The Lab

Will Rice University of Montana

Dr. Will Rice

Lab Director he/him

Ph.D. Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment and Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, Pennsylvania State University

M.S. Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, Pennsylvania State University

B.S. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics and Policy, Clemson University

Will is Assistant Professor of Outdoor Recreation and Wildland Management in the Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Program and Department of Society and Conservation at the University of Montana. His research seeks to provide wildland recreation managers with social science to improve the experiences of all visitors while preserving the ecosystems that support those experiences. This agenda focuses broadly on improving measurement and management of demand for recreational ecosystem services (e.g., physical, mental, and social wellbeing) in parks and protected areas. More specifically, he's interested in the personal and social outcomes demanded by wildland recreationists and developing innovative tools and measures that can be used by public land managers to ensure the sustainable attainment of these outcomes. 

Will's research has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, National Geographic, NPR's Science Friday and Planet Money, USA Today, and other international outlets. He has served as an invited lecturer in the endowed National Academy of Sciences Distinctive Voices lecture series and represented the outdoor recreation research community as an invited witness providing testimony in a 2022 congressional hearing on visitor use management in U.S. national parks.

Will previously served as a Directorate Fellow with the Alaska region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and as a trail crew member and ranger with the National Park Service in Wind Cave, Yellowstone, Cape Cod, the Missouri River, and Grand Canyon. In 2015, he became Clemson University's first recipient of the Udall Scholarship.

Learn more about Will's work here.

Sophie Morris

M.S. Student she/her

B.S. Natural Resources Management and Wildlife Biology, Texas Tech University

Growing up in a military family allowed Sophie to explore the natural spaces and varied ecosystems found across the United States. These experiences ultimately led her to earn a B.S. in Natural Resources Management and Wildlife Biology from Texas Tech University in 2022. While working on her undergraduate degree, Sophie worked on multiple field crews and led undergraduate research, contributing to her fascination with the environmental principles that play into management decisions used to keep our shared resources available for future generations. Her research interests include recreation allocations in protected areas, how recreationists influence wildlife movement, and mapping visitor use/distribution/impact. She is looking forward to bridging her knowledge of natural science with social science techniques. Outside of research, Sophie enjoys hiking and biking new spaces, identifying plants, and photography.

Sophie joins the Wildland and Recreation Management Research Lab as an M.S. Candidate in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management.

Kelsey Phillips

M.S. Student she/her

B.S. Biology, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Originally from Chicago, Kelsey earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Wisconsin– Madison, where she studied microbial ecology in north temperate bog lakes. It was there that she discovered her passion for the outdoors, and the joy that fieldwork and research can bring. After working as a microbiologist in both academic and brewery labs in Chicago and Oregon, Kelsey refocused her interest in wildland recreation and ecology and worked as a Crew Leader for the Montana Conservation Corps in Missoula. She’s particularly interested in understanding how making protected areas more accessible to more people can become sustainable in a changing environment and climate. In her free time, Kelsey can be found mountain biking, splitboarding, climbing, and backpacking all over Montana and Idaho.

Kelsey joins the Wildland and Recreation Management Research Lab as an M.S. Candidate in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management.

Miranda Foster

M.S. Student she/her

B.A. Environmental Analysis, Scripps College

Miranda is a graduate of Scripps College with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Analysis, and an emphasis on geology and environmental justice. It was during her time in Southern California that she realized the value of the interface between hard natural science and socially-focused environmental justice studies in fostering environmental advocacy. She is excited to join the lab as a student researcher in her hometown and take the next steps toward a career in public service that combines science and her passion for natural resource preservation.

Miranda joins the Wildland and Recreation Management Research Lab as an M.S. Candidate in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management.

Hayley Johnson

M.S. Student she/her

B.S. Natural Resources Conservation, Virginia Tech

Born and raised in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Hayley has developed a deep sense of comfort and belonging in the outdoors. After earning a B.S. in Natural Resources Conservation from Virginia Tech in 2020, she moved to Washington state to gain experience in leadership, community engagement, and environmental education through two service positions with AmeriCorps. In her most recent term as an AmeriCorps Interpretive Naturalist at Deception Pass State Park, she grew curious to learn more about who is (and who isn’t) visiting parks, and she is interested in researching the barriers to overall participation in outdoor recreation. Other research interests include improving equity, accessibility, and inclusivity in recreation, all while being sustainable on impacted resources. Hayley enjoys hiking, backpacking, and calling birds and trees by name, and she looks forward to exploring her new home in Montana. 

Hayley joins the Wildland and Recreation Management Research Lab as an M.S. Candidate in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management.

Julia Daniell

M.S. Student she/her

B.A. Environmental Studies and Anthropology, Amherst College

Originally from New Hampshire, Julia completed her B.A. in Environmental Studies and Anthropology at Amherst College. Following seasons in the backcountry of Ontario, New England, Washington State, and Alaska, Julia settled at Yellowstone National Park for the last few years. There she worked for the National Park Service as the Youth Conservation Corps Director, as an Education Technician, and as an Interpretive Ranger. She has also worked as a field educator for the park’s nonprofit partner, Yellowstone Forever; on the Yellowstone Wolf and Cougar Project’s winter predation study; and on the American Canid Project, a study of habituation and behavioral adaptations to a human-dominated landscape in North America. Julia is passionate about outdoor access and education as tools to foster kinship and stewardship. She is eager to bring together a background of social and biological sciences to study the impacts of recreational soundscapes on animals. In her free time, Julia can be found backpacking, skiing, climbing, and volunteering for SAR and EMS teams. 

Julia joins the Wildland and Recreation Management Research Lab as an M.S. Candidate in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management.

Lolo

Lab Mascot

Certificate in Basic Manners, Humane Society of Western Montana

Lolo was born in Browning, Montana. She eventually found herself in Missoula and joined ranks with the Wildland and Recreation Management Research Lab. Her primary research interests lie in micro-timber mechanics and transportation, predictive modeling of food-to-bowl delivery systems, and the restorative properties of abdominal massage. In her free time, Lolo enjoys hiking, eating, sunbathing, and napping—preferably in that order. Lolo obtained the title of B.A.R.K. Ranger from Curecanti National Recreation Area and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in 2022 and 2023, respectively, in recognition of her tireless commitment to Leave No Trace.

She is a very good girl.

Alumni

Elena Thomas

she/her

M.S. Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management, University of Montana 

B.A. Anthropology and Religion, University of Florida

WARM Lab member 2021-2023

Current Position: Wilderness and Recreation Data Management Specialist, U.S. Forest Service, Northern Regional Office

Peter Whitney

he/him

M.S. Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management, University of Montana 

B.S. Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

WARM Lab member 2021-2023

Current Position: Conservation Lands Program Specialist, City of Missoula Parks and Recreation

Grace Walhus

she/her

B.S. Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management, University of Montana

WARM Lab member 2022-2023

Current Position: Recreation Technician, Lolo National Forest

Lane Arthur

he/him

B.S. Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management and Wildlife Biology, University of Montana 

WARM Lab member 2020-2022

Current Position: M.S. student at Utah State University