The Lab

Will Rice University of Montana

Dr. Will Rice

Lab Director

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

M.S. Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, Penn 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 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.

Learn more about Will's work here.

Elena Thomas

M.S. Student

B.A. Anthropology and Religion, University of Florida

Elena joins the Wildland and Recreation Management Research Lab as an M.S. Candidate in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management. Elena earned a B.A. in Anthropology and Religion in 2013 from the University of Florida. Since then, she has worked across the Western U.S. in a variety of positions including a trail crew stint with the U.S. Forest Service in Bigfork, Montana, an Archaeological Technician both in Oregon with the U.S. Forest Service and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park, and, most recently, two seasons as a Wilderness Ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Her research interests include public land and protected area management, visitor demand of recreational ecosystem services, and place attachment/place bonding. In her free time, Elena enjoys climbing, biking, skiing, cooking, learning new crafts, and planning trips abroad!

Peter Whitney

M.S. Student

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

Peter joins the Wildland and Recreation Management Research Lab as an M.S. Candidate in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management. Hailing from Chicago, Peter’s love for outdoor recreation, ecology and public lands grew from time spent in small, urban patches of remnant natural communities. Inspired by ecological restoration projects in his hometown, Peter completed his B.S. in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources with a minor in Horticulture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While completing his undergraduate degree and in subsequent jobs, Peter has had the opportunity to balance his contributions to social science research projects with hands-on land management experience. He's especially interested in advancing the role of recreational ecosystem services in public space planning and management, and exploring solutions that balance visitor use with natural resource conservation. When he's not on campus, you can find Peter enjoying Montana's public lands while biking, botanizing, skiing, or engaged in unending games of frisbee with his border collie, Flora.

Lane Arthur

Undergraduate Student

B.S. (in progress) Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management and Wildlife Biology, University of Montana

Lane is from Custer, South Dakota. He is a senior at the University of Montana, pursuing a double Bachelors of Science in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management as well as Wildlife Biology. His research interests include wildlife-human interactions, nature and wildlife education, nature-based stewardship, and more. After graduating, he hopes to get a Master’s degree and open a non-profit focused on wildlife rehabilitation and education. His previous experiences working in the outdoor field include working for the U.S. Forest Service, the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, the University of Montana’s Wildlife Cooperative, and other outdoor companies including campgrounds and the Custer State Park Resorts. Some of Lane's hobbies include getting outdoors whenever possible, meeting new people through joining university clubs like the Wildlife Society, reading, spending time with friends and family, volunteering in the community, and more. He is passionate about being a steward of our wild places!


Lab Mascot

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.

She is a very good girl.