Above photo courtesy of current CONS student Liz Shotman. 

Alexandro, Benjamin
PPCN MS Candidate 2015

Background: Ben Alexandro graduated cum laude in the honors program at the University of Delaware with a BS in wildlife conservation.  Ben has studied black bears in Georgia and endangered Indiana bats at the Great Swamp.  He has worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service conducting water management, habitat management in the Colorado Rockies, and managed environmental compliance at a transportation company on Long Island and New York.  As the Outreach Coordinator at Cacapon Institute, Ben created and implemented education programs online and at schools, facilitated restoration projects throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, aided in research, and helped coordinate the Potomac Watershed Partnership.  Ben is from New City, NY and enjoys volunteer projects including restoring Coastal Louisiana building a sustainable school in the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal, and teaching environmental education in Likoni, Kenya. 

Interests: Watershed restoration, environmental policy, nonprofit management, wildlife conservation

Awasthi, Arjun
PPCN MS Candidate 2017

Background: Arjun worked for the National Zoo and helped enrich and take care of critically endangered bird species such as the Micronesian kingfisher, Guam rail and the kiwi bird.  Arjun also helped create the "honeybees" lab at George Washington University, as well as co-authoring and illustrating an undergraduate laboratory module on honeybee communication.  Als, Arjun has worked in environmental education as well as for the Department of Parks and Recreation in Washington D.C. 

Interests: international wildlife crime, trafficking, and trade; illegal land use and improper park management

Edson, Kiel
PPCN MS Candidate 2016

Kiel graduated magna cum laude with a BS in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology from CSU-Sacramento.  During his undergraduate program, he completed an internship with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD during which he studied the effects of deer herbivory, exotic plant invasions, and timber harvesting on the structure and function of temperate forest communities.  He also worked for California's Department of Fish and Wildlife and studied the health and sustainability of anadromous fish populations in Sacramento's river system.  After graduation he worked as an Aquatic Scientist focusing on instream flow and fisheries studies for an environmental consulting firm. Before all this, he spent five years in the Marine Corps as a Russian Cryptologic Linguist, was stationed on Oahu and Japan, and deployed to Iraq.  Kiel is currently the GA for the National Center for Smart Growth and is interning at Defenders of Wildlife.  

Interests: Economics; Policy analysis, and science communication; earth-friendly alternatives for business leaders

Farge, Kevin

Background: Kevin graduated with a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012.  Following graduation, he lived and worked on sustainable organic farms in North Carolina, Illinois, California, and Texas.  During this time he collaborated on the design of a sustainable eco-village project in the Austin, Texas area.  He then interned with The Nature Conservancy as a field biologist, doing research on their preserves in Texas, assisting in conservation planning for the Columbia Bottomlands hardwood forest, attending climate change scenario meetings, and creating a digital archive of research files.  Kevin is fluent in Spanish having spent time as a boy in Costa Rica.

Interests: Conservation planning, ecology, biological field research, botany, community economic development, sustainable agriculture, cooperative enterprise, culture, green infrastructure, economics

Evansen, Megan
CONS MS Candidate 2016

Background: Meg graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2010 with a BS degree in Genetics and a minor in Environmental Studies.  As an undergraduate, Meg traveled around the world through the Semester at Sea program, getting a first-hand look at conservation issues worldwide.  Following graduation, she interned at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA, working on reproductive issues affecting clouded leopards in captivity.  Meg then went on to intern at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species in New Orleans, LA, working with small mammals.  Most recently, she interned at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, WI in the education and outreach department. 

Interests: Wildlife conservation, human-wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trade, ecology and evolution, science communication. 

Gazenski, Kimberly
CONS MS Candidate 2015

Background: Kimberly received a BS in Integrated Science and Technology with a concentration in environment and biosystems from James Madison University in 2011.  Since then, she has worked at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, and has been heavily involved with assisting the management of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program.  She has also learned a lot about statistical and spatial analysis 

Interests: Wildlife ecology; sustainable development; wildlife conservation; GIS; statistical and spatial analysis of population data


Gonzalez, Melissa
CONS MS Candidate 2015

Background: Melissa graduated from Bridgewater College with a BS in Environmental Science and a minor in Biology.  Before joining the CONS Program, Melissa spent seven months in Bolivia, where she volunteered at CECAM, an environmental NGO working to improve the quality of life for Bolivian families.  Melissa has worked at the USDA Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory and the USGS Breeding Bird Survey.  For her internship, Melissa worked on the advocacy of sustainability in Miami-Dade County with the Tropical Audubon Society, and also volunteered with the Tropical Dolphin Research Foundation with fundraising and conducting research on the behavioral ecology of bottlenose dolphins. 

Interests: Behavioral ecology of marine mammals; coral reef protection, international wildlife management; GIS

Graber, Robin
CONS MS Candidate 2015

Background: Robin graduated magna cum laude from Lake Forest College in 2012 with a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies, and a minor in Mathematics.  Throughout college she was heavily involved in ecology research focused on the mating system of the guppy (Poecilia reticulata). During the year following graduation, she worked as a laboratory technician at Florida State University, where she continued her work on guppies, and addressed similar questions in a closely related species (Poecilia picta). Although most of her work focused on basic research, Robin is excited to work on more applied conservation projects.  She is particularly interested in understanding the effects of anthropogenic induced changes on freshwater ecosystems.  

Interests: Aquatic ecology; environmental toxicology; invasive ecology; environmental education; sustainable agriculture

Greer, Emily
CONS MS Candidate 2016

Background: Emily graduated cum laude from St. Lawrence University in 2012 with a degree in Conservation Biology. Since graduating, she has interned for the Maria Mitchell Association on Nantucket Island where she educated the public on the island's diverse marine life.  She then interned for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in Silver Spring, MD, where she supported the citizen science program, FrogWatch USA, and edited the published manuals and educational websites on proper animal care in managed facilities.  Emily next interred for the National Park Service at Cape Cod National Seashore monitoring air and water resources in the field and lab, while also carrying out a survey or eelgrass beds.  Most recently, she was a Biological Science Technician with the National Park Service as Assateague Island National Seashore conducting extensive salt marsh data collection to quantify the mar he's adaptation to climate change, as well as conducting water quality analyses.  Emily's international experiences include traveling to both Europe and Kenya while an undergraduate, gaining international perspectives on conservation issues. 

Interests: Marine conservation, water quality analysis, watershed management, GIS, science education and communication. 

Hart, Drew
PPCN MS Candidate 2016

Background:  Drew holds a BS in Ecology and Natural Resources from Cook College, Rutgers University, and has a strong background in sustainable agriculture, research computation, and geospatial analysis.  He has worked a variety of jobs in a variety of countries, mostly within the fields of conservation, agriculture, education, community development, and IT.  Most recently, he worked in Bocas del Toro, Panama, as the Sea Turtle Conservancy's Coordinator of Community-Based Sea Turtle Tourism, under the USAID Regional Program for the Management of Aquatic Resources and Economic Alternatives. He speaks excellent Spanish and intermediate French.  He is currently a graduate research assistant at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), where he assists with data management and analysis.

Interests: agroecology, sustainable food systems, forest ecology and tropical forest conservation, community based conservation schemes, free and open-source software (FOSS) & GIS. 

Harwood, Maria
CONS MS Candidate 2015

Background: Maria received her BA from Pitzer College with a double major in Environmental Studies and Human Biology.  She interred with the Chesapeake Conservation Corps in Maryland, and was positioned at the National Aquarium, Baltimore, assisting the Conservation Department with their community-based habitat restoration efforts throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  Following her internship she continued on as a Conservation Technician at the National Aquarium coordinating community volunteer efforts as well as a core group of aquarium volunteers for restoration, education, and outreach events. 

Interests: Community-based habitat restoration in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Helcoski, Ryan
CONS MS Candidate 2016

Background: Ryan graduated summa cum laude with a BS in biology and secondary education certification from Shippensburg University in 2009.  Internationally he has taught a variety of courses from ESL to rainforest ecology, set-up composting programs, designed bilingual curriculum, worked in avian and amphibian conservation, and volunteered on a sustainable farm.  Locally, he has volunteered with Americorps, worked with underprivileged youth in Baltimore and Shippensburg, and taught in the environmental science magnet program at Western Tech in Baltimore Country for three years.  

Interests: Sustainable development, science education, ecology and evolution, climate change

Hipsher, Carissa
CONS MS Candidate 2014

Background: Carissa graduated from Ball State University in 2010 with a degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Management with minors in Energy and Spanish.  While at Ball State she served as the president of Students for a Sustainable Campus, and pursued research on water quality and renewable energy.  Carissa interned with The Center for a Sustainable Future at IU South Bend, The Elkhart Environmental Center, and The City of South Bend.  Following her internships she worked as an Editorial Assistant for The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters at The University of Notre Dame. 

Interests: Sustainability; climate change; environmental sociology; environmental policy 


Hoffman, Eric
PPCN MS Candidate 2016

Background: Eric graduated from St. Mary's College of Maryland in 2008 with a degree in public policy and environmental studies.  Since then, he has focused on food and agriculture policy, first as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center and most recently with Friends of the Earth.  Eric participated in negations at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, focusing on the impact of biotechnology on biodiversity. 

Interests: Development of sound environmental policies; responsible development of new technologies used in food and agriculture production

Hoot, Whitney
PPCN MS Candidate 2016

Background: Whitney graduated as an Athena Scholar from Barnard College of Columbia University with a major in sociology and a minor in environmental science.  As an undergraduate, she studied abroad in India, South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil.  Following graduation, she lived in the Federated States of Micronesia for two years, where she taught Algebra II as a World Teach volunteer, interned at the Conservation Society of Pohnpei, and later ran a climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness program under the International Organization for Migration.  Whitney has worked at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center as the Citizen Science Coordinator, and at the National Zoo as a Snore N Roar host.  Currently, she is an intern at the World Wildlife Fund. 

Interests: Coral reef ecology, community-based climate change adaptation, environmental migration. 

Kim, Tiffany
PPCN MS Candidate 2017

Background: Tiffany graduated from Northwestern University in 2012 with a BA in Environmental Sciences and a minor in Business Institutions.  She worked in Panama as the manager of Alouatta Sanctuary, where she helped to care primarily for orphaned howler monkeys, managed several field research projects, and facilitated the implementation of a conservation workshop for college students.  She also studied thermal tolerance of copepods at Friday Harbor Laboratories in Washington and spent months conducting dolphin surveys in Florida for the world's longest-running study of a wild dolphin population.  Tiffany has immensely enjoyed her experiences working with animals at various zoos, wildlife rehab centers, and animal shelters.  

Interests: Wildlife conservation, human-wildlife interactions, animal behavior, nonprofit management, wildlife rehabilitation. 

Krehbiel, Robb
CONS MS Candidate 2015

Background: Robb graduated magna cum laude from Drake University with a BS in Environmental Science and a BA in politics.  As an undergraduate, he interred in the DC area with both the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife learning about environmental and wilderness politics.  Robb also spent time studying in Costa Rica, learning about sustainable development and conservation.  Later, he assisted the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska in coordinating, planning and funding a prairie restoration project that incorporated both cultural and community needs.  For the last two years, Robb has been working in Seattle with Environmental Washington to advance several policies, including Seattle's plastic bag ban, the creation of San Juan Islands National Monument, and the expansion of solar energy in Washington. 

Interests: Wildlife conservation, landscape conservation, human-wildlife conflict resolution. 


Lamb, Rachel
PPCN MS Candidate 2015

Background: Rachel graduated summa cum laude from Wheaton College in Illinois with a BA in International Relations, BS in Environmental Studies and a certificate from the Human Needs and Global Resources Program.  Throughout college she she held internships with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and A Rocha Peru in Lima, Peru.  While working at the US EPA as an EPA GRO Fellow, Rachel developed a Climate Change Adaptation Guide for Native American communities in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.  During her 6-months in Peru, Rachel developed an interdisciplinary and community based conservation project in Lima's endemic lomas ecosystem. 

Interests: International environmental policy; community based conservation; sustainable development; climate change policy and adaptation. 

Murtough, Katie
PPCN MS Candidate 2017

Background: Katie graduated summa cum laude from Cal Poly Pomona's Kellogg Honors College in 2011 with two B.S. degrees in Animal Science and Anthropology and a minor in Physiology.  Over the past 10 years, Katie has worked extensively in zoological-based conservation programs as a zoo keeper, education specialist, and most recently, a research contractor at the National Zoo.  Her research at the National Zoo Nutrition Lab's Milk Repository has resulted in co-authored papers, posters and professional presentations on a variety of mammalian milk studies; however the primary focus of Katie's National Zoo-based research concerns the nutritional compositions of various exotic field maternal milk and the development of species-appropriate hand-rearing formulas. 

In additional to her zoological work, Katie has conducted anthropological field research in the United States, Poland, and Rwanda.  Working as a bio-archeologist, she participated in excavations of human (US & Poland) and non-human primate (Rwanda) skeletal remains, studied aspects of skeletal morphology, assisted in building local research capacity, and engaged in in-situ primate conservation efforts.  

As an animal scientist and anthropologist, Katie's primary research interests are in advancing the level of care given to captive exotic animals in the policies regulating their management both nationally and internationally. 

Interests: Animal policy; international environmental policy; illegal wildlife trade; human-wildlife conflict resolution; community based conservation. 

Noyes, Patrick
CONS MS Candidate 2015

Background: Patrick graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011 with a BS in Biology.  After he graduated, he conducted an REU project at the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology where he studied anthropogenic influence on aquatic communities.

Interests: Animal behavior; ecology and evolution; agriculture; climate change mitigation especially in suburban and urban areas


Pack, Shalynn
PPCN MS Candidate 2015

Background: Shalynn graduated from Oregon State University in 2010 with a BS in Zoology and minors in Spanish and Fisheries and Wildlife. Prior to entering the CONS program, Sahlynn traveled and volunteered throughout South America, working in Peru to implement macaw conservation projects, and in Bolivia to design climate change education workshops.  Shalynn has worked as a wildlife technician on projects involving small mammals and endangered butterflied in Oregon, and with the threatened Rothschilds giraffe in Kenya.  Shalynn recently worked in Costa Rica on a research project studying the effects of habitat fragmentation on the nest predation of understory birds.

Interests: Wildlife conservation; tropical conservation; human wildlife conflict; community based conservation; indigenous rights 


Schotman, Elizabeth
CONS MS Candidate 2015

Background: Liz received her BS in Zoology from the University of Florida in 2006, with a minor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. She worked with sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation at The Sea Turtle Hospital in Florida, then traveled to Nambia as a teacher's assistant for a semester-long wildlife study abroad program through UF.  She spent the rest of the year backpacking though southern Africa before returning to the Florida Keys in late 2008 to work as a commercial fisheries biologist for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's fisheries dependent monitoring program. She teaches marine science to high school students each summer through Duke University.

Interests: Wildlife studies; field sampling; sustainable agriculture; marine science; education; international travel. 


SiLEo, Matthew
CONS MS Candidate 2014

Background: Virginia born Matthew Sileo is an avid birder, naturalist, photographer and vegetable gardener and has worked mostly in wildlife conservation since receiving a BS in Ecology and Natural Resource Management from Rutgers University in 2006.  His field research has taken him to exotic and not-so-exotic environments around the USA and Puerto Rico, including Everglades National Park, San Clemente Island, New York City, and the mid-Atlantic piedmont.  In the two years prior to coming to UMD, he worked for the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL), an international initiative headquartered at the Smithosnian's National Museum of Natural History that promotes DNA Barcoding as the new global standard in species identification.  He is currently beginning work as an intern with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. 

Interests: Migratory connectivity and migratory songbird stopover ecology; tropical ecology; sustainable development and ecotourism; Bioluminescent bays; grassland bird conservation; sustainable agriculture

Spivy, Annette
CONS MS Candidate 2015

Background: Annette completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida where she majored in Environmental Studies and minored in Biology.  She continued on to become a research assistant within the biology department of UCF where she assisted in the creation of habitat suitability maps, using GIS,  to investigate the effects of sea level rise on sea turtle, shorebird, seabird, and each mouse nesting distributions within the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative region.  During her time in Florida, Annette spent a summer as an intern with the St. Johns River Water Management District where she modeled dissolved oxygen dynamics within the upper river basin.  She also participated in a public outreach program where she combined biological research with mentoring high school students at the Key West Botanical Gardens in Florida

Interests: Spatial analysis; climate change; environmental justice; environmental education; community based conservation 


Sykora-Bodie, Seth
PPCN MS Candidate 2015

Background: Seth's focus in on marine conservation and science and he recently worked for a sea turtle conservation project in the Dutch Caribbean and coordinated a Caribbean marine turtle program for the World Wildlife Fund.  Currently, he is completing a Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship by serving as Special Assistant to the Director of NOAA Fisheries' Office of Protected Resources where he works closely with national leadership on protecting, conserving and recovering species listed under the ESA and Marine Mammal Protection Act. 

Interests: marine conservation, coastal ecosystem management and restoration, wildlife management, marine turtles and cetaceans, sustainable development, climate change adaptation

Taddei, Kristin
CONS MS Candidate 2015

Background: Kristin graduated cum laude from Franklin and Marshall College in 2011, with a major in Geosciences and a minor in Violin Performance.  As an undergraduate, Kristin traveled to Mongolia to conduct research on the paleoclimate of the Hovsgol Province.  After graduating, Kristin moved to Washington, D.C. to intern with Food and Water Watch's Fish Policy team and then began working as an environmental consultant at the Cadmus Group on source water protection, green infrastructure, forest conservation, international development, and energy efficiency projects.  Kristin is currently interning with the Low Impact Development Center in Beltsville, MD. 

Interests: Sustainable urban planning, community adaptation and resilience, land conservation and restoration; green infrastructure and low impact development, mapping and GIS; Green building/design. 

Thomason, Katie
CONS MS Candidate 2016

Background: Katie graduated magna cum laude from the College of Charleston with a BA in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies and Math.  As an undergraduate, Katie conducted research through the University of Idaho on how fragmentation affects the diversity and connectivity of bees in the Palouse Prairie. Later, she went on to study the connections between politics, culture, and landscape in Spain for a semester.  Returning to Charleston, she applied these connections locally as an intern with the Lowcountry Local First (LLF).  At LLF, she advocated for a local living economy and support for local farmers through community outreach, event planning, and fundraising, as well as volunteering at DirtWorks Farm, the first incubator farm in SC.  As a post-graduate, she interned with Coastal Conversation League, where she researched city planning issues, navigating the best way to move forward with infill/development to reduce sprawl without compromising local community. 

Interests: Sustainable urban planning, landscape ecology, community based conservation, environmental policy, and sustainable food systems.