Tatiana Iretskaia, PhD

Tatiana Iretskaia

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STPAM - Nature-based tourism, wildlife tourism, marine protected areas
Department of Community Sustainability


Hometown: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Advisor: Dan McCole and Bess Perry

I came to MSU with 15 years of experience in field biology, trip leading and cross-cultural communication and facilitation. I grew up bilingual in Russian and French and later learnt Spanish and English to fluency. I hold separate Masters Degrees in Environmental Sciences, International Management and Regional Development.

I have traveled to over 75 countries, and conducted conservation-related or guiding field work on all continents except Antarctica. It is this personal history filled with awe-inspiring ‘wow’ moments and encounters outdoors that serves as constant ‘fuel’ to my research program.

My time at MSU is divided between teaching and research. Teaching-wise, I work with Dr. Amber Peters and am the co-instructor for IBIO 353 (Marine Biology) and BS 162 (Organismal and Population Biology). I have also sole-taught CSUS 273 (Introduction to Travel and Tourism) - as the recipient of the Kerr award for Excellence in Scholarship. In the summer of 2023 I co-led one of MSU’s Study Abroad to South Africa and Mozambique – in Marine Ecology and Conservation. I was also a fellow of two of MSU’s teaching cohort programs – FAST (Future Academic Scholar in Teaching) and IIT (Interdisciplinary Inquiry in Teaching).

In my first two years I conducted research with Dr. McCole and Dr. Perry, and we have co-authored publications on COVID-19 messaging in state parks, on park design and on park and recreation indicators and thresholds. Independently, I have published two book reviews, and have a book chapter on mountaineering currently in review.

My current research interests revolve around nature-based tourism, transformative awe-filled travel experiences and the role of photography in tourism. Having past my comprehensive examinations in September 2023, I am now looking forward to delving properly into my ‘big’ project – one on the sense of awe coming from wildlife encounters.

Last but not least, I am honored to be the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, most notably the MSU’s Academic Achievement Graduate Assistantship, the C.S. Mott Predoctoral Fellowship Award, the Mouser Scholarship in Conservation and Environmental Education and the Sherman Scholarship in Recreation and Tourism Systems.