Biodiversity, Conservation,
and Policy

Profiles of Current Students

Our program accomodates a wide range of research interests in the fields of conservation science and policy, and our students arrive with diverse background in their academic and professional training.



Current Master's Degree Students in the Program
Name Lisa Cassidy
Information Lisa Cassidy is currently pursuing her master's degree in the BCP program. Her research interest include promoting shared landscapes between humans and wildlife. Her specific research focus involves determining how grazed pastures managed in different ways impacts grassland bird habitat. Lisa obtained her B.S. in Biology from Suny Oswego with a minor in sustainability. Upon arriving at UAlbany she obtained a position as Grounds Chair on the Sustainability council. As such she helped establish a Heritage Garden on campus and cofounded both an undergraduate and graduate group to provide support for the garden to ensure that it is sustained into the future. She was rewarded with the Terra award and President's Award in Sustainability for her work.
Name Cassidy Drasser

Cassidy Drasser is entering her third year in the Biodiversity Conservation and Policy Master’s Program, and is studying the effect of repetitive flooding of the Mohawk River has on the sustainability, biodiversity, and policy implications in the town of Schenectady, NY. She received her BS in Biology at UAlbany as well and has been involved in the development and advancement of the sustainability movement here for the last 6 years. Since her sophomore year, she has helped implement various alternative transportation initiatives on campus as the Alternate Transportation Chair on the Student Sustainability Advisory Council. As a chair on this council, she partnered with a working group comprised of students dedicated to gauge student interest in sustainability and outline a strategic vision for the University at Albany from the student’s perspective. She has served as the President for UAlbany Students for Sustainability and is the past President and co-founder for UAlbany Graduate Students for Sustainability. Cassidy is the recipient of the President’s Leadership Award in Sustainability and the Terra Award for her active involvement and leadership in promoting sustainability at UAlbany. She is currently a graduate assistant in the Office of Environmental Sustainability.

Name Erin Sanderson
Information Erin is entering her second year in our program. She received her B.A. in Biology from SUNY Oswego in 2009, graduating Magna cum Laude. Her research interests are in predator management, public perception of predators, and the impact of agriculture on predator populations. After joining the program, Erin quickly became active in the sustainability movement on campus. She is currently the president of UAlbany Graduate Students for Sustainability, after serving as secretary in the group. She works closely with the office of environmental sustainability and the sustainability council. Erin is part of an effort, through the graduate student association, to expand the role of sustainbaility in the University President's strategic plan. She was part of the committee that held a national leadership summit for graduate students on sustainable leadership at SUNY Albany in the Summer of 2015. She has served as a member of the judicial board within the graduate student association and remains active within the organization. Currently, Erin is working as assistant to Dr. George Robinson.
Name Alyson Kelly
Information 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 a Legislative Aide to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand(D-NY) in the Washington D.C.
Name Katherine La Creta
Information 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.
Name Jillian (Bonitatibus) Pritchett
Information 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.
Name Emily Caboot
Information Emily Caboot is entering her first year pursuing a M.S. in Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy. She is currently developing a thesis topic exploring ideas involving invasive plant species in New York State. Emily graduated from SUNY Oneonta in May of 2016 with degrees in Adolescent Biology Education and Biology along with a certification to teach Biology grades 7-12. Her interests in the field of Biology include Botany, Plant Ecology and Animal Behavior. Other interests include gardening, hiking and swimming/coaching.
Name Izaac Cooper
Information Izaac entered the program in Fall 2016 and hopes to do research in the realm of aquatic invasive plant management. Izaac graduated from Paul Smith’s College in May 2016 with a BS in Biology and a minor in chemistry. While at Paul Smith’s, Izaac Worked for the Adirondack Watershed Institute, an organization established for the stewardship of Adirondack watersheds and for the management of invasive aquatic plant and invertebrate species. He hopes to continue with this line of work in his graduate studies.
Name Alan Eapon
Information Alan Eapen has received his BS in Biology from The City College of New York and is currently pursuing the Master’s Degree for the BCP program. His research interests include addressing educational deficits among zoo visitors in conservation and studying the roles of keystone species in forest and coastal ecosystems. As a Bronx native, Alan is interesting in conservation education and its role in shaping young minds in a place where nature may not be the predominant focus.
Name Nicole Smith
Information Nicole Smith is entering her first year at Ualbany, pursuing a M.S. in Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy. Previously, she graduated cum laude from Siena College in May of 2016 with a B.S. in Environmental Science as well a Pre-law Certificate. Nicole has previously interned with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health. Her broad interests include climate change, sustainable living, and environmental education and policy.
Name Brian Dagley
Information Thesis: Green Roof and University Campus Pollinator Biodiversity: Albany County, NY My project focuses on characterizing the pollinator diversity of urban ecosystems in Albany County, New York, assessing their potential for providing habitat and nesting resources for native bee and wasp species, and comparing the results with similar studies of urban parks, meadows, and green roofs.
Name Michelle Vedder-Drew
Information Michelle Vedder-Drew graduated with her bachelors of technology in wildlife management from SUNY Cobleskill in 2011. In the past she has worked with the NYS DEC, the USFWS, the Student Conservation Association/AmeriCorps, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Michelle has a passion for environmental education and wishes to learn more about the Mohawk River; she plans on studying how to make capitol region residents the best land stewards they can be! In her free time she enjoys reading, singing, and spending time with her husband and cat.