WFA Council Biographies


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Current Council Members

Linda Sweanor

Image: Linda Sweanor, Interim WFA President

Linda, WFA President, 2012-2015, earned her M.S. in Wildlife Sciences at the University of Idaho in 1990. She has been involved in puma research, including population ecology, puma-prey relationships, puma social organization and puma-human interactions, since 1985. Linda studied pumas in New Mexico for the Hornocker Wildlife Institute and in California for the University of California at Davis. She has co-authored several related professional papers and also co-authored with her husband, Ken Logan, Desert Puma: Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation of an Enduring Carnivore (2001). Linda recently assisted with a felid (puma, bobcat, domestic cat) disease transmission study as a Research Associate with Colorado State University and also volunteers on a puma population study in western Colorado. Linda is a founding member of WFA and served as interim president from 2007 to 2012.

Laurel Serieys

Image: Laurel Klein, VP
Laurel, WFA Vice President - North America 2012-2015, is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles and expects to complete her program fall 2012. Her research focuses on the impacts of urban development on disease susceptibility in bobcats in the urban, fragmented landscape around Los Angeles.Laurel has had a life-long ambition to study and work towards the conservation of wild felids. She began work with two species of wild felids in 2006 as an intern with the National Park Service in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. The position involved trapping mountain lions and bobcats and radio-telemetry of captured individuals.She continues to work in the same study area for her dissertation research, expanding her research skill set with a project that has involved extensive field and lab work. Laurel trapped bobcats for more than 2 years for her dissertation project, and is now completing laboratory efforts that include genetic analyses, immunological assays, and pesticide and disease exposure surveys. She has also increasingly become involved with community outreach and public education and to advance these efforts, has created and maintained a website (UrbanCarnivores. com) that informs the general public of local carnivore research and threats to their populations. Her research necessitates the col¬laboration between governmental agencies and multiple university research groups.

Anthony Giordano

Image: Christopher Papouchis, WFA Council
Anthony, V.P. Latin America 2012-2015, formally began his professional career in conservation after receiving an Honors B.Sc. in both Biology (Zoology) and in Environmental Science (Biology) from Long Island University at Southampton College. He also has a M.Sc. in Conservation Biol-ogy and Applied Ecology from Frostburg State University. Over the past 15 years Anthony has worked on carnivore conservation issues all over the world, most of which have involved felids. He is a Ph.D. student and Fulbright recipient (2011) at Texas Tech University, and is studying the ecology and population genetics of jaguars in the Paraguayan Chaco. Anthony also directs an emerg-ing nonprofit institution dedicated to international carnivore conservation through which he is involved in the management of no less than eight different felid conservation projects in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. These and other projects he helps direct are rooted in a holistic approach to regional wildlife conservation, from project design and research, through capacity-building and community awareness, to conservation strategy development and effecting change in government legislation and enforcement policy. Anthony has been an regional representative of the WFA since its inception, is a former Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship recipient (2010), and makes regular contributions to the Wild Felid Monitor

Suzie Prange

Image: Suzie Prange Secretary
Suzie, WFA Secretary 2012-2015, received her B.S. and M.S. in Biology from the University of South Alabama and her Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Missouri. She completed post-doctoral training at Ohio State University and is currently employed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Suzie serves as the state’s furbearer biologist, but the majority of her research is dedicated to threatened and endangered forest wildlife species. Over the past 5 years she has worked extensively with the state endangered bobcat, with her research focused on the distribution, abundance, genetic stability, and habitat associations of Ohio's recovering bobcat populations. Although she has worked with a number of carnivore species in the past, Suzie's current and growing involvement with felids fulfills a lifelong desire to work toward the conservation of these amazing animals. She has served on several executive boards and committees within The Wildlife Society and the American Society of Mammalogists.

Marcella Kelly

Image: Marcella Kelly, WFA Council

Elected to the WFA council for 2010-2013 and again ast WFA Treasurer for 2014-2016, Marcella received her B.S. and PhD from the University of California at Davis. Her PhD research was centered on Serengeti cheetah demography and viability as determined through photo-identification of cheetahs from a 25-year data set. She has worked on felids for 18 years and is currently an Associate Professor at Virginia Tech in the Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences Department. Her current research focuses on using non-invasive techniques such as remote cameras combined with mark-recapture and/or occupancy statistics to estimate demographic parameters for elusive species - particularly wild felids such as jaguars, ocelots, and pumas in Central America, bobcats in the U.S., leopard in Tanzania, and tigers in Indonesia and Nepal.

Rodrigo Nunez

Image: Rodrigo Nunez

Rodrigo earned his MS and PhD degrees at the Biology Institute at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma in Mexico City, Mexico. He is currently the president of the Jaguar Expert Group in Mexico, and he is the head biologist for Proyecto Jaguar at the Reserva de la Biosfera Chamela-Cuixmala, in Jalisco, Mexico. Rodrigo has worked for 14 years researching the jaguar, and as a result has also studied other felid species occupying the same habitats, namely pumas, ocelots, and jaguarundis.

Sandra Ortiz

Image: Sandra Ortiz
In 2006 Sandra received her veterinary degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry in Mexico City. She undertook a one-year internship in zoo animal medicine and husbandry at national zoos and worked in clinics and private hospitals intermittently. From 2008 to the present she has worked as a field veterinarian for the "Jaguar and puma conservation project, Calakmul Biosphere Reserve (CBR)" out of the Institute of Ecology at UNAM. She also works for two other jaguar projects in the Yucatan Peninsula and southern Mexico. She is currently finishing her Master of Animal Health Science at UNAM and her research project is focused on determining the prevalence of exposure to canine distemper virus in jaguars, pumas, and domestic dogs in the vicinity of the CBR.

Christopher Papouchis

Image: Christopher Papouchis, WFA Council

Chris, WFA Councilor, 2010-2016, and editor of the Wild Felid Monitor from 2008-2013, is An independent conservation scientist and adjunct professor of Natural Resources at American River College in Sacramento. Chris's professional background includes wildlife research, conservation, education and policy. He has conducted field research on carnivores, ungulates and raptors. Chris served as a conservation biologist for the Mountain Lion Foundation, focusing on public education and technical assistance programs to rural communities aimed at reducing human-puma conflicts and generating support for conservation. He has given numerous presentations and moderated technical sessions on puma research, management and conservation. Chris holds a B.A. in Government from Cornell University and a M.S. in Environmental Studies (Environmental biology) from Antioch University. He is currently working on a PhD in Environmental Studies focusing on puma conservation in the American West.

Aimee Rockhill

Image: Aimee Rockhill, WFA Council

Aimee, WFA Councilor 2012-2015, graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science in 1998. She worked on the Tobacco Genome Initiative Project for 3½ years before returning to graduate school at North Carolina State University. She received her M.S. in Forestry and is currently com¬pleting her Ph.D. in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, both at North Carolina State University. Aimee became interested in wild felid conservation during her PhD when she studied bobcat management and behavioral ecology. Her current research focuses on the efficacy of non-invasive survey techniques used for estimat-ing relative abundance and occupancy, understanding behavioral changes in movement and habitat use, and assessing anesthesia protocols necessary for efficient capture and release of bobcats. Aimee believes outreach and extension are important components of education and has participated by giving annual guest lectures and presentations to elementary, high school, and undergraduate students; often focusing on carnivore conservation and manage-ment. Also, she has presented her research results at numerous professional meetings and conferences. Aimee is currently the Mammalogy Instructor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and has taught Mammalogy and Mam-malogy Labs at North Carolina State University for 2 years.

Stan Rullman

Image: Stan Rullman
After obtaining his undergraduate degree in zoology, Stan became an intern with the Cincinnati Zoo's Cat Ambassador Program, then served as the zoo's Conservation Coordinator, overseeing the zoo's conservation partnerships. He left the zoo in 1998 fo focus on community-based conservation efforts with the Jane Goodall Institute in Tanzania. In 2003, Stan accepted a National Science Foundation Fellowship at the University of Washington and recently completed his PhD in Wildlife Science and Urban Ecology. His dissertation focus was on predator-prey relationships along the urban-to-wildland gradient.

Former Council Members

Donny Martorello (2007)

John Beecham

Image: John Beecham, WFA Council

An interim council member in 2007–2008, John has been involved in bear research and management since 1972. He completed his Ph.D (on Idaho black bears) at the University of Montana in 1980. He is a past president of the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA). John worked for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) for over 29 years, including 12 years researching black bear ecology. He has published scientific papers on bear ecology and rehabilitation methods, and co-authored, with Jeff Rohlman, the book A Shadow in the Forest - Idaho's Black Bear in 1994. He was a co-author of the Cougar Management Guidelines published in 2005. For 15 years at the IDFG, John supervised Idaho’s wildlife research program. John consults on efforts to release orphan bears back to the wild in the U.S. and elsewhere and conducts field work on brown bears in Greece and Turkey.

Chris Belden

Image: Chris Belden, WFA Council

A member of WFA's interim council from 2007–2008 and elected a council member in 2009, Chris began the Florida panther project in 1976 and was involved with it until he retired in December 2004 after 30 years with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He was involved in one way or another in all phases of panther research, but his main focus was on panther status and distribution and the feasibility of reintroducing additional panther populations. He was team leader of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services first Florida Panther Recovery Team from 1976-1981. In January 2005, Chris became the Florida Panther Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Ivonne Cassaigne

Image: Ivonne Cassaigne, WFA Council

Elected to the WFA council for 2010–2013, Ivonne earned her degree in Veterinary Medicine in 2000 and an MS in Animal Health in 2004 from UNAM in Mexico City, Mexico. Her thesis examined epizootics in bighorn sheep and the effects of initial population size. She has published on diseases of bighorn sheep, mountain sheep, tigers, and reptiles. As a veterinarian, Ivonne has worked on captive breeding and conservation of pumas, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn. After several years as a Professor of Veterinary Medicine at UNAM, Ivonne is currently working as the Director of Wildlife Health Services for the Latin American Program. She also supports programs in the USA, Botswana, and Ethiopia with her expertise on bighorn sheep, pronghorn, deer, howler monkeys, hyenas, lions, and elephants.

Melanie Culver

Image: Melanie Culver, WFA Council

Melanie, WFA Councilor 2009-2013, received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Utah in 1984 and her PhD in Biology from the University of Maryland in 1999. Her dissertation research was on molecular genetic variation, population structure, and natural history of pumas range-wide in North and South America. Melanie was also involved in paternity, kinship, forensics, and viral genetic studies on pumas while still a PhD student. Melanie did her postdoc at Virginia Tech where she continued genetic studies of felids and other wildlife species. Currently, Melanie is the Assistant Unit Leader of the Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (USGS) and also Assistant Professor in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Arizona. Her current research focus includes 2 areas of conservation genetics: molecular taxonomy and gene flow. Melanie's current felid research includes pumas, jaguars, and bobcats in Arizona and Mexico, as well as caracals in Namibia.

Deanna Dawn

Image: Deanna Dawn, WFA Council

An interim council member from 2007–2010, Deanna's interest in felids started with her graduate work at San Jose State University: an evaluation of puma management throughout the western United States. She conducted field research on pumas in South Dakota, California, and Idaho. She also assisted Dr Rod Jackson with the development of a study on snow leopards in Mongolia. Prior to her death in 2012, she was Field Program Coordinator for the California Cougar Project, a statewide assessment of cougar conservation needs in California and funded by the Panthera Foundation. Deanna's contributions to wild felid research, management and conservation live on as she is one of five biologists honored by the Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship.

Rich DeSimone

Image: Rich DeSimone, WFA Council

An interim council member from 2006–2008, Rich has been a Research Biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks since 1976. During this time he worked in several areas of the state with waterfowl, elk and most recently with mountain lions. Since 1997 he has headed a long-term research project in a heavily hunted area of western Montana. Goals of this research are to improve management by 1) better understanding the influence of sport hunting on population characteristics and 2) evaluating techniques designed to detect trend in lion abundance. Fieldwork was completed in 2007, and he currently is in the process of analysis and report writing.

Gary Koehler

Image: Gary Koehler, WFA Council

An interim council member in 2007–2009, Gary is a Wildlife Research Scientist with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WA F&W) where he has worked since 1994. He has conducted studies of American black bears with WA F&W, and he is presently conducting studies of Canada lynx and cougars, including an investigation on cougar behavior and demography in response to human development (known as "Project CAT or Cougars and Teaching). Prior to employment with WA F&W, Gary taught Wildlife Management at Moi Univeristy in Kenya where he supervised graduate student research projects. He has also spent time in China and India conducting research and carnivore surveys. He is a native of the Pacific Northwest in the USA where he has conducted surveys and research and published on a variety of carnivores including American marten, wolverine, bobcat, lynx, cougars, coyotes, and American black bears.

Sharon Negri

Sharon Negri, WFA Secretary

Interim WFA Secretary 2007-2012, Sharon has over 25 years of experience working on wildlife policy and conservation. She has worked in various state and local agencies addressing transportation, water, and marine issues. Sharon founded WildFutures in 1994 to help bridge the gap between the scientific and the conservation communities for the protection of wildlife and their habitats, with a special emphasis on carnivores. Since 1994, WildFutures has met high priority needs through a combination of networking, research and education. Sharon works to bring diverse groups and scientists together to develop innovative strategies to solve wildlife issues.

David Stoner

Image: David Stoner, WFA Council

David, WFA Councilor 2009-2013, is a Graduate Research Assistantat Utah State University working towards his PhD. He is the project leader on the Utah State Cougar Project - investigating cougar population dynamics, effects of hunting and urbanization, and refuge design. His dissertation title is "Anthropogenic factors affecting the behavior, social organization, and distribution of a solitary carnivore, Puma concolor." He received his MS in Wildlife Ecology frjom Utah State University in 2004 and his BA in Geography from UC Berkeley in 1992. He has worked for the US Forest Service, UC Santa Cruz's Predatory Bird Research Group as well as the USGS Biological Resources Division, Humboldt State University and the California Department of Fish and Game.

Mike Tewes

Image: Mike Tewes, WFA Council

Mike searved as a WFA Councilor from 2009-2012. His activities include 27 years of research, management, and conservation of 10 different cat species, including ocelot, bobcat, and cougar in Texas, jaguarundi, ocelot, and margay in Mexico, clouded leopard, golden cat, leopard cat, and marbled cat in Thailand, and leopard in Africa. His involvement includes: Chair Holder of the Frank D Yturria Endowed Chair in Wild Cat Studies, Regents Professor at Texas A&M University, University Coordinator at the Feline Research Center, Proprietor and owner of Cat Research and Management Consultants, and Executive Director and President of Wild Cat Conservation, Inc.

Ron Thompson

Image: Ron Thompson, WFA Council

An interim council member from 2007–2010, Ron obtained a BS in Wildlife Biology from the University of Arizona, and after a 4 year retirement, is once again working for the Arizona Game and Fish Department - now as a large carnivore biologist. Prior to this, he was a contract wildlife biologist capturing and radio collaring pumas for a desert bighorn sheep/puma interaction study on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge near Yuma, AZ. As a past contractor for the Turner Endangered Species Fund he assisted with a project to restore a subpopulation of desert bighorn sheep on a private ranch near Engle, NM through the application of an adaptive management strategy for pumas. In recent years he has worked with private ranch owners in Sonora, Mexico within an established jaguar conservation area. Conservation efforts are directed at utilizing working landscapes in the presence of livestock and sustainable wildlife resources to better protect jaguars.

Hugh Robinson

An interim council member from 2007–2009, Hugh is originally from Calgary, Alberta and completed his B.Sc. at the University of Calgary in Geography. Hugh was involved in cougar research in B.C. and Washington State from 1996 to 2007, completing his M.S. (2001) and Ph.D. (2007) at Washington State University. He continues to conduct research into predator–prey interactions (albeit on wolves) as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Montana.

Jim Williams

Image: Jim Williams, WFA Council

Elected WFA's Vice President for 2009-2012, Jim is currently the Wildlife Program Manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) in northwest Montana. Jim studied puma ecology for his Master's Degree on Montana's Rocky Mountain Front and Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. As a field biologist for FWP in central Montana, Jim managed big game populations, including puma and supervised a bighorn sheep and puma interaction project on Montana's Beartooth Wildlife Management Area. For the last ten years, in his role as a Wildlife Program Manager, Jim has supervised a talented group of research and management biologists as well as programs ranging from grizzly bear research and management to habitat conservation and acquisitions. Jim is currently Vice President of the Montana-Patagonia Chapter of the Partners of the Americas. Jim has been traveling to Argentina to work with Patagonia wildlife biologists on puma conflict and management issues in the southern hemisphere.