94% would recommend the program

Back to Top



Photo: Paul Kirchner Studios

The Berkeley Connect program opens up the extraordinary resources of the university to you: the extraordinary students on our campus. By joining, you will become part of a community of like-minded faculty, mentors, and students that will provide a supportive environment in which to exchange and discuss ideas and goals. Berkeley Connect will help you to make the most of your time at the university as you learn more about the major in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM). We’re excited to get to know you!

Message from the Director

Erica (Bree) RosenblumESPM’s Berkeley Connect co-directors, graduate fellows and I are delighted to invite you to join us for a semester of fun, idea exchange, mentoring and, of course, connecting with the Berkeley campus! Berkeley Connect in ESPM is all about building community. Our main goal is to provide a safe and relaxed space where students of all stages and ages, and with shared interests in environmental science, policy and stewardship, can teach, learn, and support one another. Interested in meeting folks who share your interests? Curious about career opportunities after graduation? Seeking input from peers, grad students and professors on your ideas or educational path? Looking to learn more about environmental clubs on campus? Wanting to develop and hone those communication skills? Berkeley Connect in ESPM is here for you!

Erica (Bree) Rosenblum, Faculty Director, Berkeley Connect in ESPM

Program Description

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in ESPM. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students One-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the ESPM majors as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.The only requirement for joining Berkeley Connect in ESPM is that you have an interest in the field of study. You do not have to be in one of ESPM’s majors (CRS, ES, FNR, MEB or S&E) to participate! Undeclared freshmen and sophomores are welcome, along with entering junior transfers and juniors and seniors who have declared the major.

Every semester, Berkeley Connect sponsors a wide range of activities and events for participating students.  They include:

  • small-group meetings led by your mentor;
  • One-on-one meetings with your mentor;
  • special events, including informal lectures by professors and guest speakers, and panels on career options, graduate school admissions, and other topics;
  • and visits to Berkeley resources.

At the heart of Berkeley Connect is the relationship between you and your mentor. The Berkeley Connect mentors are advanced graduate students or recent PhDs in ESPM, who are chosen both for their demonstrated commitment to undergraduates and for their scholarly achievement. They are dedicated to providing the kind of close-knit community and One-on-one attention that can be hard to find at a large university.

When you sign up for Berkeley Connect, you will join one of several small groups of participants in ESPM. Your small group will be led by your mentor, and will meet every other week during the semester for an hour-long dinner discussion sessions. Discussions will focus on key intellectual issues within ESPM as well as key skills you need to succeed in the major. Above all, the small groups will focus on building connections among students, so that each group becomes a supportive community for all participants.

You will also meet with your mentor One-on-one at least twice during the semester, once to get acquainted, and a second time just before Tele-Bears, to discuss your plans for completing your major. Your mentor also has Office hours every other week, during which you are free to show up and ask questions, talk over your day or your week, discuss what you are learning in class, or just have an informal conversation.


Erica Rosenblum, Director
Erica (Bree) RosenblumErica (aka Bree) is an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Ecology in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Erica studies the processes that generate and impact biological diversity. She is particularly interested in both sides of the evolutionary speciation/extinction “coin” and in determining the mechanisms of rapid adaptation of animals to changing environments. Erica works across levels of biological organization (from genes to phenotypes to behaviors to community assemblages) and uses a variety of methodologies (from genomics to field ecology). Topically, many of her projects focus on reptile and amphibians in the western US.  Currently, she is studying disease-related declines in amphibians and ecological speciation in lizards.

Contact: Rosenblum@berkeley.edu

Laura Lammers

Laura LammersLaura is an Assistant Professor with the University of California, Berkeley, in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM). Her research interests include environmental geochemistry, crystal growth, mineral-fluid and fluid-fluid interfacial processes, and contaminant transport.

Justin Brashares 

Justin BrasharesJustin is an Associate Professor of Ecology and Conservation in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Justin has worked on wildlife projects and with rural communities in Africa and North America for more than 20 years. His work extends beyond traditional ecology and conservation to consider the economic, political and cultural factors that drive and, in turn, are driven by, changes in biodiversity. When not trying to convince people that wildlife is more than just neat to look at, Justin can be found with his kids at a Cal soccer game or walking his embarrassingly small dog, Alfie.

Contact: Brashares@berkeley.edu

Berkeley Connect Mentors

Ashley AdamsAshley Adams is a PhD candidate in the Organisms and Environment division of ESPM. Born and raised in Japan, she moved to the United States mid-high school; she graduated from Brown University with a double major in Biology and Visual Arts. Interested in both the sciences and the arts, she completed an independent senior thesis project with Prof. Douglass Morse studying the mating behavior of a parasitoid wasp, and organized two senior thesis art exhibitions showcasing her work. After graduating, she worked with Prof. Ann Hedrick studying the mating behavior of crickets until she joined Prof. Rosemary Gillespie at UC Berkeley to study the chemical ecology, behavior, and evolution of spiders. When she isn’t in the lab or the field you can find her out and about with her dog, binging on anime, gaming her heart away, or playing with her pet tarantulas. She loves working with students and is excited to continue learning and mentoring through the Berkeley Connect program!

Allie ByrneAllie Byrne is a PhD candidate in the Organisms and Environment division of ESPM. She comes from Pennsylvania where she graduated from Drexel University with a degree in Environmental Science. As an undergraduate, Allie traveled to West Africa to study the primates and amphibians on Bioko Island. This experience oriented her towards a career in amphibian research and led to graduate school at Berkeley. Allie’s dissertation research focuses on a deadly fungal disease of amphibians and how some frogs can survive disease outbreaks in the rainforests of Panama. In her free time Allie enjoys playing rugby and hanging out with her chihuahua Brandi. She is looking forward to creating a safe space where a diverse group of students can come together and forge meaningful connections.

Ellyn GrayEllyn Gray is a PhD candidate studying atmospheric science in the Ecosystem Sciences division of ESPM. Her primary interests are air pollution and climate change, with an increasing focus on policy and renewable energy. Ellyn’s dissertation investigates the formation mechanisms of radiation fog in California and Italy with the goal of understanding the influence of air pollution and climate variables on its historical trends. Her past research experience includes refinery emission studies at UCLA and satellite instrument calibration at NASA JPL. When she’s not analyzing data, Ellyn can be found exploring Golden Gate Park with her dog, James. She’s deeply committed to student mentorship because of the profound impact it had on her life as an undergraduate and is excited to give back to other students.

Emily KearneyEmily Kearney is PhD candidate in the Organisms and Environment division of ESPM. She received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, where she majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. From there, Emily expanded her ecological knowledge with internships in the rainforest of French Guiana hunting caterpillars and at the Max Planck Institute of Chemical Ecology studying frass volatiles (i.e. caterpillar poop odors). These experiences cemented her passion for plant-insect interactions which led her to Berkeley for a PhD in pollination ecology focusing on the native pollinators of chocolate trees in Ecuador. While doing her PhD, Emily has relished opportunities to explore her other passions for teaching, mentoring, and communicating science to the general public. When she is not debugging R code, she enjoys cooking vegetarian meals, reading sci-fi, and training for ANW. Emily believes that community building through mentorship is one of the best parts of academia and is excited to be joining Berkeley Connect.

Sarick MatzenSarick Matzen is a PhD candidate in Ecosystem Sciences in within ESPM. He studies soil remediation in the context of urban agriculture, and researches a fern that can sustainably pull arsenic out of soil. After earning a bachelor’s in Environmental Science at Hampshire College, Sarick worked as a research assistant at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He then got involved with community organizing and urban agriculture, and started a community farm. At Berkeley, he really enjoys working with undergraduates, whether as a teaching assistant for the Urban Agriculture course, mentoring students in research internships, or working with undergraduates and high school students on local soil testing projects. When he’s not in the field, greenhouse, or lab, Sarick enjoys combing thrift stores for fabulous western shirts.

Semester Activities

Week Format Notes
Jan 21 Full group

(staff mtgs)

Opening reception: Community building activities


Jan 28 Sections

(staff mtgs)

Introductions: Semester orientation


Feb 4 Sections

(staff mtgs)

Skill development I


Feb 11 Office hours


Individual meetings: *Required meeting with your fellow


Feb 18 Sections

(staff mtgs)

Current Environmental topic I
Feb 25 Office hours

Full group

Individual check in: Drop in meetings with your fellow

(Tentative: Field trip to Zellerbach)

Mar 4 Sections

(staff mtgs)

Skill development II (faculty visits?)


Mar 11 Office hours


Individual check in
Mar 18 Sections

(staff mtgs)

Current Environmental topic II


Mar 25 Spring Break


No meetings


Apr 1 Sections

(staff mtgs)

Skill development III


Apr 8 Office hours

Full group

Individual check in: *Required meetings with your fellow

(Tentative: Field trip to Gill Tract)

Apr 15 Sections

(staff mtgs)

Current Environmental topic III


Apr 22 Office hours


Individual check in: Drop in meetings with your fellow


Apr 29 Sections

(staff mtgs)

Closing: Semester wrap-up!


May 6 Full group Optional study break activities



To find sections for the upcoming semester, search the Schedule of Classes for ESPM 98BC (for first-year and sophomores) or 198BC (for juniors and seniors).

To help you meet other students who share your experiences and perspectives, Berkeley Connect sections are designated as lower division (first-year students and sophomores), new junior transfers, and upper division (juniors and seniors), but you can enroll in any section that fits your schedule and credit requirements.

How to Sign Up

To participate in Berkeley Connect in ESPM, you enroll in a designated section of ESPM 98BC or 198BC (one unit, taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis). Many students chose to enroll for more than one semester. Participation is NOT restricted to declared majors.To sign up, enroll in a Berkeley Connect section when course registration opens.  Please see the Berkeley Connect Sections listed above under “Schedule.”

**Read the schedule notes carefully—different Sections are designated as primarily for lower-division (freshmen and sophomores), upper-division (juniors and seniors), or junior transfer students.

If you are interested in participating in Berkeley Connect, but course registration is not currently open, you can join the Berkeley Connect Mailing List, and you will be sent more details when the next semester’s information becomes available.

Contact Us

Please see our FAQs.  If you have additional questions about Berkeley Connect in ESPM, please contact:Prof. Justin Brashares, 13 Mulford Hall, phone: (510) 643-6080, email: Brashares@berkeley.edu

You can also contact the central Berkeley Connect office  at berkeleyconnect@berkeley.edu or (510) 664-4182.

Links & Resources