread awareness throughout her community.


Heather Laurel Jensen (she/they) is a junior studying Neuroscience, Arabic, and Creative Writing. She grew up in Mesa, Arizona, where she was heavily involved in the Phoenix-area arts community and served as the National Student Poet for the Southwest. As a co-founder of the Phoenix Youth Poet Laureate program, they witnessed firsthand the empowering force of storytelling on individuals and their communities, as well as the shaping influence of the natural environment upon interpersonal narratives. Currently, she volunteers as a research assistant in the Neuroscience of Emotion and Thought Lab and is the Editor-in-Chief of Arizona's undergraduate literary magazine, Persona. They hope to continue investigating the relationship between the organization of the natural world and human emotion and creative expression as a 2022-2023 Liverman Scholar. 


Mira Kaibara is a junior at the University of Arizona with a major in Neuroscience and a minor in environmental studies. She is passionate about engaging local and global communities through creative mediums such as projection mapping pieces for Earth week with the College of Fine Arts, as well as scientific mediums through her involvement in research such as agrivoltaic sustainability at the Biosphere 2 and geospatial intelligence data collection with the Udall Center. As a returning preceptor, Mira is excited to work with a new audience and hopes to use the skills and resources provided by the Liverman scholarship to expand undergraduate environmental communication.




Risha Nayee is a sophomore currently majoring in Pre-Business and minoring in Spanish. Being an Arizona native, she grew up hiking and exploring the natures of the desert. She developed a love for nature from her grandfather after spending time in the garden and watching everything grow. After seeing how businesses disrupted the areas she grew up in, she developed a passion for environmental justice. She wishes to contribute to bridging the ever growing gap between the business world and the environment. Risha is looking forward to enriching her communication skills and sharing her passions with her others as a  Liverman scholar.


Rose Prendergast (she/her) is a third-year University of Arizona Cyber Operations major specializing in Defense and Forensics and a minor in Game Design and Development. She is currently a part of the student staff for the Arizona Institute of Resilient Environments and Societies (AIRES). Rose is involved with several clubs on campus, including the student radio, and is on the executive board of The Women's Network UA. She grew up camping, running, and biking in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and has always loved the outdoors. Rose discovered her passion for social justice and politics through law and AP government courses offered by her high school and the ever-changing political climate during the 2020 quarantine. Through the Liverman's Scholars program, Rose hopes to learn more about the importance of environmental activism, research, and policy while also learning how to implement environmentally friendly practices in the tech industry.


My name is Anna Ramsook, and I am a third-year undergraduate at UA Honors. I majoring in biochemistry and minoring in human health and values. I love to play tennis, go to the gym, and spend time with my rescue dog, Ivan. My favorite food is peanut butter and waffles! Organic chemistry is my favorite class ever, and I am obsessed with the subject, to say the least!


Kelly Rushford is a Senior Environmental Science major with an emphasis in Communication, Leadership, and Sustainability and a Minor in Spanish. Kelly was a member of the 2021-2022 cohort of Liverman Scholars and continues her involvement in the program this year as a Preceptor. She works as a research assistant in Dr. Jon Chorover’s soil chemistry lab. She is also part of the Earth Grant internship as an Environmental Education Specialist for Compost Cats. Kelly’s care for people and the environment are intertwined, and she is passionate about using her knowledge and experiences to mitigate environmental injustices.


Anastasia Seckers is a sophomore at the University of Arizona studying Music and Geography. She grew up near the forests of northeastern Ohio, where observing nature every day inspired her to work to protect and advocate for nature and wildlife. Anastasia plays the harp and also enjoys drawing, both of which are often inspired or informed by observations in the natural world. She hopes to use her art as one way to reconnect people with the earth and nature, and to encourage further learning.


Emily Tran is a sophomore majoring in environmental engineering.  Growing up in San Diego, California, she enjoyed mountain biking in the chaparral, playing classical violin, and spending time with her brother, two cats, and extensive multilingual family.  She completed internships with the City of San Diego Stormwater Department's Environmental Permitting and Planning Group, where she built fluency in environmental legislation and mitigation practices, and with the University of Arizona's CATalyst Studios, where she learned how to use fabrication technologies such as 3D printing.  Emily is interested in the interactions between art - particularly music - and people's relationships with their natural and built environments.  She hopes to become more involved in local organizations focused on mutual aid, increasing bikeability and walkability, and social and environmental justice in general.


My name is Lauren Vasquez and I am currently a junior majoring in Biosystems Engineering with an emphasis in Mathematics. Raised in Reno, Nevada I grew up a short drive from one of the purest large bodies of water in the United States, the beautiful Lake Tahoe. Blessed to be so close to such an environmentally significant place, I developed a deep passion for preserving the natural habitat that I have called home for the larger part of my life. Surrounded by countless dedicating their lives to conserving wildlife I began to realize my purpose in protecting this planet and all that inhabit it. I hope to someday foster an organization of my own built upon a foundation specializing in environmental problems and ethical solutions. Currently, I am pursuing my passions by getting involved in any way I can. As a member of Gamma Phi Beta I strive to better my community, in addition to assisting Dr. Akron Tamimi with his personal research in renewable energy as well as aiding my peers as an academic assistant at the University’s Disability Resource Center.