Nigel Golden was just awarded a prestigious Switzer Fellowship, whose mission is to identify and nurture environmental leaders who have the ability and determination to make a significant positive impact. He was 1 of 10 awarded out of an applicant pool of 125.


Nigel Golden, a PhD candidate in Environmental Conservation is from Milwaukee, WI. He received his Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Biology from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, where he cultivated his passion for conducting research in environmental conservation, and the importance of doing this work in conjunction with social justice issues.

As an Arctic ecologist, Nigel’s dissertation research is focused on investigating how significant landscape changes and rapid warming will affect Arctic ground squirrels (Urocitellus parryii), a keystone species in Denali National Park, AK. Nigel uses geospatial analysis, species distribution modeling, occupancy modeling, and population and landscape genetGolden_portraitics techniques to understand Arctic ground squirrels vulnerability to climate change. He wants to use his research to develop practical guidance for resource managers in Alaska to sustainability monitor the species and to be able to detect changes in their populations in the future. His work has been featured on National Geographic and BBC News.

Nigel believes that his leadership experiences on the UMass Amherst campus through community organizing, research, teaching, and advocacy work helped him to stand out and qualify for the 2019 Switzer Fellowship. He is most proud of the work that BRiDGE has accomplished through increasing the representation and visibility of early career scientists from underrepresented groups in departmental lecture series. His hope is for more departments on campus to participate in BRiDGE and help to cultivate an atmosphere of trust and transparency by explicitly engaging and holding accountable the ongoing system of ideas and practices that exclude, delegitimize, and discredit the scholarship and narratives from underrepresented groups in STEM.

Nigel has this to say about his fellowship “Firstly, I’m grateful for my mentors on campus, who made themselves accessible and helped me to create a strong application. I look forward to joining the Switzer Fellowship Network. So much of the work that I’m doing and will continue to, emerges from collaborations and conversations that I have with my peers and friends who inspire me. We’ve been able to  organize, collectively manifest, and advance a vision for diversity and inclusivity on campus. It is my belief that some of the most radical and transformative changes that we’ve witnessed in society (especially in regards to conservation) is borne out of collaboration. I think being in fellowship with this group will continue to allow me to keep orbiting, rotating, and expanding my capacity to become increasingly engaged in addressing climate change and all of it’s interconnected issues.