Jennifer Lai

Graduate Student, Michigan State University

Recent Work

Sojourner Truth Academy Graphic Design

Sandbox Center Website Mockup



Computer and Design

OPERATING SYSTEMS: Windows, Macintosh. APPLICATIONS: AutoCAD; ArcGIS; Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) developed by the National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory; Microsoft Office Suite: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Access; Adobe Creative Suite: Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator.


Aug 2014 - Present


MIchigan State University

First-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology, with a focus on Environmental Sociology. Research interests include: Water access, water policy, indigenous land and water rights, environmental and water justice, statistical modeling, science communications.

Aug 2006 - Dec 2010

Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Purdue University

Selected Coursework

Sustainable Water Management in Jericho City: Harvesting and Treating Water Using a GIS Runoff Tool and Cost-Benefit Analysis of PV-RO Desalination Systems

  • Coordinated with partners in the Palestinian Hydrology Group to assess current water infrastructure by building a GIS database
  • Determined optimal locations for water harvesting by designing a modeling tool to calculate surface runoff
  • Evaluated desalination technologies and identified the MMP-TRK 9 treatment system from Millennium KI would be best applied to enhance water quality in Jericho City
  • Produced poster for URPS submission and received Second Place award 

Group Paper: The Headwaters of the Nile, Downstream Impacts and Water Laws

  • Investigated headwater regions and how land use and population trends impact water quantity and quality of downstream users
  • Made projections regarding water consumption and availability for headwater regions into 2050 given current conditions
  • Reviewed environmental concerns regarding Egypt’s intensive agriculture and postulated repercussions if the fresh water supply of the Nile is compromised

Selected Courses

Water Resources Sustainability, Environmental Hydrology, Environmental Engineering, Soil and Water Resources, Soil Science, Plants and Civilization, Design of Machine Components, Hydraulic Control Systems, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Design

Awards and Publications

2010 URPS Engineering Student Council Choice Award Second Place

Placed second for The Water Skirmish: Identifying Stakeholders While Using Optimal Water Allocation Models to Resolve Conflicts in Jericho City at the Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium while competing against 200 entries; also received monetary prize of one hundred dollars. Presented poster to distinguished faculty and alumni at the Dean’s Leadership Council and on Alumni Day at the School of Agricultural and Biological Engineering; the poster was also presented to our partners at the Palestinian Hydrology Group in Jericho City, West Bank.

What Can Stop It? 2006 New Voices Anthology

Publication of short story in 2006 New Voices Anthology, printed by Bemidji State University; out of 1000 submissions, approximately 70 pieces are published. Read winning entry during reception at the American Indian Resource Center on the BSU campus.

Work History

Work History
Jan 2015 - Present

Research Assistant

Michigan State University

Research assistant for Water Users Decision Support System (DSS) development in conjunction with the Institute of Water Research, supported by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Conducting qualitative fieldwork on water conservation coalitions in Southwest Michigan. Collaborating with IWR research staff to inform model parameters for DSS user interface.

Aug 2014 - Dec 2014

Teaching Assistant

Michigan State University

Teaching assistant for Integrative Studies in Social Science 210:3 for Fall 2014. Attended and took notes during lectures. Proctored quizzes and exams. Graded assignments and recorded grades using online gradebook. Held office hours. Interfaced with students via email and in-person appointments. Prepared two guest lectures, including topics on race and ethnicity, and solutions to social problems.

Oct 2013 - Jul 2014

AmeriCorps Promise Fellow

Sojourner Truth Academy

Provide individual tutoring, curriculum building, and data tracking to selected group of students who struggle with academic/behavioral issues in 6th and 7th grade. Connect youth with academic support and interventions through adult mentorship, afterschool programming, leadership opportunities, and exploration of personal interests. Track progress of youth based on indicators of attendance, behavior, and course performance. Develop and facilitate pre-K to 8th grade service-learning projects, professional development opportunities, and North Achievement Zone (NAZ) activities.

May 2013 - Oct 2013

Water Conservation Officer

City of Woodbury

Issue watering violation citations. Review watering schedule variance requests and assist utility division personnel and public works support staff in recording assigned watering schedules and update contact information. Answer general questions from the public about water conservation and lawn watering regulations. Review and document watering permit requests. Prepare reports, maps, correspondence and notices associated with the water conservation program. Assist in the preparation of City of Woodbury informational materials. Maintain Microsoft Access database for conservation program and enforcement activities. Perform and document field inspections of miscellaneous components of the water conservation plan. Attend administrative hearings. Update and distribute weekly, monthly and annual Watering Citation Reports.

May 2013 - Oct 2013

Water Conservation Officer

City of Woodbury

Issue watering violation citations. Review watering schedule variance requests and assist utility division personnel and public works support staff in recording assigned watering schedules and update contact information. Answer general questions from the public about water conservation and lawn watering regulations. Review and document watering permit requests. Prepare reports, maps, correspondence and notices associated with the water conservation program. Assist in the preparation of City of Woodbury informational materials. Maintain Microsoft Access database for conservation program and enforcement activities. Perform and document field inspections of miscellaneous components of the water conservation plan. Attend administrative hearings. Update and distribute weekly, monthly and annual Watering Citation Reports.

Oct 2012 - May 2013

Land Stewardship and Education Intern

The Aldo Leopold Foundation

Manage invasive species through basal bark treatment and prescribed burning. Manage daily operations, design soil and water conservation plans, and oversee cropland and forestland management for Leehr property in conjunction with land stewardship activities at ALF while seeking fundraising opportunities. Use ArcGIS to create farm database and create materials to support grant applications. Design print and web-based ads for promotion of the "Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for our Time" documentary film. Oversee "Green Fire" advertisement campaign for the state of Iowa through a grant funded by Humanities Iowa and National Endowment for the Humanities. Work collaboratively with a range of natural resource professionals, landowners and public officials to support the creation and integration of strategic natural resource management approaches and promotional materials for the My Wisconsin Woods project in association with the Driftless Forest Network (DFN).

Oct 2011 - Aug 2012

Engineering Technician (AmeriCorps Individual Placement)

Mason Conservation District

Developed designs, secured funds, building materials, volunteer labor, and supervised on site operations to complete the pet area construction project for the Turning Pointe Domestic Violence Services Center in downtown Shelton, Washington. Drafted construction plans and applied for the stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) permit for log stringer bridge in Jefferson County. Served as a docent for the Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail during the salmon spawning season. Other responsibilities included: Assist in field visits and provide information to help rural and urban landowners assess natural resources. Perform technical engineering work, including field surveying, field tests, engineering calculations and design drafting to develop construction plans. Assist in securing environmental permits, coordinating with contractors, and supervising construction workers. Assist in education outreach with school children and the general public with topics such as salmon migration and habitat, water quality and stormwater management. 

May 2010 - Aug 2011

Program Assistant

Minnesota Initiative on Food and Health Ethics

Designed fundraising materials for Round Table series on food, health and well-being, including the logo, invitations, business cards, and sponsorship brochures. Provided administrative support for committee meeting and Round Table events. Recorded minutes during steering committee meetings.

May 2010 - Aug 2011

Graphic Designer / Office Assistant

Caux Round Table

Oversaw design, layout and formatting of supporting materials and publications for various projects and initiatives. Designed covers for conference manuals, invitations and other promotional literature for the 2010 Global Dialogue in Beijing, China, Minnesota Round Table, and the Pegasus newsletter. Created documents and correspondences to support the work of the Global Executive Director. Coordinated mailings and organized logistics for events. Assisted with filing and database management. Performed tasks as assigned to ensure smooth office operations.

May 2009 - May 2010

Student Intern

National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory

Learned to use WEPP and combined baseline common wind/water models. Ran models and summarized runoff, soil loss and event data in Excel. Developed and tested input data sets for the baseline common wind/water erosion models. Compared model run results to original WEPP results and observed Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) data to determine Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiencies for runoff and soil loss. Collaborated on Validation of WEPP and Combined WEPP+WEPS Models with Measured Runoff and Soil Loss Data, a written report summarizing model inputs, results and efficiencies that discussed possible reasons for large differences between observed and simulated results.

Aug 2008 - May 2009

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant

Biology 110 at Purdue University

Taught students lab procedures during 2-hour laboratory sessions held twice a week. Related concepts covered during lecture and recitation to lab activities. Kept weekly attendance and proctored exams approximately twice a semester.

May 2008 - Aug 2008

Undergraduate Lab Assistant

Model Legume Undergraduate Research at University of Minnesota

Assisted in evaluating genes contributing to diversity in cell wall development to identify functional approaches to the model legume Medicago Truncatula. Assisted in analysis of gene encoding anti-microbial proteins (defensins) and their relatives for ongoing research. Acquired knowledge and basic skills to compete PCR and gene extraction. Learned basic lab protocols and lab equipment.

Jul 2004 - Aug 2005

Teaching and Administrative Assistant

Mounds View School District Summer Orchestra Program

Attended to learning needs of individual students during classroom lessons held four times a week, with two different classes taught each day. Prepared material and set up for each class session and graded paper assignments. Managed finances, data entry and other assigned office work. Tune and repaired instruments. Sorted and categorized musical scores.


Apr 2013 - Apr 2018

Private Pesticide Applicator

Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

Volunteering, Conferences, and Trainings

Graduate Employees Union | Fall 2014 - Present

Sociology Department Steward | Serves on the GEU Stewards Council, which holds monthly meetings. Serves on the Event Planning Committee, which holds weekly meetings. Designs flyers, t-shirts, and other promotional materials for GEU events. Advocates on behalf of the teaching assistants in the Department of Sociology via meeting attendance, GEU trainings, and union participation.

Natural Leaders Legacy Camp, Islandwood, Bainbridge Island, WA | August 2013

Participant | The Natural Leaders Network empowers a worldwide youth movement to reconnect children with nature. Fifty-two camp participants were chosen out of approximately 200 applicants to train in community organizing, public communication, and developing mission and action items on how to curb Nature Deficit Disorder. Millennial leaders involved in a multitude of environmental organizations were able to connect and build relationships with resources available from the Natural Leaders and Children and Nature Network, while also using state-of-the-art technology and strategies to support their projects.

Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN | June 2013

Volunteer | Team member for Collectors’ Corner Neighborhood Trading Places in Woodbury. Foster learning, research, discovery, and observation about the natural world to school-aged children. Encourage communication and self-esteem while focusing on traders’ natural interest and curiosity. Present excellent interpretive techniques as part of duties in accordance with the Science Museum of Minnesota’s mission and guiding principles.

Seventh Annual Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference, Madison, WI | April 2013

Attendee | Attended Conservation Everywhere: Sustaining Natural and Cultural Diversity to explore connections between biological diversity and human cultures and examine preservation across a range of environmental contexts: from forests and oceans to cities and farms.

MOSES Conference 2013, La Crosse, WI | February 2013

Attendee | Attended Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service conference to take courses in restoration agriculture, dialoging organic messages, team-building to support farm business, managing farm finances, and accessing credit for start-up farms. Drafted work schedule for capturing and organizing data for organic certification for Midsummer (Leehr) farm.

Leopold Education Project, Baraboo, WI | November 2012

Attendee | Received instruction on how to apply innovative, interdisciplinary, critical thinking, conservation and environmental education curriculum based on the classic writings of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold. Learned how to provide students with opportunities to increase their appreciation for the land and expand ecological awareness.

Mason County Literacy Program Adult Tutoring, Shelton, WA | Feb 2012 - Present

Volunteer | Engage in small group tutoring in Mason County that provides alternative learning environment for students. Help adults enhance their basic skills in reading, writing and math to prepare for their GED exams. Provide childcare to students with children who attend ESOL evening courses.

Understanding WA State’s Stream Habitat Restoration Guidelines, Lacey, WA | April 2012

Attendee | Gained working knowledge of stream-based processes and effective approaches to stream habitat restoration. Topics included stream processes, geomorphology, restoration strategies and techniques, and selected case studies.

Capital Land Trust Planting on Twin Rivers Ranch, Shelton, WA | Feb 2012

Volunteer | Learned proper planting methods and how to recognize native plant species such as cascara and cedar. Removed invasive species to effectively restore wetland and marine shoreline habitat for salmon and diverse bird species.

First Aid/CPR Certification, Olympia, WA | Dec 2011

Attendee | Learned to recognize and treat sudden illnesses and perform First Aid for minor injuries. Learned to recognize and care for choking, breathing, and cardiac emergencies for child and adult victims. Became familiar with using the EMS system/911.

Washington Service Corps SERVES Institute, Yakima, WA | Nov 2011

Participant | Attended and participated in five workshops related to volunteer engagement and personal development: Diversity 101; Finding a Volunteer’s Intrinsic Motivation; Effective Communication Through Emotional Intelligence; Grad School Funding; Personal and Family Disaster Preparedness; Red Cross Shelter Operations.

Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail, Shelton, WA | Oct 2011

Docent | Learned about the life cycle, anatomical features and spawning behaviors of Chum salmon at Kennedy Creek. Incorporated teaching activities to engage grade and pre-school students during hour-long tours on the trail while observing the salmon and draw conclusions on their impacts to the surrounding ecology.

Water Quality Monitoring, Shelton, WA

Teaching Assistant | Learned basic concepts of water quality testing, lab setup and site procedures. Relayed significance of testing and underlying scientific connections between results of tests and how behaviors of humans, plants and other organisms impact water during field day with elementary school students.

Minnesota Round Table Series, St. Paul, MN | Jan 2011 - Aug 2011

Graphic Designer / Event Coordinator | Designed general flyer and registration form for monthly sessions at the University Club Saint Paul, bringing business and community leaders together to discuss state-wide and national issues. Provided tech and logistical support during each session.

Minnesota Initiative on Food and Health Ethics Consortium, St. Paul, MN | Jan 2011

Graphic Designer / Event Coordinator | Designed logo and promotional materials, including invitations and business cards. Organized registration and itinerary for Together at the Table: Revaluing Food and Health for Our Future conference. Attended to logistics during round table sessions. Took and formatted minutes.

Caux Round Table 2010 Global Dialogue, Beijing, China | Oct 2010

Graphic Designer / Participant | Produced design scheme and logo for conference manual, banners, and other promotional materials incorporating title theme A Value-Based Economy for China and the World at the Bailuyuan Education Training Center. Designed registration and sponsorship forms. Attended to logistics during conference.

Society of Women Engineers 2009 Region H Conference, Indianapolis, IN | Feb 2009

Participant | Attended three-day conference and career fair at IUPUI focused on achievements of women in the engineering field and personal and professional development. Workshops included: Women and Organizational Savvy: How to Increase Your Influence and Make an Impact; Backpack to Brief Case; Environmental Issues and Reclamation; Project Management; Diversity in a Global Environment; Effective Communications.

Columbian Park Zoo EPICS Team, West Lafayette, IN | 2007

Energy Systems Analysis Consortium (ESAC) Representative | Managed physical resources to support projects for Columbian Park Zoo, an Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) team. Soldered hardware and finalized testing for deployment of animal bingo board game as an educational tool. Conceptualized lynx chaser project by conducting field research and drafting initial designs. Presented on deliverables to EPICS coordinators.