Current Graduate Students

Emily Dark photoEmily Dark, Former CTEC Education Coordinator
MS Candidate Conservation Biology

My primary research interests are directed towards tropical coastal marine conservation. I am extremely interested in the ecological connectivity between coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, seagrass and coral reefs. Not only studying these individual systems, but their overall functioning together on a landscape scale, is crucial for their management and conservation. The health of these ecosystems and their connectivity directly affects not only the organisms that depend upon them, but also communities all around the world. I am intrigued and alarmed that a large percent of the human population lives on or in close proximity to the coasts and that coastal ecosystems are some of the most threatened and degraded in the world. Therefore, I am also interested in pursuing involvement in such things as Community-based Conservation and Integrated Coastal Management. Particularly, I am interested in how these management methods can be effectively used in climate change mitigation and fisheries management.

I have always had a passion for the marine world, but my experiences living in Puerto Rico before Antioch really inspired me to pursue academics in this field. My research interests have evolved through different experiences such as interning at the Smithsonian Marine Lab in Fort Pierce, Florida. There I conducted a research project in the Indian River Lagoon on the use of mangroves by different communities of juvenile fish across a landscape gradient. I also conducted preliminary research on lionfish invading into these mangrove communities and what the potential impacts may be on native fish communities and food webs. This has led to my MS thesis project that will focus on the efficiency of targeted removals of lionfish in the Indian River Lagoon, as well as their diet in this critical fisheries estuary.


Katelynn F photoKatelynn Frei, CTEC Education Coordinator
MS Candidate Conservation Biology

I have always been interested in small to medium sized mammals both in tropical and desert areas. This interest started during my undergraduate studies at Angelo State University in west-central Texas. I worked with using remote-infrared camera traps to take mammalian surveys and to study habitat preferences between hog-nosed skunks and nine-banded armadillos. During the summer of 2012, I went on a trip to Costa Rica and Panama and used the camera traps for a continued survey on diurnal and nocturnal mammals. Since then, I have been interested in the distribution, habitat preferences, density, and conservation of nocturnal mammals. The skills that I am currently obtaining now and that I have learned in my undergraduate will help me provide further knowledge for conserving land for the mammals that have cryptic lifestyles.

My proposed master’s thesis will be to use remote infrared camera traps to assess the distribution, density, and diversity of nocturnal primates in the Albertine Rift of southeastern Africa.


Melissa G photoMelissa Gaydos
MS Candidate Conservation Biology

The field of conservation biology has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. Before enrollment at Antioch, it was difficult for me to narrow my focus as several avenues within the interdisciplinary umbrella of conservation biology interested me. As the majority of my undergraduate research focused on the aquatic sciences, I at least knew that I wanted to continue in that direction. During the summer of 2012 I had the opportunity to intern at the Vieques Conservation & Historical Trust in Puerto Rico where I garnered my first introduction to marine biology and sea turtle conservation. Needless to say, upon years of searching, I had finally found my niche.

For my master’s thesis, I will be monitoring the nests of leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) at Playa Grande – a popular nesting beach in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Through out the 2013 nesting season (February-July) I will be measuring incubation temperatures of multiple leatherback nests with the intent of understanding how nest temperatures are influenced by ambient weather conditions, specifically precipitation. Like most reptiles, Leatherback turtles experience temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), where incubation temperatures determine the sex of the offspring. By monitoring nest temperatures during the 2013 nesting season, I hope to provide a baseline understanding of natural sex ratios being produced at Playa Grande. Furthermore, documentation of how annual and seasonal changes in weather affect leatherback sex ratios will become especially important as global temperatures continue to shift. Monitoring these effects is essential given current projections of human population growth occurring in tropical coastal areas. Having such knowledge will improve our ability to predict how land use and global climate changes will affect future leatherback populations – allowing us to make more informed, adaptive management decisions for this endangered species.


Alexis Hand photoAlexis Hand
MS Candidate Conservation Biology

My current research interests center around management of wild populations and population dynamics. Over the years I have developed a strong passion for both municipally and federally governed wildlife management issues. My past research has dealt with ecological and behavioral aspects of avian biology. I gained a lot of hands on experience while in Guancaste, Costa Rica and equally important lab experience while working on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Project.

For my Master’s thesis I plan to study the harp seal populations that have been managed by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans for many years. I am particularly interested in the effects of climate change on their populations and how this in turn affects the total allowable catch of the harp seal every year. I am currently looking for an organization to collaborate with to begin my thesis work. I support CTEC by helping with coffee and tea sales, volunteering at the annual symposium and participating in brown bag lunches.


Kathy Henley photoKathy Henley, CTEC Outreach Coordinator
MS/PSM Candidate Environmental Education

I have always had a fascination and love for wildlife, especially wolves and wild dogs. Because becoming a full time biologist didn’t feel like a good fit for me, I never thought I would have a career helping these amazing animals. I started volunteering at the Denver Zoo in 2010 and was introduced to informal education and interpretation. I have since been working on developing and refining my skills as educator, interpreter and researcher though my graduate work, volunteering and internships. With these skills I will be able to achieve my goal of preserving imperiled wolves wild dogs.

My research will focus on the wild dog-human conflictwhy wild dogs are seen as pests and domesticated dogs are seen as ‘man’s best friend’and how education can help eradicate the common misconceptions people have about wolves due to mythologies and media.


Erica Hermsen photoErica Hermsen,
MS Candidate Conservation Biology

Large carnivore conservation and community-based education are two of my leading passions. As a third year AUNE graduate student, I have been able to combine these interests for an exciting and fulfilling research experience.

My Master’s thesis focuses on determining what type of scent, sound, and/or visual lure attracts cheetahs to traps for radio-collaring. In May 2012, I conducted a pilot study at the San Diego Zoo testing the reaction of cheetahs to a variety of bait items. Bait types shown to be of interest to captive cheetahs were used in the field study. During the summer of 2012, I set up camera- traps at bait stations throughout southern Kenya and analyzed photographs to determine what bait type(s) most significantly attracted cheetahs. I am now in the process of writing my thesis. Results will be provided to the organization Action for Cheetahs in Kenya and the Kenya Wildlife Service for use in conservation research.

I currently work as a scientist for a large environmental consulting firm. In the future, I hope to manage in-situ conservation projects for an AZA accredited zoo or a US based big cat conservation organization. Such a position would allow me to balance work between international and domestic conservation efforts.


Charzy Jones photoCharissa Charzy Jones
MS Candidate Environmental Education

The overall focus in my research is at the interface of people and the environment, with my perception of “environment” including built as well as natural landscapes and their biophysical and social dimensions. I am particularly interested in the interface of culture and conservation and how culture filters what “conservation” is to various people. I am also interested in figuring out how community development can foster environmental protection while at the same time meeting the needs of its members.

My research focuses on citizen participation and stakeholder engagement in conservation activities. I believe that focusing on these aspects will help increase environmental awareness and interest in land stewardship and the importance of biodiversity. I am committed to collaborating with tribal and indigenous, local, regional, federal, and international communities, researchers, and stakeholders as part of achieving this goal.


Eliza PhotoEliza Kovnat, CTEC Project Coordinator
MS Candidate Sustainable Development and Climate Change

I am a person that is dedicated to strengthening as well as building sustainable communities and organizations. I have not been able to reconcile my intrigue of varying human as well as non-human communities and the sustainability of the planet. The path of bringing these two passions together has led me on adventures through Europe, New Zealand and Australia, Canada, and most recently to the backwoods of New England. I have sharpened my skills as an educator, researcher, community organizer and environmental steward. I aim to put these skills to use while assisting, and maybe even inspiring, the process of shifting away from unsustainable societal, economic, and environmental practices towards a more renewable world.

My research will focus on how we can better bring all members of the community together, civil society, government and the private sector alike, so we can work as one unit in addressing the plethora of environmental issues that affect our societies today.


McArd Joseph photoMcArd Joseph Mlotha
PhD Candidate Environmental Studies

My interest includes advanced Geographical Information Science applications for environmental conservation and management. Specifically, I am interested in analyzing tropical ecosystems, Climate change impacts, land use history, land use and land cover change assessment linked to socio-economic analysis, landscape ecology, geo-database management and teaching GIS/remote sensing related courses for natural resources management. Currently am working on vegetation mapping for Nyungwe National Park and analyzing land use/land cover change impacts upon ecosystem services in montane tropical forest of Rwanda focusing on forest carbon assessment and mapping.


amanda moeser photo1Amanda Moeser, CTEC Information Coordinator
MS Candidate Conservation Biology

My primary research interests revolve around the conservation of freshwater and diadromous fish. My passion for fisheries began while living and studying in Washington State, where I observed the unique role that salmon play in both the cultural and ecological landscape of the Pacific Northwest. Fish are connected to people in so many waysas a source of sustenance and commerce, as the backbone of so many culturesyet they are often overshadowed by more visible, more charismatic species in the conservation world.

While at Antioch, I hope to explore fisheries from the Conservation Biology perspective, rather than a traditional fisheries management vantage point. I am still developing my thesis topic, but plan to pursue research relating the American eel, Anguilla rostrataa not-so-beautiful, but truly spectacular and fascinating fish. I currently live in Portland, Maine and work with farmers and fishermen on collaborative, community-driven projects.


Elizabeth P photoElizabeth Pascale
MS Candidate Conservation Biology

Entomology and Biodiversity Conservation are my primary passions. These passions were first developed through an internship in 2008 at the Boston Museum of Science’s Butterfly Garden, where I had the opportunity to work up close with butterflies and learn about the Garden’s conservation efforts. A subsequent Restoration Ecology class trip to Panama continued to foster these passions through our traveling and work in the country’s dry- and rain-forests. Since that time I have continued to develop my skills through wildlife care volunteering and an internship with New Hampshire Fish and Game. This internship with NH Fish and Game’s Karner Blue Butterfly and Concord (NH) Pine Barrens Program inspired my Master’s thesis and helped me to develop skills I will be using to achieve my research goals.

My Master’s thesis will focus on the role that ants play in the survival of the federally-listed, endangered Karner blue butterfly in the Concord, NH pine barrens. I will collect data on ant species composition found in conjunction with the Karner blue’s sole host plant, wild blue lupine. This data will be compared Karner blue population survey data in order to determine the significance of ant-Karner relationships in this habitat. Results from this study will advise on whether NH Fish and Game needs to include ants in their management plan in order to reach federal recovery goals for the local Karner blue population.


Tamathay S photoTamathy Stage
MS Candidate Conservation Biology

My lifelong passion for nature, especially wildlife, fueled my goals for a career based in conservation, research, and/or wildlife management. My fascination has included the tropics since I was a child, and I read and watched anything that was available to me on the subject. As an undergraduate I took advantage of the opportunity to take a class trip to Costa Rica. Aware that behaviors locally could affect distant places, the trip helped me understand the specifics of those relationships. During the last several years I’ve had the chance to work in several different parts of the U.S. and whatever the locale, I made the effort to learn as much as a could about the local flora and fauna . Much of my focus has been on animal behavior and habitat conservation, including the effects of non-native invasive species. My Master’s thesis deals with muskrat preference for native cattails as opposed to the invasive wetlands plants, particularly common reed (Phragmites australis). The goal is to determine if the invasive species influence site selection for construction by muskrats, and if the muskrats are willing to use the novel plants as building material. Currently, there is very little literature concerning this question, despite much of the habitat that has been altered by the influx of the common reed.

A starting career in environmental education combined with training in wildlife management and research puts me in a unique position of a broad range of experience. My experience in wildlife research has included work with birds, turtles, small mammals, and muskrats. The work required skills using ArcView, handheld GPS units, local bird identification by sight and sound, knowledge of live trapping protocols, radio telemetry, as well as local tree and plant identification. I also enjoyed the chance to be trained in fundamentals of butterfly identification. By bridging the communication gap between scientists, lay people, and policy makers, I hope the shared knowledge will lead to a more informed and sound decision making process.


Christina W photoChristina Wesolek
PhD Candidate Environmental Studies

I am interested in the natural history, conservation efforts and human impact on animal species ; some species of interests are: sea turtles, whales, Lesser Adjutant Storks, birds of prey, moose, elephants, rhinos, and big cats. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Biology from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Bronx, NY. I received my Master’s degree in Comparative Psychology from the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio. During my graduate work, I studied comparative hearing in mammal species.

I spent two years working with African elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as a Research Scientist. I have also been an Environmental Day Camp Director for Massachusetts Audubon Society, and worked as the Curatorial Assistant for the Bird Department at the Bronx Zoo in NYC. I have traveled and worked with youth programs in both China and Japan. Presently, I am the Director for Alumnae/i Relations, and an Adjunct Professor in the Division of Natural Sciences at the College of Mount Saint Vincent.

After visiting Antioch in 2001, I finally entered the Environmental Studies Ph.D. program at Antioch New England in 2012. I look forward to pursuing research in sea turtle conservation, and how it is impacted by global environmental change, and the connection and involvement with local communities. I am also working with Beth Kaplin as the Assistant Network Coordinator for the Regional Network of Conservation Educators in the Albertine Rift (RNCEAR).


William_PhotoApollinaire William, CTEC Program Manager
PhD Candidate Environmental Studies

I am interested in participatory and action research, working with local communities and stakeholders at various levels, through interdisciplinary platform, to address local environmental problems, within a framework of integrated watershed management, using various skills that include GIS and remote sensing, and hydrological modeling tools. I am also interested in empowering young scholars and women to address current environmental challenges through their active engagement in a research process, by providing them with skills and tools needed to make their participation more effective. Climate adaptation and mitigation, food security, biodiversity conservation with focus on primates, birds, and amphibians are at the core of my interests.

My research project is based in the northern province of Rwanda. A region that experiences frequent floods disasters. Food security in the region is at stake in the face climate change, poverty and blooming population in the region. My research taps into local community groups’ and stakeholders’ investigates perspectives with regards to the nature of climate change, approaches to better address the challenge for food security and biodiversity conservation. The research empowers local stakeholders by offering to them low-cost tools and skills needed locally for effective monitoring and analysis of climate change in the region and by engaging them through the whole process of the research.

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