2017-2018 Interns

Loicka Baille

Major: Ocean Engineering  Mentor: Dr. John Niedzwecki

Loicka Baille photoMy name is Loicka Myriam Rita Baille. I’m junior at Texas A&M University, College Station, studying in Ocean Engineering and Wildlife and Fishery Sciences. I lived most of my life in France and then in Lebanon, before coming to the US for college. My passion for the water began at the age of eight when I started diving and hasn’t left me since. I’m amazed by the ocean’s capabilities and hope to work on utilizing its potential while protecting the marine ecosystems. Some of my field of interests are wave power, the ocean exploration and cleaning, and sea life bio-mimicking. For my ABS research, I’m working with Dr. Niedzwecki on the effect of modified underwater Savonius turbines on the surrounding ecosystems. The factors studied include noise pollution, physical threats, pressure change, and shearing stress. This research truly encompasses both my engineering and science backgrounds while potentially making significant impact on the wave energy field.

Matti Bradshaw


Major: Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences     Mentor: Dr. Thomas Lacher

My name is Matti Bradshaw and I am a Wildlife and Fisheries Science major at Texas A&M University. My research interests include working with bats and learning Springfield_2107__0071 (1)new techniques for monitoring biodiversity using acoustic monitoring. In the future, I would like to expand my knowledge related to global conservation topics and work alongside experts in the conservation field to improve the status of many at risk species. Through research and education, I would like to broaden my own understanding of conservation techniques and apply them to global situations

Katherine Carbajal

Major: Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences     Mentor: Dr. Hsiao-Hsuan (Rose) Wang

Kathine CarbajalI am a senior Wildlife & Fisheries Science major from El Paso, TX. I have been a part of the Ecological System Laboratory in the Wildlife & Fisheries Department since July 2016, where I have been working with Dr. Hsiao-Hsuan (Rose) Wang. Previously I worked on a project that dealt with understanding the abiotic and biotic factors that shaped the coexistence of invasive species. Currently I am working on my thesis for the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, which involves estimating the anthropogenic effects on the Florida manatee. I hope to pursue a career in conservation education with the help of the research and many opportunities I have experienced.

Danielle DeChellis

Major: Environmental Geoscience     Mentor: Dr. David Cairns

I am a junior from Houston, TX majoring in Environmental Geoscience and minoring in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. I have been passionate about the natural world ever since I was little, always finding wonder in the diverse abilities of organisms to interact with their habitat. College has helped me develop interests in a diversity of environmental topics, including ecology, conservation, wildlife biology, biogeography, sustainable practices, and in how global biogeochemical cycles tie everything on Earth together. Boreal forests and the arctic tundra are some of my favorite ecosystems to study, daniellepicalthough wetlands are also fascinating because I grew up in Houston surrounded by them and I have come to appreciate their incredible value to humans, biodiversity, and environmental health. For my research with ABS, I’m working with Dr. David Cairns in determining how and why coastal marsh grass assemblages have changed since 2010 along the Galveston Bay portion of the Gulf Coast Chenier Plain. I am curious if my results will indicate if recent flooding from Hurricane Harvey or any nearby human activities have affected the distribution of grass species and their associated ecosystem services as wetlands. After graduating from A&M, I plan on going to graduate school and to eventually pursue a career in ecology- or conservation-focused field work or research.

Samantha Heldman

Major: Biology     Mentor: Dr. William Rogers & Dr. Hsiao-Hsuan (Rose) Wang

Samantha Heldman photoHowdy! I am a senior Biology major from Frisco, TX with a strong passion for conservation biology and restoration ecology. Since Fall 2017 I have been conducting research with Dr. Rose Wang in the Ecological Systems Laboratory, focusing on the invasion potential of Triadica sebifera; an invasive tree species commonly known as Chinese Tallow that has been rapidly spreading up the southeast coast of the United States. Analysis of invasion potentials will hopefully allow me to identify potential determinants of invasion, quantify the relative importance of each factor, and provide valuable information upon which to base effective control strategies and mitigation plans. I’m very grateful to be a part of the ABS Conservation Scholars program and look forward to participating in an internship that will allow me to gain practical experience as a conservation scientist and do my part in protecting the wild places of the world for generations to come.

Dillon Jones

Major: Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences     Mentor: Dr. Lee Fitzgerald

Dillon Jones photoI am a Senior Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Major at Texas A&M University doing Research with Dr. Lee Fitzgerald. I have worked on a variety of research projects including snake parasitology in Panama, the overlap between human music and animal communication, and acoustic monitoring of the endangered Houston Toad. My current project involves a complete Herpetology Survey of Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary, an urban sanctuary located in the heart of Houston. A fair amount of my free time is dedicated to wildlife education and giving back to my community. I believe that there is a growing disconnect between the natural and the human world and I hope to bridge that gap. I have been captivated with the ecology and social structure of crocodiles and large lizards since I was a teenager. After my undergraduate career, I plan to pursue a PhD in this field and expand our knowledge of these fascinating creatures.

Madeline Jones

Major: Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences     Mentor: Dr. Hsiao-Hsuan (Rose) WangMadeline Jones photo

I am a senior Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences major from Pflugerville, TX.  I have been a part of the Ecological Systems Laboratory in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences under the mentorship of Dr. Hsiao Hsuan (Rose) Wang and Dr. Grant since July 2017.  I am working on understanding the effects of Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the population dynamics of loggerhead sea turtles. Through this project I have gained a better understanding of how anthropogenic events affect species over time and I hope to build on this knowledge through the course of this program. After graduation, I would like to work in the field of environmental regulation.


Alaya Keane

Major: Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences     Mentor: Dr. Donald Brightsmith

Hi everyone! I’m Alaya or Laya (like Princess Leia), and I am a proud dog mom, tree hugger and animal lover. As a current senior in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, I have been exposed to so many great things and opportunities that it is almost impossible to pick one specific thing that I am interested in. I wish I could throw myself in every possible avenue in terms of wildlife conservation, but if I had to pick one thing I would say that I am interested in studying and modifying animal behavior to increase populations of threatened and endangered species in captivity and in the wild. I have Processed with VSCO with c1 presethad the honor of working in Dr. Brightsmith’s lab under a research project that looks at modifying parrot behavior for a digital enrichment program. Through the ABS Program I will continue under Dr. Brightsmith’s and his PhD student, Constance’s mentorship as I seek to analyze nesting behaviors of the endangered Whooping Crane and get a better understanding on why their reproduction rates have been so low. I have a deep love for nature and more specifically wetland and tropical ecosystems and I plan to take this passion and the experiences that this program has given me into grad school next fall while pursuing a Master’s.

Delaine Kelley

Major: Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences     Mentor: Dr. Thomas Lacher

Howdy! I am a junior Wildlife and Fisheries Major from New Braunfels, TX. Being a part IMG_5666of the Applied Biodiversity Conservation Scholars Program is my first opportunity to explore and perform meaningful research on animals that fascinates me. My love for animals and nature was rooted since I was a young, adventurous girl. For this semester, I will be studying techniques of acoustic monitoring of birds and frogs. I may also have the opportunity to actively assess potentially endangered species as I am in the
process of becoming IUCN Red List Certified. My goal for this program is to learn the fundamentals of what a hands-on, real world research experiment in the field consists of and to learn as much about acoustic monitoring techniques as possible. For my internship this summer, I would like to be able to apply the techniques I will be learning during this semester to field work for an organization or association and continue to study animals and how to better their lives and habitats. My future career aspiration is to become a wildlife biologist and either travel with my practice or work in a state or
national park.

Vy Le

Vy Le photoMajor: Petroleum Engineering     Mentor: Dr. Heitor de Paula Lima

I am a senior in Petroleum engineering from Houston, Texas. I am currently working with Dr. Lima about the modifications in drilling technology of petroleum industry after Macondo.  My work focuses on how effective these modifications are in improving the safety in drilling as well as in protecting the environment. After graduation I plan on attending graduate school to enhance my knowledge in oil and gas industry.



Annie Montgomery

Major: Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences     Mentor: Dr. Hsiao-Hsuan (Rose) Wang

Annie Montgomery photoI am a Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences Major with a Biology Minor from Brenham, TX.  Since May 2017, I have been conducting research in the Ecological Systems Laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Hsiao-Hsuan (Rose) Wang and Dr. William Grant. Currently, I am working on my thesis for the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, which involves researching how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacted the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) population dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico from exposure to dolphin morbillivirus. Some of my research interests include how anthropogenic events impact species and their ecosystems, and environmental studies on climate change and how this affects the natural world. I hope to expand my knowledge on these topics throughout the duration of this program and my personal research. Following my graduation in December 2018, I would like to pursue a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies and work towards a career in environmental restoration or wildlife biology.

Jill Thompson-Grim

Major: Marine Biology     Mentor: Dr. Jaime Alvarado-Bremer

I am a Marine Biology major with a minor in Diving Technology and Methods, and I am from Pearland, Texas. I am part of the Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Lab under the guidance of Dr. Alvarado-Bremer. My research focuses on detecting and quantifying the relative abundance of the invasive Lionfish (Pterois volitans/Pterois miles) in the Gulf of Mexico at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary andLongtailBass_EB-110 artificial reefs by utilizing environmental DNA (eDNA) shed in the water column. The knowledge gained will be used to determine areas of high risk of Lionfish invasion with the purpose of conserving biodiversity. I will start my master’s degree in Marine Biology at the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M- Corpus Christi starting in the fall of 2018 where I will be working in the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation lab under Dr. Greg Stunz.

Minna Wong

Major: Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences     Mentor: Dr. Thomas Lacher

I am a junior Wildlife and Fisheries major and Spatial Science minor from
Houston, TX. I’ve been a part of the Biodiversity Assessment and Monitoring Lab
involved in research investigating the relationship between biodiversity andMinna
anthropogenic activity, specifically studying camera trap images from projects in
Costa Rica, Peru and Argentina. By understanding image analysis, I’m working
to expand my knowledge on monitoring ecosystems and biodiversity. In addition,
I am working to incorporate spatial data with camera trap data from the Condor
Valley in Salta Province, Argentina. With this program, I plan to practice GIS
(Geographic Information Systems) techniques applicable to a variety of future
conservation projects, telling a visual story hidden in the natural world.