Research Team Members

Marian Brown (she/her) Director of Sustainability and the Environment, Marian Brown is a sustainability practitioner with over ten years of experience. She understands that sustainability as an academic area of study is somewhat akin to “drinking from a fire hose”. There is always more to know – the field is ever-changing – there is simply no “end point” to learning about sustainability. That is what makes this field of study exciting – and challenging. In her Intro to Sustainability course, Marian frames sustainability as a decision-making framework for continuous improvement – one that mindfully takes into account the environmental, social and economic impacts of one’s choices. Marian takes a hands-on approach to this introductory course, incorporating real-life projects from the students’ lived experience and tackling campus operational challenges, to make the concept of sustainability come alive for her students. You will never think about making even simple decisions in quite the same way again!

Marian Brown keeping us green.

Ernie Olson (he/him) – Ph.D. in Anthropology teaching classes in Anthropology, Sustainability and Religious studies at Wells College. Ernie has many fond garden memories from his Montana childhood spent in grandma’s kitchen garden, grandpa’s cucumber and melon patches, mom’s strawberry beds, and auntie’s raspberry patch, among many other gardening sites.  His more recent gardening interests are in the gardening traditions of Native America, Tonga, and Hawaii. Lansing, New York is his current site for hands-on composting, planting, weeding, and harvesting.

Ernie Olson helping a student plant a peach tree at Wells College’s annual Peachtown Festival

Laura McClusky (she/her) – Ph.D. in Anthropology teaching Anthropology and Sociology classes at Wells College. Laura has been gardening in upstate New York since she was a small child and has been cooking from very early on. She brings a newly developed interest in photography, social media and eating to this project.

Laura McClusky doing participant observation (anthropologizing) at L+B Spumoni Gardens, Brooklyn, NY

Jen Myers (she/her) – Ph.D. in Sustainability Education teaching Sustainability classes at Wells College. Jen believes local food systems are the foundation of thriving, place-based communities. She is a bit of a foodie and she loves berry picking, canning, and hanging out at farmers’ markets. She grew and cooked the food for her 75-guest wedding! Prior to coming to Wells College, Jen was executive director of Ten Rivers Food Web, a non-profit dedicated to strengthening local food systems in Oregon. She also managed a small farmers’ market, ran a Farm to School program, and led a garden summer camp program. Jen believes all people have a right to healthy, fresh, culturally appropriate food, and worked with farmers’ markets to develop a SNAP match program to double food stamp dollars spent on produce from local farms. Jen’s research interests include how gardeners understand their relationships with the land and whether gardening is an effective strategy for maintaining psychological well-being as climate change alters the places we call home.

Jen Myers gathering the sun’s love.

2022 Student Research: Alanna Reidler: Alanna is a senior at Wells College, majoring in Theatre and minoring in both Anthropology and Dance. Alanna has not yet had the chance to have a garden of her own, but she has been helping the college with taking care of some of their garden spaces. She enjoys getting to explore the outdoors and seeing all of the beauty that nature has to offer.

Alanna finding a beautiful use for weeds!

2022 Student Researcher: BrierMae Ossont

BrierMae is a senior at Wells College. They are an English Major with a focus on Creative Writing. They grew up gardening with family and still incorporate garden produce in their cooking as often as possible. They hope this research project gives them new insights and resources to share with peers on the Wells College campus and hope to get more students engaged in local food culture. 

2022 Student Researcher Benjamin McMonagle:

2021 Reaserch Team

2021 Student Researcher: James Stover James is a Senior at Wells College, majoring in Sustainability and minoring in both Environmental Science and Anthropology. He’s been in and around the garden most of his life, in this project James hopes to strengthen my knowledge about gardening.

James taking a break by the lake.

2021 Student Researcher: Feleesha Jones is a double major in Environmental Science and Sustainability. Her hobbies include Swimming, Hiking, and really anything outdoors! She loves nature and is incredibly excited to learn about local gardeners and their connection to their plants and growings.

Her connection to gardening is non-traditional. She has never had her own garden but has always helped her dad with his herbs and plants they have at home. She was once told “fresh off the vine is like eating the fruit while it’s still alive”. Fresh natural flavors make cooking that much more fun. She and he Dad grow ingredients for their recipes and bond over what they’ve made during the time they spend spent together in the kitchen.

Feleesha in her happy place – outdoors!

2021 Student Researcher: Angiee Otterbein is senior Visual Arts: studio arts major at Wells College from the Greater Rochester area who has a soft spot for plants.

Angiee taking her plants to College.