Meet graduate student Anna Puchkoff

Anna Puchkoff
Anna Puchkoff

With an academic background in various environmental sciences and hands-on experience with ecosystems at Yosemite, Anna Puchkoff has learned a lot. However, she was drawn to UConn’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment because she needed to answer some more of her scientific questions. Here is what she said about her life and UConn.

Where did you study as an undergraduate? What was your major? At Pennsylvania State University, my major was environmental resource management with a concentration in environmental science. In addition, I minored in water resources and water management as well as in sociology.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school? I was working in management, but I wanted to learn at a deeper level, such as mechanisms and why things do what they do. And, two years to learn, experiment and contribute to a great body of science in graduate school appealed to me.

Who is your advisor? What is your field of research? Assistant Professor Beth Lawrence is my advisor in natural resources and the environment. My thesis looks at coastal restoration using different thicknesses of sediment on marshes in order to observe the effect on carbon dynamics. In other words, I am researching plant and soil responses to the addition of sediment in the coastal environment.

Because of my minor in sociology at Penn State, I am also interested in how society plays a role in ecosystems, such as how we act and understand them.

What do you like about your work? I love restoring function to ecosystems, working outside to care for the land with my hands, seeing positive changes and meeting goals. Right now, I am trying to understand all types of wetlands because they are all different.

In your opinion, what is your greatest accomplishment so far? I think my most recent accomplishment is also my best accomplishment. It is something that builds on my past experience.

So, being here is my greatest accomplishment. Before UConn, I was in the National Park Service at Yosemite for five years where I got far in a short time. It was an amazing place with amazing people. Now, I am going further.

When do you expect to get your degree? What then? I plan to graduate with a masters in May 2020. After that, I want to return to California to do ecological restoration of wetlands in a federal land management agency.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I am proud of my work with the National Park Service. I want to see more land stewardship, as a whole, and help restore the systems that we have.

I also did rare plant studies and monitoring of ecosystems. The back-country work was epic.

By Patsy Evans