Speaker Bios

Keynotes
 

Emily Choy, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University and Environment and Climate Change Canada 

Dr. Emily Choy is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences at McGill University and Environment and Climate Change Canada.  Her research is supported by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation and Fonds de Recherche du Quebec. Dr. Choy has worked in many remote areas across the Canadian Arctic; from Devon Island, Nunavut, to Kendall Island, Northwest Territories. Dr. Choy studies the effects of climate change on thick-billed murres, an Arctic seabird with a colony of 30,000 breeding pairs at Coat Island in Northern Hudson Bay, Nunavut. She completed her PhD at the University of Manitoba on beluga whales as sentinel species of environmental change in the Beaufort Sea ecosystem in partnership with communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Northwest Territories. Dr. Choy was a Weston scientist on the Victoria Strait expedition in search of the lost Franklin ships and is currently a Scientific Advisor for the W. Garfield Weston Foundation’s Northern Committee, a Fellow for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and a council member for the Association of Field Ornithologists. Dr. Choy is very passionate about science outreach and is currently partnered with Earth Rangers in their Northern Project to teach kids about the conservation of Arctic wildlife. 

Leander Lacy

CEO, Lacy Consulting Services, LLC, Interim Director, Metro Denver Nature Alliance, Podcast Host, The Green Mind  

Leander Lacy is the founder and owner of Lacy Consulting Services. His company focuses on helping environmental organizations and sustainability-minded business meet their goal of improving human and community wellbeing through conservation action. Leander has worked on projects such as dam removal, deer management, building trust between fishers and conservation groups, five-state collaborative to protect the U.S. shortgrass prairie, assessing discrimination in U.S. farming and ranching, and updating the Conservation Standards with a focus on how to include Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion into conservation programming. He is trained traditionally as a wildlife ecologist and received his M.S. in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources where he did his thesis work on how to improve the quality of life of the urban poor through environmental action. Prior to starting his company, he worked on global teams with The Nature Conservancy and has been an advocate for increased social science in conservation projects. He recently became Interim Director for the Denver Metro Nature Alliance. They seek to bring equitable conservation to communities in Denver, Colorado. He also is starting a podcast called The Green Mind in late February that focuses on people working at the nexus of people and nature.

Hazel Levy, PhD

Research Scholar and Lecturer, Genetics Department, University of Florida

Dr. Hazel Levy (she/her/hers) is a research scholar in the Biomedical Sciences and in Higher Education Policy and is currently serving as a faculty Lecturer of Genetics. Dr. Levy is also a social justice organizer, serving as the vice-chair of the Women of Color Caucus (WOCC) of National Women’s Liberation (NWL) Gainesville, Florida chapter, and Dr. Levy was the first faculty mentor to UF’s Black Women in Medicine student organization. 

 
Panelists & Workshop Facilitators

Erica Aguiar

Assistant Director, Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program, Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program 

 

Erica Aguiar is a proud first-generation graduate who currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program at the University of Florida, a scholarship program that supports first-generation students who come from low-income backgrounds. Erica holds a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University.

 
 

Links

Personal website

James T. Brown

PhD student, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida 

James Brown, a Florida native, was born and raised in Palm Beach county. He attended the University of Maryland, College Park, where he majored in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics and in 2010 and received a bachelor's degree in Biological Science. In 2016, James was awarded a USDA Pathways Student Internship to pursue his Master’s in Entomology at the University of Florida. In collaboration with the Chemistry Research Unit at the USDA, he investigated lipid accumulation among European corn borer’s preparing for diapause. After graduating with his master's degree in 2019, James continued to work in the Chemistry Research Unit at the USDA where his research shifted to the ecological interactions between small fruits and their insect pests. In the spring of 2020, James joined Dr. Oscar Liburd’s Small Fruits and Vegetable IPM Laboratory where he will continue to investigate the chemical ecology of insect pests, their fruit hosts, and microbes while also serving as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Natural Area Teaching Lab. 

Randy Brown

Assistant Director of Outreach and Recruitment, Office of Admissions, University of Florida

Randy Brown is originally from North Little Rock, Arkansas. He attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he received a bachelor’s in Business Management with a focus on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Inspired by his undergraduate involvement in Student Government, in addition to numerous clubs and organizations, he went on to obtain his M.Ed. from the University of Vermont. Randy’s passion for cultural competence initiatives was further nurtured during his time in Vermont and served as an incubator for his personal and professional growth. Randy’s professional experiences have led him to several different leadership positions in university settings and currently serves as the Assistant Director of Outreach and Recruitment in the Office of Admissions.

 
 

Nicole Cannarozzi

Collection Manager, Environmental Archaeology Florida Museum of Natural History 

Nicole Cannarozzi is the collection manager in the Environmental Archaeology Program at the Florida Museum. Nicole is a zooarchaeologist and began working as a faunal analyst at the Florida Museum in 2003 and was hired as collections manager in 2018. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Anthropology at UF and is in the process of finishing her PhD. Her research focuses on the archaeology of food resource use from two sites on St. Catherines Island, Georgia. 

 

Keara Clancy

Masters Student, University of Florida Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department   

Keara Clancy is a first-year master’s student studying invasive Argentine tegu populations in South Florida. As a Filipina-American, Keara is passionate about justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences. She serves as the Graduate Assistant for the Natural Resources Diversity Initiative, bringing STEM programming to underserved communities, as well as offering undergraduate mentoring and professional development opportunities. She also serves on the University of Florida's Wildlife Ecology and Conservation's Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Committee, as well as the Florida Wildlife Federation's Board as the Youth Conservation Director. 

Chelsea Collison

Educator, Florida Museum of Natural History 

Chelsea Collison has been a museum educator for the Florida Museum of Natural History since 2015. She manages the development, implementation, and evaluation of public programs for diverse audiences that support the Florida Museum’s mission to inspire people to care about life on earth. Chelsea earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Florida in 2011. After graduating, she worked for various environmental and arts nonprofits before returning to school to earn her master’s degree in museum studies from the Johns Hopkins University Advanced Academic Program. As an educator, Chelsea aims to use creative programming to evoke excitement and curiosity about our natural world. Using methods of storytelling, visual arts, and community engagement she hopes to increase the broader public’s understanding and appreciation of science and women in STEM. 

 

Derod Deal

Undergraduate student, Astrophysics/Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Florida

Derod Deal is a sophomore and undergraduate researcher at the University of Florida, majoring in Astrophysics. Since he was a child, he had a passion for exploring the natural world, whether that may be from building weather stations in his backyard to exploring masers in distant star-forming regions in space. To make his passion for becoming an astrophysicist reality will take raw effort and diligence. His time as a freshman at UF has already taught him unforgettable lessons on how to build his bridge to success with organization, commitment, and consistency. With the knowledge he has acquired over his freshman year, he plans to inspire others to accomplish their dreams and achieve his own to become a prestigious astrophysicist.

 
 

Noé U. de la Sancha, PhD

Associate Professor at Chicago State University, and Research Associate at the Field Museum of Natural History 

Dr. Noé de la Sancha is an associate professor at Chicago State University and Research Associate at the Field Museum of Natural History. He is a classically trained mammalogist, primarily focusing in field ecology. He is interested in questions dealing with the effects of anthropogenic habitat disturbance on patterns of biodiversity and health of population in these habitats ranging from landscape ecology to biogeography. His lab incorporates statistical modeling, geographic information systems (GIS), morphometrics, and phylogenetics to field and museum data, with the aim to improve our understanding of various dimensions of biodiversity primarily in the tropics. 

 

Brittney N. Dixon, PhD, MPH, CPH, TTS

Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Health Services Research, Management, and Policy and the Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration, College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida

Dr. Brittney Dixon received both her Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Public Health degree from Florida State University. She received her PhD in Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration) from the University of Florida in August 2020. Dr. Dixon's research focuses on identifying and examining factors impacting health and quality of life for underserved populations. Her research also centers on understanding how geographic health disparities impact health for those in rural versus urban communities. Furthermore, Dr. Dixon's research expands across areas such as the built environment, obesity, adverse childhood experiences, resilience, and community-based research.   

 

Catherine Early, PhD

Barbara Brown Chair of Ornithology , Science Museum of Minnesota

Dr. Catherine Early is the Curator of Ornithology at the Science Museum of Minnesota. She studies the evolution of the brains of birds using museum specimens of both extinct and extant species of birds. She earned her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Ohio University and was funded by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

 

Lauren Esposito, PhD

Curator of Arachnology, California Academy of Sciences

Dr. Lauren Esposito is the Assistant Curator and Schlinger Chair of Arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences. Lauren’s current research investigates the patterns and processes of evolution in spiders, scorpions, and lesser-known arachnids. Originally from the US-Mexico borderlands, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at El Paso, and went on to obtain an MS and PhD from the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the City University of New York. Lauren is also the co-founder/director of a science, education, and conservation non-profit called Islands & Seas, and the co-creator of 500 Queer Scientists, a visibility campaign for LGBTQ+ people working in STEM careers. Lauren is also a passionate educator, and during her research expeditions across the globe, has organized education programs on the importance of conserving biodiversity in local communities.

 

Adania Flemming

PhD Student, Biology Department and the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida 

Adania Flemming spent her formative years in Trinidad and Tobago, a twin island nation in the Caribbean. Fascinated by water and aquatic systems she earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology at the University of Tampa, followed by a Master of Science in zoology. Adania is interested in exploring the ecology of fishes, their role and niche in the environment, their life history as well as understanding how form relates to function.  Adania is also interested in using natural history collections as a gateway to introduce students of underrepresented backgrounds to Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics (STEAM) careers. For her PhD she is combining her interest in education with Ichthyology, through an interdisciplinary research project where she will evaluate the impact of experiential learning within collections on students understanding of science and less known scientific fields as Ichthyology, while exploring life histories of fishes. Her ultimate goal is to work as a researcher and educator in a science center (museum/aquarium) in Trinidad and Tobago. However, upon graduation she would like to work as museum faculty, between the intersection of the research collections and the education department. As an underrepresented person in STEAM she would tell her younger self to get as much experience as possible to help realize one to two main interests and focus on developing her understanding of those interests. She would also encourage herself to always put her best foot forward, stay positive and just keep swimming. 

 

Natasza Fontaine

Biology Graduate Student, Florida State University

Natasza Fontaine is a natural science illustrator, amateur photographer, and biology graduate student at Florida State University.  Her experience working at the New York Botanical Garden and FSU herbaria has developed her passion for collecting and mounting plant specimens. Her love of plants is deeply intertwined with her love of birds. Her thesis is focused on understanding plant diversity and distribution to assess bird habitat associations for conservation management. In addition, Natasza has a passion for behavioral bioacoustics and how bioacoustics are used to monitor biodiversity.  She enjoys volunteering as a Shorebird Steward for Florida Audubon and public engagement, especially by way of visual arts. 

 

Jasmin Graham

MarSci-LACE Project Coordinator, CEO of Minorities in Shark Sciences  

Jasmin specializes in elasmobranch ecology and evolution. Her past research interests include smalltooth sawfish movement ecology and hammerhead shark phylogeny. She is a member of the American Elasmobranch Society and served on their Student Advisory Committee for two years. Jasmin completed internships with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Fort Johnson Marine Lab and FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management. She worked as an instructor for the Saturday at the Sea program through the Florida State University Office of STEM Teaching Activities. Jasmin has a passion for science education and making science more accessible for everyone. She is the Project Coordinator for the MarSci-LACE project, which is focused on researching and promoting best practices to recruit, support and retain minority students in marine science. Jasmin is also the CEO of Minorities in Shark Sciences, an organization dedicated to supporting women of color interested in shark science. She is excited to help open doors for more underrepresented minority students to join the exciting field of marine science. 

Links

Instagram: @diti.jay
Twitter: @DitiJay  

Aditi Jayarajan

Ph.D. candidate, Department of Biology, University of  Florida

Aditi is from Bangalore, India- the place with the perfect weather. She graduated with a master’s degree from Bangalore University and went on to explore frogs, lizards, and snakes in the Western Ghats. She is currently getting her Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Florida. She loves her research on bats in the Mammalogy Collections and likes to take slow motion videos of them. In her spare time, she likes photographing creepy crawly things and reading books.


Headshot: In the Caribbean- She was chasing bats and this was taken above Dean's Blue Hole.

 
 

Links

Departmental Bio

Nattapol Kraisitudomsook

Ph.D. student, Plant Pathology Department, University of Florida

Nattapol Kraisitudomsook is a Ph.D. student in the Plant Pathology Department. He studies mushroom taxonomy and evolution. His current project is on the evolution and systematics of bird’s nest fungi. In his free time, he enjoys swimming, writing, and reading fictional novels.

 

Leander Lacy

CEO, Lacy Consulting Services, LLC, Interim Director, Metro Denver Nature Alliance, Podcast Host, The Green Mind  

Leander Lacy is the founder and owner of Lacy Consulting Services. His company focuses on helping environmental organizations and sustainability-minded business meet their goal of improving human and community wellbeing through conservation action. Leander has worked on projects such as dam removal, deer management, building trust between fishers and conservation groups, five-state collaborative to protect the U.S. shortgrass prairie, assessing discrimination in U.S. farming and ranching, and updating the Conservation Standards with a focus on how to include Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion into conservation programming. He is trained traditionally as a wildlife ecologist and received his M.S. in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources where he did his thesis work on how to improve the quality of life of the urban poor through environmental action. Prior to starting his company, he worked on global teams with The Nature Conservancy and has been an advocate for increased social science in conservation projects. He recently became Interim Director for the Denver Metro Nature Alliance. They seek to bring equitable conservation to communities in Denver, Colorado. He also is starting a podcast called The Green Mind in late February that focuses on people working at the nexus of people and nature.

 

Symphany Lindsay

Undergraduate Student, University of Florida 

Symphany Lindsay is an undergraduate student at the University of Florida double majoring in Biotechnology and Psychology with a minor in African American Studies. She aspires to obtain her MD in women's health, specifically in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Currently, she is in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and has an interest in genetics and genetic modification. 

JP Michel

Founder, Sparkpath

JP Michel is on a mission to change the way we prepare people for their careers. His work in human resources consulting gave him the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the world’s largest organizations. JP took these lessons learned to start his company, SparkPath, where he does career and leadership development with youth and leaders. JP has a masters degree in industrial-organizational psychology and is the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Career Professional award from the Career Professionals of Canada. 

 
 

Amber Moebs

Coordinator II, Advising, Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, University of Florida, University of Florida

Amber Moebs has a Master’s degree in Higher Education with a concentration in Student Affairs. She began her financial aid career as a student assistant while earning her undergraduate degree, and has served in a professional capacity in the field for three years. She started her position at the University of Florida as a Coordinator II one year ago and she enjoys being a gator! Her favorite thing about working with students and their families is taking information that can seem overwhelming and providing the necessary details and guidance to help make understanding the financial aid process simpler.  

 

Miguel Ordeñana

Community Science Manager and Wildlife Biologist, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Miguel joined the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in April 2013. He is currently a manager in the Community Science Office within the Research and Collections Department. Prior to working at the museum, he worked as a wildlife biologist for federal and state institutions throughout California. At NHMLA, his role as a biologist involves studying local urban wildlife species of Los Angeles such as bats and carnivores. His role as a community science manager involves promoting and creating community science projects, recruitment of community scientists, and community science training.  He also initiated a jaguar camera trap study in southwestern Nicaragua, where his family is from. Besides constantly exploring local nature of Los Angeles, he is very focused on improving as an educator so that he may inspire a more diverse next generation of scientists.

 

Jeanette Pirlo

PhD Candidate, Florida Museum, Biology Department, University of Florida

Jeanette is a fourth year PhD candidate at the Florida Museum of Natural History (through the Biology Department), focusing on vertebrate paleontology.  She studies a new population of 4-tusked elephants called Gomphotheres that were discovered near UF. She was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to conduct her research. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  She is first generation Latina-American and the first in her family to go to college.

Sori Ruiz-Escobar

Collections Assistant for the Ichthyology and Environmental Archaeology collections at the Florida Museum of Natural History

Sori Ruiz-Escobar (she/her) is a Collections Assistant for the Ichthyology and Environmental Archaeology collections at the Florida Museum of Natural History. She recently graduated with a B.S. in Marine Sciences from the University of Florida and would like to study fish morphology in graduate school.

 
 

Trellis Williams

Coordinator II, Advising, Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, University of Florida

Trellis Williams, MS, has 20 plus years of managerial experience in both educational and corporate settings.  She currently serves as a Coordinator in the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships at the University of Florida.  A PhD candidate in Organizational Leadership; Trellis is a servant leader who works with non-profit organizations and small businesses as a management consultant and change agent.   A lover of STEAM; she holds bachelor degrees in Biology and Mathematics from Johnson C. Smith University, where she presented research  at The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS).  She also holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Bethune-Cookman University. When not doing all things financial aid she can found serving in her community with various organizations including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  She is currently working on a podcast entitled Pers-Nicki-ty, which is scheduled to launch by mid 2021. Over the years she has assisted hundreds; if not thousands of students and families navigate college admissions, financial aid and successful matriculation through higher education.  

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