Search Team Staff Bios 2005-06

Meet the team at work

Ron Rohrbaugh, Project Director
Ron is a veteran of the ivory-bill search in Arkansas, including the stunning announcement of its rediscovery in April 2005. A glutton for punishment, he has come back for more! In his capacity as project director, Ron must keep tabs on everything to make sure this sprawling, complicated search stays on track. He led the team in crafting the overall search strategy for the 2005-2006 season and brought on the paid and volunteer staff needed. Ron has been with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology since 1996. He has an M.S. in Wildlife Science and Ecology and a B.S. in Wildlife Science, both from The Pennsylvania State University.

Martjan Lammertink, Project Scientist
Martjan is the project scientist and one of the world's leading experts on large woodpeckers. He too was part of the original search team and is helping oversee this season's field work. Martjan has searched for the ivory-bill in Cuba. He’s also done surveys of old-growth forests and threatened birds in Mexico, including the Imperial Woodpecker. He’s studied the Great Slaty Woodpecker in Indonesia. Martjan has a Ph.D. and an M.S. from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Elliott Swarthout, Field Supervisor
Elliott is another old hand at ivory-bill hunting, and returns as field supervisor. That means deploying the field crews in Arkansas, taking care of problems that arise, and getting his own feet wet in the bayou. Elliott has a lot of experience in coordinating long-term research projects like this one. He has an M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the University of Arizona, and a B.A. in Wildlife Management from Prescott College.

Sara Barker, Project Coordinator
Sara is also a veteran of the 2004-2005 ivory-bill search. Like an air traffic controller, she manages the hairy logistics involved in fielding a team of researchers working in beautiful but sometimes treacherous habitat over a widespread area. Sara is a research biologist and has been with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology since 1997. She received her B.A. in biology from Colby College.

Ken Levenstein, Field Crew Leader
Ken is new to the search this season, and brings with him terrific enthusiasm for the project as well as experience in avian research projects throughout the United States. He has also been doing doctoral research in the Galápagos Islands. Ken will be heading up a group of full-time searchers deployed for the entire season, from November through April. This group will be covering a lot of territory in both the Cache River and White River regions. Ken is nearing completion of his Ph.D. dissertation at Arkansas State University on the rare cooperative breeding behavior of the Galápagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis). He has an M.S. in Environmental Biology  from Antioch University and a B.A. in Communications from Antioch College.

Tom Snetsinger, Volunteer Coordinator & Crew Leader, White River NWR
Tom joins the team this year to coordinate volunteers and manage small teams of field technicians. Their territory is the lower portion of the White River National Wildlife Refuge. Tom and his crew will work out of a research station on the levee near the White River. With his experience as a bird tour leader, Tom has the bird skills and the people skills needed for this job. He is also a researcher with Oregon State University, with an M.S.C.E. degree in structural engineering from Purdue University, and a B.E.S. degree in civil engineering from Johns Hopkins University. 

Beth Wright, Volunteer Coordinator, Cache River NWR
Beth will be leading groups of six to eight volunteers at a time, focusing on the Bayou de View area of the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge. These are the folks who will be hunkered down in a dozen or so blinds, hoping for an ivory-bill flyby to rock their world. This group will get chummy rooming together at a house in the tiny community of Cotton Plant. Beth works for Audubon Arkansas and has an M.S. in Forest Resources (Wildlife Ecology and Management) from the University of Georgia, and a B.A. in English from Wells College.

James R. Hill, Video/Remote Camera Team Leader
Jamie is responsible for deploying time-lapse video systems and remote cameras. He’ll be conducting audio playbacks and retrieving data from these high-tech tools. Jamie is founder and executive director of the Purple Martin Conservation Association and has conducted research all over the world including Belize, where he tracked a pair of Pale-billed Woodpeckers (Campephilus guatemalensis) for several days. He has an M.S. in Ecology with a minor in Wildlife Management from Penn State University, and a B.S. in biology from Edinboro State University.

Field Technicians:

John Puschock, Scout
John will be in Arkansas at predetermined intervals to look for new ivory-bill habitat and reevaluate areas that have already been searched. John returns for another season after distinguished service in the last search.

Brad Alexander
Brad is a member of the crew in charge of deploying autonomous recording units. He graduated from Arkansas State University in May 2004 with a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management. Since then he has served in various positions such as an intern for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. He has also been a survey technician for a Mexican Spotted Owl project in New Mexico and was a migration observer for HawkWatch International at the Grand Canyon.

Nathan Banfield
Nathan is a field biologist who has worked with several endangered species. His work in the remote rainforests of Maui helped lead to the capture of one of the last three remaining Poouli. He has navigated through dense flooded habitat in Arizona working with endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatchers and has also worked with Bicknell’s Thrushes in New England and endangered Hawaiian honeycreepers on the Big Island of Hawaii. Nathan has a B.A. in Natural Science from Avila College.

Kristina Baker
Kristina, member of the IBWO search team 2004-2005, is back for another season of swamp-slogging and hopes to be among the lucky ones to see the Ivory-billed Woodpecker this season. Kristina graduated from Arkansas State University in May 2004 with a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management. While attending ASU, she worked in the Missouri and Arkansas Ozark mountains and the Arkansas bottomlands assisting with passerine research.  Her love for the research of birds has kept her in the field, and she intends to continue searching out more exciting field jobs in the future.

Sean Clawson
A lifelong naturalist, Sean Clawson has spent years working as a vagabond field biologist filling seasonal positions throughout the North American continent. Most recently he has been conducting bird point counts in Glacier National Park in Montana. Sean has also done fieldwork for the conservation of the Oregon Silverspot Butterfly, tracked the movements of harbor porpoises, and completed surveys for Northern Spotted Owls and Goshawks in Oregon and northern California. Sean has a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University.

Brian Gill
Brian earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with an emphasis on Ecology from Northern Arizona University. He has worked in Arizona, New Mexico, and California on Spotted Owls. Brian has searched the bottomland hardwood forests of Arkansas once before, for the Swallow-tailed Kite. In his free time Brian enjoys backpacking and fishing in a wide variety of habitats.

Jimmy McMorran
Jimmy has most recently been working on San Clemente Island, California, monitoring the wild population of the San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike and releasing captive birds of this species into the wild. The detailed notes and documentation necessary there will certainly be useful when it comes to documenting any ivory-bill sightings. Jimmy is an avid birder and can’t wait to get into the field to search for the ivory-bill.

Jeremy Russell
Jeremy is a graduate from the University of Oregon. Since graduation he has worked with endangered petrels in New Zealand, Nene in Hawaii, and Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls in Sonora Mexico. Jeremy is looking forward to the challenges he’ll face in the swamps of Arkansas.

Utami Setiorini
Utami is a veteran of last season’s search. From 1999 to 2001, she was an assistant researcher in a study on Indonesian woodpeckers. She studied logging effects on Bornean forest bird communities for her master’s project. Utami has also worked in Indonesia for the biodiversity research program of the Netherlands Science Foundation. Utami has a B.S. in Forestry from Tanjungpura University in West Borneo, Indonesia, and an M.S. in Forest and Nature Conservation from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Sarah Warner
Sarah has been working on a variety of ornithology research projects over the past five years. Most recently she worked for Michigan Natural Features Inventory on a wetland bird study along the shores of Lake Huron. Other experience includes working on the San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike reintroduction project and the Spotted Owl monitoring project for Olympic National Park. Sarah graduated from Western Michigan University with a B.S. in biology. Read Sarah's field journal.

Alyson Webber
Alyson has been working as a field biologist since earning a B.S. in biology from Wheaton College, Illinois in 2001. She has worked with various species all over the country, from Piping Plovers and Common Loons in the East to coyotes and Mexican Spotted Owls in the West. Most recently, she has finished up a raptor migration count in the Grand Canyon. In the last few years, she has developed a keen interest in animal behavior and intends to continue in this field in the future.

Lucas Behnke
Lucas is a graduate of the Environmental Studies program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His concentration in ecology and conservation led him to post-graduation field research on the "Big Island" of Hawaii with the USGS project on the Biocomplexity of Avian Diseases. Most recently he has conducted population monitoring of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker in Avon Park, Florida, with Archbold Biological Station.

Benjamin Wardwell
Ben is another veteran of the 2004-2005 search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. He’s thrilled to be back in the field again and to be a part of the team! Ben has also done work with reptiles and amphibians and earned a degree in Wildlife Management and Forestry from Frostburg State University in Maryland.

Marlene Wagner
Marlene hails from Petersburg, Alaska, and can’t wait to set her eyes on an Ivory-billed Woodpecker.  She began her ornithology career at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, under the outstanding mentorship of Dr. Steve Herman.  It was under his direction she undertook her first successful search for an endangered species, the Resplendent Quetzal.  Since graduating in 2000 she has banded birds, hunted for rare mushrooms, mapped Winter Wren territories, researched Spotted Owls, looked for Del Norte Salamanders, surveyed the Dungeness Crab, and supervised forestry and fisheries crews in Alaska.

Waylon Edwards

And more than 100 volunteers!

Other Key Players:

John W. Fitzpatrick

“Fitz” was co-leader of the ivory-bill search effort for the 2004-2005 season when the bird was rediscovered in Arkansas. He has been the director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology since 1995. Previously he was director of Florida’s Archbold Biological Station and curator of birds at Chicago’s Field Museum. He has led scientific expeditions to remote areas of South America and published extensively on tropical species including seven new bird species he discovered. Dr. Fitzpatrick received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and A.B. from Harvard University.

Ken Rosenberg

Ken spent time in the bayou last season as a search team leader and is now part of the newly-formed Ivory-billed Woodpecker Species Recovery Team. This group is charged with developing a conservation plan that will help preserve habitat and (we hope) boost the number of ivory-bills. Ken is the director of Conservation Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He has spent many years studying foraging specialization in Amazonian rainforest species. Ken also serves as co-captain of the Lab's World Series of Birding team, the Sapsuckers. He earned his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.

Tim Gallagher

Tim was one of the first three searchers to see and identify an Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas in 2004, and he has returned numerous times to continue the search. For 15 years he has served as editor-in-chief of Living Bird, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's award-winning quarterly magazine. A professional wildlife photographer and author, Gallagher traveled through many of the ivory-bill's former haunts, searching for evidence of the species' continued existence and interviewing people who'd had credible sightings. His latest book, The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Houghton Mifflin, April 2005) tells the inside story of the rediscovery of this most iconic of birds. Tim has a B.A. in magazine journalism and an M.A. in English, both from California State University.


Bobby Harrison
Bobby is going to be back out in the field searching for ivory-bills, in addition to his work as a wildlife photographer and an associate professor of art and photography at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama. Bobby was one of the first three people involved in the search to see and identify an ivory-bill in Arkansas and has been much in demand as a speaker around the country ever since then. Bobby has an M.S. in media technology from Alabama A&M University and a B.A. in fine arts with an emphasis in photography from Andrews University.  

David Luneau
During the last field season, David captured video footage of what many experts believe to be an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. He is a professor of Electronics and Computers at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and serves as an advisor in the technical intricacies of capturing an ivory-bill on tape. David is also a veteran of other ivory-bill searches in Louisiana and Arkansas. He has an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Rice University.

Dan Sheiman

Dan is Bird Conservation Director for Audubon Arkansas.  In addition to searching for the woodpecker, Dan is a member of the federal Recovery Team, and oversees the Arkansas Important Bird Areas program.  The Cache-Lower White Rivers IBA (aka The Big Woods) is globally important because it harbors not just the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, but a variety of species of conservation interest.  Dan has a B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University, M.S. in Biological Sciences from Eastern Illinois University, and a Ph.D. in Forestry and Natural Resources from Purdue University.  He has been birding for over 18 years and has over 10 years of bird research experience.

Meet the team at work

Meet the volunteer search teams.