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Our board members are a unique group of highly skilled and passionate scientists and analysts, that are dedicated to ensuring the accuracy, transparency and proper implementation of environmental data and research. We believe that there is no greater threat to our planet than the climate crisis and the human impact on California ecosystems. 


Carolyn Ruttan  


Carolyn is a scientist and Director of the Clear Lake Environmental Research Center (CLERC). CLERC’s mission is to bring permanent science to the shores of Clear Lake in Lake County for scientific education and discovery, and solution to our water challenges. 

She worked for Lake County Department of Water Resources for nine years looking after the health of Clear Lake, largest lake in California and oldest lake in the Americas. Carolyn now helps landowners realize their goals for environmental sustainability and in particular fire resilience after 68% Lake County has burned in the last four years.  She established the only environmental laboratory in Lake County after realizing the need for such a service and familiarity with the academic laboratory environment. Carolyn was educated in England and the USA, obtaining BS Degrees in Biology and Manufacturing Engineering and MS Degrees in Technology of Crop Protection and Viticulture. Carolyn holds Pesticide Control Advisor and Qualified Applicator Licenses through the Department of Pesticide Regulation.


Rachel Van Exel  

Rachel graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a BA in Biological Science and a minor in Chemistry.  She has worked in the environmental field since 1997, with approximately half the time in a laboratory and half managing biosolids compliance for the Orange County Sanitation District.  She has extensive knowledge of environmental and quality management systems and laboratory information management systems (LIMS).  

Currently, Rachel is a member of the quality assurance team at OCSD. She is an associate member of the TNI Quality Systems Committee and volunteers as Director of Regulatory Compliance for the STEM foundation at a local school.

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Stacey Fry  

Stacey received her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Biological Sciences from University of California, Riverside. She has 25 years of experience in the environmental industry, where she began her career as a bench chemist to her current position as Quality Assurance Manager for Babcock Laboratories, Inc. As QA Manager Stacey’s duties include sustaining the Babcock Quality and Management Systems and
maintaining all laboratory certifications.

  Carolyn Ruttan



Katie Payne  


Katie Payne is an environmental scientist who has a passion for applying toxicology, biology, ecology, and chemistry to understand, navigate, and solve complex environmental issues.  Over the course of her career in environmental laboratory services, she’s held positions in bench-level testing, project management, quality assurance, operations management, and business development.  

With more than a decade of experience in aquatic toxicity and bioassay at Enthalpy Analytical (formerly Nautilus Environmental) in San Diego, California, she has successfully managed a wide range of laboratory-based toxicity programs for commercial, industrial, and academic partners.  She places strong emphasis on effective collaboration, developing clear goals and objectives and attaining them cost-effectively, using sound experimental design, achieving exceptional data quality, and gaining stakeholder and regulatory approval. Katie attended the University of San Diego and holds degrees in biology and economics.

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Robert Benz  

Robert graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a BS and MS in Biology.  He started his professional career as a bench chemist, later becoming the inorganics manager before leaving the laboratory.  Since leaving the laboratory, he has sold instrumentation and consumables with more than the last decade specifically involved with LIMS. 


He is a member of TNI, FSEA, CSEA, ACS and has chaired the Laboratory Informatics Session at NEMC for the last ten years.    

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Tony Francis, Ph.D.   

Dr. Francis received his PhD in chemistry from the University of Utah followed by postdoctoral research at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was the owner/operator of a large environmental laboratory prior to becoming a full-time consultant as a principal with SAW Environmental. He performs and manages third‐party laboratory audits for several states, provides QA/QC consulting to individual laboratories, and provides internal audits, data integrity training, and data validation. Dr. Francis is a contract assessor for several Accreditation Bodies assessing laboratories to ISO/IEC 17025 and various TNI Standards. He is a fully qualified NELAC assessor in organic and inorganic chemistry, microbiology, cryptosporidium, radiochemistry, solids, aqueous, tissue, and air. He is an EPA-approved drinking water certification officer in all areas available. He currently serves on the Chemistry Expert and Quality Systems TNI Committees. 


Christine Sotelo  

Christine Sotelo is the Chief of California's Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program and began her career with the California Water Boards in 1999.  She has more than 20 years of experience in the regulatory craft which includes assignments with the Central Valley Regional Water Board, State Water Board Divisions of Water Quality and Drinking Water and Office of Public Participation, and the Department of Public Health. Christine brings a wealth of diverse experience in water quality monitoring and assessment, municipal storm water permitting and auditing municipal agencies, leading water quality investigations with various state and federal regulatory agencies, criminal investigations, CEQA compliance, emergency management, and community engagement. From 2007 to 2012, she managed California’s Small Municipal Storm Water Program and advanced the state’s regulation of storm water quality by developing rules and policies for protecting California waters. She served as Board of Director of the Laguna Creek Watershed Council, helping to protect her local watershed and enjoys spending time with her husband and young daughter traveling.


 Jacquelyn Parsons  

Jacquelyn is marketing, eCommerce and business operations specialist from the Bay Area peninsula that relocated to Lake County in 2018.  With a strong background in undergraduate STEM education, physics, data science and planetary sciences, Jacquelyn is a passionate and dedicated member of the scientific community. She is currently working with the non profit organization, the Clear Lake Environmental Research Center (also founded by Carolyn Ruttan) and in the process of gaining her Lab Analyst Certification. 

Please feel free to contact her with any questions about our website. 

Stacey Fry
Christine S
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