Jeff Libby is the Director for the Applied Environmental Research Center (AERC), and he also serves as the Director for the Center of Strategic Partnerships and Research (CaSPR). He previously served as the Associate Dean for technical programs in UAA’s Community and Technical College. Jeff has a very diverse background that originated with outdoor activities coupled with a passion for photography and wildlife. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) in Natural Sciences with a concentration in Environmental studies. He has performed independent studies at Cornell University specifically on avian biology at the Ornithology Lab. He is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Project Management. Jeff is also a professional photographer specializing in wildlife. He has performed photography for Souvenir Photograph, Image Me and British Broadcasting Company (BBC). Jeff is a registered Maine guide with a commercial boat operator’s license. He served as a Wildlife Field Technician for the BioDiversity Research Institute where he worked on numerous projects including the bioaccumulation of methyl mercury in Common Loons, Bald Eagles and Landlocked Salmon. Jeff has worked with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the University of Wyoming in Prince William Sound studying river otters. He has also worked in conjunction with United States Forest Service studying fire ecology and forest succession on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Jeff has been instrumental in a variety of research projects from Maine to the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands of Alaska. He has been involved with several avian and bat research studies. Jeff brings more than 20 years of field experience and a wealth of knowledge related to wildlife, habitat and climate change.
Melissa Ferguson is a Research Technician with the Applied Environmental Research Center (AERC) at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). She arrived at UAA for the June 2018 field season as an Avian Technician and again for the April 2019 field season as a Fisheries Technician. In November 2019, she was hired on as a full time research technician. From 2010-2017, she served with honor in the United States Army and is currently serving in the Alaska National Guard. She graduated with honors from Alaska Pacific University with a BS, Marine and Environmental Sciences in April 2019.
Samuel Franklin joined the Applied Environmental Research Center in July of 2020 as a research technician and forester. He is finishing a B.S. in Natural Sciences with concentrations in biological and geologic sciences, and a minor in Public Health. Most of his field experience has come from working at Thule Airbase for the purpose of determining carbon flux from arctic tundra under a variety of experimental conditions. He has also participated in the exploration ecology class through UAA, developing a report on Cinclus mexicanus in Portage Valley. Aside from scientific experience, he has also worked extensively in customer service, as well as previously teaching and performing contemporary ballet in Anchorage.
Brian Heitz received a B.S. in Biology from Kent State University and a M.S. in Biology from the University of Alaska-Anchorage. He has extensive experience doing fieldwork for the National Park Service, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and Alaska and has also been instructor and researcher at the University of Alaska since 2002. Brian’s specialties and areas of interest include ecology and systematics of mosses, flora of Alaska, microscope photography, and biogeography of tropical Pacific island plants.
Grant Humphreys joined the Applied Environmental Research Team in 2019 as a research technician. With a background in civil engineering from the University of Notre Dame (2017), Grant has professional experience in construction management ranging from skyscrapers to international airports. Grant also has a passion for hydrology and ecology with collegiate lab experience in both fields. Although he was a snowbird through high-school, Grant’s family is from Alaska and he is thankful to be living here fulltime. Grant is currently focused on project management and finances for AERC.
Cameron Wilson joined the Applied Environmental Research Team at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) in spring of 2020. He is currently working to complete his M.S. in Civil Engineering at UAA with a project titled Per Capita Water and Fixture Use in Rural Alaska. The project involves collecting data on water use ranging from per capita consumption based on community water production to measuring how much water is used at each individual fixture within the home at any given time. Originally from North Carolina, he earned his B.S. in Biological Engineering from NC State focusing on bioprocessing and alternative fuels. After graduating and completing his research, he drove to Alaska seeking opportunity. A field engineering position lead to five years in the west Texas oilfields before he was finally able to finally come back to Alaska to continue his education and a career in research.
Jay Zlonis received a B.S. degree in Forest and Natural Resource Management from the University of Minnesota. He has a wealth of experiences completing forestry work. His background includes working for private forestry companies in Minnesota and Montana, State level work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the State of Hawaii Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry and Wildlife, as well as, Federal level work with the USDA-FS completing both, research at the Rocky Mountain Research Station at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory and timber with the Region 1 Timber Strike Team.