Our interdisciplinary team of environmental science and ecological design experts examine problems from multiple perspectives. We create individualized solutions tailored to each of our clients’ specific needs. Great Ecology’s staff members are trained in ecology, hydrology, planning, environmental sciences, landscape architecture, and ecological design. Our field staff are OSHA-certified to conduct work on hazardous sites.
Mark S. Laska, Ph.D. – President & Founder
Dr. Mark Laska is the Founder and President of Great Ecology. He has over 25 years of experience as an ecologist, focusing on wetland and habitat restoration, habitat and species assessments, ecological planning and design, and Natural Resource Damage (NRD) Assessments and Planning. His work in ecological restoration involves the planning, design, evaluation, permitting, and management of restoration projects. The author of more than a dozen scientific papers, Dr. Laska has developed a niche practice at the intersection of business and science with significant focus on environmental credit trading of habitat restoration projects. Dr. Laska holds a Doctorate in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University.
Timothy Hoelzle, M.S. – VP Technical Services
Timothy Hoelzle specializes in the repair of degraded ecosystems, with particular focus in the reclamation of lands disturbed by mining and energy extraction. His expertise also includes invasive species management, and wetland habitat restoration. Timothy is active in regional habitat restoration initiatives and is on the Board of the Central Rockies Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration. He holds a Master’s degree in Rangeland Ecosystem Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Restoration Ecology from Colorado State University.
Nick Buhbe, M.S. – Director of Ecology
Nick Buhbe has 18 years of experience, specializing in sediment testing, ecological health assessments of various biological communities, water quality studies, preparation of environmental planning compliance documents, and freshwater wetland-related project work. His portfolio includes physical, chemical, and biological evaluations of sediments in three major southern California harbors, as well as ports across the Pacific. He is well versed in the Clean Water Act and the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act. His extensive knowledge of the marine environment has been instrumental in informing environmental planning, National Environmental Policy Act compliance, and California Environmental Policy Act documents. He holds a Master’s degree in Biology and a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology.
Linda B. Gumeny, RLA – Director of Design
Throughout Linda Gumeny’s 30-year career she has worked on a wide variety of public and private sector projects ranging from large-scale master planning to small-scale site design. She has served as both project director in the prime consultant role, and project landscape architect in a sub-consultant role for complex, multi-disciplined projects. Her work is focused on developing sustainable design solutions for parks, open space, residential, commercial and institutional developments. Linda holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from Cornell University, and is a licensed landscape architect in NY, NJ, & CT. She is also a LEED AP-ND, accredited professional in neighborhood development.
Ecologists & Environmental Scientists
David J. Yozzo, Ph.D. – Senior Ecologist
Dr. Dave Yozzo is an estuarine ecologist with over 20 years of experience in academics, government, and the private sector. His professional and research expertise includes community ecology of tidal and freshwater wetlands, ecosystem functional assessment, and coastal/freshwater habitat restoration. He has studied invasive species ecology in the Hudson River Estuary and Long Island Sound and has participated in the planning and evaluation of habitat restoration projects across the U.S and internationally. Dr. Yozzo is an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Sciences at Purchase College. Dr. Yozzo holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Purchase College, as well as a Master’s degree and Doctorate in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia.
Jill McGrady, Ph.D. – Associate Ecologist
Dr. Jill McGrady has over 10 years of experience in the fields of ecology and ecosystem studies. Her work focuses on restoration evaluation, planning and development of Natural Resource Damage (NRD) strategy following environmental impacts from mining, refinery, oil spill, and other contamination events. Dr. McGrady currently manages a large-scale, comprehensive restoration planning project spanning several coastal states. She has multiple publications in leading academic journals and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Allegheny College, a Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Purdue University and a Doctorate in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University.
Jessie Quinn, Ph.D. – Senior Ecologist
Dr. Jessie Quinn is an ecologist with over 15 years of experience. She has a strong background studying habitat use, developing species occurrence models, and leading multi-agency studies supporting wildlife management and habitat planning. She develops and conducts habitat and ecological risk assessments, develops standardized methodologies and novel technical tools for quantitative analysis, and oversees fieldwork protocols. Dr. Quinn specializes in Habitat Equivalency Analysis (HEA) for Natural Resource Damage Assessments (NRDA), wetland functional analysis, experimental design and analysis, and inventory and monitoring methods. Dr. Quinn holds a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology from University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as a Master’s degree and Doctorate in Ecology and Conservation from University of California, Davis.
Zachary Lehmann – Associate Ecologist
Zachary Lehmann has over six years of experience as a field biologist and GIS specialist in New York City and the surrounding wetlands. He specializes in wetland delineation, wildlife and plant inventory and monitoring, with a focus on bird and mammal species. Zachary leads Great Ecology’s team of GIS technicians, performing geospatial analysis, and constructing spatial images, maps, and graphic outputs. Most recently, Zachary used GIS analysis to model site specific sea-level rise vulnerability in the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary. Zachary holds a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation and Forestry from Unity College.
Joshua Eldridge, M.S. – Associate Ecologist
Joshua Eldridge is an ecologist with eight years of experience, including five years as an ecological consultant. He specializes in the management, development, and evaluation of habitat restoration and ecological research projects. His extensive portfolio includes more than 80 reclamation or rangeland monitoring projects across the Western U.S. and Australia. He assessed disturbed riparian and upland systems, performed erosional soil stability modeling, mine land reclamation, evaluated acid rock drainage, surveyed rare or endangered species, and sampled surface and ground water. Joshua is skilled in the principles of restoration ecology, quantitative assessments, statistical analysis, and technical writing. He received both his Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree from Colorado State University in Restoration Ecology with a minor in Watershed Science.
Rick Black, M.S. – Senior Ecologist
Rick Black has more than 25 years of management and technical experience in ecological research and environmental consulting. Rick has successfully developed and applied innovative biological and ecological indices to evaluate impacts to terrestrial systems from private and public development projects. His policy experience focuses on Section 7 consultation, Status of the Species, Multiple Species Wildlife Habitat Management Plans, as well as management of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents, corridor permitting, environmental assessments and wetland permitting. Additionally, Rick has focused on wetland delineations, riparian impacts analyses, vegetation community analyses, ecological risk assessments and revegetation research and analyses. He holds a Master’s degree in Rangeland Community Ecology and a Bachelor’s degree Rangeland and Wildlife Ecology from Brigham Young University.
Ioana G. Petrisor, Ph.D. – Senior Biochemist
Dr. Ioana Petrisor is a biochemist with more than 20 years of experience specializing in environmental forensics and litigation support. Dr. Petrisor has served as an expert witness in California, testifying on issues associated with environmental contamination. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the Environmental Forensics Journal and her extensive publications include an invention patent, a text book, various published book chapters, more than 70 research and review articles, as well as multiple editorials and technical guidelines. Dr. Petrisor also is an environmental forensic instructor for the Association for Environmental Health & Sciences (AEHS) Foundation and the Environmental, Outreach, & Stewardship (EOS) Alliance. She has directed and conducted innovative research projects for the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, as well as for the European Community. Dr. Petrisor has a Doctorate in Biochemistry from the Romanian Academy of Sciences and a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Bucharest University, Romania.
Alejandro Baladrón Julian, M.S. – Associate Ecologist
Alejandro Baladrón Julian is an environmental scientist specializing in hydrology. Before receiving his Certificate in Conservation Biology from Fordham University, he worked as an environmental consultant in Spain for five years. He has extensive experience performing Environmental Impact Assessments and hydrology modeling, including the design of drainage networks for highway and railway lines, the analysis of evacuation capacity in wastewater drainage systems, and flood risk studies. In addition, he has developed technical reports and cost-benefit analyses for European water supply projects, including the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) and Cohesion Fund Programs. Alejandro holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences, a Master’s degree in Applied Hydrology, and a Master’s of Advanced Studies in Environmental Sciences.
George Patten – Associate Ecologist
George Patten is an environmental scientist with experience in water quality assessments and watershed planning in Colorado. He has extensive experience assessing ecological and human health risks of contaminated soils, sediments, and groundwater. His portfolio includes field investigations and technical support to evaluate Superfund and other contaminated sites, as well as Natural Resource Damage Assessments and litigation support for environmental injuries. George also has a strong background in geospatial analysis, GIS, and other data visualization tools. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the Colorado College and a degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Ashley Tuggle, M.E.M. – Ecologist
Ashley Tuggle is an environmental scientist specializing in freshwater ecology and stormwater management. She has significant experience in water quality modeling, wetland field surveys, and land use planning in North Carolina and the Appalachian region. Ashley also has a strong technical background in geospatial analysis, GIS, and statistical analysis. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Franklin College Switzerland and a Master’s degree in Environmental Management and Certificate of Geospatial Analysis from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.
Marlene Tyner, M.E.S.M. – Ecologist
Marlene has over 6 years of experience in ecological research and environmental analysis. She specializes in GIS and spatial analysis, climate change science, species distribution modeling, land use planning, market-based conservation strategies, corporate sustainability strategic planning, and environmental law and policy. Her past work includes coastal and near-shore sedimentation modeling, responses of ecosystem processes and communities to climate change, and global habitat modeling under various climate change predictions. Marlene holds a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Kate Gazzo, M.S. – Ecologist
Kate Gazzo is an ecologist specializing in water quality issues and watershed management. Kate’s applied experience includes invasive species management, plant identification and mapping, conducting biological surveys, and wetland delineation. She has worked across the U.S. on a variety of projects for both the public and private sectors. Her portfolio includes water quality monitoring and reporting associated with agricultural contaminants in California’s central valley, Natural Resource Damage Assessment monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico, and quality control of data for an invasive species eradication project located in the northeastern United States. Kate holds a Master’s degree from the University of San Francisco in Environmental Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Biology from Florida Gulf Cost University.
Ecological Designers & Planners
Jeffrey Harlan, Esq., LEED AP – Senior Planner
Jeff Harlan has over 15 years of experience as a community planner, specializing in sustainable development, strategic planning, and environmental design. Trained as an environmental attorney, Jeff has an expert understanding of all aspects of community development, from land use planning and design to environmental analysis and open space conservation to public engagement and policy development. He also brings a unique perspective to challenging land use and regulatory problems, shaped by his experience as a deputy to an elected official, planning director for a California state land conservancy, and as a private consultant. Jeff is a LEED Accredited Professional, and holds a Bachelor’s in Design of the Environment from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Juris Doctor, with an emphasis on environmental law, from Vermont Law School.
Carl Carlson, RLA – Associate Landscape Designer
Carl Carlson is landscape architect with over eight years experience in the design and construction management of large scale landscape projects. His background covers a wide spectrum of projects from designing private estates to managing green infrastructure construction projects for the City of New York. Mr. Carlson is currently Project Manager for an $18 million tidal and freshwater wetland restoration project in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey. In addition, he has served on multiple design committees including the ASLA-NY, AIANY/ASLA-NY’s Post Sandy Initiative Waterfront Working Group, and NYC’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency through the Municipal Art Society. Carl received a Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. In addition, he holds licensure in the state of Connecticut and is a LEED Green Associate.
Erin Hathaway – Associate Designer
Erin Hathaway is an associate designer specializing in interdisciplinary communication and collaboration uniting engineering, ecology, architecture, and urban planning concepts. She excels in the visual representation and development of highly complex ideas into simple and elegant graphical solutions. Erin has an expert understanding of all phases of restoration – from permitting to construction administration. She has successfully collaborated on restoration, mitigation, and public park projects in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Kentucky, and the Gulf Coast. Erin holds a Master’s in Professional Studies in Business of Art and Design degree and a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture with a focus in Ecology and Restoration. She was recently elected to the executive committee of the Kentucky ASLA Chapter.
Charlie Howe – Associate Designer
Charlie Howe is a landscape designer and environmental scientist specializing in ecosystem restoration and site planning. Charlie excels in the graphical representation of environmental data to aid decision making for ecosystem management and land-use issues. His diverse portfolio includes design and construction of salt marshes, vernal pools, riparian and stream systems as well as agro-forestry plantings and resort planning. He is currently involved in the development of public access design and environmental education and outreach programs for a 185-acre waterfront park. Charlie is an active member of the New York Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s design guidelines team who is developing a rating system for resilient, multi-functional coastlines. Charlie received a Masters of Landscape Architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Biology, magna cum laude, from Allegheny College.
Joseph Cherichello – PLA – Associate Landscape Architect
Joe is a Certified Professional Landscape Architect in New Jersey. He has over ten years of experience in land development primarily focusing on the implementation of ecological design principles and stormwater and natural resource management. He has worked on projects ranging from small residential designs to 1600-acre passive recreation parks and has taught site engineering and construction courses in the Landscape Architecture Department at Rutgers University. Joe graduated from Rutgers with a Bachelor’s degree in Science in Environmental Planning and Design and holds a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture.
Chris Loftus, RLA, ASLA – Associate Landscape Architect
Chris is a Registered Landscape Architect with over ten years of experience working in the western United States. His past project experience includes planning and design of parks, trails, and open space; neighborhood and community master planning; innovative stormwater design solutions; urban streetscape design; and ecological restoration. He specializes in the reintroduction of highly functioning ecological systems to degraded landscapes. In close collaboration with Great Ecology’s ecologists and designers, Chris develops strategic design solutions that optimize ecological functionality and incorporate public access components. Chris holds a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture from Colorado State University. He is registered in the state of Colorado (#849) and is a CLARB Certified landscape architect. Chris is the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Colorado Chapter Vice President of Programs and is active in ASLA’s Ecology and Restoration Professional Practice Network.
Sales and Marketing
Sarah Stevens – Marketing Manager
Sarah is responsible for sales and marketing initiatives within the firm. Sarah is instrumental in communicating Great Ecology’s message to the world. Prior to joining Great Ecology, Sarah Stevens worked on integrated marketing campaigns for several large, global brands. For each brand Sarah created innovative marketing plans which were effective, efficient, and delivered ROI. In addition to a strong background in Marketing, Sarah is an experienced Sales Manager. Sarah’s strong multi-cultural background has enhanced her communication skills and contributed to her unique perspective. Sarah received a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies; with an emphasis on Economics from the University of California, San Diego.
Devin O’Dea – Marketing Coordinator
Devin O’Dea supports the marketing efforts for Great Ecology. He has an entrepreneurial background with a refined approach to modern marketing tactics. After graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara, Devin founded, patented, and marketed a bulletproof glass skateboard company. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with emphases on International Relations and Sustainable Development. Devin walks, skates, or paddles to work depending on the weather conditions.
Rachel Saldivar, M.S. – Director, Product Excellence
Rachel Saldivar is business development professional with 25 years of experience helping companies successfully market and sell solutions and services. She has worked for Fortune 500 companies as well as for a variety of small and mid-sized firms that provide information technology, engineering, heath care, and energy services to Federal, State, and commercial clients worldwide. Formerly a professor of English at the University of Maryland, Rachel designed and taught courses in Competitive Proposal Writing and Marketing Communications. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has completed all but her dissertation for a Doctorate in English Literature and a Doctor of Arts degree in Comparative Literature from Syracuse University. Rachel adds value as an excellent communicator and quality assurance specialist.
Jessa Spainhower – Operations Manager
Jessa Spainhower manages Great Ecology’s project, operations, and IT administration. She has over six years of experience as an operations and research analyst. Jessa applies her expertise in data analytics and organization to inform short-term and long-term planning and strategy. She leads the development and implementation of new information systems, infrastructure, and operational protocols and policies to support the firm’s continued growth. Jessa has a double major in Business Management and Marketing from Northwest Missouri State University.
Bojana Micic – Director of Human Resources / Office Manager
Bojana Micic oversees all matters relating to human resources within the company. She is also responsible for administrative tasks at Great Ecology’s New York Office. Bojana is responsible for managing all aspects of office organization, administrative support, and some aspects of financial operations. Bojana holds a BBA in International Business and Management.
Wendy Para – Executive Assistant / Office Manager
Wendy Para is responsible for assisting the CEO in the day to day operations of the company. In addition, she manages the San Diego office and provides administrative support. Wendy has over 10 years of experience as an Executive Assistant.
Lilia Gavrilenko, M.S. – Controller
Lilia Gavrilenko handles the daily accounting activities for Great Ecology. She has over seven years of experience in accounting and budgeting. Lilia holds Master’s degree in Mathematics and Bachelor’s in Accounting.
Rachel Bennets-Wu – Recruiter
Rachel is responsible for recruiting new talent for Great Ecology’s growing team. She has over 9 years of professional, organizational recruiting, and staffing experience. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies as well as startups to achieve their hiring goals. Rachel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication with an emphasis in Marketing from Chico State University.
Julie Nelson – Operations Assistant
Julie Nelson is responsible for supporting overall operational tasks that enable continual business performance and improvement. Previously, Julie assisted top executives with reporting and data analysis to measure productivity and increase efficiency. Julie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in finance from Salem State University.