Lab Members

Featured Content

Dr. Elizabeth Covelli Metcalf

Dr. Libby Metcalf is an Associate Professor of Recreation & Natural Resource Management in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. In 2011, Dr. Metcalf received a dual Ph.D. at the Pennsylvania State University in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management and the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment. Her research interests generally center around recreation management issues, wildlife related issues, and understanding complex social-ecological systems. Dr. Metcalf’s theoretical approach is based in social-psychology and often includes the examination of attitudes, values, and beliefs. Dr. Metcalf has worked on statewide studies examining outdoor recreation, hunter recruitment and retention issues, and river management. Her more recent work has focused on larger social-ecological systems such as the social dimensions of river restoration and wildlife management. Dr. Metcalf utilizes structural equation modeling in social data analysis and has been working with other researchers to develop models to couple human and natural systems.  Along with her research, Dr. Metcalf is a dedicated teacher where she provides field-based opportunities for her undergraduate students including field trips and internships. At the graduate level, Dr. Metcalf offers seminar style courses and close mentoring for her advisees. Libby is also an avid runner and outdoor enthusiast, favoring activities that include sunshine and water. Her favorite place to recreate is the upper Blackfoot River where she enjoys floating and fishing with her family.

Dr. Elizabeth Covelli Metcalf

Dr. Alexander L. Metcalf

Dr. Alex Metcalf is an Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions in the Department of Society & Conservation in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana where he serves on the undergraduate faculities for Resource Conservation and Wildlife Biology, and the interdisciplinary graduate faculties for Systems Ecology and BRIDGES. Dr. Metcalf recieved a dual Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University in Forest Resources and the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment. His research focuses broadly on the human dimensions of natural resources using theories and methodologies from sociology- and psychology-related disciplines to address natural resource issues while advancing theory. He employs qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods in his research, including spatial (GIS) techniques, to understand relationships between humans and the environment, and the consequences of conservation behavior across scales. Dr. Metcalf is particularly interested in understanding the factors which drive conservation decisions by private landowners, including the cross boundary realities of many natural resources; using theories of social-ecological system dynamics to inform management toward desired outcomes; improving the use and measurement of attitudes, beliefs, and values in agency and NGO decisions and outreach/extension; and helping ensure people and communities are fairly and meaningfully engaged in natural resources decision-making processes. Dr. Metcalf has oriented his research toward a variety of natural resource contexts and issues including forest management and restoration, private land conservation, fire policy and management, invasive species control, and human-wildlife interaction. Dr. Metcalf enjoys teaching at all levels, including in his freshmen intro to natural resoure conservation class (NRSM 121) and the field compliment (NRSM 215), his upper-division course on natural resource decisions (NRSM 379), and a graduate course on theories used in human dimensions research (NRSM 574).

Dr. Alexander L. Metcalf

Peter Metcalf - PhD candidate

Peter Metcalf (no relation) is a Ph.D. student in Forestry and Conservation.  His research interests focus on the human dimensions of wildlife management, ecological restoration, public lands management and river conservation with the aim to find socially viable solutions to natural resource issues.  He has TA’d for the Wilderness and Civilization Program and teaches for the Wild Rockies Field Institute.  Metcalf grew up in western Oregon and earned a B.A. in English Literature from Whitworth College.  After graduation he moved to Montana to guide backpacking trips in and around the Bob Marshall Wilderness for a summer and never looked back. His love for wild places later led him to work as a whitewater river guide, first in Alaska and then in Montana and Idaho. Along the way he took time to earn an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, work as a journalist and to teach college field courses in Montana and Central America.  Prior to joining the Metcalf Human Dimensions Lab, Peter worked most recently as the Operations Manager for ROW Adventures, Idaho’s largest family-owned adventure travel company. When he’s not researching, teaching or writing about the American West, he enjoys running, telemark skiing, boating, fly fishing, hunting, birding, reading and following the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. 

CHCB 446 | peter1.metcalf@umontana.edu | Office Hours: By Appointment

Peter Metcalf - PhD candidate

Holly K. Nesbitt, Ph.D. Candidate, Forestry and Conservation Sciences

Holly joined the Lab in fall 2018 and focuses her research toward better integration of human dimensions into resource management decision-making. She has a background in both quantitative biophysical sciences and policy planning. Holly worked as a decision analyst and facilitator to resolve resource management issues and develop policies and plans for agencies, communities, tribes and industry. She earned an M.S. in resource management from Simon Fraser Unversity in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where she studied fisheries science and indigenous rights and a B.S. from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where she studied aquatic ecology. Unlike many people at UM, Holly uniquely enjoys spending time outside (all jokes aside, her activities of choice include canoeing, hiking, and skiing). She also enjoys a good book, a good beer and is very excited about the latest reboot of the Star Wars franchise.

Holly K. Nesbitt, Ph.D. Candidate, Forestry and Conservation Sciences

Ada Smith, Ph.D. Candidate, Forestry and Conservation Sciences

Ada joined the Lab in 2018, making her way back to Montana where she has family roots. Growing up on a small farmstead in rural Wisconsin and spending summers on her grandparents' ranch in Montana were formative in developing Ada’s interest in food systems that connect and sustain people and places. Ada’s current research focuses on agrarian values, decision-making and climate change adaptation in Montana. She earned her B.A. in anthropology and environmental studies at Wellesley College and her M.A. in resources, environment and sustainability at the University of British Columbia working with Gitxaala Nation to explore the potential for educational curriculum and institutionally-funded health programs to contribute to community-specific food sovereignty goals. An outdoor generalist and “yes girl,” Ada seeks out the quieter places on the map mostly for trail runs, river runs and ski runs but is eagerly expanding her repertoire to include more climbing, hunting and fishing. She seldom says no to adventure and learning new ways to move through landscapes.

Ada Smith, Ph.D. Candidate, Forestry and Conservation Sciences

Lily Jane Clarke, M.S. Candidate, Systems Ecology

Lily’s research in the Lab focuses on how human communities retain and cultivate resilience to wildfire in the Western United States. Lily grew up in Swan Valley, Montana, where frequent local wildfires and a surprising diversity of beliefs in a town of 310 made wildfire a catalyst for community conversation. These experiences encouraged a deep interest in the dynamic relationship between communities and wildfire, and while pursuing her Bachelor’s degree at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, she conducted wildfire ecology research for The Wilderness Society, the Smithsonian Institute and Harvard Forest. Wanting to build upon the questions of “how do landscapes recover from wildfire?”, she conducted an independent study on how post-fire morel mushrooms may support this recovery. After graduating with honors in biology, she went on to further pursue this question as a guest scientist at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany. She then had a Fulbright Research Scholarship in Nepal, where she studied how wild and cultivated fungi support livelihoods across Nepal’s steep elevational gradient. Her diverse research background along with her upbringing in rural Western Montana and experience as a federal wildland firefighter make her hungry to further explore the human dimension of wildfire.

Lily Jane Clarke, M.S. Candidate, Systems Ecology

Haley Hodge, M.S. Candidate, Resource Conservation

Haley Hodge began her M.S. program in the fall of 2018. Her research investigates community and agency attitudes toward wildfire management decisions. Haley graduated from the University of Montana in the spring of 2018 with a B.S. in resource conservation and a minor in ecological restoration. She conducted interagency fire management research for land management agencies and researched conservation policies for land trusts. She also worked in a soils laboratory examining fuel particle dynamics. In her free time, Haley enjoys hiking, fishing and camping in Montana's backcountry.

Haley Hodge, M.S. Candidate, Resource Conservation

Hannah Leonard, M.S. Candidate, Resource Conservation

Hannah joined the Lab in the Fall of 2018 after completed her B.S. in business administration with a focus in marketing in 2015 from the University of Montana. Her research combines her expertise in business and her passion for natural resource conservation by using marketing methods and theories to understand conservation-related behaviors and to elicit behavior change. Hannah was selected to be one of the inaugural fellows with the National Forest Foundation in 2018 where she gained first-hand experience working with collaborative groups and decision-making on our National Forests. In her free time, she enjoys hiking into alpine lakes with her dog Cedar and fly-fishing.

Hannah Leonard, M.S. Candidate, Resource Conservation

Conor Phelan, M.S. Candidate, Resource Conservation, ICD option

Conor Phelan began to pursue an M.S. in Resource Conservation at the University of Montana in the Fall of 2016. Conor's research is focused on combining geospatial technologies with big consumer data to create efficiencies in environmentally-related outreach efforts. Previously, he attended the University of Richmond, VA where he graduated with a B.S. in Biology and Geography in 2013. Following graduation Conor spent a summer as an SCA intern with the National Park Service in the Alaskan interior before heading off to the Chesapeake Conservancy for 3 years where he worked in the GIS lab applying advanced geospatial and remote sensing analysis techniques to the many conservation issues plaguing the Chesapeake Bay watershed. When not working on maps in an official capacity, Conor can be found poring over them while planning some sort of mountain bike, backcountry ski, backpacking, kayak or trail running adventure.

Conor Phelan, M.S. Candidate, Resource Conservation, ICD option

Chelsea Phillippe, M.S. Candidate, Resource Conservation

Chelsea Phillippe began her pursuit of an M.S. in Resource Conservation at the University of Montana Human Dimensions Lab in the spring of 2018.  Her research investigates how wildland recreation trends and impacts are influenced by education programs such as Leave No Trace. She graduated from the University of Nebraska with a B.S. in environmental studies (ecology focus) and a minor in anthropology (clearly an early pioneer of social-ecological systems perspectives). After earning her bachelor’s degree, the desert canyons of Utah pulled Chelsea west where she explored Wild and Scenic rivers as a whitewater raft guide and desert towers as a rock climbing guide. Her passion for public lands inspired her to move to the mountains to serve as a wilderness ranger for the US Forest Service in Idaho and Wyoming. Chelsea enjoys exploring new places, meeting new people and cheering for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (which we choose to forgive).

Chelsea Phillippe, M.S. Candidate, Resource Conservation

Dan Pendergraph, M.S. Candidate, Resource Conservation

Dan began his graduate studies in the fall of 2017, after finishing his B.S. in resource conservation in fall 2016. Throughout his undergrad, Dan was involved with the Wilderness Institute as part of a variety of projects in BLM and USFS Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) of Montana where he monitored anthropogenic impacts on the landscape. From the high peaks of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness (ABW) to the rugged canyons of the Terry Badlands WSA, Dan has had the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of ecosystems. Dan's interest include aquatic ecology, microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, botany and anthropogenic impacts to water resources. For his master's thesis, Dan is investigating the occurrence and sources of fecal contamination in the ABW utilizing microbial source tracking via qPCR. Dan takes “human dimensions” quite literally. When he's not thinking of how fecal matter moves about the ecosystem, Dan enjoys fishing, hunting, foraging, splitboarding and being above treeline.

Dan Pendergraph, M.S. Candidate, Resource Conservation