Graduate Student Bios

Third Year Graduate Students


Keni Althouse

Keni received her BS in Residential Landscape Design and Construction from Utah State University in 2013. With a passion for learning, she decided to continue her education in Landscape Architecture. During her undergraduate she had the opportunity to work for the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy Garden Park giving tours to visitors and teaching the community about principles of water-wise design and maintenance. Keni currently works for the GreenHouse Inc. in Logan which gives her a great opportunity to design for customers and keep up on plant knowledge. She is very excited to start her MLA and apply her knowledge of residential design to the larger scale.

Lynda Draper

Lynda grew up in Minnesota, where she learned to love and have fun in the great outdoors. She received a BS in Recreation Management with a minor in Business Administration at BYU-Provo. After working in the recreation field for a few years -- planning mud runs, organizing vendors for festivals, and helping run a water park -- she realized the importance of the landscape to successful outdoor recreation. Lynda is looking forward to applying her experiences to design landscapes that better facilitate recreation activities.

Tanya Rice

Tanya received a BS from California State University, Long Beach in Health Science and secondary education. After college, she traveled around the world before settling down in her first career as an environmental consultant.  Her inherent vision for designing functional and esthetically pleasing living spaces, love for travel and the outdoors, and the appreciation for diversity of other cultures have been her inspiration to pursue a degree in Landscape Architecture. Her current interests pertain to the healthcare and corporate settings, exploring the benefits of healing gardens and outdoor work spaces and examining how these environments can help improve productivity and promote healing and overall wellness.


Jennifer Wiseman

Jennifer has been involved with the green industry for the past nine years, working various positions from horticultural technician, to residential landscaping, to working as an assistant for both the Horticulture Director and the Curator at Red Butte Garden. She graduated from Utah State University with her Bachelor of Science in Ornamental Horticulture in 2009. She looks forward to utilizing her education and experience gained in this program to create sustainable urban designs along with open space planning and restoration.

 Second Year Graduate Students

Shuolie Chen

Shuolei is from China, graduating from the Nanjing Forestry University in 2014, with a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture. While at the university she was Vice President of the Student Union and did a summer internship designing a local urban park. Her greatest desire was to study in the United States and she is very happy that she can further her education in USU as an MLA.

Susie Gomez

Susie graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture in May of 2015. Originally pursuing Architecture, she realized she likes to think outside of the box. She enjoyed learning about landscape architecture history and the possibilities for its future through the various design workshops she participated in while attending Washington State University. She is excited to learn more while attending Utah State University.

Wayne Honaker

Wayne received a BS in Business Management from Brigham Young University – Idaho in 2010. While there, he discovered Landscape Architecture and took a variety of courses in landscape design/ horticulture.   Wayne has spent several years in the landscaping industry, working as a landscaping crewman in Idaho and, more recently, as a crew foreman in Tallahassee, Florida. In this work, Wayne has greatly enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing a space transform from one thing into something better. He is excited to be “back in the west” at USU, to increase his knowledge and abilities in Landscape Architecture, and to further explore the many facets and intricacies of the profession.

Logan Oates

Logan received his undergraduate in Landscape Management at BYU. He has worked in the landscape construction industry managing and building projects including LDS temples, UTA Trax, Primary Children’s Hospital, and the Huntsman Cancer Center. He also worked as a water manager in the San Francisco Bay area managing central control systems. He is excited to increase his education at Utah State and apply his experiences as a designer. He comes with his wife Krista. Their hobbies include biking, hiking, camping, and athletics.


First Year Graduate Students

Courtney Fernelius

Courtney graduated from BYU-Idaho with a BS in Recreation Management.  Originally from Pennsylvania, she has fallen in love with the rugged landscape of the west that provides amazing recreational opportunities like mountain biking, rock climbing, canyoneering, and mountaineering.  She has experience operating two different Ropes Courses, and has recently completed a seasonal position working at the City of Rocks National Reserve as a Natural Resource Technician.  Passionate about the outdoors and the benefits one can receive from recreating in it, Courtney is excited to apply her experiences to designing trails and parks for others to enjoy!

Yana Neely

Yana was raised in Montana and grew up around Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Being surrounded by diverse and unique ecosystems, has given her a deep love for nature and an enjoyment for year-round outdoor recreation. She is passionate about design and found that landscape architecture is a career that encompasses her many interests. Yana graduated from Montana State University with a BS in Environmental Horticulture in 2010. She has experience in the landscape field including residential design work in Montana and Florida. A close friend that has since past has motivated Yana to forsake all inhibition and pursue her dreams of higher education. She has a strong desire to make a difference in the quality of life through aesthetically pleasing, safe environments for others and generations to come.

Mary Oliver

During Mary Oliver’s undergraduate studies, she used her love of art and music to earn a BFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah. While furthering her studies at Utah State University, she received a Certificate in Ornamental Horticulture. Mary spent time in the summer working for Jordan Valley Conservation Garden where she worked on landscape maintenance and led educational tours. This work focused on one of Mary’s key interests, water-wise design. Mary has since continued nurturing her passion for plants and water-wise design while working at Grow Wild Native Plants Nursery and Cactus and Tropicals. She is continuing her study of sustainable outdoor spaces by pursuing a joint MLA/Bioregional Planning degree at Utah State University.

Matthew Starley

Matthew Graduated with a BA in Spanish with a Commercial Emphasis from Weber State University in 2011. After graduation he enjoyed working in the outdoors industry, selling primarily backpacking gear for various local companies. Prior to and during college he worked in landscape maintenance, installation, and design, and has continued his passion for landscape design since graduation. Matthew believes that it is possible to confront many of the social, environmental, and economic issues facing local communities by reevaluating prevailing attitudes and goals regarding landscape management in urban and suburban communities. He believes that good design is the clearest form of communication and is looking forward to the opportunity to refine his ideas and design skills at Utah State University.

Ryan Stauffer

Ryan graduated from the University of Utah with a BS in Biology and minor in chemistry.  He's worked as a landscaper for over 10 years in Cache County, UT and surrounding areas.  During that time he acquired a love for design, especially water features.  His degree gave him an appreciation for the environment and sustainability which led him to pursue an MLA at USU.  He hopes to utilize his experience and education towards a professional career as a landscape architect in the future.

Wenbin Xu

Wenbin is from China but transferred to Utah State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics. However, as she continued her education, she realized that she receives most fulfillment in the process of designing. She also loves nature and travel so she decided to pursue a higher degree in landscape architecture. She was encouraged to see progress when she began doing what she loves. So far she has enjoyed working outdoors, testing water quality, and learning about water systems in a wetlands class.

BioRegional Planning Students

Scott McComb

Scott completed his undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, graduating with a BA in Geography and a certificate in Urban Planning. Afterwards, he pursued his interest in conservation work and outdoor recreation, leading him to the mountain west. Stints with the Utah Conservation Corps, Salt Lake City Open Spaces, and Cache County Weed Department, opened him up to the practices of local conservation and restoration programs. He hopes to build on those experiences at Utah State University by exploring planning as a tool for the sustainable management of lands and to promote environmental stewardship. Away from the classroom you’ll find him exploring the deserts, mountains, and valleys of the west. 

Emmet Pruss

Emmet graduated from the University of Michigan in 2012 with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Environmental Studies. An outdoors enthusiast, Emmet made sustainability and stewardship two of the main focuses of his undergraduate education. Since leaving Michigan, he has worked as a naturalist in the White Mountains in NH and on the Appalachian Trail in NJ, led a trail crew that worked on the Pacific Crest Trail in CA, completed an AmeriCorps program in the Berkshires of MA, and volunteered for three months on an organic farm in Ecuador. With his work at Utah State University, Emmet hopes to develop and expand the experiences he has had in the field by augmenting them with his passions for writing and research. He plans to pursue a career in planning and resource management, so that he may continue to contribute to the interests that have been so influential to him already.

Connor White

Connor  spent most of his life just outside of Buffalo, New York. He earned a BA in Environmental Design and a minor in Architecture from the University at Buffalo in May 2015. He has worked for the City of Buffalo on three different projects for different clients within the city. Two of which were to create floor plans for buildings and the other was to create Urban design ideas for portions of a street. A Bioregional planning degree will further the interests I developed while working on those projects.