Mark Chandler

Mark Chandler
Director of Research Initiatives

Mark has worked at Earthwatch Institute for over 15 years overseeing the design and management of field research projects that engage people in over 35 countries. Prior to that he was a research scientist with the New England Aquarium and received his Ph.D. from McGill University studying co-evolution between tropical frogs and their parasites. He is especially interested in how these projects can contribute to scientific publications, management plans and policies, as well as the awareness, behavior and attitudes of participants. Mark is keen to develop more holistic kinds of programs through partnerships with other organizations and collaborating with communities in landscapes where both humans and nature are important such as urban and agricultural landscapes. Mark is active in the broader community science community, through publications and presentations but also the support of global efforts such as the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network as well as co-chair of the Professional Development Working Group for the Citizen Science Association. He can be reached at; Phone: 978-844-0884.


Heather Pruiksma
Director of Program Delivery

Heather has been with Earthwatch for over 15 years, having started as an Expedition Coordinator and then quickly settling into the Program Manager role after a matter of months. Now she manages the team of Program Managers and Coordinators who work directly with the Earthwatch scientists to develop project budgets, logistics, risk assessments and emergency response plans, all while acting as program manager for several projects herself, including the Urban Resiliency Program. Heather is a senior member of the International Incident Management Team, drawing from her past experience as a wildland firefighter and more than a decade of Wilderness First Aid certification.


Becca Fink
Communications Manager

Becca joined our team as the part-time Communications Manager in 2017. She is responsible for developing and executing communication strategies that increase awareness of the Urban Resiliency Program, our research, and the people involved. Becca received her B.A. in Journalism and Philosophy from CUNY Brooklyn College and is currently pursuing an MBA at Boston College. Prior to working in communications, she interned as an investigative reporter and editorial assistant in New York City. Outside of work she enjoys rock climbing, running, and anything in nature.



We are fortunate to work with exceptional scientists from the University of California, Riverside.


G. Darrel Jenerette, Ph.D.
Lead Researcher

Dr. Jenerette leads the research team on the Earthwatch Urban Resiliency Program. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at University of California, Riverside. He received his B.S. in Biology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and his Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Department of Plant Biology at Arizona State University. He was also a Postdoctoral Researcher, studying Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at School of Natural Resources at The Ohio State University and a Postdoctoral Fellow with Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Arizona.

Read about Dr. Jenerette’s lab at UC Riverside

See recent publications on this project



Peter Ibsen,
Ph.D. Student

A graduate student in Dr. Jenerette’s lab, Peter comes from a background in urban horticulture. He has a BA in sociology at University of San Francisco, and studied plant science through a sustainable ecology and environmental monitoring program at City College of San Francisco. Through that program, he completed research internships with the EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park and with the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring department. He also worked at University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, examining heat tolerance in poplar trees. He is now earning his PhD in Botany and Plant Science at University of California, Riverside with a focus on functional urban ecology with the Los Angeles Megacity as a novel research field site while incorporating the work of community science.


Dion Kucera,
Ph.D. Student

Dion is a Ph.D. student at UC Riverside studying Urban Ecology. His research focuses on how urban vegetation responds to temperature and drought stress at multiple scales, being the individual plot, the city scale, and the national scale. He is also interested in seeing how the plant’s stress response can be mediated by various factors, such as income or aridity. After earning his B.S. in Environmental Science from Humboldt State University in 2014, he moved to Bloomington, Indiana to attend Indiana University, where he completed an M.S. in Environmental Science in 2016. He began at UC Riverside in fall 2016, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Plant Biology with a focus in plant ecology.


JULIE RIPPLINGERJulie Ripplinger, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher

Julie is currently a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Darrel Jenerette in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, where her research involves understanding the complex drivers of urban tree biodiversity and distributions. The two branches of this work involve (1) a cross-city study over a range of biophysical, socioeconomic, and historical states, and (2) an in-depth study of tree diversity and drivers over a climatic gradient in the greater LA megapolitan area. Julie is interested in interdisciplinary research at the intersection of landscape, plant community, long-term, and social-ecological systems ecology. Julie’s current research involves understanding the complex drivers of urban plant community diversity and distributions. It encompasses several cities that represent a range of biophysical, socioeconomic, and historical states.

Search Earthwatch Urban Resiliency Program