Research Team

Principal Investigator

Maria Fernandez GimenezMaria Fernandez Gimenezis a Professor in the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University. Dr. Fernandez-Gimenez was trained as a rangeland ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and conducted her dissertation research in Mongolia in 1993-1995. Her current focal areas of research and teaching are rangeland monitoring and collaborative adaptive ecosystem management, community-based natural resource management, the roles of traditional knowledge and science in resource management, and participatory research and community-based monitoring. Dr. Fernandez-Gimenez continues to do research and advise NGOs and government organizations on rangeland management and policy issues in Mongolia, as well as working in the western USA and Spain Pyrenees.

Co-Principal Investigators

Melinda LaituriMelinda Laituri is a Professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University. Dr. Laituri received her PhD from the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona in 1993 in Geography. Her dissertation research focused on environmental equity and groundwater resources in the American Southwest and the US-Mexico border.  Her other degrees are in Hydrology (M.A., California State University, 1985) and Geography (B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1979). Dr. Laituri accepted a post doc at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and served as a lecturer in a tenure track position for three years. She worked with indigenous peoples throughout the South Pacific on issues related natural resource management using geographic information systems (GIS). Dr. Laituri is currently at Colorado State University. She works with Native American tribes on water resource management strategies that utilize cultural and eco-physical data in research models. Other research work focuses on the role of the Internet and geospatial technologies of disaster management and cross-cultural environmental histories of river basin management.

Robin ReidRobin Reid is the Director of the Center for Collaborative Conservation at Colorado State University. Dr. Reid received her PhD in Rangeland Ecosystem Science from Colorado State University. Dr. Reid is a systems socio-ecologist who is currently Director of the Center for Collaborative Conservation and a Senior Research Scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Lab at Colorado State University. She led a program called ‘Sustaining Pastoral Lands and Livelihoods’ at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, from 1992-2007. Her current work focuses on understanding and promoting collaborative efforts to sustain natural resources around the world.

Steven FassnachtSteven Fassnacht is a Professor of Snow Hydrology with the Watershed Science Program in the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University. He is the Associate Director of the Geospatial Centroid at CSU and the Vertically Integrated Projects Program at CSU, as well as a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere. Steven has degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo, Canada with an emphasis on Water Resources. His current research focuses on snow hydrology and the impacts of climate change on water resources. Recent rangelands research includes the interaction of snow and Big Mountain Sagebrush in Colorado, and herder observations of hydro-climatic change in Mongolia. He teaches courses on Snow Hydrology, Seasonal Snow Environments, Snow Hydrology Field Methods, Issues in Hydrology, and Information Management.

Jes Thompson
Jes Thompson completed her doctoral degree at the University of Utah in spring 2007.  During her graduate studies in the Department of Communication, she also pursued conflict resolution and  facilitator training and earned an interdisciplinary certificate in Adaptive Management of Environmental Systems, which focuses on integrated and participatory modeling in stakeholder processes.  Jessica joined the faculty in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources in August 2007, since then she has published numerous articles in several journals, including Science Communication, Society & Natural Resources and the Journal of Applied Communication Research; she recently published her first book, entitled, Interdisciplinary Research Team Dynamics: A Systems Approach to Understanding Communication and Collaboration in Complex Teams.  Her research and teaching focus is on communicating and managing environmental conflict about complex ecological issues, with a focus on global climate change and natural resource conservation.  She has worked with the National Park Service to help develop the agency’s national climate change response strategy, engage multi-jurisdictional stakeholders in climate change adaptation planning, and develop interpretive training materials for climate change.

Project Coordinator in Mongolia

Batkhishig BaivalBatkhishig Baival earned her PhD in the Department of Forest & Rangeland Stewardship, Colorado State University. Batkhishig obtained her graduate MSc degree from the University of Manchester in 1998. She worked for the United Nations Development Program as a rural development specialist from 2003-2007.  Her current research interest is on coupled human-environmental systems and social-ecological resilience with particular focus on rural herding communities in Mongolia.


US Team Members

Arren Mendezona AllegrettiArren Mendezona Allegretti is a PhD student working under Jessica Thompson in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources department (HDNR). She grew up in Cebu, Philippines and immigrated to the United States where she received her B.S. in Ecology and Evolution from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She worked as a field ecologist and wetlands biologist in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California. She also has worked on community development and volunteer tourism projects in Costa Rica and the Philippines. In 2010, she received her M.S. in the HDNR at Colorado State University. Her thesis focused on measuring conflict and stakeholder acceptability of coastal resource management policies in Cebu, Philippines. Arren has experience in facilitating natural resource management workshops in the Philippines and in the United States. Her research interests include community-based natural resource management, coastal resource management, natural resource collaboration, and environmental conflict management.


Jay AngererJay Angerer is an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University’s Blackland Research and Extension Center in Temple, Texas.  He received his Ph.D. in Rangeland Ecology and Management from Texas A&M University in 2008.  During the past 20 years he has worked on a variety of research projects including arid land restoration in the Southwestern U.S., technology impact assessment in East and West Africa, and livestock early warning systems in East Africa, Mongolia, and the U.S.  His current research focuses on using satellite imagery and simulation modeling to improve landscape estimates of livestock forage and building decision support systems for improving livestock and vegetation management on rangelands.


Khishigbayar Jamiyansharav is a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Forest & Rangeland Stewardship, Colorado State University. She grew up in Ulaanbaatar- Mongolia, where she received her undergraduate degree in chemical technology at the Mongolian State University in 1995. She worked for Mongolian Renewable Energy Corporation before she came to United States for her PhD. Khishig is obtained her PhD degree from Colorado State University Graduate Degree Program in Ecology and MSc degree from Carl-Von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg. Her current research interest is on climate change, sustainable technology, coupled human-environmental systems and data management.



Chantsallkham Jamsranjav is a PhD student in the Forest, Rangeland and Stewardship Department working with Dr. Robin Reid and Dr. Maria Fernandez-Gimenez. Chantsa obtained her bachelor and MSc degree from the National University of Mongolia. She worked for “Green Gold Pasture Ecosystem Management project” of Swiss Development Agency in Mongolia and Mongolian Society for Range Management as a community development specialist and as a head of Community Development Division before coming to CSU. Her current research interest is long term changes in Mongolian rangelands and ecological outcomes of current rangeland management practices and climate change.



Tungalag UlambayerTungalag Ulambayar is a PhD student working under guidance of professor Maria Fernandez Gimenez in the Rangeland Ecology department. She grew up in Southgobi, Mongolia raised by her grandparents who were Gobi nomadic herders. Tungaa studied in Moscow State University after Lomonosov in 1982-1988 where she received her B.S./MS in Philology (Russian linguistics and literature). Soon after she returned to her country, democratic changes started taking place in Mongolia, which influenced Tungaa’s professional path. She worked for various technical assistance projects funded by foreign donors including community forestry and energy projects. Tungalag was awarded Joint World Bank and Government of Japan scholarship to complete her MA degree in International development field at the International University of Japan, Niigata. Her major included development economics, environmental economics, global environmental governance, and cost benefit analysis. Her research thesis focused on defining causes of deforestation in transitional Mongolia. Tungalag was one of the pioneering PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) facilitators in Mongolia from the mid 90s which has been the major tool for many community-based projects for the rural development of Mongolia. Since 2003 she joined United Nations Development Programme in Mongolia taking a range of positions starting from National project manager to Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction Team Leader. Being a Head of UNDP Mongolia’s environment and disaster team, she led design and implementation of several community-based NRM projects, and formulation of legal documents for CBNRM institutions including pasture management regulations. Tungalag’s research interests include specifics of nomadic pastoral communities in their collective actions over natural resources essential for their livelihoods compared to those of sedentary communities, and if the organized pastoral communities more resilient to climate changes in contrast to the traditional hot/saahalt communities in Mongolia.


Niah Venable

Niah Venable is a PhD student in the Watershed Science Program (Geoscience and Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Departments) studying under Dr. Steven Fassnacht.  She holds a B.S in Forestry with a Geology minor from Oklahoma State University and an M.S in Earth Science/Hydrogeology from Western Michigan University.   Niah has a varied employment history, with past work in government, industry, and academia.   She is interested in examining past, present, and future changes to Mongolian hydro-climatology using a variety of methods ranging from trend analysis, dendro-climatology (tree-ring analysis), and hydrological modeling.


Undergraduate Student


Weiqian GaoWeiqian Gao received her B.S. in Natural Resources Management with an Agricultural and Resources Economic minor in December of 2013 from the Department of Forest, Rangeland and Stewardship, Colorado State University. Weiqian grew up in Beijing, China and finished her sophomore in Northwest A&F University with Environmental Science major. She transferred to CSU since August of 2011 and continued her Bachelor degree also with an Agricultural and Resources Economic minor. During the past four years, she had several internship experiences on Ministry of Agriculture of P.R. China, and Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of P.R. China as a program assistant.  As an undergraduate research assistant, her responsibilities will include data entry, data quality checking, GIS data creation and management, website management and other related duties in support of the MOR2 and learning from the Land projects. Also she was working with graduate students and post-doctoral researchers to develop her own independent research project that contributes to one of these research efforts. She is now pursuing her master’s degree at Texas A&M University.

Project Contributors

Sophia Linn, Assistant Director of the Geospatial Centroid at CSU

Lee Andersen, Intern
Kathryn MacKnight, Intern
Bridget Ronayne,  Volunteer
Kristen Holfelder,  Volunteer