Liza Watson Lehrer (Chair), Urban Wildlife Institute, Lincoln Park Zoo (llehrer@lpzoo.org)

Liza with snake.JPG

Liza Lehrer is the Assistant Director for Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute. Her research interests include landscape ecology of urban wildlife, behavioral modifications of wildlife in urban areas, health and stress of urban wildlife, non-lethal solutions to human-wildlife conflict, and outreach and education. Liza grew up in Urbana, Illinois where she developed a love for wildlife by exploring her backyard. She earned a B.A. in Zoology from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. She has worked on projects ranging from behavior of Mexican wolves and African wild dogs, demography of maned wolves, disease transmission ecology of West Nile Virus, impacts of urbanization and translocation on woodchucks, and biodiversity of Chicago’s urban wildlife. Liza has been a member of The Wildlife Society since 2008.

Maureen H. Murray (Secretary/Treasurer), Lincoln Park Zoo (maureenmurray@lincolnparkzoo.onmicrosoft.com)

MHMurray in Chicago.JPG

Maureen Murray is the Wildlife Disease Ecologist at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and is interested in the consequences of urbanization on wildlife health, behavior, and interactions with humans. She recently studied the effects of urban land use and human feeding on the transmission of Salmonella and host condition in the American white ibis at the University of Georgia. Prior to her postdoc on urban ibises she completed her PhD on individual variation in urban coyote ecology and consequences for human-coyote conflict at the University of Alberta. Maureen’s goal is to improve wildlife conservation and management by better understanding how wildlife live among people and urban development. Maureen has been a member of The Wildlife Society since 2012 and a board member of the Urban Wildlife Working Group since 2015.

Richard Heilbrun (Chair-elect), Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Richard Heilbrun is the Conservation Outreach Program Leader for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.  He is a wildlife biologist by training, and has worked throughout the state on projects that conserve wildlife, manage wildlife habitat, and help people connect with natural resources on a deeply personal level. He has worked with Bighorn sheep, ducks, Whooping Cranes, songbirds, raptors, quail, deer, dove, and bobcats. Richard holds a Bachelors and Masters degree from Texas A&M University in wildlife ecology and has worked for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department since 2002. He is proud to have worked with landowners, urban residents, volunteers, conservation organizations, and the general public to advance stewardship of Texas’s natural resources.  He currently supervises the Urban Wildlife Technical Guidance Program, the Texas Nature Trackers Program, and the Texas Master Naturalist Program.  All of these programs aim to connect Texans with the outdoors, improve wildlife habitat throughout the state, and manage the state’s most sensitive wildlife populations. Richard is a past-officer of the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society, a graduate of the Natural Leaders Program, and a Rob & Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation Fellow.  He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist®, and lives in San Antonio with his wife and daughter.   

Nils Peterson (Past Chair), North Carolina State University
(Nils_peterson@ncsu.edu; 919-515-7588)


Dr. Nils Peterson is an Associate Professor of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology and Human Dimensions at North Carolina State University.  His research focuses on human dimensions of wildlife science, coupled human-natural systems, conservation related conflict, conservation development, urban wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation, environmental communication, and environmental economics. I am particularly interested in the political and ethical implications of biotechnology.


Courtney Aiken, Cooper Ecological Monitoring, Inc. (courtneyjean2@gmail.com)


Courtney Aiken is a wildlife biologist in the greater Los Angeles area and co-lead of the Griffith Park Raptor Survey. She received her B.S. in Environmental Science and M.S. in Urban Ecology from Loyola Marymount University. In her past research, Courtney focused on large mammal populations in urban environments spanning from Los Angeles to Orange County utilizing camera trap technology. Her current project, the Griffith Park Raptor Survey, is a citizen science driven project that aims to research raptor populations throughout the Los Angeles area while giving the public an opportunity to participate in research. Courtney enjoys sharing science with the larger community and educating individuals about the importance of wildlife in our most urban areas like Los Angeles. 

Sarah Aucoin, NYC Parks (Sarah.Aucoin@parks.nyc.gov)

Sarah Grimke Aucoin 8.JPG

Sarah Grimke Aucoin is the Chief of Education & Wildlife for NYC Parks.  Sarah’s tenure in NYC Parks spans seventeen years of innovation and programmatic expansion in the areas of environmental education, outdoor adventure, active conservation and wildlife management. As Deputy Director and then Director of the Urban Park Rangers, Sarah’s efforts took a broad focus, but she devoted much of her expertise and effort to the preservation of the endangered piping plover in Rockaway Park, the management of the bald eagle reintroduction initiative in Inwood Hill Park, the development of public climate change education with Columbia University, and the installation of the Alley Pond Adventure Course, the largest publicly managed ropes course in the northeast.  As Chief of Education & Wildlife, Sarah oversees the Urban Park Rangers as well as the newly created Wildlife Unit, whose mission is to promote coexistence between people and urban wildlife.  Sarah has a rich and accomplished academic background that includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from the University of California – Santa Cruz, and a Master of Science degree in Ecology from the University of Louisiana. She is an accomplished writer and researcher, having written and published a number of peer-reviewed monographs on subjects ranging from the breeding patterns of tadpoles to sexual bias in studies of animal behavior.

Leslie Bliss-Ketchum, Portland State University (bliss.ketchum@gmail.com)


eslie Bliss-Ketchum is a wildlife ecologist who has been actively monitoring and researching the impacts of the built environment on habitat connectivity, assessing the success of mitigation efforts and developing habitat connectivity assessments as well as developing flexible and functional urban biodiversity monitoring frameworks. She is a Past-President of the Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society and former Conservation Affairs Representative for the Northwest Section of TWS. Leslie is the co-owner of an environmental consulting firm Samara Group that was founded to enhance environmental projects centered on rigorous science, inclusive partnerships, and effective communications. Leslie is currently completing her Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Portland State University where her research has focused primarily on issues of urban wildlife and roads as barriers to wildlife movement. She is excited to be continuing this work on a variety of scales, from region to neighborhood, to statewide and beyond. She received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a minor in Biology and graduated Cum Laude from PSU in 2007 and is an adjunct faculty at Portland State University teaching courses in field methods in wildlife science, urban ecology and road ecology.

Jay Boulanger, University of North Dakota (jason.boulanger@und.edu)

Jay Boulanger is an Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Human Dimensions in the Department of Biology at the University of North Dakota. He received his Ph.D. in
Wildlife Science from Cornell University, M.S. in Wildlife Sciences from South Dakota State University, and B.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. His
research interests include managing human-wildlife conflicts in urban landscapes, mammalian ecology, and human dimensions of wildlife science. Jay is a Certified
Wildlife Biologist and a long-standing member of TWS.

Justine A. Smith, University of California, Berkeley (jsmith5@berkeley.edu)


Justine is a postdoctoral researcher in the Middleton Lab at UC Berkeley, where she works on the ecology of risk effects in the Argentine Andes. Her research primarily focuses on animal decision-making and risk-foraging tradeoffs in large mammals. Justine received her PhD from UC Santa Cruz in 2017, where she explored cascading effects of human-induced fear in pumas living in highly developed landscapes. She is dedicated to public outreach, and has served as founder and president of the Santa Cruz Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology, representative for the Wild Felid Association, and web manager for the Urban Wildlife Working Group. Justine has given dozens of public talks to local schools and communities about urban ecology and living with wildlife.  

PAST Executive committee members

Bob McCleery (Chair 2013-2015), University of Florida
(Ramccleery@ufl.edu; 352-846-0566)


Dr. Robert (Bob) McCleery is an Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Western Illinois University. Bob’s research has focused on understanding how urban and other intensively modified landscapes alter wildlife populations. He also has an interest in relating attitudes to behaviors in human-wildlife conflicts. Bob grew up outside of New York City. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Texas A&M University, his B.S. from Cornell University, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Swaziland, Africa. Bob is active in The Wildlife Society where he has served as Associate Editor for the Wildlife Society Bulletin (2005-2007) and the Journal of Wildlife Management (2006-2009). 

Stanley D. Gehrt (Chair 2011-2013), Ohio State University
(gehrt.1@osu.edu; 614-292-1930)

Dr. Stan Gehrt is an Assistant Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist at Ohio State University, and Senior Scientist at theMax McGraw Wildlife Foundation. Prior to his current position, he was Director of Research at the foundation where he focused on urban wildlife research in the Chicago area. Most of his research is still based in Chicago, including long-term research on the urban ecology of mesocarnivore and bat communities. Stan was the senior editor for Urban Carnivores, based on an urban symposium he co-organized for the 2007 Annual Conference of The Wildlife Society. Stan was raised in Kansas (definitely not an urban area), and holds a B.A. degree from Beth-any College (KS), M.S. degree from Emporia State University (KS), and a Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has been an active member of The Wildlife Society since 1989, having served on committees at every level, and is a Certified Wildlife Biologist. Stan believes the Urban Wildlife Working Group has been effective in increasing the visibility of urban wildlife issues among wildlife biologists, and that this progress needs to extend to the larger professional arena.

Chris Moorman (Chair 2009-2011), North Carolina State University (Chris_Moorman@ncsu.edu)

Dr. Christopher Moorman is an Associate Professor of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at North Carolina State University.  His research interests include forest wildlife management with emphasis on fire ecology, conservation of quail and songbirds in agricultural landscapes, avian ecology and conservation in temperate and tropical regions, urban wildlife ecology and management, and management of native plant communities.

Mark Hostetler (Secretary/Treasurer), University of Florida (hostetm@ufl.edu)

Dr. Mark Hostetler is a Professor, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, University of Florida (UF). With over twenty years of experience in urban wildlife and green development issues, Dr. Hostetler conducts research and outreach on how urban landscapes could be designed and managed, from small to large scales, to conserve biodiversity. Partnering with policy makers, city/county planners, environmental consultants, and developers, he leads efforts to establish model communities that incorporate conservation design and management strategies that enhance urban biodiversity and minimize development impacts on nearby natural areas. Dr. Hostetler co-founded UF’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities (PREC) and collaborates with an interdisciplinary team of scientists and graduate students to foster green development projects nationally and internationally. He serves on the advisory board of URBIO, which is a scientific network for education and research that promotes urban biodiversity across the globe. He is the author of The Green Leap: Conserving Biodiversity in Subdivision Development, and regularly contributes to several online blogs regarding urban biodiversity conservation and green development, including The Nature of Cities. Dr. Hostetler has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Purdue University and his Master of Science and Ph.D. in Zoology are both from University of Florida.

Past Board Members

Robert Denkhaus, Newsletter


Rob Denkhaus is the Natural Resource Manager at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge (FWNC&R), a 3,600-acre property owned and operated by the City of Fort Worth, Texas. Raised in urban northeast Ohio, Rob spent his formative years exploring the urban wilds along the Cuyahoga River before obtaining a B.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1984. The combination of life experience and education led Rob to pursue a career that would help bridge the gap between the natural world and urban residents. Working in urban nature centers and zoological facilities in Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee helped Rob to better understand urbanites’ relationships with nature in general and wildlife in particular. His 12-year tenure at the FWNC&R has provided Rob with the wildlife surveys, and prairie restoration, to further their understanding and appreciation of the world around them. He also works closely with a number of local universities by providing volunteer and intern opportunities for students to gain valuable experience. Rob believes that the Urban Wildlife Working Group is a vital link between traditional wildlife management disciplines and the average citizen and that the group should strive to encourage wildlife professionals to work with all stakeholders to develop integrated, mutually acceptable plans for improving the plight of all urban wildlife.

Chad Anderson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Chad is a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge Complex where he works to address a series of multifaceted natural resource management issues. After graduating from the University of South Florida with a B.S. degree in environmental science, Chad conducted a wide range of research and restoration projects across the country which he draws from today to confront the ever-growing challenges one faces as a federal land manager in an urbanized landscape. The Florida Keys Refuges are composed of highly fragmented and globally imperiled ecotypes which pose a number of interesting conservation biology conundrums such as management of an endangered but urbanized and locally over populated deer herd. Other ongoing projects include research and management of rare lepidopterans, invasive plant and animal control, restoration of rare plant populations, and investigating fire and hurricane effects on low lying island ecosystems. 

Tommy Parker, University of Louisville


Dr. Tommy Parker is an Assistant Professor at the University of Louisville and Principal Investigator in the Urban Wildlife Research Lab. He received his B.S. in Zoology and M.S. in Organismal Biology from The University of Memphis. After working as an ur-ban ecologist for the city of Kansas City Missouri, Tommy obtained his Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri. Prior to his current position, he served as the Endangered Species Biologist for the Eastern Region of the U. S. Forest Service. Tommy’s research interests broadly revolve around themes essential for understanding population dynamics and behavioral adaptations exhibited by urbanized vertebrate species. In his research, Tommy quantifies and models resources in urban systems at the microhabitat and landscape scales. At each scale, he focuses on the relationships among population-level dynamics, behavior, and resource availability. His work has focused primarily on mammals; however, he does work with other taxa to address questions related to his research interest. Tommy also works with a broad range of collaborators, including state, federal, and private industry biologists, and scientists from varying disciplines.

Marne Titchenell, Ohio State University


Marne grew up spending time outdoors during yearly family vacations and from these experiences developed a passion for nature and wildlife. She holds a BS and MS in natural resources from The Ohio State University's School of Environment and Natural Resources. With both degrees she chose to specialize in wildlife and forestry. As a master's student, she studied the response of bat populations in southern Ohio to shelterwood harvests in oak-hickory forests. The abstract of her project can be viewed on the TWEL website. Marne has gained experience working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Forest Service. In 2006, she worked as a naturalist for the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, where she developed a passion for environmental education. In late 2007, Marne accepted her current position as Wildlife Program Specialist, with OSU Extension. She works to provide a variety of educational programs, workshops, conferences, and publications centered on wildlife ecology and biology, habitat management for wildlife, and managing nuisance wildlife species.

Laurel E.K. Serieys, University of California, Los Angeles

Laurel grew up in Dallas, Texas and graduated with a B.S. in Zoology from University of Texas at Austin in 2003.  Presently, Laurel is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (graduation: June 2014) and a National Park Service (NPS) collaborator working on bobcats in Southern California.  She is passionate about wild cat conservation and research, with a focus on how urban development threatens wild cat populations.  She is also vice president of the Wild Felid Research and Management Association. She hopes that through learning about the threats facing urban carnivore populations, we may work towards solutions for their conservation over the long-term.  Learn more about her work at her Urban Carnivores website or Facebook page.

Erin Boydston, U.S. Geological Survey

Dr. Erin Boydston received her B.S. in Zoology from Duke University and Ph.D. in Zoology/Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior from Michigan State University. She started pursuing interests in animal behavior and conservation in high school, volunteering and later working at the Dallas Zoo. After college Erin assisted studies of howler monkeys in Costa Rica and elephants at the National Zoo, where she also worked as a large mammal keeper. She began studying social carnivores during graduate school and spent 2 years observing spotted hyenas in Kenya and documenting the impacts of increased human activity on their behavior. Since joining the U. S. Geological Survey in 2001 as a Research Ecologist with the Western Ecological Research Center, Erin has continued studying carnivores, focusing on the movement ecology of bobcats, coyotes, and other carnivores across nature reserves, habitat fragments, and urban areas of coastal California. 

Paul Curtis, Cornell University


Paul Curtis is an Associate Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. He received a Ph.D. in Zoology from North Carolina State University in 1990, and a M.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University in 1981. His research interests include managing human-wildlife conflicts in urban landscapes, wildlife fertility control, and resolving community-based wildlife issues. His extension programming has included a variety of wildlife-related booklets, videos, and fact sheets. He has been a member of The Wildlife Society since 1978, and is a Certified Wildlife Biologist.

John Davis, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Wildlife Division


John Davis is in charge of conservation outreach programs for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Division. He coordinates the following programs: Texas Master Naturalist, Texas Nature Trackers, Urban Wildlife Program, Texas Wildscapes, and Regional Interpretive Specialists. Before assuming his current position, John was one of eight urban biologists working for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In 1991 John received his B.S. degree in Biology from Sam Houston State University. He received his M.S. degree in Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1993. He later received a Master of City and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2006. John has worked with municipal governments, parks departments, corporations, developers, schools, homeowner’s associations, etc. to improve wildlife habitats and maintain biodiversity within our urban areas.