Graduate Students


Matt Sturza, MS

Email:  sturzam@students.wwu.edu


For as long as I can recall I’ve been fascinated by Pacific Northwest fish (my earliest memory is falling head first into a trout farm pond). I’ve been lucky enough to hike, boat, and fish most of the great bodies of water in Washington. I’ve spent the past five years monitoring salmonid populations for WDFW on a complex of three tributaries of the lower Columbia River. My current research is evaluating the effectiveness of salmon carcass analogs as a method of nutrient enhancement for populations of juvenile coho salmon. This project will provide insight on a potential technique for restoring under-escaped, nutrient-deficient watersheds.



Jody Pope, MS

Email:  popej5@students.wwu.edu


I grew up in a small coastal fishing community in southwest Washington. Here is where my interest and passion for the outdoors and aquatic ecosystems started. I knew I wanted to someday “grow-up” and become Fisheries Biologist. I have worked in Wyoming with native trout, in Oregon with endemic suckers to the Klamath Basin, and with Pacific Salmon here in the Pacific Northwest.  I am currently working with the Stillaguamish Tribe’s Natural Resources Department assisting them with various restoration projects and fish surveys/sampling throughout the Stillaguamish Watershed. When I am not at work or studying, you can find me skiing, hiking, mountain biking or enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.



Research Assistants


Eric “Smitty” Helfield


Eric’s research interests include fish and trucks.





Nate Lundgren, MS 2013


I am a student of many ologies and ings.  Having grown up in the Northwest, I occupy as much of my free time as possible with outdoor pursuits including backpacking, climbing, fishing, mountaineering, kayaking, and surfing.  As an aspiring fisheries biologist, I have held many temporary jobs including commercial fisherman, hatchery technician, fish technician with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and spawner surveyor for the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association.  Most recently, Jim and I have investigated the extent and nature of hypoxia within Salish sucker habitat and the effects of hypoxic stream conditions on the abundance and distribution of the species.  With field sites in Washington and British Columbia, this project provides a unique trans-boundary approach to the conservation of an endangered species.



Stephanie Renando, BS 2013


My ecological interests began in Spokane, Washington where I was an outspoken child with a heart for animal activism, pretty flowers and cool rocks.  Eventually, those interests led to studies in biology, physical sciences and the completion of an Associate of Science Degree at Spokane Community College.  I continued my education at Huxley College after my second daughter was born and these days, I get to enjoy watching my own children discover the world around them.  Water quality and stream ecology are among my passions and I have taken a special interest in aquatic insects and habitat restoration.



Jody Gerdts, MS 2012


As salmon return to freshwater systems to spawn and decompose, elevated amounts of heavy nitrogen (15N) are added to the riparian nitrogen cycle.   My research explores the use of dendrochemistry to quantify the link between the amounts of 15N locked in annual rings of riparian trees and historic abundances of spawning salmon.  I am working in three river systems in Washington State with known changes in spawning patterns with the goal testing these methods to (1) reconstruct historic salmon populations, and (2) enhance our understanding of the processes governing marine derived nitrogen cycling in riparian communities.



Ian Gill, MS 2011



I grew up in Alaska and have spent a total of ten summers watching bears catch salmon.  When not standing in the rain counting large mammals, I can be found drinking coffee and factoring quadratic equations.  I also enjoy basketball.


Jamie Michel, MS 2010


I have had a lifelong interest in aquatic ecosystems, and my research has specialized in river-floodplain interactions.  I have worked on research and restoration projects involving vegetation, amphibians, fish and wildlife on rivers of the Pacific Northwest, desert Southwest, and Sweden.  I have been extensively involved with baseline data collection on the Elwha River, and I am looking forward to observing the changes following dam removal.








Sept. 2015