Meet The Fall 2020 New Faculty

This semester the School of Earth & Sustainability welcomes five new faculty members from three departments. 


Britt Crow-Miller

Title: Senior Lecturer

Department: Environmental Conservation & Geosciences



Dr. Britt Crow-Miller is a Senior Lecturer in the Departments of Environmental Conservation and Geosciences at UMass Amherst. Her academic research is focused on environmental politics, sustainability, global development, and water resource management in China and cities of the Western U.S. In 2018, Britt founded CityWild, a nonprofit organization with the mission of inspiring curiosity about nature through fun, exploration, and hands-on learning for kids and families, including those in underserved communities. The foundation of CityWild was laid in Portland, Oregon, and the organization relocated with Britt to New England in 2020. She received her Ph.D. in Geography from UCLA and holds an M.A. from Harvard University and a B.A. from Bard College.


Martin Medina-Elizalde

Title: Associate Professor

Department: Geosciences




Dr. Martin Medina-Elizalde is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences.  His research areas include the climate and the collapse of the Maya civilization, sea-level change during the glaciations, paleoclimate sensitivity, and glacial-interglacial tropical climate variability. He graduated with his B.A. in Marine Biology from the Universidad de Baja California Sur, México. He did his Master’s in CINVESTAV-Merida in coral geochemistry with Prof. Gerardo Gold and got his Ph.D. in tropical climate evolution with Prof. David W. Lea at the University of California, Santa Barbara. During his postdoc at UMass Amherst, he and his advisor, Stephen Burns, obtained the first quantitative estimates of the magnitude of the droughts associated with the demise of the Maya civilization. Since then, Martin has been working on the thermal and hydrologic reconstruction of tropical regions and their sensitivity to greenhouse gases. Martin was previously an assistant professor at the Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán, a visiting Assistant Professor at Amherst College, and Associate Professor at Auburn University, Alabama.


Samantha Solano

Title: Assistant Professor

Department: Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning



Samantha Solano is an Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture in the Department of Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning.  Samantha’s scholarship engages with revealing unrepresented narratives overlooked throughout landscape architecture discourse. Her work integrates two main streams—arid territories and the social, political, and cultural values that have led to the mismanagement of desert lands, and the empowerment of design, environmental, and racial justice narratives in practice, the profession, and the academy. Her research and design methodologies are centered on using critical mapping as a means of revealing unrecognized, unformalized, and unrepresented relationships hidden throughout the landscape. Professor Solano is also the founding principal of JUXTOPOS, a co-founder of the Visualizing Equity in Landscape Architecture (VELA) project, and a co-collaborator of the International Landscape Collaborative (ILC).  Samantha previously held faculty appointments at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). She holds the Master in Landscape Architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor in Landscape Architecture from UNLV.

Eric Thomas

Title: Lecturer

Department: Environmental Conservation & Geosciences



Dr. Eric Thomas is a Lecturer in the Departments of Environmental Conservation and Geosciences.  Dr. Thomas is an environmental anthropologist whose research applies a critical development perspective to contemporary state and capitalist projects along remote resource frontiers.  For the past five years, he has conducted ethnographic fieldwork on the coast of Chilean Patagonia, where a series of harmful algal blooms have resulted in the closure of fisheries and mass mortality events at local salmon farms.  Conducted in the wake of these disasters, his work examines the relationship between industrial aquaculture and artisanal fishing in remote coastal communities as well as the long-term sustainability of these and other sectors of the coastal economy.  His research methods include participant observation, career history surveys, participatory mapping, and semi-structured interviews.  He is originally from mid-coast Maine and received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Paul Wolff

Title: Lecturer

Department: Environmental Conservation




Paul Wolff is a Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Conservation.  Professor Wolff is a lifelong “Maker” and has dedicated his professional career to environmental conservation, sustainable development, and experiential learning. Prof. Wolff has facilitated the pursuit of high-performance building design, sustainability policy development, innovative curriculum design, and long-term climate resiliency planning as part of dynamic collaborations with National Grid, MIT, the Northeast Retail Lumber Association (NRLA), Northeastern University, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), the Open Agriculture Initiative (OpenAg), and the Harvard Business School (HBS). Wolff earned a Master of Architecture Degree from Harvard University and received a Doctor of Education Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. His Bachelor is in art and sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design. Prof. Wolff’s dissertation explored the similarities and differences of physical and virtual placemaking, and the extent to which the approach may impact the learning experience for students and/or the shape of learning spaces in the future. He is currently researching the use of alternative forms of scholarship such as comics, podcasts, stop-motion animations, zines, and graphic novels to construct knowledge in new ways, and to disseminate academic research to wider audiences.