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Junior Faculty Advisor Staff

Abigail Swick

ABIGAIL SWICK

Junior Faculty Advisor

Abigail is an undergraduate student at Elgin Community College working toward gaining an Associates in Arts, and later planning on transferring to a four year university to earn a Bachelor’s in Psychology.
Abigail plans to use her degree to become a city police officer. In her free time she enjoys boxing, outdoor recreation and film.

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Speakers

Vishrut Shelat

Vishrut graduated from George Mason University in May 2016 with a BS in Information Systems Operations Management. He subsequently entered the University of Vermont Law School. This summer he is an intern at the Office of Grants & Debarment at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Vishrut will talk about how he took his experience at WYSE and transferred it into a law school. He will also talk about his work at the EPA.

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Amy Fowler

Dr. Fowler’s general research interests and experiences include global aquatic invertebrate species patterns, biodiversity, phenotypic plasticity, parasitology, and community and population level interactions of aquatic invertebrates, especially those concerning invasions. She has experience working in freshwater, estuarine, and marine systems both in the United States and globally. Currently, her laboratory at GMU has three main topics of study: host-parasite interactions, invasion dynamics and processes, and natural resource management of commercially and recreationally important aquatic invertebrate species. Dr. Fowler teaches courses in Aquatic Invertebrate Ecology and Marine Ecology at the graduate and undergraduate level. She holds an adjunct position at the College of Charleston and is a research associate with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, where she completed her postdoctoral work. In addition, she is an associate editor for three international peer-reviewed journals: Aquatic Invasions, Management of Biological Invasions, and Bioinvasions Records.

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Kevin Bogartus

Kevin covers the workforce and inner workings of federal agencies, including the Departments of Energy and the Interior, as well as U.S. EPA. He worked previously at The Hill, where he tracked lobbying, business and labor, and at the Center for Public Integrity. He has won several local and national journalism awards, including from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of Environmental Journalists. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of the Holy Cross.

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Speakers

Dr. Meredith Bastian

A native of DC, Dr. Meredith Bastian is the Curator of Primates at the National Zoo, where she supervises the Primate Unit, oversees the unit’s primate research, and manages animal collections including several Old World primate species, including a variety of apes, monkeys, and lemurs at the Great Ape House, Think Tank, Gibbon Ridge, and Lemur Island. She serves on the Ape Taxon Advisory Group, Orangutan and Gibbon/Siamang Species Survival Plan management teams, and is on the scientific advisory boards of the Orangutan Land Trust and PONGO Foundation of the Netherlands. Before working at the National Zoo, Meredith was the Curator of Primates and Small Mammals at the Philadelphia Zoo. Before this, Meredith spent over seven years conducting field research on the behavior, diet, ecology, genetics, and reproduction of wild orangutans in Central and Western Indonesian Borneo. Before establishing and directing her own wild orangutan field site and managing two others, Meredith studied wild white-handed gibbons in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand, Coquerel’s sifaka at the Duke Lemur Center, and rhesus macaques at the National Institutes of Health Animal Center. Meredith has a B.A. in Anthropology and Psychology from Bryn Mawr College and a Ph.D in Biological Anthropology & Anatomy from Duke University.

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Dr. Jessica Siegal-Willott

Following graduation from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Jessica Siegal-Willott completed two internships – one in small animal medicine at Oradell Animal Hospital, and one in zoo, wildlife, and exotic animal medicine at Kansas State University. She then completed the University of Florida’s Zoological Medicine Residency. Dr. Jess became boarded by the American College of Zoological Medicine in 2007. Jess is currently employed as the supervisory veterinarian at Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park in Washington, DC.

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Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Herrelko

Dr. Betsy Herrelko is the Assistant Curator, Animal Wellness and Research at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. As a behavioral scientist, Betsy’s interests focus on the pursuit of advancing animal welfare science with an emphasis on animal management and how animals think. She started her tenure at NZP as the David Bohnett Cognitive Research Fellow studying primate cognition (cognitive bias, a measure of emotional affect) in zoo-housed apes and husbandry and welfare topics with various species around the zoo. Prior to the National Zoo, Betsy was an Honorary Research Associate at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and a PhD Student at the University of Stirling (Scotland), she studied the lives of the chimpanzees at RZSS’ Edinburgh Zoo. Her research explored four topics while assessing the development of a cognitive research program and large-scale introductions in zoo-housed chimpanzees: welfare, cognition, public engagement with science, and animal management. The project’s use of touchscreen technology and on-exhibit research was the first of its kind for the UK and was the focus of the BBC Natural World documentary, The Chimpcam Project (2010). Her work on introductions has been highlighted in the BBC documentary Origins of Us (2011) and she has contributed to the Discovery Channel’s World’s Scariest Animal Attacks (2012) film as a primate expert presenting a behavioral point of view. During her undergraduate years she volunteered within the education department at the Bronx Zoo (New York), earned her Master’s degree in animal behavior and conservation from Hunter College, CUNY (New York), and worked at the Gorilla Foundation (California) in animal management, research, and facility operations.

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Nikki Matitic

Nikki Maticic started as a keeper at the National Zoo’s Quarantine Department in 2015, before transferring to the Lion/Tiger, Andean Bear, and Kids’ Farm Unit in early 2016. She has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Mary Washington. She studied abroad in South Africa and the Galapagos while in undergrad. Between summers in college, she worked as an animal keeper and outreach program keeper at a small animal park, and worked for several months in wildlife rehabilitation at the Wildlife Center of Virginia after graduating. She works each day alongside other keepers in her unit to take care of the animals by preparing food, cleaning enclosures, providing enrichment and training, and much more!

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Leigh Pitsko

Leigh Pitsko is the Assistant Curator for Great Cats, Andean bears, and the Kids’ Farm. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Science and her Master’s degree in Geography at Virginia Tech. She started her zoo career at the Brevard Zoo and has been at the National Zoo for ten years.

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Denny Charlton

DENNY CHARLTON

Animal Keeper, Amazonia

Denny has been employed as an animal keeper at the Smithsonian National Zoo for over eight years and currently works with fish and amphibians in the Amazonia exhibit. He has specialized in the field of exotic animal husbandry for a total of 20 years and his experiences range from training chickens to caring for the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros. Denny has managed the Greater Kudu Species Survival Plan (SSP) and studbook program for six years and is an active member of both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and American Association of Zookeepers (AAZK).