Hearst Field Annex B-22
Berkeley CA 94720-2495
Phone: (510) 664-4182
Email: berkeleyconnect@berkeley.edu

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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 Assistant 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 of Environmental Geochemistry in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. She studies the chemistry of fluid-mineral interactions in the environment to understand the fate of nutrients, contaminants and carbon. Her group seeks to relate macroscopic phenomena to their fundamental, molecular-level controls using coupled computational and experimental techniques. Current projects are related to the roles of clay interfaces in regulating soil radiocesium mobility, mechanisms of mineral growth and dissolution (carbonates and phosphates), the roles of mineral-aqueous interfaces in regulating bulk physiochemical properties such as interfacial tension and wettability, and the use of stable isotopes to probe surface processes.

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

Erin BrandtErin Brandt is a Ph.D. candidate in the Organisms and Environment division of ESPM. Previously, she attained her BS at Michigan Technological University in Biological Sciences and her MS at Portland State University in Biology. Her research at Berkeley explores the connections between temperature and sexual behavior. In particular, she is interested in courtship behavior in jumping spiders. Erin is an unabashed “spider advocate” and works to improve the public image of our eight-legged friends. You can find her in the field in Arizona hunting for jumping spiders, hanging out with tarantulas on Mt. Diablo, or teaching and mentoring in the lab and classroom.

Eric DoughertyEric Dougherty is a PhD candidate in the Organisms and Environment division of ESPM. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Environmental Studies, Eric spent several months living on a wildlife reserve in South Africa before landing back in his home state of New York to work at the American Museum of Natural History. Following an interesting tenure at the museum sifting through cat poop for the sake of conservation, Eric began his PhD research. His interests lie primarily at the nexus of movement and disease ecology, with a particular focus on the interesting dynamics surrounding pathogens with environmental reservoirs. When he isn’t working, Eric enjoys hiking, playing various sports, and watching almost everything on television. Teaching and mentorship have been some of the most rewarding aspects of Eric’s experience at Berkeley, and he is looking forward to the opportunity to work closely with undergraduates interested in environmental issues through Berkeley Connect.

Jane FlegalJane Flegal is a PhD student in the Society and Environment division of ESPM, with a designated emphasis in Science & Technology Studies. She studied environmental studies and politics as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College, and worked for several years as a policy analyst at the Energy Project of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank in Washington, DC. Jane researches US energy politics, and is particularly interested in the politics of science and expertise in controversies over technologies that might be responsive to climate change. Off-campus, you can find her running, trying to complete crossword puzzles, hiking, and spending as much time by the ocean as possible. Working with graduate students has been the most rewarding part of Jane’s experience at Berkeley, and she is excited to continue her mentoring work as part of Berkeley Connect this year.

Adrian LuAdrian Lu first moved to California to practice as an intellectual property attorney in Silicon Valley. After several years, disillusionment with corporate legal practice motivated him to engineer a career shift. He moved to China, where he first worked with NRDC’s Beijing office and then collaborated with several grassroots environmental organizations. For about two years, he studied and advocated for the protection of two critically endangered species in the subtropical province of Guangxi – the Chinese white dolphin and the white-headed langur. Adrian now studies how natural vegetation can support natural enemies of agricultural pests and potentially decrease our reliance on chemical pesticides. He believes that mentorship is an indispensable part of life, and looks forward to participating in Berkeley Connect.

Alex McInturffAlex McInturff is a PhD candidate in the Ecosystem Sciences division of ESPM. He studied ecology and environmental history as an undergraduate and MS student at Stanford University, where he followed John Muir’s path from San Francisco to Yosemite. After graduating, he was fortunate enough to work with a team of ecologists studying the ecological effects of invasive species in some of the world’s most remote islands. In his research, Alex combines the ecology of wildlife with an interest in how humans shape and cohabit these wild places. He conducts his fieldwork at the Hopland Research and Extension Center in Mendocino County when not cursing the mapping software on his computer, reading poems at anyone in earshot, or playing music louder than anyone wants to hear. Teaching and mentoring have been highlights of Alex’s graduate career at Berkeley, and he is thrilled to have the opportunity to work in the Berkeley Connect Program.

Ashton WesnerAshton Wesner is a PhD candidate in the Society and Environment division of ESPM, and completed her BA in the Environmental Analysis program at Pomona College, with a focus in Race, Class, and Gender. Her doctoral training bridges the fields of Political Ecology, Human Geography and American Studies. Her dissertation research focuses on the politics of representation of Science and Natural History in the Pacific Northwest with an emphasis on how articulations of visual cultural production and management of inundated landscapes both re-entrench and contest the settler state.

Alongside research, she has really enjoyed collaborating with students and colleagues through a GSI position in “Engineering, Environment and Society” (an ACES course with an environmental justice curriculum) and membership in the ESPM Graduate Diversity Council. Ashton is excited to work with Berkeley Connect in building supportive intellectual community and expanding “what counts” as environmental scholarship. She’s also always excited about playing the piano, lap swimming, and finding fresh flowers for the kitchen table.


Week Format Content
Jan 16 Full group Opening reception: Community building activities
Jan 23 Sections Introductions: Semester orientation
Jan 30 Sections Skill development I
Feb 6 *Office hours


Full group

Individual meetings: Required meeting with your fellow


Field trip Feb 9th 8pm: Zellerbach Show

Feb 13 Sections Current Environmental topic I
Feb 20


Office hours Individual check in: Drop in meetings with your fellow
Feb 27 Sections Skill development II
Mar 6 Office hours Individual check in
Mar 13 Sections Current Environmental topic II
Mar 20 Office hours


Full group

Individual check in: Drop in meetings with your fellow


Movie night!

Mar 27 Spring Break No meetings
Apr 3 Sections Skill development III
Apr 10 *Office hours Individual check in: Required meetings with your fellow
Apr 17 Sections Current Environmental topic III
Apr 24 Sections Closing: Semester wrap-up
May 1 Full group Study break: Pizza party


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