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U.S.A. Team


Flora Lu

Principal Investigator

Professor of Environmental Studies

Provost of Colleges 9 & 10 at UCSC

Flora Lu is the Pepper-Giberson Endowed Chair and Professor of Environmental Studies at UCSC and Provost of Colleges Nine and Ten. She earned her A.B. in Human Biology from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As an ecological anthropologist, Flora is interested in human/environment dynamics in tropical rainforests, the political economy of oil extraction, resource governance, common property, household economics, and environmental justice. She has conducted longitudinal research in the Ecuadorian Amazon on the topic of Indigenous subsistence, resource use and livelihoods—work that has been featured in two programs on the National Geographic Channel, funded by $2.7 million in external grants, and published in four books and three dozen journal articles. A faculty member at UCSC since 2008, Flora is the recipient of the Division of Social Sciences “Golden Apple” Distinguished Teaching Award (2010); Committee on Teaching's Excellence in Teaching Award (2011); and Chancellor’s Diversity Award (2016, for the People of Color Sustainability Collective).

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Aysha Peterson

Ph.D. Candidate

Aysha Peterson is a Ph.D. student in the Environmental Studies department at UC Santa Cruz and an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Their research focuses on the relationship between the agricultural industry and regional groundwater sustainability throughout California’s Central Coast. Aysha’s dissertation uses ethnographic methods to explore the problem of agricultural nitrate pollution and subsequent drinking contamination. 

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Vivian Underhill

Ph.D. Student

Vivian Underhill is a Ph.D. candidate in the Feminist Studies department at UC Santa Cruz. Her work is at the intersections of feminist and critical race science studies, hydrology, and critical geographies. Her dissertation research focuses on the contemporary production of knowledge and doubt around oil and groundwater, in order to ask what these dynamics can tell us about the production of racialized landscapes of disposability and value. 


Ramon Ayala

Website Developer

Ramon Ayala graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in the class of 2020 with a Bachelor's degree in Literature and a minor in Sociology. He now works as the Graduate Intern for Campus Activities and is pursuing his MA degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of San Francisco.


Linnea Beckett

Co-Principal Investigator

Assistant Adjunct Professor

Director of the Apprenticeship in Community-Engaged Research (H)ACER Program

Linnea Beckett received her Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Context of Education, with a designated emphasis in Feminist Studies from UC Santa Cruz. As an anthropologist of education, Linnea uses critical ethnography and participatory methodologies to examine K-12 school and community relations. Her dissertation research documented a long-term, popular education and digital storytelling effort in a predominately Latinx, California farm-working community with a rich history of resistance. Linnea is the Co-Founder of the Apprenticeship in Community Engaged Research Program ((H)ACER)in the Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. There, she works with undergraduate students in conducting their own critical ethnographies in addition to other research projects directed toward understanding the complexities and potential impacts of community-engaged research.

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Sheeva Sabati

Research Specialist

Sheeva Sabati, Ph.D. is a feminist and critical ethnic studies scholar of education. Her research examines the epistemic and institutional mechanisms through which universities cohere projects of settler colonialism and empire, particularly in the global north.  Sheeva has been a lecturer in the Feminist Studies Department, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Program, Colleges 9 & 10, and Oakes at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is currently a lecturer in the Education Department as well as the incoming Director of the Community-Based Action Research and Advocacy (CARA) Certificate Program at Oakes College at UC Santa Cruz.

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Michelaina Johnson

Ph.D. Student

Michelaina Johnson is a doctoral student in the Environmental Studies department at UCSC studying under Dr. Flora Lu. Her research interests include water governance, sustainable groundwater management, saltwater intrusion, and addressing the water access gap in her home state of California. She has a background in environmental advocacy and journalism, with articles appearing in Water Deeply, The Revelator, Ojai Valley News, Bay Nature Magazine, and the Ojai Quarterly. 


Kira Cragun-Rehders

Undergraduate Researcher

Kira Cragun-Rehders graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in the class of 2022 with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology.


Katia Hise

Undergraduate Researcher

Katia Hise is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz studying Sociology, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, and Education.


Anna Geiger

Undergraduate Researcher

Anna Geiger is an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz studying Environmental Studies with a concentration in Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems.

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Alyssa Najera

Undergraduate Researcher

Alyssa Najera is an undergraduate student at the University of California studying Environmental studies and Critical Race and Ethnic studies .

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