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Director of Research & Education
Mithriel M MacKay
Degree: PhD Marine Biology
Education: Texas A&M University at Galveston
Residency: Pipe Creek, Texas, USA
Languages: English, Spanish
I am interested in behavioral ecology of cetaceans with a particular interest in social structures. My dissertation research focuses on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) wintering off Puerto Rico, USA. Passive acoustic monitoring, photographic identification, photogrammetry, and theodolite tracking are among the methods I am using to characterize habitat, occupancy, and movement of whales. In addition to my dissertation research, I develop curriculum for programs studying the ecology of Puerto Rico, and life history of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Galveston-Houston ship channels.
I received my Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology/clinical laboratory science from Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. My career path continued in medicine, including actively working as a paramedic and as an instructor of advance life support classes, for almost 30 years before I returned to graduate school where I earned my Master of Marine Resources Management. I am in the process of earning a PhD in Marine Biology, and continue to provide curriculum to people interested in investigating marine flora, fauna, and ecosystems. I established the Marine and Coastal Ecology Research Center in order to provide a place for students of marine science, biology, and ecology to participate in research gaining valuable field experience in the current economy.
I am originally from Massachusetts where I spent much of my time exploring the marine and coastal environment as well as the woodland areas hiking, camping, and boating. In 1996 I moved my four children and two iguanas to the Texas Hill Country where the scenery changed but the excitement of investigating the ecology remained the same. My new career path is beginning to satisfy the need to travel and explore the marine environment, while returning to Texas and Puerto Rico to spend time with my family.
I received my B.S. from the Pennsylvania State University in Biology and Marine Science, and my M.S. from the University of Texas at Brownsville in Biology. While at Penn State I used acoustics to guide me to answering ecological questions involving fish in a Pennsylvania lake and zooplankton in the Bering Sea. My Masters work focuses on developing methodology to use side scan sonar to survey fish abundance and biomass on artificial reefs in the Western Gulf of Mexico.
My interests focus on using acoustic techniques to answer ecological questions. I am particularly interested in reef ecosystems, whether they’re coral reefs, artificial reefs or oyster reefs. I generally focus on fisheries ecology using both active and passive acoustic techniques.
During my undergraduate career I served as a teaching assistant for both an intro to basic scuba course and a coral reef systems course. After graduating I worked as a Marine Science Educator in Wallops Island, Virginia where we specialized in coastal ecology. As a graduate student, I will serve as a teaching assistant for a coral reef ecology course in Belize in May 2015.
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources; Ph.D. in Zoology
Education: Cornell (B.S.); Oxford (Ph.D)
Residency: Choctaw, OK, U.S.A.
I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from Cornell University in New York in 2000 and conducted my graduate work at Oxford University (United Kingdom), where I earned my Ph.D. in Zoology in 2004.
My research focuses on avian population and community ecology, particularly secretive prairie species. In addition, I am also involved in modeling the effects of climate change on the distribution of organisms including birds, reptiles, plants, and parasites. Finally, I examine how well citizen science and museum collections describe biodiversity in a given area.
I am a Professor of Biology at the University of Central Oklahoma, where I teach a variety of upper-level classes in ecology, GIS, and statistics. The courses I teach include General Ecology, Ecological Methods, Introduction to Biological Research, Biometrics, Ornithology, GIS & Ecology, and Tropical Field Biology. I enjoy conducting ecological research with both undergraduate and graduate students.
I became interested in birds when I was five years old and saw my first American Goldfinches. That passion for birds has stayed with me ever since. Ornithology is a field that relies upon the observations of both amateurs and scientists in order to progress, and I encourage everyone with an interest in birds to contribute their sightings to citizen science projects such as eBird.
Degree: Bachelor of Science, Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences
Education: Texas A&M University
Residency: Tampa, FL, USA
I graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, specializing in vertebrate zoology.
My research interests center around herpetofauna with a focus on invasive species and conservation.
I have known I wanted to work with wildlife forever. Growing up it was hard for me to decide between becoming a herpetologist or marine biologist. Now I get to do both! I have traveled to South Africa to study nature-based tourism, done field work in Mississippi working with herps, small mammals, and vegetation, and was a chimp caretaker at a sanctuary in San Antonio, TX. I was also a veterinary technician for 7 years working with small and large animals as well as some exotics. I currently work as a research associate for a company that provides marine mammal and protected species observers for marine construction, oil, and seismic companies in addition to being a member of the BOD for MCERC.
Degree: Bachelor of Science Biology; minor: Captive Wild Animal Management
Education: University of Missouri
Residency: Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A.
Languages: English, limited proficiency in French
My interests focus on behavioral ecology, specifically cetaceans in the wild with an aim at conservation. Traveling is an important part of my career because growing up and studying in Missouri limited opportunities for gaining experience as a field biologist studying marine species.
I participated in a study abroad program in Queensland, Australia after my second year at University of Missouri. I developed and conducted three experiments involving the marine ecology along Australia’s east coast. After my study abroad, I was a fish and invertebrate intern at the aquarium in the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska where I enjoyed working with sharks and rays. Following graduation from university I was a research assistant on the Bosphorus Dolphin Project in Istanbul, Turkey where I participated in surveys from land and boat platforms aimed at determining the impact of marine vessels in the Istanbul Strait on three cetacean species.
Why I'm Here:
Interning at MCERC is a good fit for my career objectives and personal goals because I see great potential for helping the conservation of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). As a
research assistant I am able to fully participate in field research from land, boat, and aerial platforms learning methods and studying the behaviors and life history of humpback whales. I am
fully involved in training and utilization of Mysticetus Cetacean Observation Platform software for data collection.
I love being outdoors, especially in warm weather! I can spend hours on the beach snorkeling and SCUBA diving or days camping and hiking in the mountains. I am eager to try new experiences (just about anything) at least once and want to travel as much as possible!
Heidi C. Pearson
Current Affliations: MCERC, University of Alaska at Juneau, Assistant Professor
Texas A&M University at Galveston, Adjunct faculty
Degree: PhD Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences
Education: Texas A&M University
Residency: Juneau, Alaska
I have been studying marine mammals for 15 years. My major research interests lie in applying behavioral ecological theory towards: 1) understanding the evolution of social, mating, and maternal strategies in marine mammals; 2) examining social convergence between cetaceans and primates; and 3) species conservation. My study species have included dusky dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, sea otters, lemurs, and colobus monkeys. My current research is focused on analyzing the effects of climate change and mussel farming on dusky dolphins in New Zealand, exploring potential evolutionary pathways towards social convergence between bottlenose dolphins and chimpanzees, and examining maternal strategies of humpback whales on the Alaskan feeding grounds.
Over the past 10 years, I have taught courses in biology, marine biology, ecology, and environmental studies at Drake University, Northeastern University, Texas A&M University, and Texas A&M University at Galveston. I am currently a Lecturer at Stony Brook University in New York. I particularly enjoy teaching courses in marine vertebrate biology and mentoring undergraduate students on independent study projects.
I received my Ph.D. in Wildife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University, and my B.S. from Duke University in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy and Biology.
Degree: Master's Degree
Country of citizenship: USA
Languages: (fluent and limited proficiency): English and Novice Spanish
Education: University of North Carolina Wilmington, Texas A&M University, Oregon State University
I am a coastal ecologist with over 8 years of field, laboratory and teaching experience relating to salt marsh, seagrasses, coastal fisheries and coastal management issues. My primary research interest is to aid in defining the balance between human needs and interactions and the need for management and conservation of the coastal ecosystems.
Education and Professional Development:
I received a master’s degree from Texas A&M University in 2010 and a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2008.
My master’s thesis evaluated the ecosystem integrity of salt marsh habitats using a localized rapid assessment method. Following my degree, I worked as a Conservation Specialist at Ducks Unlimited to coordinate wetland and habitat restoration projects throughout the mid-Atlantic region. I now work for Tetra Tech, Inc. an environmental consulting firm, conducting marine and terrestrial habitat assessments throughout the United States. I am continuing my education through Oregon State University to obtain a graduate certificate in Fisheries Management.