The F.R.E.S.H (Feminist Research in Eco-Social-Hydro) Water Relations Lab is an in-the-flesh and virtual space for research in rivers, coasts, and oceans. Collectively, we work to ground research in community goals, practice accountability to our collaborators and colleagues, and confront structural racism, settler colonialism, and cisheterosexism in the university and other institutions where we work. We take a feminist approach* to organizing the lab’s collective work, and welcome short and long-term visitors who share our interests. In our biweekly meetings, lab members present work at any stage—from napkin doodles to manuscript revisions—and critique and contribute to one another’s projects.

*For example, we rotate facilitation; use anarchist strategies like “progressive stack” to generate lively, respectful discussion; and help one another bring our full selves to our work through reflexive discussion and writing.

Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, our PI, studies rivers—their Indigenous governance, multispecies relations, politics, and surface and subsurface flows. His ongoing collaborations with Native nations and grassroots organizations center Indigenous and land-based knowledges about salmon and water in the context of river restoration science and management.

Our lab is collaborative and self-reflective. Our lab is a great place to practice and improve at any stage of an idea or project. We take time to develop skills and increase familiarity with other academic conversations including methodologies and other critical analyses. Our topics are broad, from community education to ecological restoration. We solicit feedback from one another to then report back on during the following meeting.


Cleo Woelfle-Erskine

I am a queer, trans, and undisciplined scholar of rivers and their multispecies communities. Growing out of several decades of work in community-based river and water justice work, I work across fields of ecology, feminist science and technology studies (STS), geography, and queer and trans theory. Read more.

Current Lab Members

Jenny Liou, MMA student

Jenny Liou is a Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center Fellow and a master’s student in the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. She works at the intersection of ecology, critical physical geography, and history/philosophy/literature of science. Her current projects include working with the Quartz Valley Indian Community to plan for salmon restoration/conservation strategies in the context of climate change, and theorizing the dialectics of immigrant and Indigenous ecologies.

Sam KLEIN, MMA student

I am a master’s candidate in the UW’s School of Marine Environmental Affairs. I am interested in studying human interactions with coastal ecosystems and the restoration of these dynamic habitats. I am currently working on a project monitoring the effectiveness of artificial floating wetlands as a restoration technique in the industrialized Duwamish River.

James Lee, MMA student

(he/him) I am a past Washington Sea Grant Science Communications Fellow and a master’s candidate in UW’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. I’m passionate about nearshore restoration work for the value it brings to ecosystems and the connections it fosters between people and their shorelines. I work with FRESH Lab colleagues to gauge the efficacy and feasibility of living shorelines techniques for restoration of the lower Duwamish River. I am also part of a team investigating changes in eelgrass gene expression post-disease exposure.

George Thomas, Jr., MMA student

(he/him) I’m a master’s candidate in UW’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, working with colleagues and community scientists on projects focusing on improving water quality and enhancing salmon habitat in the industrialized lower Duwamish River. I also am a contributing writer and editor on SMEA’s student blog, Currents, which is dedicated to sharing timely and relevant discussions of pressing environmental issues. My primary areas of concern are salmon habitat restoration and communicating new research addressing the climate emergency.

Past Lab Members

Charlotte Dohrn, MMA 2020

Charlotte is an interdisciplinary researcher interested in bridging science and policy to support implementation of projects that build resilience in coastal ecological and social systems. As a past fellow with the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, she is collaborated with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund to understand habitat suitability for restoring native oysters in the Salish Sea.

Debbie Rose, MMA 2020

(she/her) My research looks at the potential siting of beaver dams or beaver dam analogs as a restoration strategy in the Scott River watershed in California. I also look at the implications of such projects on water storage and summer low flows under multiple climate change scenarios and evaluate the capabilities of restoration projects to offset climate impacts for humans and salmon in the region.  I hope to apply what I learn about salmon restoration and climate resiliency in California to local projects in the greater Puget Sound area.

Ashley Bagley, MMA 2019

Ashley graduated from the University of Washington in 2019 with a Master’s of Marine Affairs and a Graduate Certificate in Climate Science. In graduate school, Ashley examined how engineered logjams can be used as a mitigation tool to create suitable freshwater salmon habitat in the face of a changing climate. Ashley was a past Washington Sea Grant Hershman Fellow with Long Live the Kings, a local non-profit focused on salmon and steelhead recovery throughout the Salish Sea.

Emily Casaretto, MMA 2019

Emily centers her work around how people, particularly children, form meaningful relationships to the ocean and how such insights can be applied to marine science education. For her SMEA master’s thesis, she explored the gendered depictions of marine animals in historic children’s literature. Emily currently lives and works in Santa Cruz, CA.

Want to work with us?