Biodiversity, Conservations & Policy

Current Students

Student Research Projects

Jillian Bonitatibus Picture of the student

Jillian graduated in 2011 with a B.S. degree in Environmental Science and Marine and Aquatic Science from Albright College in Reading PA. She is currently working towards a Masters Degree in Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy studying vernal pools in Rhinebeck NY. Her interests include wetlands, and amphibian conservation. In her free time, Jillian is an animal care volunteer at the Albany Pine Bush, and loves to be active outdoors.

Spencer Bruce Picture of the student

Spencer graduated from Brooklyn College with a B.A. in Biology and also holds a B.A. in Art History from Buffalo State College. He worked with the American Museum of Natural History helping to both maintain the Ichthyology collection, and develop materials for the National Center for Science Literacy, Education and Technology’s graduate seminar series. He is currently pursuing his masters in the Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy program and is researching genetic diversity as it relates to native brook trout populations in the Adirondack Park. His interests include Ichthyology, genetics, and climate change. In his free time he can be found fishing, hiking, or digging through dusty bins at the local record store.

Christina Chiappetta Picture of the student

Christina Chiappetta graduated from Siena College in 2008 with a B.S. in Biology and a certificate in Environmental Studies. While at Siena, she worked in Trinidad on her project regarding the biological control of mosquitoes using the Trinidadian killifish. Since moving to UAlbany, Christina has had an internship at the Stormwater Coalition of Albany County where she is involved with water pollution prevention activities. She has also become very interested in GIS, and is pursuing the GIS Certificate; she hopes to incorporate her new skill set into her thesis work. She is particularly interested in water-related conservation issues. Christina spends her free time playing rugby, coaching, and being active outdoors.

Anna Christie-Carnicella Picture of the student

Anna received her B.A. in Biology with a minor in French in 2006 from Hanover College. After a year of graduate school in secondary education and teaching high school in southern Indiana, she relocated with her husband to Albany in 2008. Anna’s research interests include ecological economics and using interdisciplinary approaches to address issues in environmental policy, especially landscape conservation. Anna spent the 2010 spring semester at an internship with the Land Trust Alliance’s New York program, completing a program evaluation of its Conservation Partnership Program that provides grants to New York land trusts. Her thesis research aims to use system dynamics modeling to evaluate strategic conservation within land conservancies.

Michael Gayle Picture of the student

Although Mike is interested in virtually all aspects of biodiversity and conservation, he is particularly interested in aquatic environments and has a specific passion for coastal zone ecosystems. He assists in coral reef health monitoring by serving as a national trainer, team leader and team scientist for Reef Check and helps to inform the public about environmental issues impacting our aquatic world through involvement as a Project AWARE educator. Mike decided to pursue part-time study in the Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy program to become a better informed citizen and more effective in aquatic biodiversity research, conservation, and advocacy.

Samantha Hoff Picture of the student

Samantha graduated from Siena College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Spanish. She is currently pursuing her masters in the Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy program and is interested in researching the effects of grazing on invasive species and the fungal community. Her interests include mycology, sustainable agriculture, and climate change policy and in her free time she enjoys cooking, traveling, going to concerts and hiking with her dog.

Alyson Kelly Picture of the student

Alyson joined the Biodiversity Conservation & Policy program in January 2012. She graduated from Fordham University in 2008 with a B.A. in International Political Economy. She then worked in the non-profit sector doing Fair Trade education and outreach on behalf of farmers in the developing world. Through her work in Fair Trade, she developed an interest in studying sustainable agricultural systems and community-based food networks. Her Master’s research will focus on the economic and environmental impacts made by young and beginning farmers and ranchers who employ sustainable agricultural practices. Alyson works as the Regional Assistant for the Office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the Capital District.

Katherine La Creta Picture of the student

Katie graduated in 2008 with a B.S. degree in marine science from Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, ME. She worked with Project Puffin along coastal Maine as a field intern measuring productivity of seabirds for two summers, and spent an additional two summers educating guests at the Project Puffin Visitor Center based in Rockland, ME. Although her interests are diverse, she is particularly interested in predators, invasive species, and wetlands.

Christina McLaughlinPicture of the student

Originally from Rochester, Christina graduated SUNY Oswego summa cum laude with a B.Sci in Zoology. After a few years in a chemistry research lab, she returned to biology to seek a master’s in the Biodiversity Conservation & Policy program. Christina volunteers as a docent at the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center, and has an interest in the ability of public education programs to influence public opinion on wildlife management.

Lisa Pipino Picture of the student

Lisa graduated from Russell Sage College in 2010 with a B.A. in Biology. After a year of graduate study in molecular biology, she is now pursuing her interest in biodiversity and conservation. She has a broad range of interests in the field of conservation, and her thesis work seeks to determine the primary factors affecting the distribution of herpetofauna in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.


Shanon RauchPicture of the student

Shannon joined the iodiversity, Conservation, & Policy Program in the Fall of 2007. She graduated from the University at Albany with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Geography. As an undergraduate, she worked on a research project with Dr. Kleppel studying the effects of land use on wetland ecosystems. Shannon currently works part time at the Department of Environmental Conservation in the Program Management Office where she helps with various projects related to the Brownfield and Groundwater Program. She is interested in pursuing research related to land use, wetlands protection, endangered species, or environmental policy.

Patty Shultis Picture of the student

Patty has a BS degree from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry where she majored in environmental and forest biology. She has been involved in projects focused on storm water and wetland management which, along with her love of aquatic science and policy, has inspired her to focus her thesis research on water-related topics.


William Valleau Picture of the student

Bill Valleau received his bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from The University at Albany. He currently works as a Graduate Assistant for the Sustainability Council at UAlbany. His interests are in sustainable agricultural systems and conservation practices in general.


Jamie Zaccaria Picture of the student

Jamie has a BS in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Delaware. As an undergrad she had the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica and Hawaii. Her passion is for marine ecosystems and animal rights. Jamie is an intern with the Animal Welfare Institute and working on a developing a listing petition for the dusky shark under the Endangered Species Act.