Advancing Environmental Focus

Katie Crosley receives the first doctorate degree from Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy.

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UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 02, 2014) — Katie Crosley came to the University of Miami through a series of happy accidents, and is now the first person to earn a Ph. D. in Environmental Science and Policy from the Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy.

After completing her undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology at Purdue University in Indiana, Katie went to work at the Southwest Conservancy in Naples, Florida, and got involved in policy creation and advocacy. There she met someone getting an advanced degree at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at UM, and was talked into looking at UM for her own advanced degree. During her interview for a master’s in the department of geography, Dr. Ira Sheskin suggested that she check out the new Abess Center doctoral program and apply there. Today, having forged chance into academic accomplishment, Crosley has earned its first conferred Ph.D. for her dissertation examining informal environmental education in Miami – and completed it a year ahead of schedule.

Kenny Broad, head of the Abess Center and her advisor, said, “We’re super proud of Katie and anticipate that she’s going to have an important role in environmental awareness and education in decades to come.”

Thanks to excellent GRE scores and advanced research skills, Crosley was admitted into the inaugural cohort of the Environmental Science and Policy Ph.D. program in 2010. Her promise was recognized at entry by the University, which awarded her a UM Fellowship for the first two years of her program. She then applied for and won a prestigious and highly competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for the next two.

“I feel like I’ve learned so much from the Miami community,” Crosley said. “I know that in a Ph.D. program, you’re supposed to give knowledge back, share knowledge, but I feel that I got even more than I gave.”

Crosley plans to continue her work in community-based environmental education, whether through a non-profit, a government agency or working in higher education and is currently looking for opportunities in Washington, D.C. She says that in her research she learned a great deal about food justice, urban agriculture and conceptions of environmental concerns, and she wants to continue her efforts by building programs to educate future generations about the environment while incorporating considerations of race, class, culture, economics and ethnicity.

“There are so many things that I want to do, so much I’m interested in, that I’m really open to the right opportunity, wherever it comes from,” Crosley said. “But I definitely know that educating others is in my future.”


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