Alumni Updates

Albert Ochoa-Castillo, Chemistry, 2022
Submitted: June 17, 2024
Albert is currently in the second year of his PhD studies at Colorado State University, focusing on the fundamentals of plant cryopreservation. He recently received the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, one of the country’s top STEM fellowship programs. Albert crafted a method to visualize sucrose in plant cells and proposed a technique for simultaneous imaging of two molecules in plant tissue. His research explores cryoprotectant-cell interactions using advanced microscopy methods. After graduating, Albert aims to teach chemistry at a primarily undergraduate institution, prioritizing research inclusion for first-generation and Hispanic students to enhance diversity in scientific fields.

Dan Troxel, Fisheries Biology, 2007 (B.S.), 2010 (M.S.)
Submitted: April 8, 2024
Dan Troxel is an Environmental Scientist for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife based in Arcata, CA, working in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers Program. In the face of Klamath basin dam removal efforts, adaptability is key, but generally speaking, he is responsible for recreational fishery surveys and quota management. He is the lead coordinator for mid-Klamath spawning grounds surveys and is the Salmon Report Card lead, amongst other things. Dan appreciates hiring Cal Poly Humboldt students to give them early career opportunities in fisheries and fieldwork.

Albert Ochoa Castillo, Chemistry, 2022
Submitted: April 4, 2024
Albert researched organic and computational chemistry with Dr. Joshua R. Smith as a student at Cal Poly Humboldt. He focused on designing possible organic photovoltaic (OPV) compounds and using computational methods to characterize their electronic properties and assess their estimated efficiency. Now as a Ph.D. chemistry student at Colorado State University, Albert is enthusiastic to study the fundamentals of plant cryopreservation and the mobility of cryoprotectants within plant cells. He received the 2024 National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellowship.  

Kaelie Peña, Rangeland Resource Science, 2017
Submitted: March 22, 2024
Upon graduation in 2017, Kaelie worked as a Rangeland Management Specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, first in the Bridgeport Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and then in the Salmon-Cobalt Ranger District of the Salmon-Challis National Forest. In February of 2024, Kaelie accepted the position of Nevada State Coordinator with Pheasants Forever where she will coordinate partnerships amongst NGOs, State, and Federal Agencies across Nevada to accomplish habitat restoration and conservation work.

Patricia (Patty) Brown, Natural Resources, 1977
Submitted: December 4, 2023
Patty retired twice, but you might not know it from how busy she still is. Her first career was as a park ranger for California State Parks in the redwoods and the desert, the National Park Service in Alaska at Katmai and Lake Clark, then on the Kenai Wildlife Refuge, ending in 1995. She then decided to pursue a less itinerant life as a middle school science teacher in Alaska. Currently, she volunteers on the ambulance crew and does humanitarian work in winter at the U.S.-Mexico Border. She was recently elected to the local planning commission in Haines.

Leah Meyers, Botany, 2022
Submitted: October 19, 2023
Leah was hired as a Botanist under Stantec to work in environmental consulting in August 2022 and has recently completed her first year there. She moved to Santa Barbara for this job and has had a wonderful experience working with other biologists and getting out in the field. Living in Santa Barbara is a blast, and Leah is grateful to be a part of protecting California's amazing wildlife—but she says her heart is always in the Redwoods!

Edward (Ed) Busch, Fisheries Biology, 1980
Submitted: September 26, 2023
Ed will be retiring from Michigan State University at the end of this week. A short bio can be found at…

Sean Haas, Physics & Astronomy, 2018
Submitted: March 28, 2023
Sean Haas is currently working as a Senior Software Developer for LibSyn, Inc. He manages software for podcast statistics and large data sets. Sean also hosts and produces the Advent of Computing podcast (, a show that covers the history of computing with a special focus on untold or under-reported aspects of the story. Last year (2022) he was invited to be a keynote speaker at the Association of Computing Machinery's HUMAN'22 conference where he presented his research on the early origins of hypertext(

Vanessa Crandell, Geology, 2013
Submitted: November 23, 2022
Vanessa Crandell ('13, Geology, Oceanography) earned an M.S. in Geology from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in 2016. She is currently working as an Environmental Geologist in Anchorage, Alaska. Vanessa primarily works on contaminated sites and geological and geotechnical projects. Amazing education and experiences in the field for both geology and oceanography provided her with the skill necessary to pursue a career as an Environmental Geologist. Vanessa would like to thank her professors and advisors - without their support and compassion, completing dual degrees in Geology and Oceanography would have been impossible.

Matthew Nelson, Biological Sciences, 2004, 2009
Submitted: August 18, 2022
Matthew Nelson ('04, Zoology, '09, M.S. Biology) has worked as a biological technician for Olympic National Park, a marine biologist for the City of San Diego, and is currently a Shellfish Biologist for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in Washington. This position involves working closely with other state and tribal managers to maintain healthy and productive fisheries while ensuring that the resource will be around for the benefit of future generations.

Jay Brandes, Oceanography, 1988
Submitted: July 12, 2022
Jay Brandes recently gave a talk titled “Microplastics: A Local Problem with a Local Solution” at the 2022 TEDx Savannah Event. He is presently a Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia Athens, working out of UGA’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah Georgia. His work encompasses a variety of areas including nutrient and carbon cycling, biogeochemistry, and marine pollution. This fall (2022) he will begin teaching an Oceanographic Cruise course for Marine Science majors, and hopes to impart the knowledge he gained having experienced a similar transformational course in his education at HSU.

Sanford "Sandy" Wilbur, Wildlife, 1963
Submitted: March 9, 2022
Sanford "Sandy" Wilbur, columnist for "The Lumberjack" 1960-1962, is at work on a new novel, tentatively titled "Vic and Greg: a Wildlife Refuge Romance." Sample chapters are at: Sandy's essay "Losing Lumberjack Football" includes some early history of race relations that Humboldters may not know about:

Barbara Scaroni, Forestry & Wildland Resources, 1978
Submitted: March 5, 2022
Barbara Scaroni has managed to stay a dirt forester over the many years. Scaroni is still out marking and cruising timber, administering timber sales, running property lines, and writing environmental assessments, timber sale contracts, and researching the land use history of my timber sale areas. During college, Scaroni worked summers for the BLM in Ukiah, CA; Missoula, MT; Rawlins, WY; and Susanville, CA. Scaroni worked USFS in Cave Junction, OR, and Willows CA. Scaroni had permanent jobs after graduation with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs 1980-1990; Malheur National Forest, Burns, OR, 1990-1993; Coeur d'Alene Tribe, 1993-present.

Jessie Perez, Biological Sciences, 2010
Submitted: March 2, 2022
Jessie Perez recently founded a company to help provide clean air during the global pandemic and the company would like to spread the word about a new technology that can keep people safe in the spaces they work, learn, and live.

Joni McAtee, MD, Chemistry, 2008
Submitted: January 28, 2022
After HSU, Joni McAtee attended UC Davis school of medicine. McAtee did her residency in Family Medicine in Duluth, MN. McAtee returned to Humboldt County to work in a broad spectrum family medicine with obstetrics. McAtee opened a business in Fortuna, Ikigai Physician Group with a clinic. Working as hospitalist in Fortuna and Eureka. Working in Hospice with Hospice of Humboldt.

Erik Kramer-Webb, Natural Resources, 1992
Submitted: December 25, 2021
After HSU, Erik Kramer-Webb taught environmental education at schools, summer camps, Outward Bound, and NOLS. He eventually settled down in Joshua Tree where he and his wife Theresa had a son and built a straw bale house. Erik and Theresa started California Climbing School in 2017 to lead adventures in Joshua Tree and the San Jacinto Range and to promote diversity in the outdoors.

Richard T Sayre, Biological Sciences, 1974
Submitted: December 7, 2021
Richard Sayre was elected to the National Academy of Inventors.…

Aydee Zielke, Environmental Science & Management, 2008
Submitted: June 14, 2021
Aydee recently obtained her dream job, joining the San Dieguito River Park JPA, taking on the role as the the Park Environmental Planner. Her work includes habitat conservation, preservation, planning, permitting, and mitigation for trails and parkland. She is also using her cartography skills to create map exbibits, maintain, and update GIS data. She had worked for various private consulting firms and earned a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Hawaii (2015). She met her husband while studying at Humboldt and they have more recently taken on the role of parents, raising their two outgoing toddlers in Coastal North County San Diego.

Robert Lackey, Fisheries Biology, 1967
Submitted: April 26, 2021
Lackey is a professor at Oregon State University. In 2008, he retired after 27 years with the Environmental Protection Agency’s 350-person national research laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon. He served as Deputy Director, Associate Director for Science, and in other senior science leadership positions. His current “gig” is part-time and involves teaching ecological policy and advising a few graduate students. He and his wife, Lana Apparius Lackey (also a Humboldt student), live in Corvallis, Oregon.

Liam Hazelton, Environmental Studies, 2019
Submitted: April 22, 2021
Following graduation, Hazelton searched for jobs in the Bay Area but did not have any luck for a year and a half. In December 2020 he received help from a local professional who sent him information about an internship that dealt with restoring and mitigating damage done in riparian areas by humans. He was selected to join the program in February of 2021 and also has a future job in the pipeline.