Miami University Instructors

Project Dragonfly Directors

Chris Myers

Chris Myers

Co-Founder and Director, Project Dragonfly/Earth Expeditions

Chris Myers received his Ph.D. in ecology from Vanderbilt University and is now a professor of Zoology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Miami University. His research areas include community-based conservation, participatory science, and national education reform. Chris is the founding Director of Project Dragonfly and served as Editor-in-Chief of Dragonfly magazine--the first national magazine to feature the investigations of children. Project Dragonfly has reached millions of children through award-winning print media, teacher programs, and the Emmy-Award winning national PBS children’s television series, DragonflyTV. He has written more than 60 professional articles and has directed projects funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Organization for Tropical Studies, and other agencies. Chris directs Earth Expeditions and the Global Field Program, served as a Fulbright Scholar in Thailand, and taught environmental education at Yale University.

Lynne Born Myers

Lynne Born Myers

Co-Founder and Co-Director, Project Dragonfly

Lynne Myers received her B. Phil. from the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Miami University.  As a founder and co-Director of Project Dragonfly, she oversees national exhibits, participatory media, and learning programs. She served as the founding editor for Dragonfly magazine and now leads the development of national exhibits for Wild Research and Saving Species. These two NSF-funded projects are designed to engage millions of families at zoos, aquariums, and other public learning institutions throughout the U.S. Lynne also writes fiction and nonfiction books for children with her husband, Chris, including McCrephy's Field (Houghton Mifflin), Forest of the Clouded Leopard (Houghton Mifflin), and Galapagos: Islands of Change (Hyperion).  She has developed conservation partnerships in many countries for Earth Expeditions, and works on a variety of research and education projects addressing human relationships with nature.

Instructors

Laura Avila-Segura

Laura Avila-Segura

Visiting Assistant Professor

Laura Avila is passionate about tropical agroecology and conservation. She is completing her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida where she studied foraging ecology of stingless bees in agricultural coffee landscapes. She has a master's degree in interdisciplinary ecology and a concentration in tropical conservation and development from the same institution, where she researched the use of cover crops for nitrogen replacement in crop production. Her undergraduate degree in tropical agriculture was completed at EARTH University in Costa Rica, where she developed a passion for hands-on and multicultural learning environments. She has taught at the undergraduate level at the University of Florida and the University of Cincinnati - Blue Ash. Research and field courses have taken her to several continents, but she never thought she will be living her biggest adventure as a mom of a preschooler in Cincinnati, Ohio. Laura is happiest when trekking through the rural mountain landscapes of her native Costa Rica.  

Amanda Bentley Brymer

Amanda Bentley Brymer

Instructor

Amanda Bentley Brymer earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Science through the National Science Foundation IGERT Project at the University of Idaho. She received her M.S. in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Sciences and her B.A. in Communication from Texas A&M University. Her interdisciplinary research integrates ecosystem services and social process concepts to understand how environmental change influences human well-being. Specifically, Amanda functioned as the lead facilitator for the social-ecological impact assessment conducted by her doctoral research team in coordination with the Bureau of Land Management in Owyhee County, Idaho. Her disciplinary research interests involve democratic processes and decision-making for public lands and natural resource management. Prior to academia, Amanda was a professional tour director for Collette Vacations, and enjoyed sharing the cultural and natural history of Europe while guiding guests through the British Isles and Swiss Alps. At home in Oxford, Amanda volunteers with the Miami University Natural Areas as Curator for the Silvoor Biological Sanctuary. She also enjoys hiking, birding, gardening, and reading with her husband Rhett, son Luke, canine companion Dekoda, and feline companions Puddin and Sakura.

Jamie Bercaw Anzano

Jamie Bercaw Anzano

Director of Communications and Research

Jamie Bercaw Anzano has a bachelor's degree from Southern Methodist University in journalism, a master's in environmental science with concentrations in environmental education and public policy from Miami's Institute of Environmental Sciences, and post-master’s work in pursuit of a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Miami.  Through her role with Project Dragonfly at Miami University, she instructs international and web-based graduate courses and serves as a graduate advisor. When Dragonfly began more than 17 years ago, Jamie served as an editor for Dragonfly children's magazine. She has since worked on a number of Dragonfly initiatives to implement inquiry-driven reform in formal and informal learning environments. Prior to her work at Dragonfly, Jamie wrote hundreds of articles as a newspaper reporter and magazine writer.  Her interests lie within the intersection of theory and practice and in helping educators and other professionals explore ways to use inquiry to improve human and ecological communities. Jamie has explored many countries throughout the world, but she particularly enjoys rediscovering her backyard with her husband and two sons.

Robyn Charlton

Robyn Charlton

Instructor

Robyn Charlton is a science and conservation education leader with degrees from Wright State University in elementary education and advanced teaching practices. Though trained in formal education, Robyn’s career has been balanced between time spent teaching in K-12 classrooms and time working with those same audiences in informal education in zoos and aquariums across the country. Robyn started her career as a seventh grade science teacher in Lebanon, Ohio and eleven years later was the Assistant Director of Education for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) headquartered at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, directing activities across WCS's five NYC-based zoos and aquarium as well as projects across several international landscapes and seascapes. After moving back home to Southwest Ohio, Robyn became the Coordinator of Online Faculty for Miami University's Regional E-Learning Initiatives. Through this position, Robyn serves as a facilitator and consultant to online faculty interested in further developing their pedagogical content knowledge as well as a promoter of scholarship in E-Learning at Miami and a catalyst for cultivating community and increased engagement among online faculty teaching through Miami University Regionals. Robyn’s interest in leadership is driven by desire to serve her communities as an agent of change, exploring new knowledge and ways of doing things, asking thoughtful questions and tackling complex problems with creative solutions.

Kendra Cipollini

Kendra Cipollini

Instructor

Kendra Cipollini earned her B.S. in biology with a minor in chemistry from George Washington University and her Ph.D. in ecology with a minor in statistics from The Pennsylvania State University. She has worked as a wetland consultant for a civil engineering firm and as an ecologist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She was Director of Conservation Science for The Nature Conservancy of Ohio. She also teaches undergraduates at Wilmington College, where she is an Associate Professor of Biology. Her research interests are primarily applied and include ecology and population genetics of a federally endangered wetland plant species, invasive species ecology and ecosystem restoration. She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with her husband Don and sons Emmett and Otto and enjoys running, traveling, cooking and volunteering in her community.

Katie Feilen

Katie Feilen

Visiting Assistant Professor

Katie Feilen is a primatologist and conservation biologist, who has chased 12 monkey species through the jungles on three continents.  As part of Disney’s Conservation Team, she coordinated conservation efforts of the golden lion tamarins in Brazil with Save the Golden Lion Tamarins, and she worked with with Proyecto Tití to reverse the decline of cotton-top tamarins in Colombia.  Katie received a Master of Arts and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Biological Anthropology at the University of California-Davis and a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She uses behavior, ecology, and evolution to help understand how primates (monkeys, apes, and lemurs) adapt to changes in their environments and how we can use scientific understanding of species to assist in their conservation.  She has spent over five years living and working internationally, including teaching environmental education with Peace Corps Paraguay, studying white-faced capuchins in Costa Rica, teaching Peruvian college students tropical ecology and conservation in the Amazon, and studying seven primate species in the rainforest of Indonesian Borneo.  Her work has been shared at both international and national conferences and has been published in various scientific journals.  She has also been awarded a Fulbright and Boren Award for her international work.  She continues to engage in conservation efforts of golden lion tamarins and cotton-top tamarins in Brazil and Colombia to assist in reversing the decline of these charismatic monkey species.

Ben Gahagen

Ben Gahagen

Instructor

Ben Gahagen earned his Ph.D. in environmental and plant biology from Ohio University and a B.S. in biology from James Madison University. He is now an assistant professor at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College where he teaches biology, environmental science, and botany classes. Ben specializes in plant taxonomy and systematics but also has an interest in ethnobotany. His current research involves botany awareness and assessing the genetic variation in a species of mustard. Outside of teaching and research, Ben likes to travel, hike, kayak, read, run, and spend time with his wife and two cats.

Kristen Keteles

Kristen Keteles

Instructor

Kristen Keteles received a Ph.D. in biological sciences (zoology) from Louisiana State University and a B.S. in marine science from Coastal Carolina University. Kristen is a toxicologist in the EPA Region 8 Office of Ecosystems Protection and Remediation in Denver, Colorado. She came to the EPA from the National Park Service (NPS) where she was a contaminants specialist, coordinating natural resource condition assessments at coastal National Parks, and prior to that she was faculty in the Biology Department at the University of Central Arkansas. At the EPA she conducts human health and ecological risk assessments and serves as a technical expert on adverse effects from exposure to pesticides and toxics. Even though she works for the government, she remains active in academia through adjunct appointments. In addition to teaching at Miami University through Project Dragonfly, she also serves on graduate committees at Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Denver and teaches online biology classes at Colorado Christian University. Her research entails the investigation of the use of genomic and metabolic markers for detecting exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in aquatic life. In her spare time, she enjoys mountain biking, backcountry telemark skiing, and whitewater stand up paddle boarding.

Kathayoon Khalil

Kathayoon Khalil

Instructor

Kathayoon Khalil is a social scientist and conservationist living in Seattle, Washington. Kathayoon received her Ph.D. in environmental education from Stanford University, studying social networks in zoo and aquarium education. She received her Master's in Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry and her Bachelor's in Organismal Biology from Claremont McKenna College. Kathayoon is currently the Principal Evaluator at the Seattle Aquarium and serves as an advisor to the the Research and Technology and Conservation Education Committees of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Kathayoon is a member of Class 6 of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program and an award-winning educator in design thinking. Throughout her involvement in Project Dragonfly, Kathayoon has taught several courses including Earth Expeditions courses in Costa Rica and Baja.  Kathayoon enjoys yoga, crafting, travel, and playing music. She does not enjoy running but does it anyway.

Shafkat Khan

Shafkat Khan

Visiting Assistant Professor

Shafkat Khan received his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology in August 2016. Shafkat completed his B.A. in environmental studies at Goshen College in Indiana. Shafkat’s ecological interest lies at the intersection of anthropogenic factors and plant communities. For his dissertation, Shafkat examined whether tropical montane tree species are able to persist in conditions dissimilar to the species’ native range currently. This work addresses questions both theoretical and applied: what factors limit species distributions and how will climate change cause changes in species distributions in near future. Besides his focal research, Shafkat is interested in interdisciplinary approaches to examining conservation and sustainability, especially from anthropological and geographical perspectives. Shafkat is passionate about student mentoring and teaching, and he considers working with Project Dragonfly a privilege. A native of Bangladesh, Shafkat comes to work at Miami University, Ohio by way of de-glaciated northern Indiana, the Piedmont of Georgia, and the southern mountains of Costa Rica.

Alicia Lamfers

Alicia Lamfers

Instructor

Alicia Lamfers received her MAT from Miami University and her undergraduate degree in biology from Metropolitan State University in Denver. She worked as a paramedic for 6 years in Denver's inner city neighborhoods until switching direction and going into education. She has taught in both formal and informal classrooms. She has experience in conservation education, creating programming for middle and high school students, teachers, and other informal groups. She is interested in developing more and better ways to use inquiry to connect kids to nature and engaging underserved audiences in environmental education. Outside of work, Alicia lives with her husband and two kids and breaks up the chaos with camping trips, hiking, reading and small chunks of quiet time.

Genifer Lara

Genifer Lara

Instructor

Genifer Lara currently teaches geology and geography at Mohave Community College in Kingman, Arizona. For the past several years, she has been a field instructor for Round River Conservation Studies, a study abroad program for undergraduates majoring in life and environmental sciences from the U.S. and Africa. During her time with RRCS, she worked in Botswana and Namibia, and spent semesters living in primitive field camps, falling asleep to the sounds of lions, hippos, and hyenas. She has also traveled extensively for work, studying a variety of species in diverse locations such as, the beach in Uruguay, the harsh Impenetrable Forest of Argentina, the tropical rain forests of Honduras and Costa Rica, and the savannas of Malawi. She received her B.A. in Environmental Studies and Wildlife Biology from Prescott College in 2008, her M.S. in Geosciences from Mississippi State University in 2011, and is currently finishing up a second M.S. in Entomology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She also has a certificate in Aquarium Science and is a current Wilderness First Responder. She loves teaching and inspiring others to get out and be a part of nature. She has a passion for bats, reptiles, birds, and insects, among most other animals. In her spare time she enjoys birding, herping, photography, travelling, and spending time with her husband and their furkids.

Nicole McDaniels

Nicole McDaniels

Instructor

Nicole McDaniels is an Associate Professor of Biology at Herkimer College in Herkimer, New York. She received her B.S. in Biological Science with a concentration in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York. She completed her Ph.D. in Biology at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. As a part of her dissertation, Nicole studied zebrafish development, specifically the role of a chromatin remodeler, Chd7, and its implications in human diseases, concentrating on spinal deformity and CHARGE Syndrome.  Nicole has several peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals focused on both zebrafish development and pedagogical techniques used in the undergraduate biology classroom. She has presented at the International Research Society of Spinal Deformities biannual meeting and at the Syracuse University Future Professoriate Program annual conference.  In her spare time, Nicole enjoys dancing, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Nicole lives in Utica, New York, with her husband, Shaun, her son, Evan, and her cat, Maizy.

Judy Metcalf

Judy Metcalf

Instructor

Judy Metcalf received her doctorate from the University of Louisville and her master's degree from Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Her research interests include human impacts on populations and communities. Her master's work explored the impact of beach driving on overwintering shorebirds on the Texas Gulf Coast, and her doctorate work evaluated the impact of the invasive grass Microstegium vimineum on insect and spider communities in a Kentucky temperate forest. She is a Professional Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, where she teaches ecology, introductory biology and anatomy & physiology. She also serves as the Directory for the Regional Science Olympiad, a science and engineering event for high school and middle school students interested in STEM fields. Judy has also been a competitive power lifter since 2010 and a strength coach since 2012. She enjoys spending her spare time at the gym getting stronger or in the field camping and hiking.

Javier Miguelena

Javier Miquelena

Instructor

Javier Miguelena has a B.S. in biology from the Universidad de las Americas in Puebla, Mexico. He also holds a Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Arizona. Javier’s research has looked at the effects of human-induced habitat change on ant communities. For his Ph.D. dissertation, he considered the impact of urbanization on ant diversity in the arid urban environment of Tucson, Arizona. In particular, he looked at irrigated parks which are a new and extraneous habitat in that environment. He has also done research on the behavior of the exotic dark rover ant and the pest management of termites. While in Arizona, Javier was part of science outreach efforts with the Urban Entomology Laboratory, the Arizona Insect Festival, and the Insect Discovery Program. As a result, he has spoken about insects and science to audiences of all ages, frequently while holding a live insect specimen.

Jennifer Price

Jennifer Price

Instructor

Jennifer Price graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in biology and a minor in environmental sciences. She was fortunate enough to participate in an undergraduate semester abroad program in Queensland, Australia with the School for Field Studies. There, she studied rainforest ecology and conservation. She continued her education at Rutgers University where she earned a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution. Since then, she has been involved in research and conservation projects involving freshwater invertebrates, water quality, reptiles, and amphibians. In addition to her courses at Project Dragonfly, Jennifer also teaches biology at John Tyler Community College in Virginia and is working on a research grant involving the relationship between freshwater mussels and dams in South Carolina rivers. In her spare time, she enjoys horseback riding, and playing games with her husband and 9 year old son, Simon.

Helena Puche

Helena Puche

Instructor

Helena Puche is an ecologist who earned her Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Florida, working on the epidemiology of a tomato virus transmitted by thrips, tiny insects that cause devastation in the tomato industry. Using mathematical models, she discovered that thrips hide in the surrounding weeds of tomato fields before they are planted, initiating the attack as soon as the tomatoes start to grow. Also at the University of Florida, she held a post-doc on subterranean termites, where she demonstrated that termites build tunnels in a fractal fashion (she was known then as the fractal lady!).  She taught a graduate course about “Impacts of Dispersal on Invasive species and Conservation” at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where her work with students inspired her to pursue another master's degree through the Advanced Inquiry Program at Miami University. Her mission has been “to actively engage students to become critical thinkers and problem solvers through scientific inquiry, building students’ character, and forming future leaders of the world."  In addition to serving as an instructor for Project Dragonfly, she has instructed web-based and in-person graduate courses at the University of Nebraska, Truman College, DePaul University, and the University of Washington, including courses such as Infectious Diseases, Evolution, Ecology & Climate Change, and Biological Invasions. Several non-biology majors decided to start biology after her classes, because she encourages thinking, asking questions, and gives inspiration to discover new knowledge. Her way of promoting love of nature and wildlife can be found here: https://www.dragonflyworkshops.org/eportfolios/view_shared?external_id=7cPl34s0pZ.

Kaitlyn Schroeder-Spain

Kaitlyn Schroeder-Spain

Instructor

Kaitlyn Schroeder-Spain earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from the University of North Texas and her Ph.D. in Coastal and Marine System Sciences from Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi (TAMUCC). Her research interests include stress ecology, ecotoxicology, and ecophysiology. She uses approaches in ecology, animal behavior, and toxicology to study the effects of pollutants on organismal physiology, behavior, and species interactions (e.g., predator-prey interactions). Kaitlyn is also interested in science policy and worked at the National Science Foundation from 2015-2016 as a Sea Grant Knauss Marine Science Policy Fellow. Kaitlyn developed a passion for teaching while earning her Ph.D.; she taught Principles of Ecology and professional development courses at TAMUCC for three and half years. She is excited about joining the Dragonfly instructional team and teaching at Miami University.

Deanna Soper-Pinkelman

Deanna Soper-Pinkelman

Instructor

Deanna Soper-Pinkelman received her Ph.D. from Indiana University in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior and currently is a Visiting Research Scholar at the University of Iowa. Her research focuses on the effects of natural and sexual selection on the ecology and evolution of reproductive biology. Most of her work has been conducted using Potamopyrgus antipodarum, a freshwater snail from New Zealand. This snail has the unique feature of coexisting sexual and asexual reproductive modes and has a high infection rate by the sterilizing trematode, Microphallus livelyi. She has investigated how this naturally selective force has influenced the evolution of mating behavior, ploidy, and gametogenesis. In addition, she has also conducted research using the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus. This beetle is a cosmopolitan pest and females are known to mate multiply with males that have spiked genitalia. She has investigated how sexual selection through increased male density has altered mating behavior and the evolution of genital spike length. Deanna has also instructed courses at many institutions and has served as an undergraduate and graduate research mentor.

Amy Sullivan

Amy Sullivan

Visiting Assistant Professor

Amy Sullivan earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Illinois Chicago where her dissertation work focused on vole foraging and how it affects tallgrass prairie remnants and restorations.  She earned a master’s degree in wildlife and range resources from BYU, where she studied the effects of wildfire on small mammal communities and invasive plants in sagebrush grass steppe communities.  She holds a bachelor’s in conservation biology from the same institution.  As an undergraduate she got out into the field as much as possible, joining as many research teams doing fieldwork as she could.  This fieldwork gave her experience working with a wide variety of organisms ranging from mountain plovers to black bears and in ecosystems ranging from mountain forests to shrublands and grasslands.  Amy’s interest in engaging communities in conservation began when she moved to Chicago and recognized the need for the community to be connected with the natural areas near them.  She served as the head of her town’s conservation commission and organized outreach events and programs as well as work days to engage the community in conservation and restoration activities in their home town.  Now living in Oxford, Ohio, she continues to be involved in conservation and helping people connect with nature through volunteer activities with Three Valley Trust.  Amy loves spending time with her family, making music (fiddle, piano, and accordion), baking, and getting out into the great outdoors.

Nancy Sundell-Turner

Nancy Sundell-Turner

Instructor

Nancy Sundell-Turner comes from a diverse background with degrees in physics, mathematics and biology. After completing a Ph.D. in applied mathematics at Cornell University (focusing on mathematical ecology), she went on to further study in ecology earning an M.S. in Natural Resources from The Ohio State University. Her master's work focused on studying landscape metrics used for conservation planning. Most recently, she has spent her time as a stay-at-home mom to her three children. During that time she's enjoyed a lot of hikes and nature programs with her kids, as well as participating in volunteer work at their school, planning events and helping with weekly Forest Friday hikes with her son's class.

Carrie Washburn

Carrie Washburn

Instructor

Carrie Washburn received her B.S. in Zoology from Michigan State University and her M.S in Biology from Central Michigan University. Her master’s research involved animal behavior to understand amphibian movement patterns. She also has worked with snake habitat use and honeybee navigation. Prior to teaching, Carrie worked with The Nature Conservancy as a wetlands restoration specialist and enjoyed working with community outreach. Her travels to Australia, West Indies and Amsterdam, along with field work in Michigan, Oregon and Canada have increased her awareness of global issues and the importance of teaching these issues in both formal and informal styles, using traditional and non-traditional (online) methods of teaching. Carrie lives in Chicago with her husband and children and enjoys traveling in her free time. She has recently discovered the joy of foraying!

Kenneth Willman

Kenneth Willman

Instructor

Ken Willman received his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of North Carolina in 1981.  An Ohio native, he received a B.A. in Chemistry from Miami University in 1976, then returned to Miami in 2012 and received his M.A. through the Advanced Inquiry Program.  In between, he spent thirty-one years as a Research & Development scientist and manager at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati.  This journey through industry and academics has given him experiences in a variety of chemical, biological, and environmental research areas, but his curiosity now focuses on science communication and understanding conservation behavior.  How do we effectively communicate science within our communities and how can we turn conservation knowledge into conservation action?  When not pondering these questions, Ken enjoys a retirement life involving travel, cooking, photography, volunteering, and woodworking.

 

Rachel Yoho

Rachel Yoho

Visiting Assistant Professor

Rachel Yoho earned a Ph.D. in Biological Design from Arizona State University, where she studied microbial electrochemical systems. Also from Arizona State University, Rachel completed a Certificate in Scientific Teaching in Higher Education. She investigated climate change and energy technologies in undergraduate educational materials. Her background is in biology. Currently, Rachel's research interests lie at the intersections of disciplines and she is studying cross-cutting concepts and topics in environmental education. Outside of teaching and research, Rachel enjoys spending time with family, reading, and DIY projects.