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 Principal Investigator





Dr. van Riper's research program seeks to understand the relationships among correlates of behavior (e.g., values, norms, attachment) in natural resource management contexts, particularly protected areas.  She received a Ph.D. from the Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University and certificate in the Applied Biodiversity Sciences National Science Foundation-Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (NSF-IGERT) Program. She also holds a M.S. from her work with the Park Studies Laboratory at the University of Vermont and a B.A. from Arizona State University with concentrations in conservation biology and recreation management from the School of Community Resources and Development.

Students and Technicians


Elizabeth Golebie is a PhD student in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, advised by Dr. van Riper. She is interested in applying social science methods to inform management of natural resources, in particular, aquatic ecosystems. Her interest in social-ecological systems stems from her undergraduate research that modeled the impact of shoreline development on recreational fisheries. In her master’s work with the Illinois Natural History Survey, she focused on the human dimensions of the Lake Michigan fishery, examining angler satisfaction, fishery perceptions, and expenditures. She began working with the van Riper research group in Fall 2017 on a study investigating angler behavior and aquatic invasive species, from which she is hoping to develop her dissertation research. 


Nate began his doctoral studies under the advisement of Dr. van Riper in the fall of 2017. He received his B.S. in Parks and Conservation Area Management from Kansas State University in 2015 and his M.S. in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management from Clemson University in 2017. The core of Nate’s research is understanding human behavior in relation to the natural environment. Specific elements of Nate’s research program include examining the role of attentional, emotional, nonconscious, and contextual effects on human behavior. Outside of the lab, Nate enjoys spending time with his wife, Hannah. He is an avid bird watcher. You can learn more about Nate and his research at his website, https://www.nathanjshipley.com/. Additionally, you can contact him directly at shipley4@illinois.edu.



Lorraine Stamberger is working towards her master’s degree in the van Riper Research Group. Her research interests focus on strengthening the relationship between communities and the natural places they inhabit. She is particularly interested in facilitating community resilience through several avenues: increased public access to natural features, creation and expansion of recreational opportunities, and formation of a strong community identity. Lorraine's undergraduate research at Augustana College analyzed Quad Cities citizens' access to the Mississippi River. Currently, she is involved in several projects at UIUC including a Denali GPS visitor tracking study and a study of rural Midwestern communities. The latter aligns with Lorraine’s thesis and is aimed at exploring the connections between place and preferences for future growth in changing and urbanizing rural communities. For more information, check out her website, http://lorrainestamberger.wixsite.com/stambergersite.


Katherine Mimnaugh is a graduate student in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and is co-advised by Drs. van Riper and Browning. Her research is investigating the use of natural and restorative environments in virtual reality for therapeutic applications.  She received her B.S. in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008 and subsequently worked as a lab manager in cognitive neuroscience laboratories with the Beckman Institute for nine years. In that role, she conducted research with adults of all ages using electroencephalography to study language comprehension, memory, and psychopathology. Her research interests include natural restorative environments, virtual reality, health care technology, cognitive psychology and neurophysiology.


Sophia Winkler-Schor is visiting scholar at UIUC in the van Riper Lab. She is doing a bi-national Master of Science in International Nature Conservation at the University of Göttingen, Germany and Lincoln University, New Zealand. During her undergraduate studies in environmental science and resource management at the University of Washington, Sophia began working in a conservation psychology lab and realized that to improve human-nature relationships, understanding human behavior is integral. During her work at the World Wildlife Fund she developed a a guide to facilitate conservation practitioners in designing and implementing interventions grounded in behavior change science. Sophia's research interests are focused on understanding behavior in order to encourage sustainable and pro-environmental behavior. Her thesis research delves into understanding different values-orientations and how those influence people's valuation of nature through exploring visitor data from Denali National Park. 


Dana Johnson is an undergraduate student in Natural Resources and Environmental Science with background in the social and natural sciences. Through her studies and professional experience, she has grown passionate about bridging the gap between the social and natural sciences to support successful management plans. She firmly believes it is necessary to look at conservation and restoration through the scope of social-ecological systems. Understanding human behavior is integral to that process. Navigating people’s attitudes and values provides efficient and equitable policy change as well as stronger human-nature relationships. Beyond these topics, Dana has an interest in GIS and it’s applications for resource management and value mapping.

 Previous students and technicians 

Name, Title Position
Bradley Carr M.S. student; studied the effects of knowledge and attitudes on ecosystem services in an urban protected area
Sadia Sabrina Field technician; assisted with projects focusing on conservation behavior and values of tourists in protected areas
Reanna Kayser Undergraduate researcher; completed an internship related to environmental behaviors and aquatic invasive species 
Catherine Kemp Undergraduate researcher; completed an internship related to environmental behaviors and aquatic invasive species 
Saachi Kuwayama Undergraduate researcher; studied values and behavior in protected areas
Clinton Lum  Ph.D. student for two years; studied the values and benefits of backcountry experiences
Grace Merrett Undergraduate researcher; completed an internship related to environmental behaviors and aquatic invasive species 
Erin Morris Research technician; collaborated on an article focuse on gender dynamics and motivations to engage in recreation 
Ina Yilun Zhou Research technician; assisted with research focused on social values and environmental behavior 
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Carena J. van Ripercvanripe@illinois.edu
Department of Natural Resources and Environnmental Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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