December 7, 2016

Faculty and Staff


Faculty Director


Indy Burke, PhD | Ingrid C. “Indy” Burke is the Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean at the Yale School of the Environment (YSE), an internationally recognized professional school that trains tomorrow’s environmental leaders and creates new knowledge to sustain and restore the long-term health of the planet and the wellbeing of its people.

Dr. Burke is an ecosystem ecologist whose research has focused on carbon and nitrogen cycling in semi-arid rangeland ecosystems. Her work with graduate students, postdoctoral associates, and colleagues has addressed the influence of land use management, climatic variability, and regional variability on these systems. She teaches in the fields of environmental science, ecosystem ecology, and biogeochemistry.

A respected educator and intellectual leader in the U.S. and internationally, she is particularly interested in fostering interdisciplinary scholarship. She came to YSE in 2016 from the University of Wyoming, where she was the dean of the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, one of the leading institutions in the western U.S. for research, teaching, and outreach on natural resource issues.


Program Staff


Michelle Downey, MS – Program Director | Michelle provides direction and leadership to support UHPSI’s philosophy and mission, which includes collaborating with state, federal, and non-governmental partners to address critical conservation issues affecting the people and agencies of the West. In this role, Michelle connects students to applied research and management projects with partners in western states and provides mentorship to facilitate student knowledge and skills in natural resource management of forests and rangelands on public and private lands. Michelle also expands the UHPSI influence by developing new partnerships across the West and the Yale School of the Environment. Prior to her arrival at UHPSI, Michelle worked for about 10 years in the West as a rangeland and wildlife ecologist addressing a variety issues such as wildlife translocation, Farm Bill programing, and environmental monitoring. Michelle’s prior work in wildlife research and conservation afforded her the opportunity to work in 7 states across a diversity of ecosystems, wildlife species, and organizations. She obtained her B.S. in Biology with a focus in Ecology, Biodiversity, and Evolutionary Biology at Central Connecticut State University and a M.S in Range and Wildlife Management at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. In her free time, Michelle can be found hiking, camping, running, and spending time with family; and her dog Penny joins for all of these. Please email at or call her at 860-805-0309. 


In Memoriam: Founder & Advisor


raymond_pRaymond Plank – Entrepreneur, Visionary, and Skeet Shooter | UHPSI is the brainchild of Raymond Plank, Apache Corporation Founder and Chairman Emeritus. Through his life in the West, Raymond established a very personal connection to the landscape around him. This connection has manifested itself in many ways over the years, most notably in the acquisition of the Ucross Ranch, development of the Ucross Foundation and its artist residency program on the Ranch, and innovative Ranch management. The Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative is the newest manifestation of Raymond’s interest in, and affinity for the West, made possible only through his high-level vision and philanthropy.