Jane Goodall Center : History of the Jane Goodall Center


Dr. Manoj Misra is the current chair of the Jane Goodall Center. He is an Associate Professor at WCSU and teaches courses on environmental sociology, environmental justice, and critical food studies. He earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Alberta, Canada. Before joining WCSU, he was an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Development at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, Republic of Korea. He also spent time as a visiting research fellow at the “Cluster of Excellence: Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University, Germany.

Dr. Misra’s writings have won the best graduate paper awards at the American Anthropological Association and the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development. He has published research articles in top-tier academic journals including in the Journal of Agrarian Change, Agriculture and Human Values, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Climate and Development. He also regularly writes in newspapers and magazines. His research interests are agrarian change and food sovereignty, energy and environmental justice, and development dispossession in South Asia.

He is currently studying the coal-centric energy transition in South Asia and the resistance movements against such transitions.


Dr. Mitch Wagener

Dr. Mitch Wagener has been teaching ecology, climate ecology, and related courses at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury since 1996. In 2019, he received the Aquarion Environmental Champion Award, Individual Communication category. That same year Dr. Wagener received an official citation from the Connecticut General Assembly for his efforts in climate change education and community service. His research interests include the impact of historical events—such as the Industrial Revolution—on the environment.

Mitch began life in the Ozarks and attending high school in Branson, Missouri. After spending a year as an exchange student in Chiang Mai, Thailand, he attended the University of Missouri, where he completed an undergrad degree in Fisheries and Wildlife. After college he moved to Fairbanks, Alaska to attend graduate school. Mitch received a masters degree in Stream Ecology and a doctorate in Soil Ecology during his 13 years in Alaska. There too, he met the lovely Rita Kabali, a native of Uganda, East Africa, to whom he has now been married 38 years. They have two lively daughters, Rohanna 32 (a history teacher in New Haven) and Danika 24 (a nurse). They also welcomed their first grandchild, Leon, who is four years old.

Mitch enjoys—among other things—watching his grandson grow up and explaining climate change to the public.

Ph.D. Soil Ecology. August 1995. University of Alaska Fairbanks.
M.S. Stream Ecology. December, 1984. University of Alaska Fairbanks.
B.S. cum laude. Fisheries and Wildlife. May, 1981. University of Missouri, Columbia.


Dr. Laurie Weinstein is Professor Emeritus at WCSU Anthropology. Although she is retired, she still teaches for the Department and handles the Permaculture Garden logistics or everything from grant-writing to managing the student interns and networking with the food pantries in the Danbury region. The Permaculture Garden was her initiative when she was Chair of the JGC.

When she is not working at WCSU, she is writing her books about Native England (Between Two Rivers and Two Wars: Western New England in the 18th century with Dr. Lucianne Lavin, for U of Arizona Press) and managing a major series for the U of Arizona Press.

Weinstein also started the Archaeology Program and CRM minor at WCSU and she still consults with state officers, local museums, and historical societies about regional culture history. In particular, she is active with the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT.

Dr. Weinstein has a lot of pets and helps to rehab small animals up in Massachusetts where she lives.


Dr. Anna Malavisi is a philosopher, development ethicist and peace activist. She is Assistant Professor and Co-Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Humanistic Studies. She has a Ph.D in philosophy from Michigan State University.

Her philosophical interests include: social and political philosophy, global/practical ethics, environmental philosophy and feminist philosophy/epistemology. She teaches the environmentally related courses in her department such as: Environmental Philosophy, Ethics and Animals and Sustainability: Economics, Ecology and Ethics. She loves to volunteer at the JGC permaculture garden.




Dr. Howard RussockDr. Howard Russock is an Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences. He is one of the founders of the Jane Goodall Center and its served as its first Chairperson.

He has published over 15 articles in the field of Animal Behavior. He served two terms as President of the University Senate, was elected the first University Ombudsman, and served two terms as Chairperson of the Department of Biological Sciences.





picture of Dr. Robert WhittemoreDr. Robert Whittemore earned his Ph.D. at the University of California in Los Angeles. After serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer and teacher and educational director for a child development center in Massachusetts, he did ethnographic fieldwork among the Mandinka people of the Casamance region of the Republic of Senegal. He also worked in urban Los Angeles with the developmentally disabled. As an associate of the Institute for Writing & Thinking at Bard College, Whittemore, in his classes at Western, explores the relationship between writing and thought, underscoring the importance of developing the kind of ethnographic sensibility essential to global citizenship. His wife, Elizabeth, who has collaborated with him on some of his research and writing, is a poet, playwright and novelist. Their eldest daughter, Miranda, is a novelist and their youngest, Vanessa Kai, is a filmmaker. Dr. Whittemore is also the faculty sponsor of the Roots and Shoots Student Club.


Dr. Reynolds working in the gardenDr. Hannah Reynolds graduated from the University of Kansas in 2004 with a B.S. in Organismal Biology. She performed research in France on a Fulbright Scholarship after graduating, then earned a Ph.D. in Biology from Duke University (2011). She completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Akron and The Ohio State University. Her area of research fungal ecology and evolution.  Dr. Reynolds joined the faculty at WCSU in 2017.




Dr. Daryle Brown, Professor of Nursing, joined the Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) Nursing department full-time fall 2003 as an Associate Professor.  Dr. Brown received her BSN from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.  She received her M.A., M.Ed. and Ed.D. from Teachers College Columbia University with a major in nursing education/ medical-surgical nursing/ adult health/ professorial role.  She came to WCSU after 23 years of teaching nursing at a private, suburban university where she held various positions as a full-time faculty member, including teaching in associate (AD), baccalaureate (BSN) and combined degree (CDP) nursing programs; serving as chair of the AD nursing program; and, as Associate Dean of the department of undergraduate nursing.  Dr. Brown currently teaches medical-surgical nursing and mathematics for medication administration.

Christina DiCarro is Digital Services Librarian at Western Connecticut State University where she maintains the library website, electronic resources, library services platform, and is the liaison librarian to the sciences. She received her BA in English with a minor in Secondary Education and her MLS from the University of North Texas. She believes in the importance of UX, instructional design, and the future of librarianship, but is also known for her uncanny ability to work the topics of professional wrestling, cats, or food into any conversation.

This love of food and cooking led her into the garden where her interests have expanded to exploration of permaculture, self-sufficiency, and herbalism. She has volunteered with the Jane Goodall Center since Fall 2018.


Ashley Kenney, Garden ConsultantAshley Kenney is a multi-faceted consultant who works within the agricultural, nonprofit, and equestrian sectors. She has a decade of experience in produce management, food justice education, and sustainability. As the Garden Manager and Sustainability Coordinator at Grace Farms in New Canaan, Connecticut, she led the Living Sustainably and Growing Community programs and helped put together the Regional Convening for Sustainable Development in 2018.

Prior to Grace Farms, she managed the Jane Goodall Permaculture Garden at Western Connecticut State University and led the four-part female farmer lecture series “Farm for Yourself.” From 2017-2021 Ashley worked as the Winter Conference Coordinator for CT NOFA (the Northeast Organic Farming Association) and is currently the Head Coach for the Fairfield University Equestrian Team. She and her husband operate Little Spring Farm, a small permaculture homestead, on their property that offers consulting and a yearly CSA.


Picture of Rosemary SiguenciaRosemary Siguencia is our new Garden Manager. She is a Freshman majoring in Studio Arts with a minor in Psychology. Rosemary is an enthusiastic gardener and describes herself as a creative thinker, respectful, responsible, and optimistic. Her love of nature and passion for helping maintain a clean environment has motivated her to become our Garden Manager.  She believes gardening is one way to appreciate the beauty of nature and she hopes to share that with others and to encourage others to take care of our planet.





Aakanksha Koppiseti is our former garden manager.  She is an Kathwari Honor’s student in JLA program and a Student Government Association Senator.  She remains an active member of the Roots and Shoots’ Student Club on campus.





Jacob Nicolari and Claire Eastwood are garden interns for the 2021-2022 year.  Jacob is the current President of the Roots and Shoots Student Club.