Current CTEC Staff
Erasme Uyizeye, CTEC Program Manager, PhD Student Environmental Studies
Erasme Uyizeye is a Ph.D Candidate in the Environmental Studies Department at Antioch University New England (AUNE), where he serves as Program Manager of the Center for Tropical Ecology and Conservation since 2015. Uyizeye received both his BS in Biology and MS in Biodiversity and Conservation from the University of Rwanda. He also holds a MS degree in Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies from AUNE. Uyizeye received ecological science related certificates from the University of Koblenz–Landau in Germany, University of Cambridge in UK through Tropical Biology Association, and Peace Building & Conflict Transformation certificate from World Learning, School for International Training in Vermont USA. Uyizeye’ doctoral research seeks to understand effective techniques for assessment and monitoring of freshwater ecosystems using biological indicators, especially dragonflies. Uyizeye’s research interest expands to wetlands management and sustainable agriculture, riparian zone management, aquatic invasive species control, as well as understanding adaptation and mitigation strategies in response to the impact of global warming on aquatic ecosystems. Additionally, Uyizeye is currently collaborating with Carnivore and Coexistance Lab at University of Wisconsin–Madison to study post-civil war Rwandan nature restoration, focusing on Akagera National Park.
Kelsey Bearden, CTEC Education Coordinator, M.S. Candidate, Environmental Education
I graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a dual major in Biology and Spanish, and a minor in Natural Resources Management. Being from Alaska is about as far away from the tropics as you can imagine. However, I also spent a considerable amount of my childhood living in Mexico, which opened up a completely different world of landscape, ecology, language, culture, and politics. Over the years, I have also spent time in Indonesia, Costa Rica, and India, among others, which has deepened my appreciation for issues of tropical conservation, sustainable livelihoods, and cultural integrity in the face of climate change and globalization. As CTEC’s Education Coordinator, I am invested in upholding CTEC’s successful history of providing opportunities for people to learn and connect through tropical issues, and I also hope to expand CTEC’s reach to actively include ‘non-scientists’ in our community.
CTEC Student Members
Mary Jo Austin, CTEC Project Coordinator, PhD Student Environmental Studies
As an Environmental Studies doctoral student, Mary Jo plans on doing more primate conservation field work in Africa. She has an MSc degree in Resource Management with a focus on primate conservation. For her thesis she designed her own research project on the socioeconomics surrounding bushmeat hunting in SW Cameroon where she did her data collection. More recently, in 2014, she spent a year as research assistant doing chimpanzee habituation and other research in Loango National Park in Gabon. She is happy to be a part of the CTEC team and motivated to help facilitate the various field work opportunities in the tropics for AUNE students.
Evan Craig, CTEC Outreach Coordinator, PhD Student Environmental Studies
A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Evan is interested in mammal biodiversity and ecology in Ethiopia. From 2014 to 2016, Evan lived in the village of Quiha, Ethiopia where he worked as an Environment Sector Volunteer. During this time he worked alongside his community to develop local environmental outreach programs to support rural farmers and public school curriculum. For his primary project, Evan worked with faculty at Mekelle University to develop a four-week research expedition in Simien Mountains National Park to study small mammal communities and provide an opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience. This transformative period in Ethiopia cultivated a passion for the country’s people, culture, and wildlife, and ultimately led to his decision to pursue a doctoral degree. As a Scientific Affiliate with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Evan continues to investigate Ethiopian mammal collections and develop collaborative research opportunities. Evan is a proud ‘Pointer’ and alumnus of University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology.
Ashley Ronzio, CTEC Research and Project Assistant, PhD Student Environmental Studies
My interests include conservation biology, endangered species restoration, and disease ecology. Before starting the environmental studies PhD program, I graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor in Science degree in Psychology and from Tufts University with a Master’s degree in Infectious Disease and Global Health. While studying at Tufts, I took ecology courses and worked on a couple of research projects focused on wildlife conservation and tropical ecology. I became very interested in tropical disease ecology and conservation. I aspire to conduct research to implement effective conservation plans for endangered species. I am very excited to be a part of CTEC and learn more about this exciting field.
Sarah K. Cox, Former CTEC Project Coordinator, M.S. Candidate Conservation Biology, A Return Peace Corps Master’s International Program
My main research focus is the current poaching crisis happening in Africa, especially in regards to the southern white and black rhino. This interest was really fueled by volunteer trips to Africa; most significantly, spending two weeks in Zimbabwe working with the International Anti-Poaching Foundation. My broader interests include megaherbivores as keystone species, and how human and environmental disturbances lead to mass extinctions. Prior to attending Antioch, I worked in the non-profit sector.
Lance Caldwell, Former CTEC Development Coordinator, M.S Candidate Conservation Biology, Peace Corps Master’s International Program
I am mostly interested in the ecological relationships within forest communities, specifically when it comes to monitoring these communities to determine the ecological consequences of various human activities. Learning more about the way ecological relations and factors interplay in structuring communities can hopefully lead to better habitat loss mitigation strategies and for effective rehabilitation methods in forest communities, especially in sensitive areas. I earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Biology from Arkansas Tech University prior to enrolling at Antioch University’s Peace Corps Master’s International Program.
Christina 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).
Meghan Hoskins, Former CTEC Education Coordinator, M.S. Candidate Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability, Conservation Psychology Certificate, 2017.
My interests include: climate change, conservation psychology, traditional ecological knowledge, participatory decision making processes, biocultural diversity, arts and culture, ecological sustainability, and environmental leadership. Before coming to Antioch University New England, I graduated from Indiana State University with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology, minors in Women’s Studies and Spanish, and a certification in Sustainability Leadership. While I was at Indiana State I studied abroad in San José, Costa Rica at Universidad Veritas, where I took courses in Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Development, Spanish Translation, and Health Psychology. While I was in Costa Rica, I was amazed by the beauty of the tropics. Since then, I have been very passionate about tropical ecosystem conservation, especially tropical rainforest conservation. I aspire to work with indigenous communities to advance indigenous land rights and socially just conservation projects in the tropics.
Kira Yeomans, Former CTEC Development Coordinator, M.S. Candidate Self-Designed Studies Masters Candidate and Masters International, 2018.
Kira is designing her program to be a combination of climate change mitigation and social justice advocacy. Before coming to Antioch University she received her Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in ecology and conservation science. For the past 5 years she have been working with the department of Fish and Wildlife on the California Recreational Fisheries Survey, and has enjoyed being out in the field collecting data and identifying, weighing, and measuring bottom fish. She developed a passion for supporting tropical ecological research at a young age, swimming in the ocean in Guam where she grew up and developing a love for ocean species there. In 2011 she spent a month in Tanzania with the School for Field Studies conducting wildlife observations in the national parks as well human-wildlife conflicts. Her focus now is on advocating for the disadvantaged in hopes that everyone has the option and ability for a fulfilling life in a flourishing environment.
Emily Lund, Former CTEC Education Coordinator, M.S. Candidate Conservation Biology, Peace Corps Master’s International Program, 2017.
I have had an infectious love for animals my whole life. My interests lie in conservation and the restoration of terrestrial species and their habitats, especially in edge effects/habitat fragmentation and species abundance/diversity before and after measurements of these effects. I’m also very interested in endangered species, protected areas, landscape restoration, and awareness. I am very passionate about the protection of the endangered Asian elephant and bringing awareness towards their tourism exploitation and cultural torture-training methods. In 2013 I traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand and worked at Elephant Nature Park. The sanctuary has rescued and rehabilitated dozens of Asian elephants. This trip opened my eyes and my heart to the idea of working in tropical areas to better the environment and the animals that reside there. Prior to entering Antioch’s Master’s International Program, I received my Bachelor’s in Environmental Science and Policy at California State University Long Beach in 2014. After completing my service with the Peace Corps and completing my Masters, I hope to find work collecting data internationally, specifically involving habitat preservation projects or working in the film industry.
Adriana (Rocky) M. Casillas, Former CTEC Outreach Coordinator, M.S. Candidate Conservation Biology, 2016.
I have always been interested in the conservation of large African carnivores, specifically lions. Working in Africa has been my dream for a very long time, and when I made my first trip to this amazing continent in 2014 as a volunteer at Tembe National Elephant Park, and saw my first lions, I knew I could never change my mind. Since then, I have made connections with various non-profit organizations throughout East Africa, including Action for Cheetahs in Kenya (ACK), with whom I partnered to conduct my thesis research this year (2015). The title of my thesis work was: “Actual Versus Perceived Predation: A Multi-method Approach to Understanding Human-Carnivore Conflict in Samburu, Kenya.” The goal of this study was to contribute new and useful information on carnivore visitation and attack rates at manyattas (Samburu homesteads). My specific objectives were to 1) Examine ‘actual’ versus ‘perceived’ conflict by comparing pastoralist interview reports with camera trap and tracking evidence 2) Evaluate the effectiveness of two predator light deterrent systems (Green Rural African Development Lion Lights and Foxlights) in reducing carnivore visitation and attack frequency and 3) Encourage the active participation of local community members in the implementation of research methodology and the evaluation of this study’s overall approach. Human-carnivore conflict is a serious issue threatening the survival of many important predator species across Africa, as well as the livelihoods of the people that live with them. The need for non-lethal, innovative, inexpensive, and accessible solutions to reduce conflict deserves great attention, and should be a priority for the conservation of large carnivores.
Alysa Hansen, MS Candidate Conservation Biology, 2017.
I am interested in human-wildlife conflict, specifically as it occurs in Africa with large carnivores. Across Africa many large carnivore populations are rapidly declining due to their natural habitat being converted into human-dominated landscapes. The large home ranges of these carnivores make it unlikely that populations can be sustained solely within protected areas. Thus, land adjacent to protected areas is critical in conserving carnivore population levels but unfortunately it is in these adjacent lands where humans and carnivores come into conflict. My interest in African carnivores started during my undergraduate studies at Hendrix College in central Arkansas. Under the Odyssey Program at Hendrix College I was able to travel to South Africa to volunteer at the African Dawn Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary serves as a rehabilitation and release center and also has an endangered breeding program. Currently I am interested in human-carnivore conflict in eastern Africa and the effectiveness of deterrents in reducing livestock depredation.
Katelynn Frei, Former CTEC Education Coordinator, MS Candidate Conservation Biology, 2014.
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.
McArd Joseph Mlotha, Former CTEC Program Manager, PhD Candidate Environmental Studies, 2018.
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.
Adam Rusk, Former CTEC Research Coordinator MS Candidate Conservation Biology, 2013.
I have always been interested in large scale conservation and how humans fit in as a piece in the greater scheme. Pairing this with my interest for technology and it’s integration into conservation I have found my niche in geographic information systems, remote sensing, and quantitative analysis. During my undergraduate career I was introduced to advanced analysis and modeling techniques and their play in understanding how organisms interact with the environment. Since then I have looked for more ways to understand large scale phenomena and collect big data to improve our interactions with the environment at a landscape scale. The opportunities I have at Antioch University New England and the skills I am developing for my thesis will allow me to integrate conservation and technology in a way which might inform management and conservation practices at an ever larger spatial extent.
Nicole Wengerd, PhD Candidate Environmental Studies, 2018.
My early academic career focused on my passion for people. My undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Richmond fostered strong community relationships and taught me important lessons about social justice. Following my bachelors, I pursued a Peace Corp’s Master’s International degree in Sociology, with a focus on Applied Community and Economic Development (ACED), from Illinois State University. My master’s research was conducted in conjunction with my Peace Corps service in Gondar, Ethiopia, where I lived for two years. It was in this time that I began to understand how my early passion for social justice was inherently tied to the environment. This curiosity is what motivated me to apply for the Environmental Studies Ph.D program at Antioch University.Since entering the program, I have been able to nurture that curiosity into a well-developed research inquiry. In the broadest sense, my research looks at the link between environment and local institutions. More specifically, I am interested in how socio-cultural institutions can be utilized to improve the conservation of biocultural diversity. My current research project is located in the area surrounding the Udzungwa Mountains National Park in south central Tanzania, and is in partnership with the University of Dar es Salaam, connected through the Regional Network of Conservation Educators in the Albertine Rift (RNCEAR).
Apollinaire William, Former CTEC Program Manager, PhD Candidate Environmental Studies, 2018.
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.