Who We Are
Matt KauffmanLead Scientist
Matt is a Research Wildlife Biologist with the US Geological Survey. He has an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Kauffman has worked on topics that include the management and recovery of peregrine falcons, evaluating the ecological role of wolves in Yellowstone National Park, and the effects of range management on carnivores in southern Africa. In 2006, Matt joined the USGS Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the faculty of the Department of Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming; he is currently the director of the Wyoming Coop Unit. Matt and his graduate students are conducting studies on elk, wolves, moose, deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep in Wyoming, addressing the influence of habitat condition, predation, human disturbance, and energy development on these species. Matt’s research combines work on animal physiology, behavior and demography to better understand population- and landscape-level processes, including a strong focus on ungulate migration. A primary focus of his research program is to provide timely information to agency biologists charged with managing Wyoming’s wildlife.
Jerod MerkleAssistant Professor, Knobloch Professor in Migration Ecology and Conservation
Jerod is a postdoctoral fellow with the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in the Department of Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming. He has a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Arizona (2006), a M.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana (2011), and a Ph.D. in Biology from Université Laval, Québec (2014). Jerod’s research has focused on understanding foraging ecology and predator-prey dynamics to help develop management plans that minimize human-wildlife conflicts. Specifically, Jerod investigates how animal memory and forage heterogeneity influence movement of individuals, and how these movements collectively result in population distribution over time. He has contributed to research on gray wolves, coyotes, black bears, bison, and caribou. Currently, Jerod is investigating how climate variability will affect ungulate migratory behavior in Wyoming, and how changes in such behavior will ultimately influence the risk of comingling between wild ungulates and livestock.
Assistant Professor, Knobloch Professor in Migration Ecology and Conservation
Shannon AlbekeResearch Associate
Shannon Albeke is the ecoinformaticist embedded within the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center (WyGISC) at the University of Wyoming. Shannon holds a PhD in Landscape Ecology from the University of Georgia and has over 16 years of experience as an ecologist and informaticist specializing in the integration of field-collected data with spatial/statistical analyses and database management. His research focuses on improving the efficiency of analyzing large spatial and temporal datasets through innovative methodologies that take advantage of database structure and design, coupled with open-source statistical software.
James MeachamLead Cartographer
James is a Senior Research Associate and Executive Director and co-founder of the InfoGraphics Lab in the University of Oregon’s Department of Geography. He received his MA in Geography in 1992 at the University of Oregon. He is a past president of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS). His research areas include map design and atlas creation. He is the Cartographic Editor of the recently published and award winning Atlas of Yellowstone (UC Press, 2012). He is one of the authors of the Atlas of Oregon (UO Press, 2001), and is a co-author of the Archaeology and Landscape in the Mongolian Altai: An Atlas (ESRI Press, 2010) that received the Association of American Geographer’s Globe Book award for Public Understanding of Geography in 2011. Jim has taught cartography and GIS courses at the University of Oregon since 1992. His current projects include the development of a new Atlas of Wildlife Migration: Wyoming’s Ungulates.
Ian is a cartographer for the Wyoming Migration Initiative, designing maps and visualizing data to make research findings more approachable and engaging for the public. Growing up in Portland, Oregon, he had considerable access to the outdoors, and strives to aid in conservation by helping others understand and connect with the outdoors too. He earned a B.A. in geography and spatial data science at the University of Oregon, where he worked as a student cartographer in the InfoGraphics Lab. His work in the lab included various ungulate-centered mapping projects, working with organizations such as WMI, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. He also helped to complete the Atlas of Yellowstone, Second Edition, published in early 2022, and in 2021 he designed a map showcasing the history of the Birkebeiner ski race which received recognition as a winner of the Bill Loy Award for Excellence in Cartography.
Emily GelzerAssociate Research Scientist
Emily Gelzer is a research scientist for the Wyoming Migration Initiative. Emily received her bachelor’s degree in environmental biology at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. While working in different technician positions scattered across the West, Emily fell in love with the southwestern landscape and found her passion for conserving fish and wildlife species. She has worked desert tortoises, bald eagles, mule deer, pronghorn, several trout species, and aquatic insects. Emily completed her MS in Zoology at the University of Wyoming with the Merkle Research Group. Her work focused on how the individual fidelity of mule deer and habitat variability influence the consistency in migration corridors from year to year. Her work with the Wyoming Migration Initiative will focus on mapping ungulate migrations and conducting research on ungulates across the western United States.
Associate Research Scientist
Josh GageGeospatial Software Developer
Josh Gage is the owner of Gage Cartographics, a geospatial technology firm. Gage Cartographics specializes in technology solutions with geospatial focus. These products include interactive maps, geospatial databases, big data and ecological analyses and data visualizations. Selected clients include the US Geological Survey, US Forest Service, City/County of Denver and World Wildlife Fund. Josh earned his masters degree in earth sciences from Montana State University.
Geospatial Software Developer
Mike LaforgePostdoctoral Researcher
Mike is a postdoctoral researcher in the Merkle Research Group. His research focuses on how extrinsic environmental changes across seasons and years drive animal movement and migration, and how intrinsic differences among individuals influence the distribution of movements within a population. Mike’s research investigates how individuals acclimate to changes in their environment and how diverse strategies among populations could buffer them against future environmental change. Mike also works for the Global Initiative on Ungulate Migration, where he coordinates mapping efforts for ungulate migrations. Mike completed his PhD in Biology at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada where he studied drivers of migration in caribou, and his M.Sc. and B.Sc. from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada.
Blake LoweryResearch Scientist
Blake Lowrey is a Research Scientist for the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, where he works on spatial ecology topics for ungulates throughout Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Blake also cooridinates the USGS Corridor Mapping Team documenting ungulate migrations across the western U.S. Before starting with the Wyoming Coop Unit, Blake completed his PhD on mountain ungulate spatial ecology at Montana State University. He also worked jointly with Montana State University and Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks on a series of habitat and migration related projects across Montana.
Jenny McKeeResearch Scientist
Jenny McKee is a research scientist for the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Before starting with the Wyoming Coop Unit, Jenny completed her BA at Kenyon College (2009) and PhD on seabird foraging ecology at Wake Forest University (2021). Her PhD research investigated how environmental factors, and age and sex of an individual, influenced the foraging performance of Nazca Boobies, a seabird in the Galápagos Islands. Now that she is working with ungulates, she applies similar spatial analyses from her seabird research to big game migration. Her work with the Wyoming Migration Initiative focuses on mapping and researching ungulate migrations across the western United States.
Joanna MersonWeb Cartographer
Bio coming soon
Steffen MummeAssociate Research Scientist / Data Science Consultant
Steffen Mumme is a wildlife ecologist working as data science consultant for the Global Initiative on Ungulate Migration (cms.int/gium), for which WMI is a core collaborator. Steffen’s administrative home is the University of Wyoming and the Merkle Research Lab. His focus is to coordinate the large-scale mapping effort for the global atlas of ungulate migrations. For his work Steffen combines his curiosity about ungulate migration, his experience in handling GPS data sets and his fascination for maps, trying to facilitate all the steps from raw data to final cartography. The produced maps provide crucial information to different stakeholders in global ungulate migration ecology, from local wildlife managers to decision-makers. Before recently joining the GIUM and the Merkle Research Lab, Steffen successfully defended his dissertation project at La Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, investigating human impact on ungulate movements, comparing movements of red deer and elk populations spread across Europe and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Prior to his PhD, Steffen earned a B.A. in geography and an M.Sc. in ecology, and enjoyed his time doing “boots on the ground” wildlife work as research assistant for several years.
Associate Research Scientist / Data Science Consultant
Gregory NickersonWriter and Filmmaker WMI
Greg is a writer and filmmaker for the Wyoming Migration Initiative. He works to inform and educate the public about migration research, with a special focus on researching the human stories surrounding wildlife migration. Originally from Big Horn, Wyoming, he’s a lifelong hunter of migratory elk in the Meeteetse and Wapiti area, and has worked as a mule deer and elk guide for the Darwin Ranch in the Gros Ventre Mountains. His first documentary for Wyoming PBS chronicled the art of Thomas Moran and the photography of William Henry Jackson on the 1871 Hayden expedition to Yellowstone, which led Congress to set aside the area as America’s first national park. In 2013, he won a Mid-Atlantic Emmy as an associate producer with History Making Productions for a film about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. From 2010-2015 he was a contributor and staff journalist for the online news site WyoFile.com, where he covered the Wyoming state government and the University of Wyoming, including several stories about UW’s migration research on mule deer and bighorn sheep. Greg holds a M.A. in History of the American West from the University of Wyoming, and a B.A. magna cum laude from Carleton College.
Writer and Filmmaker
Emilene OstlindAtlas Text Editor
Emilene earned her BA in environment and natural resources, humanities/fine arts, and Spanish and her MFA in environment and natural resources and creative nonfiction writing, both from the University of Wyoming. For her graduate thesis project she hiked 80 miles of the Teton pronghorn migration corridor through the Gros Ventre Mountains and Upper Green River Basin in western Wyoming. She collaborated with wildlife photojournalist Joe Riis to produce a High Country News cover story on the migration. “Perilous Passages” (January 9, 2012) earned a 2012 Science in Society award from the National Association of Science Writers and the 2012 Knight-Risser Prize for environmental journalism in the West from Stanford University. Emilene has worked in various capacities for publications including National Geographic magazine, Wyoming Wildlife magazine, WyoFile.com, and High Country News. She is currently the communications coordinator for the University of Wyoming Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and she edits Western Confluence magazine, a publication of the UW Ruckelshaus Institute. Emilene is collaborating with a wide range of migration and wildlife experts to write and edit text for the Atlas of Wildlife Migration: Wyoming’s Ungulates.
Atlas Text Editor
Emily ReedAssociate Research Scientist
Emily Reed is a research scientist and multi-media science communicator for the Wyoming Migration Initiative. She works to inform and engage the public on ungulate migrations, blending a skill set in environmental science, storytelling, and nonprofit outreach. Emily grew up on a small farm and ranch operation in Wyoming, where she developed a strong desire to connect with the people and wildlife that depend on the landscape to survive. An avid big game fan and hunter, she has worked as a biology field assistant on several research projects for mule deer in the Wyoming Range and elk in the Absarokas. She also has contributed to social science research focused on water and conservation perspectives in the Greater Yellowstone region. Emily has written and photographed for popular online and print outlets such as Western Confluence, Modern Huntsman, and BESIDE, including several stories about Wyoming’s migrating wildlife and the people who study them. Before joining WMI, she worked for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in Wyoming, implementing on-the-ground projects such as wildlife-friendly fencing and the installation of bear boxes through local citizen engagement. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Bachelor of Science in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Wyoming.
Associate Research Scientist
Patrick RodgersAssociate Research Scientist
Pat is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer for Wyoming Migration Initiative. After working as a field technician at Western Ecosystems Technology (WEST) Inc. on projects related to migration ecology and impact analysis, he went on to earn his MS in Zoology as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Wyoming in the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in 2020. His research focused on sex-specific migratory behaviors and the influence of autumn hunting season on mule deer. During his years as a graduate student, Pat co-developed the film 92-Miles: A Migration Story in partnership with Cold Collaborative, Sitka Gear, and Yeti. The film highlights the story of migration alongside Pat’s own journey with grief at the loss of his father to cancer. Pat now works to educate the public on migration science using his background as a wildlife researcher and skillset in photography and filmmaking. In addition to research and creative science storytelling, Pat has implemented on-the-ground conservation projects through community engagement and has a passion for educating youth in ecology and migration research.
Associate Research Scientist
Bill RuddProject Manager and Cofounder WMI
Bill has a Masters Degree in Zoology from the University of Wyoming and a BS degree from the University of Idaho. He retired from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in 2011 after a 30-year career with the WGFD where he worked as a Special Project Biologist, District Biologist, Wildlife Management Coordinator, and Assistant Division Chief for the Wildlife Division. Bill has extensive experience working with stakeholders relating to a wide range of wildlife issues including big game management, population estimation, endangered species management, and wildlife/transportation issues. Bill has overseen and supervised large programs including the habitat, sensitive species, and trophy management sections for WGFD, and he had oversight of 8 wildlife regions in Wyoming. Bill has helped guide wildlife research efforts for WGFD and has extensive knowledge of the landscapes and wildlife issues of Wyoming.
Project Manager and Cofounder
Hall SawyerResearch Associate
Hall is a research biologist with Western Ecosystems Technology (WEST), Inc. He serves as adjunct faculty in the Zoology & Physiology Department at University of Wyoming. Hall is also a research associate with the Wyoming Migration Initiative. Hall earned a BS degree in wildlife biology from Colorado State University and MS and PhD degrees in Zoology from the University of Wyoming. Hall worked with the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit as a research scientist from 1997-2001, coordinating a variety of ungulate research projects. Since then Hall has worked with WEST, Inc. and conducted numerous ungulate studies in Wyoming, with emphasis on impact analysis and migration ecology. Hall’s work with ungulates spans 20 years and involves agencies, industry, non-government organizations, and graduate students.
Alethea SteingisserCartographic Production Manager
Alethea Steingisser is the cartographic production manager in the InfoGraphics Lab at the University of Oregon where she has worked since 2005. She serves as lead cartographer and production manager on The Atlas of Wildlife Migration: Wyoming’s Ungulates (in production), and has managed production of other atlases including The Atlas of Yellowstone (2012), and Archaeology and Landscape in the Mongolian Altai: An Atlas (2010). She works on design for all cartographic print projects in the Lab, including the UO campus mobile mapping efforts. Alethea is drawn to cartography because it combines her interests in art and science, and because the dynamic nature of the field requires continual learning. Her background in art and photography combined with her interest in earth sciences led Alethea to cartography at California State University, Northridge where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Geography in 2001. She followed up with a Master of Science in Geography in 2006 at the University of Oregon. As a student, Alethea took advantage of internship programs to learn from experienced cartographers. She worked as a cartographic intern for National Geographic Maps in 2001 and with the National Park Service in 2005.
Cartographic Production Manager
Students & Postdocs
Justine BeckerPostdoctoral researcher
Justine is a postdoctoral researcher who focuses on understanding the origin and maintenance of multiple movement strategies in Wyoming’s pronghorn populations. She is using GPS collar and remote sensing data from across Wyoming to investigate the connection between spatiotemporal environmental variability and the long-distance movement tactics used by pronghorn, which can be migratory, resident, or nomadic. Through her research, Justine hopes to both improve our understanding of long-distance animal movements and inform strategies for the management and conservation of these movements in pronghorn. Justine’s background is in behavioral ecology, and she is broadly interested in understanding the ecological causes of individual behavioral variation and the consequences of this variation at the population- and community-level. Prior to joining WMI, Justine completed her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University where she studied the movement ecology of antelope in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park. Justine received her B.A. in History and B.Sc. in Biological Sciences from the University of Auckland in her home country of New Zealand.
Molly CaldwellPh.D. student
Molly is a Ph.D. student in the Program in Ecology at the University of Wyoming with the Merkle research group. Her graduate research focuses on ungulate (bison, elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep) migrations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. She will be investigating the community and movement ecology of these species to help understand why a large diversity of movement strategies exist among sympatric ungulates. Previously, Molly worked as an Environmental Scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife where she conducted habitat and wildlife monitoring on state lands and analyzed camera and GPS telemetry data to investigate wildlife use of highway crossings. Molly is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and she earned her bachelor’s degree in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Janey FugateGraduate Research Assistant
Janey Fugate is a master’s student with the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in the Zoology and Physiology Department at the University of Wyoming under Dr. Matthew Kauffman. Her research focuses on how Yellowstone bison, after being nearly extirpated from the landscape in late 19th century, established the migration patterns and strategies they exhibit today. Multidimensional in nature, her research uses contemporary movement data and the 100- year historical record to understand how bison learned and recovered their lost migrations over generations. She hopes that her findings will serve broader ungulate conservation efforts as migrations around the world are truncated or in peril. Prior to joining WMI, she worked as a communications specialist and filmmaker for a variety of organizations, with a focus on documentary-style storytelling. She plans to weave creative elements into her research project and work with WMI, helping translate the bison migration story for diverse audiences.
Graduate Research Assistant
Carrie KyleGraduate Research Assistant
Carrie is a master’s student with the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in the Zoology and Physiology Department at the University of Wyoming under Dr. Matthew Kauffman. Her research is focused on expanding the generality of full annual cycle ecology across taxa by looking at the year-round movements of mule deer, elk and moose in the Bighorn Mountains Wyoming. Carrie earned her bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since then, she has established a solid foundation of collaborative research and field experiences by working for several universities, state and federal agencies. She has extensive experience with many taxa including black bears, Mexican grey wolves, coyotes, bobcats, white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, pronghorn and white-fronted geese.
Graduate Research Assistant
Lindsay MartinezGraduate Research Assistant
Lindsay is currently working towards her master’s degree with the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Wyoming, advised by Dr. Matthew Kauffman. Her research focuses on spatial analysis of four moose herds’ movements in Wyoming including the Jackson herd, Sublette herd, Snowy Range herd and the Bighorn Mountain herd. Specifically, Lindsay is comparing moose movement strategies and habitat use across Wyoming in variable habitats at the southern extent of their range.
Before starting her master’s research Lindsay worked on multiple research projects focused on large-scale population dynamics including the Rocky Mountain Amphibian Project, the Southern Greater Yellowstone Area Mesocarnivore Monitoring Project and the Southwest Wisconsin Chronic Wasting Disease Deer and Predator Study. Her interest in wildlife management has developed during positions with academic researchers, non-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies where she worked with birds, amphibians, mammals, wildlife disease and habitat management. She spent four years in western Wyoming working for the U.S. Forest Service on the Bridger-Teton National Forest as a lead wildlife technician. Lindsay earned her bachelor of science from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.
Graduate Research Assistant
Anne SchollePhD student
Anne is a PhD student with the Program in Ecology at the University of Wyoming. Her graduate research focuses on group dynamics and collective decision-making of migratory ungulates, primarily mule deer. Prior to coming to Wyoming, she was a research intern at the Smithsonian National Zoo where she analyzed GPS and accelerometer data from the Asian elephants. She also conducted research on local ecological knowledge in rural Uganda. She holds a master’s degree in Conservation Science from Imperial College London and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Dickinson College.
Anna OrtegaGraduate Research Assistant
Anna is a master’s student who focuses on the varying-length migrations of mule deer using the Red Desert to Hoback migration corridor. She is comparing fat dynamics, birth rates, fawn recruitment, and adult survival among short-, medium-, and long-distance migrants. Anna had previously been a Wildlife Field Technician and GIS Analyst for several studies conducted by the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Working for the Coop Unit here in Wyoming, she has worked on sagebrush, mule deer, and bighorn sheep in the field. Ortega has also mapped the home ranges and migration routes of moose, mule deer, elk, and mountain goats and has conducted database work for several of these species. She has extensive experience with other taxa, including Piping Plovers, Red Knots, Emperor Geese, Pacific Loons, bees, and sage grouse.
Graduate Research Assistant
Cody WallaceGraduate Research Assistant
Cody is a master’s student with the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in the Zoology and Physiology Department at the University of Wyoming. His research focused on how juvenile animals learn their migration patterns. Cody previously worked as an assistant research scientist for the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit where he managed the Shirley Basin pronghorn project. Prior to coming to Wyoming, he worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife on several research projects studying cougars, black bears, mule deer, and elk. Cody received a B.S in wildlife Biology from the University of Montana in 2012.
Graduate Research Assistant
Luke WildeLuke Wilde is a Ph.D. student in the Wyoming Coop Unit and the Program in Ecology at the University of Wyoming working with Matt Kauffman. Luke’s doctoral research uses the Sublette mule deer herd’s Red Desert to Hoback migration among others to explore how animals optimally alter migratory behaviors in response to barriers and environmental changes, as well as the mechanism by which juveniles develop their own behavioral profile. Luke also provides data and analysis for social media outreach and heads up development of a curiosity-driven learning curriculum in k-12 classrooms around Wyoming. Before joining WMI, he earned a master’s degree researching the effects of mixed-species social interactions and phenological mismatches on the early-life survival of long-distance migratory shorebirds in Alaska. Luke is an avid climber, fly fisher, and ski mountaineer around Wyoming, Washington, and his home state, Montana.