The Wild Felid Research & Management Association

WFA Council Biographies

Current Council Members


Mark Lotz

Mark Lotz

President 2020-2025; VP North America 2016-2019.

 Mark’s wildlife career has been devoted to studying the Florida panther, a population of puma in south Florida.  When he began his wildlife biologist job with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission nearly a quarter century ago, Florida panther management had just entered a new era.  Florida’s experimental genetic restoration, by releasing 8 female pumas from Texas into south Florida, proved to be successful and changed this small and inbred population into a more robust panther population.  However, this success led to many new challenges as panther numbers increased and they began repopulating habitats adjacent to people.  Mark’s field experience includes capturing individuals for radiocollar studies, handling neonates at dens, and locating study animals from a fix-winged aircraft to monitor population demographics for genetic restoration.   With an increased panther population, much of Mark’s time is devoted to managing human-panther conflicts, investigating depredation complaints and working with residents to resolve their predator conflict issues.  He also oversees panther outreach efforts.

Veronica Yovovich

Veronica Yovovich

Vice President North America 2020-2021.

A carnivore biologist and quantitative ecologist by training, Veronica’s work focuses on mountain lion-livestock conflict mitigation.  She spent several years studying carnivore species in a variety of land use settings across the American West before starting her graduate work in Environmental Studies at U.C. Santa Cruz, which focused on anthropogenic impacts on various components of mountain lion behavior and ecology. Currently a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley, her work focuses on helping livestock producers manage their operations in ways that keep livestock and carnivores safe.  Last year she was named a Central Coast Rangeland Coalition Scholar in recognition of her extension work on livestock-carnivore conflict mitigation.  Veronica spends part of each summer teaching an undergraduate field course on large mammal ecology, policy, conservation, and management in and around Yellowstone National Park that draws students from across the U.S. and beyond.  She was a WFA student representative for California, a member of the Predator Policy Working Group, is currently a member of the California Mountain Lion Science Working Group, and serves on the Education and Outreach Committee for the Central Coast Rangeland Coalition.  Veronica has been a proud member of the WFA since 2010.


Yamel Rubio Rocha

Vice President Latin America 2022-2024; Councilor 2019-2021.

Yamel was born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico and is currently a professor and full-time researcher at the Academic Unit of the School of Biology of the Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa (UAS). She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from the Institute of Ecology at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. In 2010, in collaboration with various institutions, Yamel initiated research and conservation of the jaguar in San Ignacio, Sinaloa. In 2012, with support of the federal government, this expanded to the rest of the State of Sinaloa. In 2012, Yamel promoted the creation of the Museo de Jaguar and in 2014, the Jaguar Biological Station in the municipality of San Ignacio, Sinaloa. Yamel is a 2002 founder of the El Mineral University Reserve of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, Cosalá. She has collaborated on conservation strategies for priority species such as the military macaw (Ara militaris) in Mexico and great green macaw (Ara ambiguus) in Costa Rica and has given advice to undergraduate students and published in magazines and book chapters. Lines of investigation: Ecology and conservation of flora species (amapas, pitayos, guayacanes) and fauna at risk (green macaw and felines, especialy jaguar). Environmental education. Sustainable Development and Biological Corridors. Ecotourism and Community Participation. Production of Native Plants and Reforestation. Yamel is an active member in: National Alliance for the Conservation of the Jaguar (ANCJ); Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation;  and Academic Council for the organization of the Childhood Encounters for the Conservation of Birds, Sea Turtles and the Gulf of California.


Alex Ochoa

WFA Secretary, 2022-2024. 

Alex received his B.S. in Biology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He then obtained a PhD in Natural Resources (with emphasis in Wildlife Management and Conservation) from the University of Arizona, where he focused on topics related to population genomics and genetics of endangered mammals, particularly of different felid species.  In this regard, Dr. Ochoa has published scientific articles describing the evolution and demographic history of pumas, and the effects of multiple genetic introgression events in the Florida panther gene pool.  Alex has also collaborated on projects evaluating the genetic diversity and structure of jaguars and ocelots from the U.S.-Mexico border, and occurrence and diet of pumas and jaguars from Sonora, Mexico.  As a current postdoctoral scholar at the University of Central Florida, Alex continues research with population genomics questions associated with wildlife management and conservation.


Jennifer Timmer

Jennifer Timmer


Treasurer 2020-2025.  

Jennifer obtained her BS from Michigan State University in 2006. After working on a variety of wildlife projects in several states, including tracking bobcats in Iowa, and assisting with a puma study in Colorado, Jen returned to school to obtain her MS at Texas Tech University studying Lesser Prairie Chickens. She completed her PhD in Ecology at Colorado State University and now works for Bird Conservancy of the Rockies to assist partners with conservation needs and tools related to a breeding landbird monitoring program. Jennifer has been a member of WFA since 2010 and also served as the Colorado Student Representative for two years. 


Anthony Giordano

Past President 2020-2025; President 2016-2019; V.P. Latin America 2012-2015.
Anthony J. Giordano is the founder and executive director of S.P.E.C.I.E.S., an organization dedicated to the conservation of the world’s carnivores and the ecosystems that support them.  He holds a double major B.Sc. in zoology and environmental science, a M.Sc. in conservation biology and applied ecology, and a Ph.D. in wildlife science and management.  For his doctoral work, Anthony investigated the population status and genetics of jaguars in the Gran Chaco of Paraguay, where he received a Fulbright Scholarship for his jaguar conservation, landowner outreach, and capacity-building efforts.  Anthony has extensive experience with felid conservation issues and has field experience with a diversity of species, including pumas, clouded leopards, fishing cats, lions, leopards, tigers, jaguarundis, and ocelots  He is a member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group and The Explorer’s Club, serves on the Conservation Committee for the American Society of Mammalogists, and is an active board member for the Latin American section of the Society for Conservation Biology.  He has also published several dozen peer-reviewed scientific and popular articles. Anthony is a former Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship recipient (2010), and makes regular contributions to the Wild Felid Monitor


Brett Blum

Councilor 2022-2024. Brett received both his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Wildlife Ecology, Conservation and Management through the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment. Brett began his work with wild felids in 2008 while attending the U of A, conducting research on urban mountain lion prey dynamics and working as field coordinator on a jaguar reintroduction effort in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Campeche, Mexico. Subsequent research efforts have included work with a variety of carnivore species in sub-Saharan Africa, multiple projects aimed at understanding human-wildlife interactions as well as efforts to quantify ecological interactions of free-roaming horses on Federal lands. From the beginning Brett has focused on the importance of incorporating the human dimension of ecological study into his research with an emphasis on dialogue, collaboration and establishing mutually beneficial outcomes with diverse stakeholders. Today Brett manages the Santa Rita Experimental Range for the U of A where he facilitates a suite of research initiatives from soil to atmospheric science and all points in between. Brett has served as a volunteer for the U of A Wildcat Research and Conservation Center and serves as an advisor for landowner based Mexican Grey Wolf Range Riders monitoring program.

Jesse Lewis

Councilor 2022-2025.  Jesse is an applied ecologist who evaluates a diversity of research questions to inform the conservation and management of wildlife populations. He is an assistant professor at Arizona State University (2017 – present), where his work focuses on population and community ecology, habitat relationships of species, and disturbance ecology. Jesse and his graduate students work across the ecologically diverse landscapes in the southwestern US, ranging from the Sonoran desert of the Phoenix Valley evaluating urban ecology of bobcats, mountain lions, domestic cats, mule deer, bats, and other wildlife to the high elevation ponderosa pine and aspen forests in the White Mountains evaluating how wildlife (e.g., mountain lion, bobcat, black bear, elk, mule deer, wolves, coyotes, and other species) respond to mixed-severity wildfire. As part of research projects in his lab, Jesse works with a broad range of collaborators including AZ Game and Fish Department, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Bureau of Reclamation, and USDA Wildlife Services. Jesse also loves to teach and inspire the next generation of wildlife ecologists. At ASU, he teaches four classes covering introduction to wildlife management, wildlife ecology, large mammal habitat ecology, and ecological modeling using various statistical techniques. Jesse completed a post doc in Colorado (invasive wild pigs in the US), PhD from Colorado State University (bobcat and mountain lions in relation to urbanization), and MS from the University of Idaho (black bear highway crossings).  


Victor Luja

Councilor 2023-2025. Víctor received his B.S. in Biology in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, his M. S. in natural resources and rural development at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, and his Ph.D. in the use, management, and preservation of natural resources at Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste. In 2015, he began a project to monitor medium and large mammals (particularly the jaguar Panthera onca) in Nayarit, western Mexico. His main interest is to determine the status of populations of jaguars, other wild cats and their prey in environments highly modified by human activities outside natural protected areas. He uses camera traps, GPS collars and a lot of work with inhabitants of local populations. He has published several scientific articles in international journals, popular science articles and books. Currently, he full-time professor at the Autonomous University of Nayarit, western Mexico, member of the National Alliance for the Conservation of the Jaguar in Mexico, level 1 of the National Researcher System (National Council of Science and Technology, CONACyT) and founder of the Jaguares Sin Protección project

Susana Ilescas Furter

Susana Ilesca

Councilor 2022-2024. Susana graduated as a zootechnical veterinary doctor from the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico; later she received her master's degree in Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources from the Institute of Agricultural and Rural Sciences. She began her first projects in 2009 at the Center for Conservation and Research of Wildlife "Los Reyes La Paz", with the rehabilitation and reintroduction of birds of prey. In 2012, Susana was invited to participate in research projects on jaguars and other wild cats in Mexico. In Chiapas, the objectives were to determine felid home environment, displacement and territory using telemetry collars. In Quintana Roo, the objective was to identify wildlife crossings on the Mérida-Playa del Carmen highway. Susana was in charge of the chemical containment and handling of the specimens. Susana has participated with the National Alliance for Jaguar Conservation, which developed a continuous sampling protocol to understand the movement of populations, similarly to methods used by the Yaguará Panama Foundation, Panama. Susana recently participated in a bear monitoring project for National Geographic Young Explorers.

Kyle Thompson

Councilor 2023-2025. Kyle is a wildlife and restoration ecologist working for Primero Conservation on wild felid monitoring in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico and working collaboratively with landowners on invasive plant species mitigation and wildlife habitat restoration. He holds a B.S. in Wildlife and Restoration Ecology from Arizona State University and a M.S. in Wildlife Conservation and Management from the University of Arizona. His Master’s research was based on a jaguar surveying and monitoring project of southern Arizona and New Mexico in 2012-2016. Currently, he is part of on-going jaguar monitoring in Sonora, Mexico and a mountain lion population study in eastern Arizona. He also works with ranchers, landowners, biologists, and conservationists to carry out on-the-ground restoration and habitat improvement including native plant restoration, erosion control, prescribed fire, and collaborative conservation in southern Arizona. Kyle serves on the non-profit boards of the Fishing Cat Conservancy and Primero Conservation.




Former Council Members

John Beecham, Interim Council (2006-2008)

Chris Belden, Councilor (2006-2011)

Rogelio Carrera, Councilor (2016-2018)

Ivonne Cassaigne (2010-2013)

Melanie Culver, Councilor/Treasurer (2009-2013)

Deanna Dawn (2006-2010)

Rich DeSimone, Interim Councilor (2006-2008)
Mark Elbroch

Mark Elbroch, Councilor (2016-2018)

Lisa Haynes Lisa Haynes, Councilor (2019-2021)

Marcella Kelly (2010-2016)

Brian Kertson (2017-2022)

Gary Koehler, Interim Councilor (2006-2009)

Ken Logan, Secretary (2016-2018)

Mauro Lucherini (2017-2022)

Donny Martorello, Interim Councilor (2006-07)

Sharon Negri, Secretary (2006-2012)

Image: Rodrigo Nunez

Rodrigo Nunez, Councilor (2014-2016)

Sandra Ortiz, V.P. Latin America (2016-2021)

Christopher Papouchis, Councilor (2006-2016)

Suzie Prange, Secretary (2012-2015)

Aimee Rockhill, Councilor (2012-2015)

Stan Rullman, Councilor (2014-2016)

Toni Ruth, Councilor (2017-2022)

Laurel Serieys, Vice President North America (2012-2015)

Cheyenne Stewart

Cheyenne Stewart, Treasurer (2017-2019)

David Stoner, Councilor (2009-2013)
Linda Sweanor

Linda Sweanor, President (2006-2015), Past President (2016-2019)

Mike Tewes, Councilor (2009-2012)

Hugh Robinson (2006-2009)

Ron Thompson

Ron Thompson, Secretary 2019-2021

Jim Williams, WFA Council

Jim Williams, Vice President (2009-2012)