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 Research Professor of Society & Resource Management 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 Resource Conservation, Wildlife Biology, and the interdisciplinary Systems Ecology faculties. 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. Dr. Metcalf uses 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 conflict. 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. Metcalf serves on the System's Ecology Graduate Admission committe, the College's Graduate Education committee, the University's Undergraduate Research committee, and the ASCRC General Education subcommitee on Social Science.

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

Rebekah Rafferty, PhD candidate

Rebekah Rafferty joined the Human Dimensions Lab in January of 2017 to pursue a PhD in Forest and Conservation Sciences. Her general research interests revolve around coupled social-ecological systems of the western United States, specifically where and when conflicts among humans and natural resources occur. Her research goals are to develop empirically grounded solutions to alleviate resource-caused risks to human communities in order to facilitate coexistence. Rebekah graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a double major in Modern Literature and Environmental Studies in 2009. She received her M.A. in Social Science from Humboldt State University in 2015. Her Master’s thesis focused on human-wolf interactions in western Montana, specifically how cow-calf producers that have experienced repeated wolf depredations are responding to the increased risk that wolves pose to their livestock. While completing her thesis, Rebekah worked full time in Montana’s remote Swan Valley for Swan Valley Connections, a non-profit organization integrating conservation and education in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. Through an experiential learning strategy, she taught undergraduate students wildlife policy and management, field ecology of T&E species, and other courses examining the relationships between people and the landscapes that support them. At the University of Montana, Rebekah’s research focuses on applying the concept of resilience to western communities that exist among fire-prone forested ecosystems with the goal of understanding the processes that can help these communities maintain themselves in the context of large-scale fire-induced disturbance. In her free time, Rebekah enjoys anything related to natural history, is an amateur wine snob, and loves outdoor adventures with her husband and puppy. 

Rebekah Rafferty, PhD candidate

Fred Lauer - M.S. candidate in Systems Ecology

Fred Lauer joined the Human Dimensions Lab in Fall of 2014 to pursue an M.S. degree in Systems Ecology. Fred was born in El Paso, Texas, but spent most of his life in Wisconsin. He attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison, graduating with a B.A. in Japanese and Asian Studies. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Chiba, Japan where he taught English, independently studied environmental sustainability, and met his wife. Fred’s research interests are partially the products of key events during his life abroad; volunteering to clean up tsunami-stricken homes revealed to him the fragility of human systems when they ignore natural, ecological boundaries. He found the most unstable systems were those dependent on far away sources of food, water, or energy; resilient communities had long established and lasting social ecological landscapes. These landscapes proved to be invaluable examples of how a systems approach to management can be beneficial to both biodiversity and human livelihoods. Fred came to Montana especially interested in multi-stakeholder collaborative natural resource projects that address human dimensions in relation to landscapes, forest ecosystems, and agriculture. His interests are broad and include landscape ecology, agroecology, agroforestry, and geospatial technologies. When Fred is not studying the intersect between natural and human systems, he challenges the frontiers of his experience in the great outdoors, especially with long cycling tours and multi-day hiking trips in the mountains surrounded by nature where he is happiest!

Fred Lauer - M.S. candidate in Systems Ecology

Lara Brenner - M.S. candidate in Wildlife Biology

Lara Brenner came to the University of Montana in the Fall of 2015 to pursue her M.S. in Wildlife Biology. Her research interests focus on urban conservation, wildlife adaptations to anthropogenic changes, and mitigating human-wildlife conflict. Lara graduated from Carleton College in 2013 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, an interdisciplinary program that focused on environmental policy, ethics, science and history. After graduation, Lara worked as a research assistant studying plague in prairie dogs and other rodents in the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge, became a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, and wrote policy recommendations and articles for the Sierra Club. In her spare time, she goes hiking, reads almost anything, pets other peoples dogs, writes sketches and grows tiny, inedible vegetables.

Lara Brenner - M.S. candidate in Wildlife Biology

Alice Lubeck, M.S. Candidate, Resource Conservation

Alice Lubeck came to the University of Montana in the Fall of 2016 to pursue an M.S. in Resource Conservation. Her research focuses on collective action among private landowners in Montana, and specifically what cross-boundary variables are considered as landowners to decide whether or not to manage invasive plants. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2014 with a B.A. in Geology and a minor in Environmental Studies. Since then, Alice has roamed the West doing environmental education in Custer State Park and Teton Science Schools in Jackson, WY. She has also lead backpacking trips with the Y out of Seattle, and was the Assistant Director for the Seattle Country Day School after-school program. In her free time Alice enjoys going on long runs, playing Boggle, and cooking nice meals while listening to Beyoncé. 

Alice Lubeck, 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

Crystal Beckman, M.P.A candidate at MSU

Crystal Beckman works for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) as the Fire Prevention and Investigation Program Coordinator within the Fire and Aviation Management Bureau, Forestry Division. Crystal began work with the DNRC in March 2013. Prior to this she worked for Montana State University Extension as the Gallatin County Natural Resource Agent. Crystal is in the final stages of completing her Master's in Public Administration from Montana State University. Her research is focused on understanding how collective action dimensions of wildland fire influence private landowner decisions regarding fire prevention behaviors. Crystal is conducting this work in partnership with the Human Dimensions Lab in the University of Montana, W. A. Franke College of Forestry, specifically with Lab Director Alex Metcalf and Master's Candidate Alice Lubeck. Crystal received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Montana, College of Forestry and Conservation.

Crystal Beckman, M.P.A candidate at MSU

Julius Metcalf, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Julius Metcalf has been a student at the University of Montana since 2013. Originally from Wisconsin, Julius has a passion for all things “living.” Whether it swims in the water, flies through the air, or walks on land Julius wants to know about it. With a natural love for animals and nature Julius came to the U of M to pursue a degree in Wildlife Biology. Possessing a talent for reading and writing he hopes to one day be a professor, so as to pass his knowledge of the natural world on to future generations. Julius is currently conduction an undergraduate research project investigating potential shifts in wildlife value orientation across generations. Last summer Julius was a volunteer intern at the Montana Natural History Center. When not studying Julius can be found birding, doing archery, playing with his dog, Sirius, or reading. He often manages to do two at the same time.

Julius Metcalf, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Reid Hensen, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Reid is an undergraduate student studying psychology, minoring in business, and working to understand how people interact with their environments and what psychological impacts that may have. Reid has been working on his is undergraduate thesis looking at the self-efficacy and resilience of students who participate in wilderness orientation programs. Reid has also been involved in projects mapping access to natural spaces and mental health at an aggregate level. An avid backcountry skier and mountain biker, Reid loves the research world, but only when paired with getting outside and exploring. Reid is heavily involved in the honors college and is constantly looking for ways to apply knowledge gained in the lab or classroom to the real world. During the summers, Reid enjoys getting outside the classroom and working the land on ranches around the rocky mountain west. He looks forward to continuing in researching human-environment interactions after completing his undergraduate degree in the fall of 2017. 

Reid Hensen, Undergraduate Research Assistant