• Community Sense of Place Community Sense of Place Tourism Impacts and Second Home Development: A Sustainable Approach
  • Climate, Weather, and Tourism Climate, Weather, and Tourism Tourism destinations and their individual tourism businesses are all vying for tourists at their respective locations.
  • Engagement and Community Engagement and Community In partnership with the Office of Engagement, Innovation, and Economic Development.
  • Rural Tourism Rural Tourism Sustaining rural America is one of today's pressing issues.
  • RESET RESET Race, Ethnicity, and Social Equity in Tourism
  • US Travel Care Code US Travel Care Code The United States Travel Care Code has been developed and is managed by the Center for Sustainable Tourism.
  • RETI RETI The Renewable Energy in Tourism Initiative
  • Tourism and Entrepreneurship Tourism and Entrepreneurship Developing the local tourism industry as part of an economic development strategy.

Past Contributors
Past contributors have devoted their efforts toward Center initiatives in advancement of the mission.



Amanda "Mandy" Abbot

Research Assistant

Mandy is a native of Henderson, North Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion from Duke University in 2008 and is currently a second-year student in the Master of Public Administration program at ECU, where her areas of emphasis include state and local administration and public policy. After graduating from Duke, she interned at the John W. Pope Civitas Institute in Raleigh, where she conducted legislative and public policy research, primarily in the area of family and life issues. Upon completing her master's degree, she plans to attend law school and to pursue a career in administrative law.


Dr. Derek Alderman

Professor in Department of Geography & Center Research Fellow in Cultural and Heritage Tourism

Dr. Alderman served as a Center Research Fellow in Cultural and Heritage Tourism, taught several courses in the MS-ST program, and served as a thesis chair and committee member for several students in the program. He was extensively involved in the Center's Community Sense of Place and Race, Ethnicity, and Social Equtiy in Tourism (RESET) initiatives. His interests include assisting communities with the development and planning of cultural tourism resources, specifically those related to heritage or historical issues. As a cultural geographer, his main research interests focus on examining the relationship between the politics of place-making and tourism promotion and development, how tourist places and spaces serve as arenas for the negotiation of identity, social power, memory within communities. Much of his interest lies in analyzing the extent and nature in which the African American historical experience is incorporated into the southern landscape, particularly the commemoration of the civil rights movement and the American slave experience.  Dr. Alderman left ECU for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to serve as Chair of the Department of Geography.


Christina Alphin

Research Assistant

Christina received a B.A. in Pre-Law from N.C. Weslyan in 2003. She loves to travel and has been to places like Italy, Greece, Bahamas, Thailand, Belgium, Belize, Cozumel, Dominican Republic, Amsterdam, China, Korea, Barbados, and St. Lucia. Her was to pursue a federal career in an agency that requires travel.


Katherine Bauco

Research Assistant

Katherine received her bachelor's degree in urban and regional planning with an emphasis in coastal management from East Carolina University. She now has her master's degree in Geography, focusing on environmental planning and tourism development. Katie is an avid scuba diver. Having spent time in places like Roatan, Cozumel, and Turks and Caicos, she developed a passion for environmental conservation and cultural heritage protection.

 janna caspersen  

Janna Casperse

Geospatial Research

Janna is from Wisconsin, home of cheese curds, brats, Leinenkugels, and of course The Pack. She graduated Fall of 2010 from the University of Wisconsin- Eau Clair with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography. During her time in undergrad, she studied abroad in Chaing Mai, Thailand and participated in university sponsored trips to Honduras and the U.S. Delta South. Through these travel opportunities, Janna was immersed in various types of tourism. It was not until she began her Master in Geography at East Carolina University that she was introduced to the concepts and values of sustainable tourism, thanks to the Center for Sustainable Tourism (CST). After traveling to Cuba as part of the CST organized trip, she was so interested in learning more about what it meant to participate in and support sustainable tourism that she sought a way to apply her geography and G.I.S. know-how to helping CST with their geospatial research needs.


Ryan Covington

Research Assistant

Ryan graduated with a BS in Geography in 2005. His work for the Center focused on understanding the two-way link between climate and the tourism industry. His research efforts were targeted toward effectively informing businesses about the relationship between climate and tourism and helping them increase planning horizons to be more profitable and sustainable.


Mandy Doug

Research Assistant

Mandy holds a BA in Anthropology and English, and an MA in English. While working for the Center she examined the research literature on renewable energy and tourism to produce a literature review, a white paper, and other material that can be shared with researchers and business leaders involved in sustainable tourism.


edwards_past contr

Bob Edwards

Graduate Program Director, Affiliate Faculty Member

Bob was formally with the Center from May 2011 to June 2012. He initiated and coordinated the joint CST/Sociology data collection during Summer 2012. Bob also conducted RESET related research on Black Bike Week in Myrtle Beach, SC and took two SUTO students: Erin Green and Sierra Plato to Black Bike Week as research assistants.Bob served as the second MS-ST Program Director as well as thesis committee member and research collaborator at the Center.


David Evans

Research Assistant

David earned a MS in Recreation and Leisure Facilities and Services Administration and a BS in Management of Recreation Facilities and Services. For the Center, David worked to identify sustainable tourism practices across North Carolina. This information became part of a database housed at the Center of the many actions carried out by tourism businesses and companies in sustainability. David's interests include the preservation of designated Wilderness, how humans can minimize their impact on the environment, and educating the public on the proper and necessary behaviors to ensure environmental sustainability. He spends all of his leisure time with the advocacy of skateboarding.


Dr. Joe Fridge

Co-Founder, Director of Academic Programs for the MS in Sustainable Tourism, Faculty

Dr. Fridgen is a co-founder of the Center, and served as the Director of the MS in Sustainable Tourism program from Fall 2009 through May 2012. He also taught several courses in the program, and served on the thesis committees of several students. His research focused on helping communities understand the relationship between natural resources, recreation resources, and tourism. In addition, he assisted communities and destinations in understanding tourists' perceptions, images of their destination, and marketing related to those images and perceptions. His other research includes the interrelationship from a perceptual and behavioral perspective as these are related to planning, marketing, and promotion, as well as applied research related to tourism organizations, tourism agencies, and the leadership roles they play in the development and management of tourism activity, travel flows, and long-range planning. Dr. Fridgen retired at the end of the Spring 2012 semester and is greatly missed at the Center.


Frank Hurley

Research Assistant

Frank graduated from the PhD English Program here at ECU. His research at the Center focused on determining ways in which pictures and words work together to create meaning for people. A few of his personal interests include scuba diving, film, architecture, the preservation of marginalized cultures, and of course, travel.


Sarah Jessop

Research Assistant

Sarah Jessop graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in May of 2009 with her BS in Atmospheric Science. She is currently working toward her MA in Geography. Her interests lie in climatology and how people are affected by climatological or atmospheric occurrences. While working at the Center, Sarah  built a data base on how North Carolina tourism businesses are currently using climate and weather data in both short and long-term business decision making, as well as a cooperative project with the Geography Department in developing weather indices along coastal North Carolina. Her experiences include a two week storm chasing trip in May of 2008, volunteering at the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, VA and two winters collecting northwest snowfall data in the mountains of Tennessee.


Kelley Jochim

Research Assistant

Kelley graduated from the ECU Public Administration Master's program. After moving to North Carolina from Massachusetts where she attended undergrad at Emmanuel College, she fell in love with the natural beauty of the are. Kelly hopes to return to the non-profit sector or an advocacy organization geared toward environmental justice.


Sierra Jones

Public Information, Marketing, Social Media, Webmaster

Sierra's roots run deep in Eastern North Carolina, specifically nearby Lenoir County. Indulging her creative side, Sierra earned an AAS degree in Graphic Arts and Imaging Technology, before embarking on her current educational direction. In 2009 she received her Bachelor of Arts degree from East Carolina University double majoring in History and Political Science.  Sierra graduated in the Summer of 2012 with her Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree, with a concentration in State and Local Administration and a certificate in Economic Development. As a graduate assistant at the Center, she helped to establish a public information strategy, prepared and distributed information about the Center and its initiatives, established maintained the Center's social media networks, and maintained the website.


Mohamad Kashef

Affiliate Faculty

His research contributed to a pioneering generation of urban design research that investigated the relations between physical, social, historical, and cultural dimensions of city spaces. It revolved around the study of the dialectics of form and function with an emphasis on the social logic governing the generation of urban space both on macro and micro levels.


Carol Kline

Associate Professor

Carol received her Ph.D. in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management from North Carolina State University, where she instructed classes and provided outreach to North Carolina communities on issues of sustainable tourism. Her research interests focused on rural tourism development: how to create a supportive environment for tourism entrepreneurs, the role of sustainable food systems in tourism, the impacts of tourism on the community, and early tourist markets in burgeoning destinations. Carol worked in a variety of geographical and cultural settings, and believes that teaching, researching and learning in an international context is an invaluable opportunity for faculty and students. She led a study abroad course to Ghana, West Africa for three years, and most recently completed study abroad courses to Cuba in 2012 and 2013.


Tetiana Lysenk

Research Assistant

Tetiana received her Bachelor of Science degree in International Tourism from Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University, Ukraine. She is now working towards a Master’s degree in Recreation and Leisure studies with emphasis in Facilities and Services Administration. Her previous experiences include work in the tourism industry on the Outer Banks, NC and in Virginia Beach, VA. At the Center, she worked on a project examining second home tourism development influences on resort communities. Tetiana is also interested in recreational resources of Australia, tourism infrastructure in Ukraine, international workforce in resort communities of USA and hospitality in general.

Keturah Mayberry   

Keturah Mayberry

Graduate Assistant

Born in Joliet, Illinois, Keturah spent several years of life as a child moving throughout different states. Rapid movement sparked an interest in traveling and adventuring, which guided her to pursue a position with the Center.  She has a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration with concentrations in Management and Accounting, as well as a Masters of Science in Accounting.  At the Center, Keturah assisted with research, social media, reports, and internal and external communications. Upon graduating in December 2014, Keturah moved to Charlotte, NC to work for Ernst & Young in Assurance Services.


Jessie Messina

Research Assistant

Jessie Messina graduated with her Master's in Geography in 2009. She graduated in 2006 with a BA in Geography with a minor in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Jessie's work for the Center focused on a project called "Developing Community-Sponsored Sustainable Agro-Business for Economic Growth in North Carolina." This project is looked at North Carolina's declining tobacco farming industry and the numerous small family farms that are selling out to developers as a result. The goal of this project was to introduce organic farming as an alternative to selling and is also being used to promote economic, social, and cultural growth for North Carolina. Jessie's research interest's include the HIV/AIDS policies in South Africa and the overarching messages that are being promoted with respect to the epidemic.


Jillian Mistak

Special Events Coordinator and Webmaster

Jillian is a graduate student in the College of Business and holds a BA in Technical and Professional Communications. She is developing the Center website to provide an online resource that promotes research, advocacy, and education in sustainability and tourism. Additionally, Jillian is working on an inventory of current program initiatives and individual faculties at ECU in support of sustainability and tourism.


Alex Naar

Director of Sustainable Tourism Outreach

Alex has been recreating in North Carolina since he was a little boy and went to summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was there he fell in love with what our state has to offer and began a lifelong commitment to environmental protection. While attending high school in Asheville, Alex became an avid outdoorsman: backpacking in Pisgah National Forest, rock climbing in Linville Gorge, and fishing in the high country. He has provided hundreds of children with various outdoor adventures while serving as a summer camp counselor and program director and continues his interest in summer camp programs and outdoor recreation in North Carolina. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he joined the first generation of trained sustainable business people. While in Boulder he also worked with the Boulder County Government program Partners for a Clean Environment conducting environmental outreach and education with local businesses. Alex is being funded through the ECU Office of Economic Development (OED) and working jointly with the OED, the North Carolina Department of Tourism, Film, and Sports Development and the Center for Sustainable Tourism.



Mary Paul

Research Assistant

Mary's research here at the Center was focused on identification of resources, actors, and policy approaches that guided the implementation of the Center's programs and initiatives. Her prior experience included serving Members of Congress in both the House and Senate in a variety of capacities. With the MPA, Mary planned on returning to the nonprofit area of government relations and grant and contract funding assistance


Doug Peterson

Second Home Tourism Impacts Study

Doug graduated from West Virginia University in 2011 earning a BS in Geography with a concentration in Geographic Information Science (GIS). Now a graduate student at ECU, Doug is pursuing his Masters in Geography with a GIS concentration. His research interests include the use of GIS and other Geospatial technologies to map, model, and analyze the socioeconomic and environmental aspects of coastal vulnerability to erosion hazards in North Carolina. As a graduate assistant at the Center, Doug will be worked on the Second Home Study by assisting in conducting spatial analysis on the collected data and providing mapping resources to supplement the study's research.


Yvette Pierce

Administrative Assistant

Yvette Pierce was an Administrative Assistant for the Center for Sustainable Tourism. She brings with her over 20 years of employment experience. She has been with East Carolina University (ECU) since 2006. Prior to coming to the Center, she worked as the Administrative Associate for ECU Pediatric Hematology/Oncology department. Yvette served honorably for three years in the US Army as a Supply Specialist.


Jerry Tsao

Entrepreneurship and Tourism Initiative

Jerry graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010 with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Environmental Studies. As a graduate student in the International Studies program at East Carolina University, his thesis research examines the perceptions about American fast food and how food expresses cultural identity in China. Jerry's research interests focus on economic development through community collaborations. He worked on various projects with the Center including social networks among rural tourism destinations, the role of tourism in sustainable food systems, and the relationship between the environment and tourism entrepreneurs.


Maria D. Allen

Administrative Assistant

Mrs. Allen served as Administrative Assistant for the Center for Sustainable Tourism during its first year courtesy of Academic Affairs. She is a co-author of a tourism text titled Tourism Policy and Planning: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Elsevier 2008) with Dr. David L. Edgell, Sr., Dr. Ginger Smith, and Jason R. Swanson. She participated in the East Carolina University Leadership Academy and served on the planning committee for Making Tourism Work for You II, ECU's bi-annual regional tourism conference.

 alesha stevenson

Alesha Stevenson

Undergraduate Assistant
Alesha's roots are centered in the heart of North Carolina, in rural Person County in the Piedmont region. As a child she enjoyed spending her time outdoors at the lakes and various recreation facilities in the area. Her love of exploration and adventure developed a passion for travel and led to her concern for preservation and conservation. Alesha is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Hospitality Management with a minor in Business Administration. Her combination of interests and creativity led her to seek a position with the center where she wrote the Sustainable Tourism Highlights, an electronic publication focusing on trends in sustainability. 


 Katelyn Wright

Katelyn Wright

Graduate Assistant

Katelyn is a former student and graduate assistant at East Carolina University. Her studies pertained to Recreation and Leisure Studies with a concentration in commercial recreation and tourism.

Sustainable Tourism | About Us | Past Contributors

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