Master of Environmental Studies Staff


mes john withey

John Withey, Director

Member of the core faculty and serves as the program’s director. John Withey is an ecologist with extensive field experience studying birds in temperate (Pacific Northwest) and tropical (Panama and South Florida) environments. After examining crow population dynamics and behavior for his Ph.D. at the University of Washington, he completed postdoctoral research at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. He then taught Biology (for non-majors) and Ecology as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR for one year. He completed a second postdoc in quantitative landscape ecology at the University of Washington, examining how different groups of wildlife species are expected to respond to land-use change in the continental US under different policy scenarios, and developing an approach to calculating conservation “return-on-investment.” For 4 years he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University, Miami’s public research university. He taught Ecology, Vertebrate Biology, and Urban Ecology at FIU. He currently conducts interdisciplinary research at large (regional to continental) scales, including 1) calculating phenological mismatch in migratory songbirds, 2) optimizing land use choices to benefit sage grouse and other wildlife, and 3) patterns of land use change in listed species’ critical habitat areas. In MES John frequently teaches Urban Ecology, Restoration Ecology as well as Wildlife and Conservation Biology. 

Phone: (360) 867-6675



Averi Azar

Averi Azar, Assistant Director

An MES alumna (2018), Averi provides administrative support and direction for prospective and current MES students to help them navigate the admissions process and the graduate student experience in MES. Averi is a former Evergreen undergraduate student with her Bachelor of Arts in Gothic and Classical Architecture and Literature and a Bachelor of Science in Pacific Northwest Environmental Science. Averi received her MES degree with a focus on intertidal communities, specifically examining the keystone species, Pisaster ochraceus and new methods for researching Sea star Wasting Disease. Professionally, Averi has focused on a career in higher education, working in student services as a Program Assistant and then a Financial Aid Advisor before joining the MES team. Contact her with your questions about program curriculum, job and internship opportunities, and for help with the admissions process, registration, and much more.

Phone: (360) 742-8746



Student Employees


sam at sacnas2

Sam Nannetti, Program Assistant

Sam Nannetti is a current Evergreen student who supports the program as another point of contact. She is here as a resource for current and prospective MES students for information regarding jobs, internships, events and overall program inquiries. Reach out to Sam regarding opportunities to share environmental jobs, internships, events and trainings you think our environmental community may want to know about through the MES Weekly Jobs Blog!




outreach assistant

Kris Hill, Outreach & Communications Assistant

Kris Hill is a current MES student of the 2019 cohort and supports the program through Outreach events and coordinates communications from MES through social media. Kris is a current MES student and a resource for prospective students to correspond with to best understand the MES program from a student's perspective and learn about the many wonderful community and outreach events at Evergreen and the greater Olympia area.



MESA Coordinators

Current students and members of the student group MESA, they are at the helm of MES's only student organization. As coordinators, they organize regular social hiking events and litter clean up efforts, as well as the Rachel Carson Forum in the spring. They can be contacted at

Sarah Croston Second Year Coordinator

Teaching Assistants

These students serve as additional academic support in their respective areas. These positions are part time student employment, like many other jobs available on campus.


tyler cowdrey

Tyler Cowdrey, Geographic Information Systems Assistant

Tyler Cowdrey is a 3rd year MES student who serves as the Teaching Assistant for the GIS class sequence taught by Mike Ruth. His current research project focuses on the use of UAV-based imagery to map floating bull kelp forests in Puget Sound, and hopes to build a career working with remote sensing data to address environmental issues related to natural resource management and climate change. When not burying his head in geospatial data Tyler enjoys backpacking in the beautiful natural spaces of the Pacific Northwest and brewing homemade kombucha.

Tyler can be reached at:


writing assistant

Caitlin McNamara, Graduate Writing Assistant

Caitlin McNamara is our Graduate Writing Assistant for the MES and MPA Programs. Caitlin is a second year MES student who is interested in fisheries management. She has two dogs that keep her busy outside of schoolwork. Email is her preferred method of communication. Caitlin is happy to set up zoom meetings or calls based on the student's needs. 

You can reach Caitlin at: