Faculty Mentors and Program Staff

As an interdisciplinary program, students interact with faculty from a variety of departments and colleges within the University of Massachusetts Amherst. And our dedicated staff help students navigate the program to achieve their goals. Here’s just a few of our key people.



Alison Bates

Program Director
Department of Environmental Conservation
Dr. Bates is primarily interested in social and environmental factors that promote or inhibit renewable energy development. Specifically, she uses qualitative and quantitative tools to address limits of offshore wind energy, such a GIS to understand ocean use patterns within a marine spatial planning framework, and survey research to understand social acceptance of ocean energy developments. Ongoing projects include spatial conflict with commercial fisheries and offshore wind, and analysis of how coastal communities are affected by nearby energy developments. Before pursuing her Ph.D. in Marine Studies, Dr. Bates worked for several years with the Southern California Mountains Foundation, promoting conservation and stewardship on public lands. Read more >

Craig Nicolson

Department of Environmental Conservation
I’ve been working across conventional disciplinary boundaries since the day I started grad school in South Africa in 1993.  I love teaching and mentoring, and I think my brain is just wired to see things holistically as whole systems rather than as disconnected little bits and pieces. I’ve spent my career addressing questions of how ecosystems change through time and how people interact with natural resources.  I worked on Arctic system science for the first 15 years when I came to United States, then turned my focus to sustainable urban systems (mainly Boston), and water resource management (New England and Africa).   I like collaborating with teams of scientists and decision-makers and stakeholders to develop holistic understandings of complex system dynamics. My contribution to projects usually involves intellectual synthesis and often includes the development of dynamic computer simulation models using rule-based approaches and/or quantitative ecological analyses. Read more >

Tim Randhir

Department of Environmental Conservation
Dr. Randhir’s primary interests include: watershed management, water quality, ecological economics, dynamic modeling and optimization, spatial analysis and simulation, complex systems, Institutional economics, GIS-Internet-Simulation interfacing, systems modeling, climate change, land use policy, international trade and development, common pool resource management, nonpoint source pollution, and natural resources policy and management. Read more >

Mark Hamin

Director, Master of Regional Planning Program
Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning
Special research interests include: influence of the life sciences on development of the planning field; urban infrastructural and ecological history; social/cultural perspectives on environmental risk, security, and 'quality of life' in cities;long-term trends in technologically transformed metropolitan-regional food systems; and mentoring in relation to pedagogy. Read more >

Jared Starr

Co-Instructor, Perspectives on Sustainability
Department of Environmental Conservation Support Staff
I co-teach Perspectives on Sustainability. Offered in the Fall, this course introduces key sustainability concepts and grounds our students in a common framework. In addition, I help advise student researchers who are investigating sustainability issues on campus. We're currently wrapping up a study on economic and environmental costs and benefits of different waste management practices on campus. I've also been involved on the administrative side of the program, previously serving as the Assistant Director. Outside the MS3, I co-teach with the interdisciplinary team-based learning program iCons (Integrated Concentration in Science) and create science communication videos working with partners like The Nature Conservancy. I'm also a PhD student in Environmental Conservation where I'm researching the relationship between wealth and environmental outcomes. Read more >




Darci Maresca

Assistant Director of the School of Earth & Sustainability

My primary role at UMass Amherst is working within the School of Earth & Sustainability to bring together the diverse academic programs and research related to earth, sustainability and environmental sciences. This work often intersects with the MS3 Program. I interact with students to provide guidance with regards to graduate program planning and career development.


Toni Cunningham

MS3 Administrative Assistant
Toni moved from Ireland to Portland, Oregon in 2005. She worked in IT support for a time before having her first child and taking a career break. In 2012 she moved to Amherst to be closer to family.  Her work for the MS3 program includes updating the MS3 website, documentation management, events and communications.

Sumedha Rao

MS3 Admissions and Project Coordinator

I am an MS3 program alumnus and have an interest in learning, education, and interdisciplinary collaboration for sustainability. I help prospective students navigate their way through the application process for this program and also help with other program research and development projects. Alongside my work with MS3, I work for an environmental non-profit (The National Council for Science and the Environment) that seeks to bridge the gap between environmental education, research, and policy. The MS3 program was of immense value to me and I hope to help the program impart the same value to other students!
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