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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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Lab Manager and Research Biologist:

Zoe Bonerbo (she/her/hers)
Started February 2022

Zoe has a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental and Wildlife Biology from McGill University. Before coming to Boise to serve as the QCL lab manager, Zoe worked heavily within the fields of ornithology, wildlife ecology, and animal education. A few of these roles included working as the assistant crew lead on The University of Florida’s Snail Kite Project, working in raptor migration monitoring with Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and HawkWatch International, and volunteering with passerine banding at the McGill Bird Observatory and Intermountain Bird Observatory. She has also assisted on small mammal projects and worked with a wide array of animals as a zoo educator. With this position, Zoe aims to expand her skills with R and data analytics, and eventually pursue a Master’s related to wildlife conservation, with emphasis on raptor ecology.

Graduate Students

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Masters of Raptor Biology:

Eden Ravecca (she/her/hers)
Started Fall 2020

For Eden’s master’s thesis research, she is evaluating 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 in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area may be reverberating through the food web, she's using GPS trackers on Prairie Falcons and assessing how changes in plant communities and prey distributions influence foraging. 

Before joining the Raptor Biology Master’s Program at Boise State University, Eden was an Environmental Scientist for an engineering company in Northern Colorado and previously worked as a Burrowing Owl Field Technician with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. She received a Bachelor of Science from the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University in Fish, Wildlife, & Conservation Biology. Her research interests include movement ecology, trophic dynamics, ecological disturbance, and predator-prey relationships. 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:

Kirsten Fuller (she/her/hers)
Started Fall 2020

Kirsten is in the Raptor Biology program. For her Masters, Kirsten is quantifying demographic consequences of interactions among recovering raptor species. Her research interests include conservation science, community ecology, and threatened and endangered species management.  She is looking forward to learning more about the quantitative side of ecology during her time at BSU.

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. In addition to working for the National Park Service, Kirsten 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. Kirsten plans to pursue a career in academia to combine her interests in research and education.

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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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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.

Current Undergraduate Students

HERC Fellowship:

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

Catherine is a HERC fellowship award recipient for Summer and Fall 2022. Catherine will be developing her own research project to complete by the end of the year in support of David Bontrager's thesis work on Aplomado falcons and Great Horned Owls. She has additionally conducted ground squirrel and jackrabbit surveys with the lab.

Kaelee Ryner (she/her/hers)
Summer-Fall 2022

Kaelee Ryner is an undergraduate student at Boise State University earning her degree in Biology. In the Cruz lab, Kaelee has assisted with ground squirrel and jackrabbit surveys and processed great horned owl sound recordings.

Former Key Personal

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Lab manager:

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 is currently serving 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. 

Former Undergraduate Students

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National Science Foundation - Undergraduate Research Experience
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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