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Presenter Bios

Adam Austin, Western Michigan University

Adam Austin is a Navy veteran and PhD candidate in the Dept. of Biological Sciences at Western Michigan University, communications specialist for the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC), and a research associate and instructor with The Rattlesnake Conservancy. His research includes community assembly in created wetlands, lesser siren distribution and genetics, and viper conservation and recovery.

Christe Alwin, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Christe Alwin is the supervisor of the Stormwater Permits Unit in EGLE’s Water Resources Division. She oversees permitting for the construction, industrial, and municipal stormwater programs. Christe has worked for the department for 22 years all within the Water Resources Division and was formerly the program coordinator for the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Program or MS4 Program.

Jennifer Bailey, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan

Jennifer Bailey is a Natural Resources Specialist II for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan where her primary focus is Wild Rice protection, management and restoration. Jennifer performs annual Wild Rice and invasive species surveys within the Tribe’s ceded territory as well as conducting habitat studies in thriving Wild Rice beds and potential restoration sites. Jennifer assists with a variety of projects in forestry, land management, restoration, and invasive species management.

Michael Battaglia, Michigan Tech Research Institute

Michael Battaglia is a research scientist at the Michigan Tech Research Institute in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has 10 years of experience using multi-source remote sensing data to study and characterize wetlands in temperate, boreal, and tropical regions around the world. His current research interests include determining how microwave remote sensing can be used to identify wetland plant species and finding new ways to use time-series data to gain a better understanding of how climate change is affecting wetland extent.

Melanie Burdick, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Melanie Burdick has been an environmental scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 in the Wetlands Section for 15 years. Region 5 includes WI, MN, IL, IN, MI, and OH. Melanie is the EPA Regional contact for Waters of the U.S. issues and the EPA lead overseeing Michigan’s assumed Clean Water Act Section 404 program. She has a B.S. in environmental geology from Calvin University and a M.S. in geology with a focus on wetland biogeochemistry from Western Michigan University. Melanie now lives on the north side of Chicago with her Siberian husky, Breslin.

Eric Calabro, EGLE

Eric Calabro is the Inland Lakes Policy Analyst with EGLE’s Water Resource Division in the Wetlands, Lakes and Streams Unit. He provides statewide technical expertise and assistance to regulatory staff and the general public on inland lake and shoreline permitting and regulatory issues. Eric also works on refining and advancing the protection of inland lakes through work on various program development activities, in addition to representing the Wetlands, Lakes, and Streams Program in various workgroups and partnerships relating to inland lakes around the State.

Nick Cassel, UP RC&D Council

Nick Cassel is the Executive Director of the Upper Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council, a non-profit organization servicing Michigan’s UP, with a focus on conservation of its natural resources. He has worked in conservation, with a focus on invasive species management and grant writing, for 14 years, utilizing his B.S. in Wildlife Management from Lake Superior State University. Cassel’s passion is utilizing collaboration and partnerships to accomplish conservation goals through practical outreach efforts and proper management. He is also the UP regional rep for the Michigan Invasive Species Coalition.

Cortney Collia, LMT

Cortney is a Licensed Massage Therapist and traditional healer who has spent 5 years studying various healing modalities. She is currently the owner of CC’s Natural Arts and an instructor at the Kalamazoo Center for the Healing Arts. In addition to that she has spent 20 years in environmental education and conservation. With experience in ecological management, zoology, farming, and restoration she has traveled throughout the Midwest sharing her knowledge of wild rice alongside her mentor Roger LaBine.

Matthew Cooper, Grand Valley State University

Dr. Matt Cooper is an Associate Professor of Biology at Grand Valley State University and serves on the leadership team of the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program. Dr. Cooper’s research focuses on aquatic ecosystem structure and function, especially coastal ecosystems around the Great Lakes.

Jason DeMoss, Environmental Consulting and Technology, Inc.

Jason DeMoss is a Senior Associate Scientist and has ten years of professional experience with natural resources assessment, wetland ecology, and soil science. Technical skills include soil classification, wetland classification/delineations, plant identification, ESRI Licensed products, and conservation and development planning.

Ryan Diederichsen, Environmental Consulting and Technology, Inc.

Mr. Diederichsen is a Senior Associate Planner and Associate Project Manager with nearly five years of professional experience in both public and private sectors. His expertise in planning and local regulation, zoning ordinance review, and local and state permitting has lended to the success of numerous renewable energy projects, particularly in the Midwest Region.

Erick Elgin, Michigan State University Extension

Erick Elgin is a limnologist with Michigan State University Extension where his main responsibilities are to promote and research the conservation, protection, and restoration of our freshwater systems. Erick’s recent efforts focus on aquatic plants, lake monitoring, natural shorelines, invasive species, and long-term lake management. Erick helps lead Michigan’s volunteer lake monitoring program, the MiCorps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program and is the vice-chair of the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. Erick has a M.S. in aquatic ecology from the University of Calgary and a B.S. in natural resources management from the University of Minnesota.

Katie Fairchild, EGLE

Katie Fairchild is the Wetland Monitoring and Coastal Wetland Analyst with EGLE Water Resources Division, administering the state’s Wetland Monitoring Program and assisting district staff on projects impacting Great Lakes coastal wetlands and Environmental Areas. She began her career with EGLE in the Wetland Identification Program, then worked in permitting and compliance with the Resources Programs in the Kalamazoo and Warren District Offices.

Deanna Fielder, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District

Deanna Fielder is a physical scientist and lead forecaster for Great Lakes water levels for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District. She received her master’s degree from Michigan State University and her bachelor’s degree from Oswego State University in meteorology. She spent her childhood in Upstate New York and was a frequent visitor to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie before moving to Michigan, where she was able to travel to the rest of the Great Lakes.

Chad Fizzell, MI EGLE

Chad Fizzell works as a GIS Specialist in the Wetlands, Lakes, and Streams Unit within the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Chad is the Department expert in the Landscape Level Assessment of Wetlands, Wetland Inventory, and Remote Sensing and also serves as the lead in coordinating National Wetland Inventory (NWI) updates for the State. He also serves on the Statewide Hydrography Advisory committee assisting with technical guidance on the ongoing NHD Update project, and coordination with US Fish and Wildlife Service and Ducks Unlimited on the NWI Update happening concurrently in the State.

Anne Garwood, EGLE WRD

Anne Garwood is the Supervisor of the Wetlands, Lakes and Streams Unit, in Water Resources Division, of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. Anne and her team work on regulatory and non-regulatory program development, guidance, and training for Michigan’s Section 404 Program, including administration of Parts 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, and 303, Wetlands Protection. Anne has been in Michigan’s wetlands, lakes and streams programs since 2006, and in that time has worked as a student assistant, delineator, permit writer, wetland monitoring specialist, Great Lakes coastal wetland specialist, and now as the unit supervisor. Outside of work, Anne loves camping, reading, and crafting with her friends and family.

Keto Gyekis, EGLE

As an ecologist employed by the State of Michigan, Keto leads the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Wetland Identification Program. He investigates potential wetland issues in a wide range of sites throughout Michigan, from small-scale residential to large-scale mining, manufacturing, and utility projects. Keto trains EGLE Water Resources Division (WRD) staff and private ecological consultants in: wetland delineation, state regulatory aspects of wetlands and rare species, and wetland ecological assessment. As the Threatened and Endangered Species Coordinator for EGLE WRD, he works with personnel from DNR, FWS, and EPA, and assists EGLE WRD staff regarding rare species and imperiled wetland issues and developing wetland/stream permitting and mitigation solutions. Keto also assists with wetland-related law enforcement investigations, focusing on field data collection and preparations for expert witness testimony.

Meredith Holm, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Meredith Holm is a Wildlife Biologist & Great Lakes Pollinator Coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Meri coordinates the multi-agency, collaborative Great Lakes Pollinator Task Force, focused on galvanizing and implementing native bee and pollinator conservation within the Great Lakes basin. She is also a co-lead for the Service’s Pollinator Community of Practice and co-lead of the Michigan Monarch Collaborative. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Michigan University, a graduate certificate in Wildlife Management and Master’s in Fish & Wildlife Administration from Oregon State University. She has worked for the Service’s Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program for 13 years restoring habitat for migratory birds, T&E species, pollinators and other wildlife, with a recent focus on urban pollinator habitat restoration and community outreach. In her free time, she loves embarking on new adventures in nature with her family and friends.

Brian Huggett, Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs

Brian is a natural resource and environmental compliance analyst at the Fort Custer Training Center in Southern Michigan. Born and raised in Calhoun County, Michigan, he attended Lake Superior State University, graduated and promptly decamped for the West. He spent a blissful 13 years in the Sierra Nevada working for the National Park Service and ended up on the Redwood Coast working for California State Parks. He earned a graduate degree in hydrology from Humboldt State University and now resides in his old hometown, tending children and an orchard. He is currently utterly fascinated by bioacoustic dataloggers.

Jeremy Jones, EGLE

Jeremy Jones is an Environmental Quality Analyst with the Environment Great Lakes and Energy. He has been with the department for 15 years and has worked with geospatial technologies since 2006. He holds a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University in Geographic Information Systems. As an employee for EGLE Jeremy works on various projects including National Wetland Inventory Updates, Landscape Level Wetland Functional Assessments, GPS data collection workflows, coastal zone projects, enforcement cases, conservation easements and numerous aerial photo interpretation requests. Jeremy is excited to be presenting at this year’s conference.

Ian Jones, University of Toronto

Dr. Ian Jones is a postdoctoral research fellow working with the Smith Forest Health Lab and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). His research focuses on the ecology of insect-insect and insect-plant interactions. Ian received a Masters degree in Applied Entomology from Imperial College London, and completed his PhD at Florida International University. Ian’s postdoctoral work focuses on classical biological control of invasive plants. Through an understanding of the ecology of biological control insects, and their interactions with native species, Ian seeks to improve the release strategy and establishment of these beneficial organisms, contributing to more effective and sustainable control of invasive weeds.

Dr. Jennifer Kanine, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians

Dr. Jennifer Kanine obtained her bachelor’s in natural resources and master’s in conservation biology from Central Michigan University. Jennifer graduated with a Doctorate in Forest Resources from the University of Georgia in 2013. Dr. Kanine is a TWS certified wildlife biologist with over 20 years of natural resources experience. For the past nine years, Dr. Kanine has been the Director of the Kowabdanawa odë kė Department (“They watch over this land”) for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. This Department encompasses natural resources, environmental, and agricultural related programs. As the Director, she oversees nine full-time team members and up to eight seasonals. The department manages over 6,800 acres of tribal properties.

Billy Keiper, EGLE

Billy Keiper has been an aquatic biologist with ELGE for 13 years. Since 2015, Billy has focused exclusively on aquatic invasive species early detection and response.

Kate Kirkpatrick, EGLE

Kate Kirkpatrick is the Wetlands Policy Analyst with the Wetlands, Lakes and Streams Unit, Water Resources Division, within EGLE, where she works as a stakeholder liaison, provides district staff assistance, and assists in wetlands program development. She started her career with the State as a student assistant in the Toxicology Unit, then was hired in as a wetland, lakes and streams permitter in the Jackson District Office. She started her role in the Wetland, Lakes and Streams Unit in August of 2022. Kate holds a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, where she focused her studies on conservation ecology and environmental policy. Her passion for wetlands protection and the environment began at Denison University in Granville, Ohio after her first wetland ecology course. Kate is a lifelong Michigander and was born and raised in southeast Michigan. She recently married her high school sweetheart in May, and they currently reside in Traverse City with their dog, Oliver.

Randy Knapik – DNR VWR Coordinator

B.S. in Wildlife, Purdue University; M.S. in Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University; Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University. Applied research and habitat management background focused on wildlife-habitat relationships within altered landscapes.

Gary Kohlhepp, MI Dept of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Gary Kohlhepp is the supervisor of the Lake Michigan Unit within the Water Resources Division of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Gary’s unit has the primary responsibility for the monitoring and assessment of inland lakes throughout Michigan, among many other monitoring as well as other water quality monitoring responsibilities. His Unit has played a lead role in the planning and sampling of lakes throughout Michigan in support of the National Lakes Assessment Project, starting in 2007 and every five years thereafter. The Lake Michigan Unit also is responsible for developing restoration plans – known as Total Maximum Daily Loads – for waterbodies not meeting water quality standards.

Roger LaBine, Environmental and Planning Department, Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Is an enrolled member of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (LVD) and employed in the Environmental and Planning Department as a Water Resource Technician. He is the current tribal delegate on the Michigan Wild Rice Initiative, Co-Chairman of the Native Wild Rice Coalition, was a member of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Wolf Advisory Committee and a member of the MDNR Moose Advisory Committee, member of the U.S. Ottawa National Forest Interpretive Association (OIA) Board. Roger is an active member of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge. He is active in the preservation of Wild Rice through continued restoration efforts of rice beds for his community on traditional and historic tribal lands and in the surrounding area lakes and rivers. He shares his knowledge through conducting Wild Rice Camps and workshops on his traditional homelands, and throughout the Midwest. He was inspired by his Uncle Niigaanaash (knee-gone-nosh) who was also his teacher and Mentor. 

Sarah LeSage, EGLE

Sarah LeSage has been with EGLE Water Resources Division for over 15 years. Currently, Sarah is the Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator for EGLE and works across multiple departments, including several divisions from the Departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Bethany Matousek, EGLE

Bethany Matousek is the Inland Lakes and Streams Program Coordinator at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. In this role since 2011, she is the lead for stream program development and provides technical and policy support and training to district permitting staff across the state. Specifically, she assists staff with stream identification, bankfull determinations, reviews of permit applications that include stream channel alterations and stream mitigation and provides staff training on a variety of stream related topics. Working with streams for the past 26 years, she has put this experience to use developing Michigan’s stream mitigation program, including regionalization and implementation of Michigan’s SQT in 2020.

David Mifsud, Herpetological Resource and Management, LLC

David A. Mifsud is the senior herpetologist and owner of Herpetological Resource and Management, a conservation company dedicated to the protection and stewardship of amphibians and reptiles. He holds multiple certifications including Professional Wetland Scientist by the Society of Wetland Scientists, Professional Ecologist by the Ecological Society of America, and Professional Wildlife Biologist through The Wildlife Society. He has worked for over 20 years in wildlife biology, wetland ecology, and habitat conservation and management, with an emphasis on herpetofauna. He has conducted research, assessments, and habitat restoration targeting amphibians and reptiles across Michigan. He has written or co-authored several publications and technical reports on Michigan herpetofauna. David is Co-chair of the State of Michigan Amphibian and Reptile Technical Advisory board. He also coordinates the Michigan Herpetological Atlas project. He has conducted numerous training workshops focused on the identification, conservation and best management of amphibians and reptiles in Michigan. He serves as an expert on Great Lakes turtles for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group with focus on Great Lakes and African chelonians. Mifsud is the author of the Amphibian & Reptile Best Management Practices for Michigan and co-author of the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region Revised Edition. He is also the founder and President of the newly formed Michigan Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy.

Rob Myllyoja, Environmental Consulting and Technology, Inc.

Rob Myllyoja is a senior scientist with >25 years of experience in a diverse array of water resource and restoration projects including river restoration, dam removal, watershed analysis, and stormwater management. He has completed extensive training in applied fluvial geomorphology with Dr. Dave Rosgen at Wildland Hydrology (Levels I – IV) and has a B.Sc. in Environmental Science specializing in Watershed Analysis.

Lena Pappa, EGLE

Lena Pappas is the Senior Geologist in the Water Resource Division’s Water Use Assessment Unit. Lena reviews and prepares groundwater models to assist in groundwater and surface water management and permitting and provides technical support to the unit. Prior to working for EGLE, Lena worked developing methodology of combining stochastic and deterministic geologic conceptual models and a pollution management and remediation consultant for 15 years.

Michael Pennington, EGLE

Michael Pennington is the Wetland Mitigation Specialist for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s (EGLE) Water Resources Division. Michael serves as the program administrator for EGLE’s Wetland Mitigation Banking Program and provides assistance to staff on complex wetland mitigation issues. Michael is also the Co-Chair of MWA’s Training Committee where he provides wetland education and training to EGLE staff and other wetland professionals. Prior to working for EGLE, Michael administered MDOT’s Wetland Mitigation and Wetland Banking Programs for 14 years.

Jessica Pruden, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Jessica Pruden is the Threatened and Endangered Species Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Michigan Field Office in East Lansing. She is the lead in her office for issues regarding federally listed mussels and copperbelly watersnake. She also serves as the site supervisor for members of the Huron Pines AmeriCorps program that the USFWS hosts annually.

Shawn Sanchez, USACE- Regulatory Branch

I am currently a Biologist, Regulatory Project Manager in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Detroit District, Regulatory Branch, Eastern Section. I have worked for USACE Regulatory for 10 years, which includes 9 years in the Compliance and Enforcement Section and 1 year in the Eastern Section doing permit evaluation work. I previously worked in the USACE Environmental Analysis Branch for 2 years and the Real Estate Office for 10 years. During my USACE career, I have also worked on many USACE Emergency Management natural disaster teams after hurricanes and major flood events and I am an active member on the USACE Flood Fight Team that was highly active during the high water periods on the Great Lakes from approximately 2019-2021.

Prior to working for USACE, I worked as a land surveyor for a private AE firm and at the Macomb County Health Department, Environmental Health Division primarily working with wells and septic systems.

In 2000, I graduated from Central Michigan University with a B.S. Degree triple majoring in Geography, Earth Science, and Social Science, while minoring in Natural Resources. In 2003, I earned a M.S. Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Physical Geography.

My wife (Erin, also a CMU alumni) and I have been married for 22 years and together we have a 14 year old son (Colton) who is in 9th grade (his first year of high school), and a 10 year daughter (Isabella) who is in 5th grade (her last year in elementary school). We also have a dog (Diamond, as in a baseball diamond) who is 5 years old that we adopted from a rescue group in Flint, Michigan.

Tiffany Schriever, Ph.D., Western Michigan University

Tiffany Schriever is an assistant professor at Western Michigan University and a freshwater ecologist. In my lab we use experimental and comparative approaches in field settings to investigate how environmental variation influences ecological dynamics across temporal and spatial scales from individuals to the ecosystems. We ask questions about individual, population and community response to hydrologic variation, food web structure, flow of resources and organisms across habitats, and the influence of environmental disturbance on biodiversity.

Ayla Sisco

Ayla is a Natural Resource Technician that started with the Tribe in November of 2022. Ayla works with the Environmental Team’s Natural Resource Specialists on a variety of projects including forestry, land management, restoration, invasive species, and water quality while learning in local, natural environments on Tribal lands. Ayla has also become dive certified to help with management efforts in Tawas Lake to protect the diverse ecosystem and wild rice beds. Ayla is currently attending the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College to pursue her associate degree.

Sherry Slocum, Holland Engineering

Ms. Sherry Slocum has been involved in the environmental field for over 20 years. She has experience in natural resource assessment & regional planning including NEPA (EA, EIS, EIR), MPSC, FERC, wetland delineation & mitigation, permitting, modeling, watershed management, plant & animal identification, threatened and endangered species, stream & wetland restoration and mitigation, site plan review, Stormwater, SQT, Floodplain, Hydrology analysis, feasibility studies, & construction management.

Sam Tank, Great Lakes Commission

Sam is a project manager for the Great Lakes Commission’s aquatic invasive species program. In this role, she coordinates three invasive species collaboratives, as well as providing staff support to the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species. Prior to joining the Commission’s staff in 2018, Sam attended Michigan State University where she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fisheries and wildlife.

Carrie Tansy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Carrie Tansy is the Deputy Field Supervisor in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Michigan Ecological Services Field Office in East Lansing. Carrie has 14 years of experience working with endangered species in Michigan. She has a Master’s of Science degree from Clemson University and a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Grand Valley State University.

Michael Van Loan, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)

Michael Van Loan – EGLE VWR Coordinator – B.S from the University of Michigan in Natural Resource Ecology and Management. Wetland ecologist with EGLE since 2018. Professional background as an environmental consultant for 14+ years in wetland permitting, assessment, delineation, and restoration.

Spenser Widin, U.S. Geological Survey

Spenser Widin is a Biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey-Great Lakes Science Center. He is currently researching different Phragmites management options including the use of cut-to-drown treatment and the development of a new bioherbicide control method.

Jenny Wong, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Jenny is a Fish and Wildlife Biologist for the USFWS and has worked for the Michigan Ecological Services Field Office for nine years. She serves as the Field Office lead for federally listed bats and the Midwest Coastal Program lead for the Saginaw Bay focus area. Prior to moving to Michigan, Jenny led bat field surveys and outreach activities for Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey.