SPP Graduate Research Assistants Present Theses

By Fiona Edwards, SPP Graduate Research Assistant

Recently three of SPP’s graduate research assistants completed their Master of Environmental Studies theses and presented their findings to an audience of faculty, peers, and SPP partners. Congratulations to Dennis Aubrey, Brittany Gallagher, and Andrea Martin!

Andrea conducted a study on conservation corps to investigate the long-term influence of these programs on youth participants.


Dennis and Brittany explored topics directly related to their work at SPP.


Dennis’ research showed that the Taylor’s checkerspot significantly preferred the native Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja hispida and Castillega levisecta) over the commonly-known non-native host species (Plantago lanceolata) for oviposition. His finding highlights the synergistic benefits of the SPP butterfly program and the SPP conservation nursery programs that rear the butterfly’s host plants. Dennis’ study will be submitted for publication with two inmate coauthors, who contributed to the research. Mary Linders, the Biologist specializing on the Taylor’s checkerspot at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, also collaborated on the study.


Brittany conducted a statewide evaluation of all SPP work-programs in Washington. Brittany measured  effects of employment in SPP programs on inmate environmental attitudes. The literature in environmental and social psychology suggests that pro-environmental behavior is correlated with pro-social behavior, and the criminology literature suggests a correlation between pro-social attitudes and parole success. With Likert-scale and open-ended questions, 293 inmates filled out Brittany’s questionnaires. She found that inmates whose jobs involved more education and training, more work with living things, and more opportunities for community contribution (as SPP work programs do) expressed more pro-environmental attitudes. Simply stated: employment in SPP programs is correlated with more pro-environmental attitudes.

SPP has been so fortunate to work with these outstanding students. We can’t wait to see what great things Dennis, Brittany, and Andrea will do next.

Dennis Aubrey presents his results.

Dennis Aubrey presents his results.

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