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Faculty Advisor Staff

Julie Walker

JULIE WALKER

Faculty Advisor

Julie Walker completed her PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida in 2021.  Her research focuses on the ecological influence of climate mitigated range expansion of tropical mangrove trees into coastal wetlands traditionally dominated by temperature saltmarshes, as well as investigating the potential for advancement of coastal wetland management on all geopolitical scales. Prior to her graduate studies Julie worked at the Chesapeake Bay Program, where she was a part of the Stewardship goal team aimed at increasing science literacy, public access, and land protection across the bay watershed. Currently, Julie is working as Visiting Assistant Professor at her undergraduate alma mater St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where she teaches in the Biology and Environmental Studies Departments. In her spare time, Julie likes explore nature through kayaking, bike riding, or just walking her dog.

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Faculty Advisor Staff

Abigail Loughlin

ABIGAIL LOUGHLIN

Faculty Advisor

Abigail Loughlin is ecstatic to be joining WYSE for her fourth summer!  She attended the program as a high school student, a Junior Faculty advisor, and is thrilled to be working as a Faculty Advisor for the second time. Abigail is an alum of George Mason University, and is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Climate Change and Anthropogenic Roles at Columbia University. When she is not in the classroom learning, she can be found teaching fellow graduate students, engaging with elementary students on sustainability topics, or reading in a nearby park. Abigail can not wait to rejoin the WYSE team in-person this year, as well as learn from fellow advisors and incoming students!

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Faculty Advisor Staff

Thomas Lippincott

THOMAS LIPPINCOTT

Faculty Advisor

Born and raised in Fairfax VA, Thomas Lippincott is a George Mason Alumni. There he received his B.S. in Environmental Science.  While there Thomas was involved with Student Government, Greek Life, and was an Orientation Leader. After graduating, Thomas went on to work for the University of Chicago Marine Biological Laboratory as a lab assistant before moving to Baltimore where he is now a middle school science teacher. His hobbies include going to the movies, rock climbing, and volleyball.

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Faculty Advisor Staff

Kelsey Potlock

KELSEY POTLOCK

Faculty Advisor

Kelsey Potlock first attended WYSE back in 2011 when she was in high school. Since then, Kelsey earned her BS in Environmental Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) where her undergraduate research focused on the benefits of living shorelines and assessing the erosion/accretion of a historical shoreline using Geospatial Information Systems (GIS).  In the summer after graduating from UNCW and before graduate school, Kelsey participated in an internship at Mote Marine Laboratory in the Manatee Research Program in Sarasota, Florida. Upon completion of this program, Kelsey worked on and completed a Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, where her research focused on odontocete acoustics before, during, and after the construction of an offshore wind farm. After graduation from her MPhil program, Kelsey contracted through Integrated Statistics as a Regulatory Biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the Anchorage, Alaska field office with the Regulatory Program. Currently, Kelsey is a marine biologist contracting with NOAA Fisheries’ (NMFS) Office of Protected Resources on marine mammal and MMPA issues through Ocean Associates, Inc. When not working, Kelsey likes to spend her free time playing pickleball, crocheting, antiquing, baking, playing video games, hanging out with friends, and spending time with her cat (Miska).

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Faculty Advisor Staff

Ben Rich

BEN RICH

Faculty Advisor

Ben Rich is an AP Environmental Science and Physics teacher at the Montclair Kimberley Academy (MKA) in Montclair, NJ.  After earning a BA in Physics at Colgate University he earned a MEd at the University of Maryland. As the Sustainability Coordinator and Green Roof Director at MKA, he leads both students and faculty in making the school more environmentally friendly and led the school to earn the Green Flag Award from Eco-Schools USA twice. During each summer from 2013-2018 he traversed the US on an electric motorcycle making Youtube videos to encourage quicker EV adoption. Now he drives a Tesla Model 3 across the US, with his latest trip traveling 21,000 miles in 2 months. He is the Co-Chair of the Montclair Environmental Commission, leading projects to reduce the carbon footprint of the town. In his free time he hikes mountains, paddle boards on rivers, and swing dances in NYC.

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Faculty Advisor Staff

Elizabeth Hoke

ELIZABETH HOKE

Faculty Advisor

Elizabeth Hoke earned her BS in Biology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.  Since attending WYSE herself in 2012, Elizabeth’s environmental experience has been split between public engagement and research. She spent her undergraduate years working at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment where she facilitated student engagement with sustainability concepts via an annual concert, a film festival, and maintaining the Institute blog. Her undergraduate summers were spent doing a variety of environmental research, namely a behavioral toxicology project at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and a soil microbiology analysis in Costa Rica with the Kean University School of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences. More recently, she was a canoe guide with the National Parks Service, promoting conservation via recreation. She then completed a molecular microbiology research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health where she studied fungal meningitis, an infectious disease that is spreading more easily due to the changing climate. She currently does research at Whitman-Walker Institute, a Washington, D.C. community health clinic that operates at the intersection of social justice and public health. Off-hours, Elizabeth enjoys performing improv comedy, exploring the D.C. go-go scene, and baking.

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Faculty Advisor Speakers

Stephen Taglieri

STEPHEN TAGLIERI

Faculty Advisor, Conservation Writer and Photographer

Stephen Taglieri is an alumni of the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment. He was a delegate in 2017. He recently just graduated from George Mason University with his undergraduate degree in Biology with a concentration in conservation and environmental biology. He is focused on conservation communications, working in environmental photojournalism. Stephen has worked for the IUCN’s Reverse the Red Campaign as well as the Smithsonian’s Conservation Ecology Center to write articles about conservation success and environmental optimism. Currently, he is a private contractor writing conservation success stories and freelancing to photography on the ground environmentalist efforts.

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Faculty Advisor Staff

Samantha Oester

SAMANTHA OESTER

Faculty Advisor

Samantha Oester is a conservation biologist, coastal ecologist, and aquatic microbiologist. She is a PhD research fellow at George Mason University in Environmental Science and Policy, currently studying global change vulnerability in the Caribbean. She also examines diversity, equity, equality, and inclusion in STEM fields. Originally from rural WV, she’s a cyborg in Chicago who makes her family cosplay for their holiday cards. You can check her out on Google Street View Antarctica.

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Faculty Advisor Staff

Laura Swessel

LAURA SWESSEL

Faculty Advisor

Laura grew up in Cumberland, Maryland.  She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she earned an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering.  Upon graduation, she worked for 7 years at Lockheed Martin as a Mechanical Test Engineer, building commercial satellites.  During that time, she earned an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from NJIT. Laura and her husband, John, moved to Georgetown, Indiana in 1999 where she started a Lean Sigma consulting business with clients in the appliances, automotive, advertising and healthcare industries. During that time, Laura also started teaching Physics at the local Purdue University campus. In 2012, she was asked to take on a long-term sub position at Providence High School to cover an Honors Physics class. She found a love teaching high school and obtained her teaching license through Indiana’s Transition to Teaching program. She currently teaches Aviation, Physics and Environmental Science at Mercy Academy in Louisville, KY. Laura has also established STEM Clubs and Camps for elementary and middle school students in the area. Laura has been a volunteer with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources since 2008, where she serves as a docent at Falls of the Ohio and as a faculty member for the annual Family Paleontology Camp. She also serves on the county Native Habitat Restoration Team. She and her husband, John, have four children (Ryan, Adam, Patrick and Amanda), a dog (Gonzo) and a cat (Speedy).

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Faculty Advisor Staff

Brian Schwenk

Faculty Advisor

Brian Schwenk is currently a science teacher at Falls Church High School in Falls Church, VA. He has been teaching there for 3 years. He currently teaches Biology for English Learners and STEM Essentials for English Learners. He obtained his BS in Biology from James Madison University in 2013, and he obtained his MAT from James Madison University in 2015. He is excited for his first summer with WYSE!