Our Students

Anna Vancina

ENS undergraduate, Anna Vancina, at work as a member of AmeriCorps in North Carolina

I started at UIS in fall 2017 as a transfer student, and I feared that my experience would be less enriching because I had attended community college first. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I connected with my professors and formed friendships with my ENS peers. My growing interest in sustainable agriculture was solidified when I took Dr. Styles’ Sustainable Food Systems course my first semester, and my professors gave me the freedom to focus on this interest in other classes. My best piece of advice for any undergraduates would be to bridge the gap between your interests and classes that aren’t directly related to those interests. Find creative ways to make those connections and you’ll gain new, valuable perspectives!


Denise Coogan

Online student, Denise Coogan

Denise Coogan gradated in 2018 with a Master of Arts degree.

I am the Environmental Partnerships Manager, Subaru of America, Inc. In this position, I assist the national parks in becoming zero landfill. Subaru is helping the national parks reduce their waste and improve their recycling. We have started with three (3) pilot parks, Denali, Grand Teton and Yosemite. The three parks are doing very well implementing the new program and there has been a reduction of waste per visitor, as well as an increase in the amount of waste being recycled. The Subaru of Indiana manufacturing facility has sent nothing to a landfill since May 4, 2004. We have taken our expertise in the field and are gifting it to the national parks.

I’ve always been proud of the degrees I obtained at UIS (BA Biology ’93). I believe my education in the sciences has helped me throughout my career. The instructors at UIS are very knowledgeable and always pushed me to do my best. I especially enjoyed my final capstone project and working with Dr. Styles. She believed in my project and was a support through the process. I really didn’t think I would be able to finish, but her course was well-organized and the assignments were all structured in a way that allowed me to build on the final report.

I have taken other courses in other universities, some of them online, and my experience was not positive. Coming back home to UIS made me appreciate just how lucky I was to earn my degree from such a reputable institution.

Stacey Thomas

Stacey Thomas was a MA student in the Natural Resources and Sustainable Development option. She was a GPSI with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

  • I was attracted to the Environmental Studies department at UIS because it is designed to give students an understanding of environmental issues within a larger societal context. The Master of Arts program seemed like a good fit with my undergraduate background in environmental history. My placement as a Graduate Public Service Intern at the Illinois EPA adds to my professional experience while I earn my degree at UIS – and provides a tuition waiver

Stacy ThomasI am interested in increasing community knowledge of environmental issues in order for people to make a positive connection between protecting the environment and increasing their quality of life. I believe environmental issues are community issues because the environment provides a literal common ground for people to come together and work to protect.

As an Americorps volunteer with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, I talked with elementary school classes and lake associations about how to reduce non-point source pollution around their homes and neighborhoods. As the Environmental Affairs Coordinator for Southeast Chicago Development Commission, I often served as a liaison between local citizens, businesses, and government agencies on environmental justice issues in an industrial neighborhood.

Other Student Highlights