Jennifer Kelly

For Jennifer Kelly, a single class on the environment was all it took.

In her final year as an undergraduate majoring in communications at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, Jennifer took a class that covered major environmental issues like climate change, biodiversity loss, and overpopulation.

“And it changed my life,” she said. “I thought it was the most astonishing thing, and I felt like I’d been in the dark.”

Jennifer put her newfound enthusiasm to work: She and her husband own a business selling eco-friendly flooring, and she holds a master’s degree in environmental science and policy from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. Her thesis examined changes in civic engagement with environmental issues among a group of college students after they spent two weeks studying ecosystems in Costa Rica.

She plans to do doctoral research in environmental citizenship while specializing in ESP, but will include a focus on animals, since she’s also specializing in animal studies.

Jennifer said the dual specialization is well-suited to her broad interests, and that she’s excited to work with ESPP director Thomas Dietz and with sociology professor Linda Kalof, who runs the animal studies specialization.

“I really did come here to study under Tom and Linda, because their work had a real effect on my research,” she said.

And it doesn’t hurt that Jennifer is “a total animal lover. Domestic, wild – it doesn’t matter.”