WFA Student Representatives


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Student Rep Coordinator

Sarah Hegg

Sarah Hegg

2015 - . Sarah Hegg grew up in Minnesota and received a bachelor’s degree in Natural Science and Environmental Studies from the College of St. Benedict (St. Joseph, Minn.). After graduation she moved westward and has lived in New Mexico, Wyoming, and California. She worked for many years bouncing around as a seasonal wildlife technician, mainly for the US Forest Service. She’s also worked in many other capacities (trail crew, wilderness ranger) and organizations (National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah State University, Wildlife Conservation Society). Sarah has been lucky enough to work with many different wildlife projects; participating in research year-round involving grizzly bears, lynx, coyotes, wolves, wolverines, fisher, and marten. Sarah is currently working towards her MS, attending the University of Nevada, Reno. At UNR, she is studying population ecology and working with small mammals in the Great Basin of Nevada.  When not outside for work or school, she enjoys doing anything that gets her back outside; this usually involves running, skiing, or rock climbing.

Cheyenne Burnett

CheyBurnett, WFA SRC

2013-2014. After completing her B.S. degree in Zoology from UC Santa Barbara and studying abroad at the University of Western Australia, Cheyenne travelled extensively as a wildlife research technician. She assisted on a variety of projects including trapping Tammar wallabies in western Australia; trapping and tracking bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, wolves, grizzly bears, and Sonoran pronghorn all over the west; and rehabilitating marine mammals in California and primates in Thailand. Cheyenne completed her M.S. degree in Wildlife Biology from Utah State University in spring 2013. Her thesis research examined the spatial ecology and habitat use of a southern fringe population of Greater sage-grouse in Utah. Currently Cheyenne is working on a collaborative research project examining the impacts of sarcoptic mange on wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Her interests include spatial ecology, predator-prey dynamics, wildlife immobilization, and wildlife management. Cheyenne stepped down as Student Rep Coordinator with the completion of the Winter 2015 issue of the Wild Felid Monitor. She did an amazing job as the first Coordinator!


Looking for a student rep!

cat track




Anna Nisi 2017 -

Anna Nisi
Anna Nisi is a PhD student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, working on the Santa Cruz Puma Project. She is particularly interested in how living in human-dominated landscapes impacts large carnivore survival and reproduction, and will be studying these issues in the puma population of the fragmented Santa Cruz Mountains for her PhD, which she started in the fall of 2015. She feels lucky to have the opportunity to contribute to a greater understanding of how humans and large carnivores can coexist in the face of anthropogenic change, and is excited to engage in outreach and conservation efforts alongside research. She is from Minnesota originally and graduated with a degree in Biology from Carleton College in 2014, where she cultivated her love of ecology in the restored prairies of southern Minnesota. After graduation, Anna studied soil dynamics in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, worked at a zoo in Boston, was a research technician for the Yellowstone Wolf Project winter study, and helped with her lab’s fieldwork studying African lions in Kenya. 

Justine Smith, 2016-

Justine Smith

Justine is a PhD candidate in Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research examines how human-induced behavioral change in carnivores impacts species interactions. Currently Justine is a member of the Santa Cruz Puma Project, a research program that investigates puma ecology in a highly fragmented landscape. She has previously worked both domestically and internationally on pikas, wolves, pumas, and small mammals. Justine is also the founder and president of the Santa Cruz chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology, a mentor for two undergraduate internship programs, a NSF and PBK fellow, and a member of The Wildlife Society's Urban Wildlife Working Group. Her research interests include noninvasive methods, citizen science, human-induced fear, trait-mediated indirect effects, and behavioral conservation. In her spare time, she also enjoys climbing, slacklining, backpacking, and skiing.




Patrick Lendrum, 2015-

Patrick Lendrum

After spending multiple years as a Biologist with Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project, Patrick Lendrum returned to graduate school to follow his passion for carnivore conservation. He is currently pursuing a PhD at Colorado State University in collaboration with Colorado Parks and Wildlife examining carnivore communities in highly modified landscapes. More specifically, Patrick will examine the distribution and responses of cougars, bobcats, bears, and coyotes to natural-gas development in the Piceance Basin of northwest Colorado. He will be using non-invasive, remotely-triggered digital cameras to survey the community of mammalian carnivores, and other fauna, in the study area. To assess the distribution of carnivores; the relationship between site occupancy, local habitat traits, land use practices, anthropogenic noise, landscape features, intra and interspecific competition, and prey distributions will be examined using occupancy modeling to create probability surfaces. These probability surfaces will then be related to species specific predation data collected intensively by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Patrick hopes that this research will aid in the conservation of wild felids and other large carnivores as human induced habitat change continues to spread across the globe. Additionally he hopes this will lead to an increased understanding of carnivore ecology, applicable to not only Colorado and North America, but wherever carnivores roam. Patrick is taking over for Jennifer Timmer, student rep from 2013-2014. Jennifer is presently finishing her PhD at Colorado State University.




Kelsey Turner, 2016 -

Kelsey Turner

Kelsey is a Master’s student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. She is based out of the Savannah River Ecology Lab in Aiken, SC but also does research at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway in southwest Georgia. Currently, Kelsey is working on assessing factors which may influence vertebrate scavenging communities. She has collaborated on several research projects including assessing seasonal food habits of coyotes in southwest Georgia and vertebrate scavenging ecology on Pacific islands. Her research interests are broad but include scavenging ecology, wild felid ecology and conservation, carnivore ecology and management, and invasive species management.






Rebecca Lyon, 2017-

Rebecca Lyon

Rebecca received her bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Delaware in 2011.  She is currently a Graduate Research Assistant at Southern Illinois University pursuing a Master’s degree in Forestry.  Her research focuses on evaluating occupancy of terrestrial mammal species of the Madeira- Purus interfluvium in Amazonas Brazil.  The Madeira-Purus interfluvial plain is one of the most pristine and yet understudied parts of the Amazon.  However the area is threatened by the potential reconstruction and repaving of BR-319 which runs through the heart of the Madeira-Purus interfluvial.  Her study aims to contribute to existing knowledge of predator and prey occupancy in minimally-disturbed areas of the Amazon. Identifying the needs of these species can justify support for protected areas before large infrastructure projects facilitate habitat loss and fragmentation. Rebecca’s previous work has centered around trapping and tracking of various North American carnivore species such as mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, Mexican gray wolves and ocelots.





Looking for a student rep!

puma track





Meredith Palmer, 2015 -

Meredith Palmer

Meredith Palmer is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota, where she studies the impacts of predation pressure on prey behavior. She is currently exploring how different predator attributes, such as hunting technique, shape adaptive anti-predator behavioral responses. Her work is conducted primarily in Serengeti Park, Tanzania, where she uses a 200+ camera trap grid ( to examine how variation in predation risk across space and time - the so-called "landscape of fear" - affects ungulate distribution and activity patterns. She is currently conducting additional experiments in South African reserves to study prey responses to simulated predator encounters. Prior to pursuing graduate school, Meredith worked on a variety of field research projects in Central and South America, Africa, and the South Pacific, studying organisms ranging from invasive snakes to endangered felines.




New Mexico


Susan Bard, 2015 -

Susan Bard

Susan Bard grew up in Connecticut dreaming of exploring the world, and working with wildlife. After completing a B.S. in wildlife biology at Unity College in Maine, this dream came to fruition. She has traveled the U.S. and worked with a variety of species, from waterfowl to big game. Most recently she was engrossed in puma and mule deer work, which further confirmed her decision to pursue wildlife research. Currently, she is a graduate research assistant at New Mexico State University investigating habitat use of black bears in relation to wildfires and forest restorations in the Jemez Mountains of north central New Mexico. This research is part of an extensive long term project that will also assess effects on other species including puma, elk, and mule deer. Susan hopes that this research will aid in conservation and pragmatic management of these species, especially in western states where wildfires will continue to be prevalent. Her research interests include big game conservation and management, population dynamics, predator-prey relations, wildlife epidemiology, and resource selection.



North Carolina


Michael Cove, 2013-15

Michael Cove

Michael began his wildlife education as an undergraduate at the University of Connecticut and continued as a graduate student at the University of Central Missouri. His thesis research focused on habitat suitability and occupancy modeling of medium and large mammals in a Costa Rican biological corridor with an emphasis on Baird’s tapirs, mesopredators, and wild felids. While in Missouri, Michael served as the Missouri student representative and mentored several undergraduates in camera trapping research projects involving urban/suburban bobcats and other mesopredators. After an interim of continued research in Costa Rica, he is currently working toward his PhD at the North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at NC State University. His dissertation research examines the ecology of co-occurring native and non-native predators and their impacts on endangered endemic species in the Florida Keys.  He is excited to maintain an active role in WFA and proud to serve as a representative to students in North Carolina and nationwide.



North Dakota & South Dakota


Randy Johnson, 2015 -

Randy Johnson

Randy was born and raised in Minnesota and his home state is where he grew to love all things outdoors. Randy's fascination with wildlife led him to pursue a career path in conservation. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from South Dakota State University and is currently pursuing his master’s degree through the same university. His MS project involves live-capturing and collaring mountain lions in the Badlands of western North Dakota to get a better understanding of this newly recolonized population. Over the years Randy has worked different positions with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, several technician jobs for SDSU, and conducted an undergraduate research project. His main interests include carnivore ecology, predator/prey interactions, furbearer management and human/wildlife conflict resolution. Randy's other hobbies include hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking, racing and sports.






Beth Orning, 2015-

Beth Orning
Beth, a PhD student at Oregon State University, hails from Iowa where she earned her BS degree in Animal Ecology from Iowa State University. She then spent 9 years working on a variety of research projects all over the US including trapping and tracking wolves, bobcat, deer, elk, and grizzly bear. Beth completed her MS degree in Wildlife Biology at Utah State University in fall 2013. Her thesis examined the effect of predator removal on Greater sage-grouse ecology in the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming. Beth started her PhD studies under Dr. Katie Dugger in January 2014. She will examine the interaction between cougar and wolves in the Blue Mountains of northeast Oregon and determine how recolonizing wolf populations affect cougar prey selection, space use, and population dynamics. Her interests include predator-prey interactions, intraguild predator dynamics, interspecific competition, spatial ecology, population dynamics, and applied research management.



Michael Stangl, 2017-

Michael Stangl

Michael hails from the Texas Hill Country. But it was in the Yukon Territory, during a summer spent on a National Outdoor Leadership School course, that he solidified his dedication to wilderness and wildlife. Stangl returned to Texas and went on to receive his B.S. in Conservation Biology from Sul Ross State University, where he is currently pursuing his M.S. in Wildlife Management. As an undergraduate student he had the opportunity to work with the Borderlands Research Institute, where he assisted in field work for their mountain lion research in the Davis Mountains and in Big Bend National Park. His current research focuses on the ecological role mountain lions in the Davis Mountains, Texas, a unique and biodiverse sky-island in the Chihuahuan Desert. Specifically, Michael is interested in mountain lions’ impact on the scavenger community associated with their kill sites and the reverberant effects predators have within ecosystems. When he’s not in the field for work, Michael is often trying to get back into the field for recreation.



Peter Mahoney, 2015

Peter Mahoney

Peter Mahoney, a PhD candidate in Ecology at Utah State University, is broadly interested in predator guild dynamics, predator and prey movement ecology, and the conservation of rare and threatened species. Prior to pursuing graduate school, he gained valuable experience working on a variety of ecological field studies, including projects investigating the reproductive ecology of short tailed hawks and another the demographic consequences of canid hybridization in Ontario, Canada. In 2011, He attained his MS in Wildlife Biology from Auburn University where he evaluated the viability of the introduced red wolf population in North Carolina. Currently, his doctoral research focuses on the competitive dynamics between cougars and coyotes, as well as the implications of this interaction for mule deer and elk management in Utah. Peter expects to complete his degree by fall 2016. Peter is taking over for Jonathan Fusaro, who recently completed his MS degree.



Michael Havrda, 2016-

Michael Havrda

Michael is a graduate student in the Predator Ecology lab at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. He is particularly interested in noninvasive carnivore research and spent the last three years studying wolverines for the North Cascades Wolverine Study and Conservation Northwest. While Michael was chasing wolverines around in the mountains, he earned a B.S. in Wildlife Conservation from UW in 2014. Michael’s current research is examining carnivore (including cougar and bobcat) occupancy, relative activity, species composition, and diet along an urban-wildland gradient in Western Washington. Michael’s goal is to advance the understanding of felids and other carnivores and to provide tools for their management and conservation.





Cheyenne Yates, 2015-

Cheyenne Yates

Cheyenne is an undergraduate student working towards bachelor degrees in Wildlife Ecology and Biology from University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point with a December 2015 anticipated graduation date. During her time at Stevens Point, she has had the opportunity to track bobcats, study coyote and red fox diets, travel to South Africa to study lion and black jackal interactions, and trap and chemically immobilize black bears in Wisconsin. Her work with black bears resulted in an opportunity to construct a manuscript on a longitudinal analysis of reproduction and survival parameters for black bears in Wisconsin, which she is currently working on. She has a broad range of interests with wildlife: population dynamics, predator-prey interactions, conservation biology, and urban/rural gradients. Wild felids have always been species of interest for her and she hopes to study wild felid population demographics for her Master’s.



Wyoming & Montana

Colby Anton, 2015-

Colby Anton

Colby Anton, a PhD student at the University of California, Santa Cruz received his B.S. from University of California, Berkeley in 2009. Since his graduation he has spent time on projects studying gray wolves, black and grizzly bears, and pumas throughout the Rocky Mountains with a particular focus on behavioral, movement, and predator-prey ecology. With the support of a National Science Foundation Fellowship, Colby will be examining the complex and diverse relationships between pumas, wolves and their prey within the Northern Range of Yellowstone National Park. He is particularly interested in using non-invasive techniques to estimate population parameters as well as movement and predatory behaviors in large carnivores. In addition, he hopes to promote the widespread use of these techniques as tools for proper implementation of conservation and management policies.





Past Student Representatives:

Ashwin Naidu (AZ), U of A, 2013-15

CALIFORNIA: Yiwei Wang, UCSC, 2013-15; Veronica Yovovich, UCSC 2013-2016

Jen Timmer (CO), CSU, 2013-2014.

Brandi-Jo Petronio (FL), University of Florida, 2013

Glen Kalisz, (KY), Eastern Kentucky University, 2016

Sarah Hegg (NV), University of Nevada, 2014-15

Barbara Shock (GA), University of Georgia, 2011-2014

ILLINOIS: Julia Smith, SIU, 2013-14; Jessica Fort, SIU, 2015

Price Rumbelow (TX), Sul Ross State University 2014-16

UTAH: Peter Mahoney, USU 2015; Jonathan Fusaro, USU 2014; Cheyenne Burnett, USU 2013

Matt Warren (WA), Western Washington University, 2014-15