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Principal Investigator:

Dr. Jen Cruz (she/her/hers)
Assistant Professor in Population Ecology

Dr. Jen Cruz is an Assistant Professor in Department of Biological Sciences. Before joining Boise State University, Jen was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she researched interactions among recovering raptors. Prior to that she worked at Landcare Research Institute in New Zealand on quantifying interactions among native and invasive species. Dr. Jen Cruz completed her PhD in Ecology from the University of Queensland in Australia, studying the impacts of invasive predators on native brushtail possums. She was born in Colombia, moved to Australia during high school, and attended Monash University for her Bachelor in Environmental Science with Honors.

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Post - Doctorate Research Associate:

John Clare (he/him/his)
Started May 2023

John is a quantitative ecologist who focuses on sampling design for monitoring, dealing with varied sampling or observation errors (or quirks), and improving parameter estimation or finding ways to harmonize different data-streams. Current work at BSU focuses on support for existing projects (e.g., jackrabbit monitoring on the Morley-Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey NCA). John received an MS and PhD from University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point and Madison) campuses. He is mostly found next to his (spouse's) dog.

Graduate Students

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PhD Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior

Michael Henderson (he/him/his)
Started Fall 2022

Michael received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Boise State University and is now the project manager for The Peregrine Fund’s Gyrfalcon and Tundra Conservation Program. His research interests include the ecology, behavior, and conservation of raptors. Michael’s dissertation aims to delineate the impacts of climate change on the Arctic raptor community including detailing how changing weather patterns impact various aspects of raptor biology including occupancy rates, phenology, and survival. Further, Michael will use various climate change scenarios to predict changes within the composition of the Arctic raptor community. After completing his PhD, Michael wants to apply the analytical skills he gained while in the Quantitative Conservation Lab to lead an impactful research program that conducts rigorous research to promote science-driven conservation.

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Masters of Raptor Biology

David Bontrager (he/him/his)
Started Fall 2021

Prior to joining the lab, David obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ecology with a minor in Spanish from Goshen College. He has since worked on various research projects, including a statewide assessment of alligator snapping turtle populations in Texas, a spatial ecology study of king cobras and Burmese pythons in northeast Thailand, and the Institute for Bird Populations’ MAPS bird banding program. David’s thesis research joins The Peregrine Fund’s efforts to conserve the endangered Northern Aplomado Falcon. His project examines the impacts on the success of the reintroduction of Aplomado Falcons in southern Texas, with particular interest in impacts from Great Horned Owls and habitat encroachment. In 2022, David received an honorable mention from the NSF-Graduate Research Fellowships Program and plans to continue working in wildlife research, with a focus on his interests in spatial ecology and predator-prey dynamics.

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Masters of Biology

Leticia Camacho (she/her/hers)
Started Fall 2021

Leticia is a 2022 NSF-Graduate Research Fellowships Program award recipient. For her thesis, she is assessing the trade-offs desert mammals experience between minimizing heat stress and acquiring resources in the Anthropocene, with specific emphasis on Black-Tailed Jackrabbits. Prior to her Masters, she worked with the Army National Guard as a research technician studying the flora and fauna of the Sagebrush Steppe, and as a raptor technician with The Peregrine Fund. She also has worked as a research technician for BSU, College of Western Idaho, USGS, and is an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduate grant recipient. Leticia obtained a Bachelor of Science from BSU with honors in 2020. She plans to pursue a career in conservational ecology with an emphasis in landscape ecology and restoration, youth education, and public outreach.

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Masters of Raptor Biology

Zoe Bonerbo (she/her/hers)
Started Spring 2024

Zoe was the lab manager for the Quantitative Conservation Lab from 2022 through 2023 prior to starting her Masters. Her research explores how habitat change influences predator-prey dynamics and demography. Specifically, she is evaluating how changes in sagebrush-steppe vegetation influences Piute ground squirrel abundance (through mark-recapture and count surveys) and Prairie falcon foraging behavior and nesting productivity (through nest cameras and telemetry foraging data). 
Before joining Boise State, Zoe received a BSc in Environmental and Wildlife Biology from McGill University. She worked heavily within the fields of wildlife ecology, ornithology, and education, including as the assistant crew lead on The University of Florida’s Snail Kite Project, raptor migration with Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and HawkWatch International, and bird banding at Intermountain Bird Observatory. She is also passionate about outreach and is currently a volunteer with Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Letters to a Prescientist. 

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Masters of Raptor Biology

Solai Le Fay (she/her/hers)
Starting Fall 2024

Before joining the Quantitative Conservation Lab, Solai received a BSc in Biology from Portland State University. She has since worked on a variety of avian research projects, primarily with owls, such as a research assistant with the Owl Research Institute for two years on long-term research of Great Gray, Snowy, Long-eared, Short-eared, Northern Saw-whet, and Northern Pygmy Owls, as well as raptor migration and banding with the Intermountain Bird Observatory and long-term Northern Spotted Owl research with Oregon State University.

Her thesis research is in collaboration with the Global Owl Project and will examine the impact of weather on the demography of Burrowing Owls in northern Oregon using a 16-year dataset.

Current Undergraduate Students

Andrew Baker (he/his/his): Summer 2022 - present

Jessica Hovey (she/her/hers): Spring 2023 - present

Former Members

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Masters of Raptor Biology

Eden Ravecca (she/her/hers)
Defended Summer 2023

Eden completed her Masters of Raptor Biology in 2023 with the QCL. She is now pursuing a PhD at Boise State in Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior. For Eden’s master’s thesis research, she evaluated the impact of habitat change on predators and prey in the altered sagebrush steppe of southwest Idaho. To understand how the effects of habitat change may be reverberating through the food web, she's used GPS trackers on Prairie Falcons and assess foraging behavior. 

Before joining Boise State University, Eden was an Environmental Scientist in Northern Colorado and previously worked as a Burrowing Owl Field Technician with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. She received a BSc from the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University in Fish, Wildlife, & Conservation Biology. Eden’s career goal is to meaningfully contribute to wildlife conservation through integrative research that informs conservation strategies and management decisions. She values her Hispanic heritage and culture being part of her identity as a first generation Uruguayan-American college graduate. She's committed to supporting diversity and the success of Latinx aspiring biologists through outreach and education.

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Masters of Raptor Biology

Michaela Gustafson (she/her/hers)
Defended Fall 2023

Michaela’s project joined the Peregrine Fund’s efforts to monitor and conserve Arctic species and tundra ecosystems. Her project involved mapping the distribution and density of three key Arctic prey species, Willow Ptarmigan, Rock Ptarmigan, and Arctic ground squirrels, within the breeding territories of Gyrfalcons on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska. This data will help build the groundwork for understanding and predicting species’ response to habitat change. Since completing her degree, Michaela now works for Cornell University overseeing Spotted Owl research.
Prior to her Master’s, Michaela worked on several research projects including demography and occupancy of Grasshopper Sparrows in the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie, an occupancy study on California Spotted Owls and Barred Owls in the Sierra Nevada, and a recovery project for the Puerto Rican Sharp-shinned Hawk. Michaela received a Bachelor’s of Science in Fisheries, Wildlife Conservation, and Environmental Biology.

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Masters of Raptor Biology

Kirsten Fuller (she/her/hers)
Defended Fall 2022

Kirsten graduated from the Raptor Biology program. For her Masters, Kirsten quantified demographic consequences of interactions with Mexican Spotted Owls. She also learned about the quantitative side of ecology during her time at BSU. Her research interests include conservation science, community ecology, and threatened and endangered species management.

Prior to starting at Boise State, Kirsten worked as a wildlife technician at Grand Canyon National Park where she conducted Mexican Spotted Owl surveys and tracked California Condors. Kirsten also has worked for various raptor research organizations such as Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Hawkwatch International, and the Cape May Bird Observatory. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education from Rowan University. She currently works as a lab manager out East.

HERC Fellowship:

Catherine Isaak (she/her/hers)
Summer 2022-2023

Catherine is a HERC fellowship award recipient for Summer and Fall 2022. She stayed on with the lab through summer 2023. Catherine presented her own research project in support of David Bontrager's thesis work on Aplomado falcons and Great Horned Owls. She has additionally led Piute ground squirrel and jackrabbit surveys with the lab. Currently she is a Masters of Biology student at Boise State with Jen Forbey.

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Lab manager (2020-2021):

Jonas Frankel-Bricker (he/him/his)
Ms in Biology (Boise State University)

Jonas graduated with a Master’s degree in biology from BSU in 2019 for his research investigating fungal-bacterial-host dynamics in mosquitoes.  He served as a laboratory manager in the Quantitative Conservation laboratory after contributing to a wide array of post-master’s research projects in various laboratories at BSU.  He has also performed research at the University of Oregon, Portland State University, and Reed College.  His research interests include implementing computer coding methods to effectively and efficiently evaluate large data sets and investigating ecological processes occurring in both macro- and microecosystems. 

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National Science Foundation - Undergraduate Research Experience
Students - Raptor Research 2021 

Summer 2021  REU Experience involved helping Ms student Kirsten Fuller with her research on quantifying impacts of habitat and visitor use on long-term demography of Mexican Spotted Owls. Students Vanessa Ramirez and Emily Salciccia (pictured in the middle) presented their research results at the BSU undergraduate conference and the Raptor Research Conference. 

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