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M.S. in Ecology Students

Read below to learn more about our current M.S. in Ecology students

Alissa Bevan

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Advisor: Dr. Magee

Email: alissa.bevan@western.edu

I graduated from Western in 2018 and went on to work with Colorado Parks and Wildlife here in Gunnison. I was working with the biologists to help monitor ungulate survival using collared animals as a study sample for the population. My work with Colorado Parks and Wildlife is what brought me to graduate school and my thesis focus. My research focuses on how recreation is impacting elk and deer across Gunnison County. With recreation quickly growing in popularity it is important for research to examine the impacts so that managers can address any problems before they are irreversible.

Courtney King

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Advisor: Dr. Young

Email: courtney.king@western.edu

My name is Courtney King and I am originally from New York State, where I received my B.S. in Biology from SUNY Geneseo. After graduating, I spent a year as a Member of AmeriCorps Cape Cod, where I was able to participate in a wide array of activities related to land management, environmental education and disaster response. Through this and other positions, I have enjoyed being able to assist with various fisheries and wildlife surveys and habitat management efforts. My interests include predator-prey dynamics, food webs, winter ecology, the impacts of human activities on wildlife, and conservation biology. During my time at Western, I am excited to be studying the impacts of winter recreation on Canada lynx and snowshoe hares.

Rhyann Lowrey

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Advisor: Dr. DeMarco

Email: rhyann.lowrey@western.edu

Hi, I’m Rhyann! After a four-year hiatus on the East Coast, I decided to come back to the beautiful Rocky Mountains to pursue my passion for ecology! I am interested in the effects of rock climbing on invasive species and soil health, and what can be done to mitigate damaging use of climbing areas so that people can enjoy recreation in a healthy ecosystem. My aim is to have recreation and ecology come together to create a sustainable environment for future generations to enjoy!

Cassandra Mendoza

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Advisor: Dr. Young

Email: cassandra.mendoza@western.edu

My research interests included everything bear! Black bears to brown bears and beyond. These large charismatic megafaunas are quite intelligent creatures that provide so much to the ecosystems they live in and a deep look into not only how trophic cascades function, but also how the humans can play a major role in these animals’ lives. These tough, sturdy and resilient animals are found across the world dealing with many different issues from human conflict to climate change effects. My hope is my research can make a difference for bears here in Gunnison but eventually for bears anywhere and everywhere!

Ellie Orr

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Advisor: Dr. Magee

Email: ellie.orr@western.edu

My name is Ellie Orr and I am the first M.S. in Ecology 3+2 student. I plan to focus my research towards the impacts of human disturbance on wildlife. Specifically, I will be conducting a human disturbance study on the Great Blue Heron colony that resides in the Slate River Valley.

Brittany Phelan

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Advisor: Dr. DeMarco

Email: brittany.phelan@western.edu

Hi! My name is Brittany and I am a M.S. Ecology student at Western Colorado University. Recently, I became a long distance hiker, completing the 500-mile long Colorado Trail. My research interests are wildlife-human conflicts and recreation impacts on the environment.

Kristin Ross

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Advisor: Dr. Magee

Email: kristin.ross@western.edu

I am originally from Gorham, ME. I got my bachelor’s degree in Biology from Binghamton University where I was also a member of the women’s basketball team. This summer I was a Wildlife Technician for the BLM Royal Gorge Field Office in Canon City, CO. I am very excited to study sagebrush obligate birds in the Gunnison Basin.

Reece Samuelson

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Advisor: Dr. Houston

Email: reece.samuelson@western.edu

I am a Master of Science in Ecology student with a Bachelor of Science degree in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology with a concentration in Fisheries Biology from Colorado State University. My project involves researching the importance of intermittent tributaries to native desert fish species in the Dolores River drainage. My research interests are investigating the ecology of species of conservation concern, specifically declining desert fish species such as the Bluehead Sucker, Flannelmouth Sucker and Roundtail Chub. I hope to gain a deeper understanding of these species in order to inform wildlife managers on how to most effectively implement impactful conservation measures for the long-term persistence of these unique species.

Bronwyn Taylor

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Advisor: Dr. Bingham

Email: bronwyn.taylor@western.edu

Raised in northern New Mexico, I received my bachelor’s in English at Western Colorado University. For my thesis I am studying the reproductive ecology of the rare endemic, Astragalus microcymbus at Hartman Rocks in Gunnison, CO. Native plant conservation and restoration is an interest of mine, and I also care a lot about water conservation and the incorporation of ecological thought into policymaking. I think that big sagebrush and the land that it is a part of is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in this world, and I hope that in my lifetime I can contribute to its conservation.

Alexandra VanTill

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Advisor: Dr. DeMarco

Email: alexandra.vantill@western.edu

My name is Alexandra VanTill and I am from the grand city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. While working on my Bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University, I discovered my passion for environmental science, specifically botany. For my Master’s degree I am interested in studying the environmental impacts of climate change. I will be researching arctic grassland and larch forest community structures, and their effect on soil temperatures in a permafrost-rich region.

Ashley Woolman

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Advisor: Dr. Coop

Email: ashley.woolman@western.edu

After many seasons working with the U.S. Forest Service I developed an interest in applying quantitative research methods to understanding forest dynamics. I am interested in how disturbance regimes and climate interact to shape and alter forest ecosystems. Additionally, as an outdoors enthusiast I have a passion for science-based ecosystem stewardship and conservation.

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