About ISTF 2023

The Yale ISTF Chapter is dedicated to the advancement of tropical forest studies at the Yale School of the Environment, formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. The ISTF conference has been hosted at Yale for 28 years and addresses a range of socio-ecological issues across the tropics. ISTF 2023 will function as a space for academics, practitioners, policymakers, community leaders, artists, journalists, and activists from across the globe to share insights on the power of feedbacks, the role of interconnectedness within and across sectors, and how communities can adapt to the myriad changes in tropical forests. The conference will weave together ecological, social, and economic perspectives on our current understanding of how tropical forest landscapes are changing now as well as how they may change in the future.

Emma Grover

Conference Co-chair, MESc Candidate

Emma Grover is a second-year Master of Environmental Science candidate at the Yale School of the Environment. She is advised by Dr. Simon Queenborough. In a broad sense, her interests include tropical forest ecology, effective environmental science communication, biodiversity conservation, and nature based solutions to climate change. She seeks to investigate how tropical plant populations might respond to our changing climate, increasing our understanding of community resiliency in forest ecosystems. For her MESc thesis, she studies how leaf functional traits, with a focus on drip-tips (long leaf apices commonly found in wet tropical forests), vary based on tree developmental stage and life history strategy. Emma holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a minor in Spanish from the University of Virginia.

Angela Xue

Conference Co-chair, MEM Candidate

Angela Xue is a second-year Master of Environmental Management candidate at Yale School of the Environment. Her interests include conservation finance, sustainable livelihoods, and nature-based solutions. Angela recently worked in natural climate solutions with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and community-based conservation with local nonprofits in Panama. Prior to Yale, Angela was an agricultural biologist for the Santa Clara County Consumer and Environmental Protection Agency. While there, she aided the development of the first countywide Food System Initiative Workplan and supported pesticide regulation and plant quarantine enforcement activities. Angela holds a B.S. in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution from University of California, Los Angeles. In her free time, Angela loves road-tripping with her furry companion Cooper.

Shannon Regan

Conference Co-Chair, MESc Candidate

Shannon is a second year MESc candidate at the Yale School of Environment, advised by Dr. Carol Carpenter. Her research explores the link between women’s economic empowerment and agricultural outcomes in Malawi’s matriarichal and patriarichal land tenure systems. Committed to environmental sustainability while promoting community resilience, she is passionate about the intersection between forests, agriculture, and international development. Prior to Yale, Shannon studied enviornmental science and economics at the University of Florida, where she lead food secuirty projects both locally in Gainesville and abroad in Kenya.

Charly Frisk

ISTF Treasurer, MEM Candidate

Charly Frisk is a Masters of Environmental Management candidate at Yale School of the Environment. She is interested in the intersection of climate change resilience, gender, and ethnobotany. She hopes to center storytelling using participatory film-making techniques. Before attending YSE, Charly was a student at the College of Saint Benedict studying Environmental and Peace Studies with a focus on biodiversity and human needs.

Fredrick Gyamfi Addai

Media & Logistics Team, MF Candidate

Fredrick is a second-year Master of Forestry student at the Yale School of the Environment. He is interested in tropical forest restoration and agroforestry. His primary focus is on gold mine land reclamation, and he is advised by Dr. Mark Ashton. Currently, at YSE, he is a Tropical Resources Institute (TRI) Fellow and works with the Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI) as a Tropical Restoration Library Fellow. His master’s research is on the regeneration of forests on reclaimed gold mine sites in Western Ghana. Prior to YSE, Fredrick worked with Perseus Mining Limited, a gold mining company that operates in Ghana. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Forest Resources Technology from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana.
Leah Andino

Panels Team, MFS Candidate

Leah is a second year Master of Forest Science candidate at the Forest School, within the Yale School of the Environment. She was born and raised in Los Angeles County, California and attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for her undergraduate degree. She holds a B.A. in Geography/Environmental Studies and her undergraduate research focused on extreme climate events in both Antarctica and Southern California in collaboration with NASA. At Yale, her thesis aims to describe how a forest in Northern Puerto Rico changes from the valleys to ridges of limestone hills at the stand and leaf level. She wants to investigate how forest structure and composition, and leaf traits can vary in response to site quality and climate.
Thokozile Changufu

Keynote Team, MF Candidate

Thokozile Changufu is a second-year Master of Forestry candidate at Yale School of the Environment. She is interested in community-based conservation approaches and forestry practices in Sub-Saharan Africa. She spent her summer in the Eastern province of Zambia helping to improve the management of community conservation areas as an intern with the Community Market for Conservation (COMACO). Thoko grew up in the agricultural district of Zambia, Chisamba, and is also interested in smallholder farming and environmental anthropology.
Kayleigh Crabb

Conference Co-Chair, MEM Candidate

Kayleigh Crabb is a second-year Master of Environmental Management (MEM) student at the Yale School of the Environment. Her academic and professional interests include sustainable development and environmental diplomacy, with a focus on climate change. She recently contributed to the USAID Sustainable Environmental Governance Across Regions (SEGAR) Activity in Indonesia as an intern with Chemonics and assisted the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) at the Conference on Biological Diversity COP15. Prior to matriculating at YSE, Kayleigh studied International Studies and Political Science at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. A few of her endeavors as an undergraduate included serving as Sustainability Committee Chair for the Global Scholars Program and assisting with tropical forest and marine research in Indonesia through Operation Wallacea.

Chirchomri Khayi

Panels Team, MF Candidate

Chomri is a second-year Master of Forestry student at the Yale School of the Environment. She is interested in tropical field ecology, community forestry and science communication. In the summer, she studied trait-environmental linkages in the tropical dry forests of the Eastern Ghats, India. At YSE, she is also working with the Tropical Resources Institute (TRI) in developing a field identification guide for lianas in Yasuni National Park. Prior to Yale, she worked with the UN Development Programme in New Delhi, India. She holds a MSc in Life Sciences from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.

Aidan Mock

Breakout Session Coordinator, MEM Candidate

Aidan is an MEM student interested in transforming how businesses interact with the environment, including protecting tropical forests in his home region of Southeast Asia. Before joining YSE, Aidan worked at the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber with a focus on improving environmental and social outcomes in the natural rubber supply chain. Outside of tropical forests, Aidan has experience working on fossil-fuel divestment, ground-up climate activism, and marine conservation research.
Matias Montaldo

Treasurer, MEM Candidate

Matias is an environmental political scientist from Argentina and a first-year Master of Environmental Management candidate at Yale School of the Environment. He worked as an environmental and parliamentary consultant for the Legislature of Buenos Aires City, where he was appointed as the Director of the Special Commission on Climate Change. Before that, he was Chief Cabinet for the Secretary of Human Development for the Municipality of Campana (Argentina) and a Strategic Planning Consultant for the Decentralization Undersecretary of the Buenos Aires City Government. Besides, he is currently the president of GeoFans, an NGO whose mission is the development of sustainable habits in local communities. He also studied in institutions in Argentina, the US (NYU), and India (Environment Protection Training and Research Institute – EPTRI).
Annli Nakayama

Media & Logistics Team, MESc Candidate

Annli is a candidate for the Master of Environmental Science in the 5-Year BS/MESc program at YSE. She is currently researching invasive plants and restoration ecology, advised by Dr. Marlyse Duguid and Dr. Sara Kuebbing. She is particularly interested in applied ecology and how academic science can be used to inform land management for the preservation of biodiversity. Annli holds a Bachelor of Science in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and English Literature from Yale College, where she studied grassland-fire dynamics and 20th-century American poetry.

Claudia Ochoa

Conference Co-chair

Claudia is an environmental lawyer from Peru that used to work as an advisor at the National Park Service and the National Forest Service. Currently, she also collaborates with Sistema B Perú. In addition, she has also served as advisor to the Ministry of Environment as part of the climate negotiation team that assisted on REDD+ and climate finance, as well as provided technical and legal assistance to different companies and NGOs in sustainability, project design and policy analysis. She is pursuing a master’s degree in environmental management at YSE. Her interests are climate change, biodiversity and financial sustainability. Claudia likes traveling, spending time in nature and having family time at the beach while cooking tons of food for everyone.

Gino Marcelo Rivera Bulnes

Keynote Team, MESc Candidate

Gino is a first-year student in the master of environmental science. He earned a B.S. in Biology in Peru and complemented his training in an Ecosystem Management international program as an exchange student at Western Washington University. After that, he completed a research internship at Texas A&M University, where he assisted in Red List assessments of IUCN. He has worked in an environmental consulting firm, informing mitigation practices for biodiversity components, as well as in WWF Peru, implementing wildlife conservation projects in the Amazon. Gino is interested in the relationship between conservation and development in tropical socio-ecosystems, especially dry forests.
Lucia Parra Arce

Conference Co-Chair, MEM Candidate

Lucia is a second-year Master of Environmental Management candidate at Yale School of the Environment, specializing in Ecosystem Management and Conservation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering, focusing on Biodiversity, from Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, Peru. Her focus on natural resources governance, participatory biodiversity conservation, and restoration of tropical forests led her to join the local NGO Forest of Hope Association as a chimpanzee habituation intern in the Gishwati Mukura National Park in Rwanda in the summer of 2023. Her professional journey has also included serving as the Coordinator of Volunteer Programs at the Peruvian Food Bank, contributing as an environmental intern at Barrick Mining Company in the Lagunas Norte Mine Site in Peru, and taking on the role of Lima and Callao’s regional coordinator in the Peruvian Chapter of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN Peru). Lucia’s professional goals are to design and implement solid people-centered and community-engaged projects in the Amazon Rainforests of her country, Peru, that focus on preserving and recovering those tropical ecosystems while improving the quality of life of indigenous and local communities.

Yeim We

Media & Logistics Team, MFS Candidate

Yeim We is a first-year Master of Forest Science student at the Yale School of the Environment. Her research interests include large-scale tree-planting projects and carbon-focused forest management. While at yale, she plans to study the differences in carbon storage between planting types and to describe the contribution of trees to forest carbon capital. Before coming to Yale, she worked for the United Nations Environment Programme West Africa Office in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. She worked on joint UN projects for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration in West African countries. She graduated from Korea University with a Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences. Her graduation thesis on plant immune response was published in the journal Molecular Plant. Outside of academics,  Yeim enjoys home gardening, riding a bicycle, playing the piano, and cooking.