WFA Student Representatives
If you want to learn more about becoming a student rep for WFA, click here >
Student Rep Coordinator
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, 2013-2014
Marianela Vilella 2020-
Marianela Velilla, MS., is a Paraguayan Biologist from the National University of Asuncion with a Master's degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida as a result of a Fulbright scholarship. She also holds a graduate degree in Management and Conservation from Spain and has an Economics tools for Conservation at Stanford University. Currently, she is a PhD student at the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona, where she will be developing her dissertation focusing on jaguar-human conflicts. She is an an Associate Researcher and co-pi of the Jaguar program at one of Paraguay leading NGO´s for biodiversity conservation. Velilla, is a Category One PRONII Researcher (National Researcher Program-CONACYT-Science and Technology Council of Paraguay), known from her work related to jaguar ecology and conservation in the Chaco of Paraguay. She is a cofounder of SAITE, a Wildlife Research Institute in Paraguay. She has ten years of experience working with various conservation related issues, working in several wildlife research programs with local NGO´s and Universities
Anna Nisi 2017 -
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.
Ellie Bolas 2019-
Ellie Bolas earned a double major BA in environmental studies and religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is completing a MS in Ecology at the University of California, Davis, and will begin her PhD in the same program in the fall of 2019. Her master’s research takes place on the California Channel Islands, and investigates the historical biogeography and population status of island spotted skunks, as well as their ecological relationships with island foxes. Ellie’s PhD will focus on predator-prey relationships between mountain lions and mule deer in urban and fire-prone ecosystems in the greater Los Angeles area. Outside of research, Ellie has worked extensively in science education and is an advocate for expanding diversity and equity in science and public access to engagement in research.
Annie Kellner, 2018-
Annie Kellner is a PhD student in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at Colorado State University. After spending seven years in the non-profit sector, Annie chose to redirect her career into conservation science. Her research interests generally include carnivore ecology, movement ecology, disease ecology, and anthropogenic impacts on wildlife. She is currently studying polar bear spatial ecology and terrestrial habitat selection in George Wittemyer’s lab. Her Master’s work concerned cross-species transmission between wild felids and domestic cats. Annie lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband and two young children, and her 14 year-old tabby cat/head-of-household, Methuselah.
Cameron Macias, 2020 -
Cameron is a PhD student at the University of Idaho under Dr. Lisette Waits and in collaboration with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and Panthera. She is a member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe in Port Angeles, WA and her graduate research examines cougar and bobcat population genetics and ecology in her Tribe's historic use area. She is using a combination of non-invasive genetic sampling (scat found using scat-detection dogs), GPS collars, and remote cameras to estimate population sizes, interactions, and movement and dispersal patterns of these two felid populations. A goal of the Olympic Cougar Project is to support connectivity research and test model outcomes with real data.
Meredith Palmer, 2015 -
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 (www.snapshotserengeti.com) 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.
North Dakota & South Dakota
Marlin Dart, 2019 -
Marlin Dart is an MS student in Robert C. Lonsinger’s Lab at South Dakota State University researching the influences of landscape patterns, land-cover features, and intraguild interactions on bobcat patterns of occurrence. After graduating with a BS in Zoology from North Dakota State University, Marlin spent time working on diverse mammalian research projects around the country including researching prairie dog mating behavior in New Mexico, mongoose disease ecology in Hawaii, and predator (coyotes, raccoons, and skunks) community dynamics and waterfowl nest survival in South Dakota. His research interests include carnivore ecology, predator-prey dynamics, intraguild competition, habitat fragmentation, and landscape connectivity.
Nathan Proudman, 2021 -
Nathan Proudman is a PhD student in wildlife ecology and management at Oklahoma State University. He currently studies numerous components of bobcat ecology, their population trends, and abundances, in the state of Oklahoma. His research involves both citizen-science-derived occupancy data collected by student volunteers, and genetic capture-recapture studies in three areas of specific interest, using a combination of non-invasive methods. Originally from South Wales in the UK, Nathan received his bachelor’s degree in Biology from Bath Spa University in 2015. As part of his undergraduate research, and in collaboration with the research group Operation Wallacea, he studied niche separation in sympatric primate species in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Peru. Nathan obtained his master’s degree in animal ecology from Lund University, Sweden in 2018. His MS research focused on the behavioural responses of red deer to human hunters and wolves in the Białowieża Forest, Poland, and was conducted in co-operation with Polish Academy of Science’s Mammal Research Institute. He moved to the USA in the summer of 2018 to commence his doctoral studies. Since 2019, Nathan has been the ‘student at large’ for the Central Plains Society of Mammalogists.
Joel Ruprecht, 2019-
Joel is working on his PhD at Oregon State University under Dr. Taal Levi and in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the US Forest Service. His research examines the spatial ecology of cougars, bobcats, black bears and coyotes in and around Starkey Experimental Forest and Range in northeast Oregon. He is using GPS collar data to determine how predators and prey make space use decisions based on the proximity of each other. He is also evaluating the relative performance of trail cameras and genetics in estimating population densities using spatial capture recapture models. Joel is originally from Idaho and has a MS in Ecology from Utah State University and bachelors degrees in Ecology and Conservation Biology and Spanish from University of Idaho. He hopes to someday study the jaguars roaming borderlands of the southwestern US and northern Mexico.
Claudia Stout, 2018-
Claudia graduated from Colorado State University in 2008 with a BS in Natural Resource Management and a minor in Forestry. After that she spent several years working in the field with different wildlife species including the California condor, Gunnison sage grouse, and the black-tailed prairie dog. Most recently she worked for the Colorado State Forest Service as a crew leader for the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program. Claudia is currently at Utah State University to get her masters. She plans to use the FIA data to quantify Canada Lynx habitat as well as which management strategies lead to the best broad-scale and long-term habitat.
Samantha Zwicker, 2021-
Samantha Zwicker is completing her doctorate in the Quantitative Ecology Laboratory at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her current doctorate and nonprofit research is being undertaken in the lower Peruvian Amazon and involves: assessing the effects of land use change on felids and their prey using camera trapping; estimating densities of regional jaguar and ocelot populations; investigating interspecific competition and spatiotemporal overlap between sympatric carnivores; and creating protocols for reintroducing felids to the wild. Sam is also the founder of conservation nonprofit Hoja Nueva and cofounder of wildlife sanctuary Wild World Initiative in Peru. Sam was a Wild Felid Legacy Scholar in 2019 for her project investigating felid diets and felid spatiotemporal overlap in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. She also received an NIH Global Health scholarship in 2017 and became a Panthera Grantee in 2020 to better investigate the smaller, more elusive and often arboreal felids of the Amazon rainforest. Sam received her bachelor’s with honors from the University of Washington's Program on the Environment in 2012, her master’s in wildlife ecology in June of 2015, and a degree in Nonprofit Management in 2016.
Wyoming & Montana
Jennifer Feltner, 2020-
Originally from Boston, Jen Feltner is a wildlife biologist with nine years of experience studying mammal ecology and population dynamics in the Rocky Mountain West, Latin America and Asia. She has a degree in Chinese from Dartmouth College and a previous background in foreign policy, international security and non-profit management. Since embarking on a career change to wildlife biology in 2008, the majority of her field and research projects have focused on large carnivores and ungulates. For her PhD research at the University of Montana with advisor Dr. L. Scott Mills, Jen is studying cougar ecology, intraguild competition and predator-prey dynamics in the southern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Jen’s PhD project is a large collaborative effort between UM, Panthera, the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Craighead Beringia South. Prior to joining Panthera's Teton Cougar Project as a graduate student researcher, Jen studied jaguars and cougars in Arizona, Mexico, Colombia and Colorado in addition to several years working with bighorn sheep at Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Jen is a also a Level III Tracker with CyberTracker Conservation.
Mitchell Flowers, 2018-2019
Mitchell is now WFA's Regional Rep for Western Canada.
Past Student Representatives:
ARIZONA: Ashwin Naidu, U of A, 2013-15
CALIFORNIA: Yiwei Wang, UCSC, 2013-15; Veronica Yovovich, UCSC 2013-2016; Justine Smith 2016-2019
COLORADO: Patrick Lendrum, CSU, 2015-2017; Jen Timmer, CSU, 2013-2014.
FLORIDA: Brandi-Jo Petronio, University of Florida, 2013
GEORGIA: Kelsey Turner, U of GA, 2016-17; Barbara Shock, University of Georgia, 2011-2014
KENTUCKY: Glen Kalisz, Eastern Kentucky University, 2016
NEVADA: Sarah Hegg, University of Nevada, 2014-15
ILLINOIS: Rebecca Lyon, SIU, 2017; Jessica Fort, SIU, 2015; Julia Smith, SIU, 2013-14
NORTH CAROLINA: Michael Cove, NC State University, 2013-2015.
NORTH & SOUTH DAKOTA: Emily Mitchell, SDSU, 2018
OREGON: Beth Orning, OSU, 2015-2019
TEXAS: Price Rumbelow, Sul Ross State University 2014-16; Michael Stangl, Sul Ross State University 2017-19
UTAH: Peter Mahoney, USU 2015; Jonathan Fusaro, USU 2014; Cheyenne Burnett, USU 2013
WASHINGTON: Michael Havrda UW, 2016-17; Matt Warren, Western Washington University, 2014-15
WYOMING & MONTANA: Colby Anton UCSC, 2015-2019
CANADA - ALBERTA: Mitchell Flowers, Univ of Alberta, 2018-2019