Biodiversity, Conservation & Policy


Graduates of the Biodiversity Conservation & Policy Program find employment opportunities locally and nationally, in state and federal agencies, and in the non-governmental sector.

Our alumni include program heads and directors at the NY Department of State, the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Hudson River Estuary Program and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Some of our graduates work for the US Environmental Protection Agency, the NY State Department of Transportation, the Maine Department of Transportation and the Hudson River Greenway Program. Others currently or have worked for The Nature Conservancy, the Land Trust Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, the Wildlife Conservation Society and other major conservation organizations. Several of our graduates have gone on to PhD programs at institutions including Cornell University, Michigan Tech, Boston University and the University at Albany.

We are constantly adapting the Biodiversity Conservation & Policy Program to meet the challenges of a changing job market. Several of our alumni sit on our Biodiversity Conservation & Policy Program Advisory Panel, which helps us to set new directions and to improve the program to meet the evolving needs of our students. The current members of the panel are: David Haight (American Farmland Trust, Northeast Region), Dr. Jill Knapp (Mohawk-Hudson Land Conservancy), Karen Strong (Hudson River Estuary Program, DEC; alumna), Ethan White (Land Trust Alliance), Jeffrey Zappieri (NY Department of State; alumnus).

Some of our alumni:

Jeffrey D. Zappieri (1998)Alum's picture

Jeff is a coastal ecologist with the NYS Coastal Management Program. He works with ecological restoration projects and the development of coastal natural resource management plans. Jeff's projects include saltmarsh restoration and riverine corridors.

An Evaluation of New York State's Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat Programs

Suzanne M. Hohn (1999)

Suzanne has joined the Peace Corps in Malawi, Southeast Africa. She is a Parks and Wildlife Community Extension Officer who is working to improve the relationship between local communities and the parks. Her goals in this project are to increase community involvement with the national parks and help communities benefit from the parks.

Does the Pet Trade Threaten New York State's Amphibian and Reptile Species?

Michael Messere (1999)

Impact of forest gaps on northern redback salamander abundance

Lori Quillen (2000)Alum's picture

Lori is a recent graduate of the program and is now working for the Invasive Plant Council. She is also interested in the role that Chiropterans play in pollination and the decline of native pollinators within the US. Since embarking on her thesis writing, she has also become interested in the role that information exchange effects public awareness and policy formation.

Lori now works at the Institute for Ecosystem Studies as a public information specialist on the educational staff.

The photo is from a summer internship at a Chiropteran rehabilitation and education center in Mineral Wells, Texas (1998).

Improving Pollinator Policy: Current Obstacles and Future Solutions

Catherine Pratt (2000)

The InterAmerican Tropical Tuna Commission as a Model of Management for the International Whaling Commission

Krista Zantopp (2000)Alum's picture

Krista's thesis examined the public policy history of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. While working for an environmental consulting firm on Long Island, she monitored the habitats of threatened and endangered species such as the Piping Plover on Fire Island National Seashore and worked on a number of shoreline restoration projects.

History of Land Use and Protection in the Albany Pine Bush

Josh Drew (2000)Alum's picture

Josh is working as a researcher at the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx zoo. His work focuses on two conservation efforts 1) an ocean giants campaign working to save large pelagic fish and 2) a seascape conservation campaign, looking at large scale marine conservation using a suite of 'seascape' creatures.

Josh's thesis was based on an internship with the American Museum of Natural History at the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. His thesis was about 'Marine Reserves as an Alternative Fisheries Management Technique for the Bahamas.

Marine Reserves as an Alternative Fisheries Management Technique for the Bahamas

Karen Frolich (2000)Alum's picture

Karen is a biodiversity specialist at the New York State Biodiversity Research Institute in Albany, NY. Her thesis research was on dragonflies and damselflies communities (Insecta: Odonata) in eastern New York State.

The Influence of Acid Deposition and Nutrient Enrichment on the Community Structure of Odonate (Dragonfly and Damselfly) Larvae

Abbe Miller (2001)Alum's picture

Abbe graduated from the school of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, with a B.S. in Animal Science. She also studied natural resources while at Cornell.

Abbe studied marine biology while abroad at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland, Australia for six months. She is an advanced certified SCUBA diver, and spent time diving and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and in the Cayman Islands.

Abbe's thesis focused on harmful algal blooms (HAB's) developing policy directives to minimize the negative impacts of HAB's on human and biological systems.

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs): Policy Alternatives to Minimize Negative Impacts on Human and Biological Systems

Dan Tierney (2001)Alum's picture

Dan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maine in Orono with a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology. He has worked on field projects determining life history characteristics of wood turtles and the effect of disturbance on old growth forest in northern Maine.

Dan is a recent graduate and wrote his thesis on the effect of land use practices on the abundance and diversity of amphibians in the Wilton Nature Preserve. He is currently teaching at Colby College and farming with his wife Hanne in Maine.

Vernal Pools in Practice and Policy

Anna Hartwell (2001)Alum's picture

Anna earned a B.S. in Environmental Science and Economics from Nazareth College and a B.S. in Biology from Oswego State University.

Anna has worked with the Nature Conservancy of Georgia and Alabama through a Student Conservation Association internship. She has also worked for the Environmental Research Center at Oswego State University studying Volitilization of PCBs in the Southern Great Lakes Basin.

Anna is currently a PhD student in the EEB program at SUNY Albany. She is working with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on a wetlands monitoring project.

Biocriteria and Land Use Assessment for Monitoring Emergent Marsh Wetlands in New York State

Joyce Levy (2001)

Analysis of the Long Island Habitat of the Eastern Tiger Slamander (Ambystoma tiginum) Using a Geographical Information System

Elizabeth Campochiaro (2002)

Dam Removal for Ecological Restoration and Anadromous Fish Passage: A National Overview and Formative New York State Policy

Brian Beachy (2002)

Invading Trees and Breeding Birds in the Albany Pine Bush

Amielle DeWan (2002)

The Ecological Effects of Carnivores on Small Mammals and Seed Predation in the Albany Pine Bush

Joanne Taylor (2003)

All Terrain Vehicle Use on Protected Land: Is there a way for Land Trust to Control Illegal Riding?

Cris Winters (2003)Alum's picture

Cris's thesis work involved a review of our current knowledge of the relationships between invasive plants and birds. Currently, Cris is the Invasive Plant Specialist for the New York State office of the Nature Conservancy. In the past, she worked in the field of wetlands science and has conducted field research and surveys in ornithology and botany. She is involved in bird conservation with the Delaware Working Group of Partner In Flight and was elected a Fellow of the Delmarva Ornithological Society.

Cris earned a B.A. in Biology from SUNY Potsdam and did graduate work in ecology at the University of Delaware. Cris is also working toward a certificate in Natural Science Illustration from the Institute for Ecosystem Studies and has had her work published in Blue Line, Delmarva Ornithologist and Coastlines.

Effects of Invasive Plants on North American Birds: What do we really know

Laura Audette (2004)Alum's picture

Laura graduated from Cornell University in 1998 with a Natural Resources/Animal Science major and is in her second year in the Biodiversity program. She has volunteered for the Americorps National Civilian community Corps all along the west coast. She has also worked for the United States Forest Service as a Wildland Firefighter in Arizona and California. Laura found here way back to Albany for her masters degree. Now Laura is in California where she works for an environmental consulting firm.

The Ecological Restoration of an Urban Stream Corridor Patroon Creek, Albany, NY

Crystal Jones (2004)Alum's picture

Crystal graduated summa cum laude from Illinois State University in May of 2002 with a degree in Biological Sciences. Her thesis was a project that assess the quality of biodiversity education in New York State. She hopes to use the results to make recommendations on how to improve biodiversity education for students and teachers alike. She now works at an educational museum in the Chicago area.

Biodiversity Education in New York State: An Assessment of Current Curricula

Benjamin Dittbrenner (2004)Alum's picture

Ben graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in 2001 with degrees in Biology, Environmental Science and Conservation. He has worked on a number of field projects ranging from wetland restoration to coal refuse phytoremediation. After a year of traveling throughout Europe, Canada and the Intermountain West he found his way to Albany and finished up his M.S. here before moving to California where he now works for an environmental consulting firm.

Variability of Structural Attributes within Forested Wetlands of the Hudson River Valley

Cori Drummond (2004)Alum's picture

Cori is a graduate of Siena College, where she played basketball and earned a B.S. in Marketing/Management and a Certificate in Environmental Studies. Since then she has volunteered with the Albany Pine Bush Commission and the New York State Museum.

The Ecological Impacts os Habitat Fragmentation on Deer Ticks (Ixodes scapularis) and Lyme Disease

Rebecca Shirer (2004)Alum's picture

Becky is a 2001 graduate from Penn State University with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Statistics. Before coming to Albany she worked in central Pennsylvania monitoring streams for the Spring Creek Watershed Community, an experience which helped her appreciate the need to understand policy in conservation. Becky is enjoying her time in New York and loves exploring the many different regions nearby.

Before graduating Becky secured a job with the Nature Conservancy's Troy, New York Office.

Effects of Landscape Disturbance on Freshwater Emergent Wetlands in the Hudson River Valley, New York

Sean Madden (2004)Alum's picture

Sean graduated from the University of Vermont in 1996 with a degree in Wildlife Biology. After dabbling in some research jobs and stints teaching in the public schools around his hometown of Marshfiled, Massachusetts, Sean moved out to New York and instantly fell in love with the Hudson Valley. Since then, he has focused on learning as much as possible about the Hudson Estuary as an educator and a naturalist for environmental organizations, including Riverkeeper and the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. His experience in the biodiversity program is another tool Sean uses to excite people about the wonders of the natural world. After graduating Sean received a teaching appointment at Hudson Valley Community College, teaching General Zoology. He also became a local recording artist with some of his songs appearing on a CD called Decaffein8ed. Sean loves hiking, singing, song writing, mucking around the riverside, and sturgeon.

Landscape Patterns and Water Quality in a Rural Watershed Tenmile Creek, Rensselaerville, NY

Melissa Kalvestrand (2009)Alum's picture

Melissa graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University in 2001 with a B.S. in biology with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology. As an undergraduate, she worked in a freshwater ecology lab and participated in a summer internship at the Cornell Biological Field Station to examine the influence of groundwater on Oneida Lake. After graduating, Melissa worked as a wetland consultant for six years, first at an engineering firm in Boston, MA and then at one in Glens Falls, NY. Her primary research interests are wetland and stream ecosystems with a focus on the success and failure of mitigation efforts required as part of the regulatory permit process. Her free time is usually filled with hiking, taking her dog for walks, or training for triathlons.


Hilary Oles (2009)Alum's picture

Hilary graduated from Hamilton College with a B.A. in Biology. She is a part-time student whose research interests are invasion ecology and environmental policy. Hilary also works for the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy where she directs the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program. Her professional experience includes ecological monitoring, environmental education, and conservation program development.


Andrea Indelicato (2010)

Picture of the student

Andrea graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Animal Science: Preveterinary Medicine and a minor in Zoology in May 2005. After interning in a vet's office and getting down and dirty working on a senior thesis involving dairy cows, she decided not to attend vet school and turned her focus to the environmental problems she had always been concerned about. She is interested in endangered species and urban sprawl, and in her free time enjoys cooking, movies and being outdoors.

Emily Starr (2010)

Picture of the student

Emily Starr graduated from Hamilton with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. At Hamilton, she completed a senior fellowship, working on an independent research project in microbial ecology. After graduation, she worked for the Institute of Ecosystem Studies as a project assistant for a long-term monitoring project regarding acid rain and nutrient leaching at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. Emily then worked at Darrow School for a year, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and ESL Environmental Science to ninth-grade students. Teaching environmental science helped Emily realize how important policy is to protecting the environment, and she is happy to have recently found a home in the Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy program. Emily is most interested in effective policy and management strategies to reduce the effects of climate change.

Caroline Girard (2011)

Picture of the student

Caroline graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science in biology and an emphasis on organismal/environmental biology. Since graduation she has worked with wildlife in a variety of capacities including as a naturalist for an environmental outreach program, an educator for the Wildlife Conservation Society and a wildlife rehabilitator for the SPCA of Monterey County. Her passion for wildlife and nature continues to drive her interest in pursuing a career in wildlife conservation and protection of biodiversity. Caroline is currently working on research involving the use of livestock in managing invasive plant species. Her interests include wildlife watching, native plant gardening and introducing her two adorable nieces to the beauty of nature. Caroline is joining the EEB PhD program.


Cornelia Harris (2011)

Picture of the student

Cornelia Harris (aka “Lia”) received a BA in Biology from Vassar College in 2000. After college, she participated in the Teach for America program as a middle school science teacher in Baltimore, where she received her MA in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University in 2002. After teaching in Baltimore, she spent several years abroad teaching in a variety of countries, including Kenya, Japan, and Germany. In addition to her studies at SUNY Albany, Cornelia is the Changing Hudson Project Coordinator at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY. She develops curriculum materials for area teachers based on long-term research from the Hudson River, focusing on how the river has changed over time. Her research interests include understanding how human pressures have changed local ecosystems, and how they will change in the future in response to climate change, invasive species, and biodiversity loss. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her dog and husband, cooking, painting, and reading.

Christine Vanderlan (2011)

Picture of the student

Christine returned to school after ten years working in environmental policy, mostly focused on the problem of global warming and policies to promote the use of wind, solar, and biomass for clean energy. She started her career in 1995 working for an environmental think tank in Washington , DC , where she participated in policy development, research, and analysis related to global warming, renewable energy and transportation. Looking to gain a new perspective on the U.S. (and her life), Christine then traveled to Guatemala as a volunteer with the Peace Corps, spending two years there serving as an agroforesty extensionist. She returned to New York State and began working with the non-profit group Environmental Advocates of New York based in Albany . As a program manager, Christine led a coalition of grassroots and regional groups within the state in a successful campaign that brought about the state's adoption of regulations to reduce emissions of global warming pollution from power plants. Christine has a bachelor's degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University .