Updated Speaker and Staff List 2018

We want to update you on a few changes to the speakers and staff for WYSE 2018. Please read the updated bios and topic ares so you are ready to make your breakout choices!

WYSE 2018 Staff

Welcome Michael Latimer, Junior Faculty Advisor, Pink Color Group

Michael Latimer is a recent graduate from George Mason University and a native of Miami, Florida. A member of the Honors College, he received his Bachelor of Science studying Environmental Science with a concentration in Conservation. A Washington Youth Summit on the Environment alumnus, he always had a passion for environmental conservation and the Washington Scholars Program (WSP). Here at Mason, he has been an intern with the Admissions Office for WSP and the events management team and previously was a Junior Faculty Advisor for the conferences. In the fall of 2016, he attended the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) in Front Royal, VA, exploring the ways that science, management and policy address current conservation issues in and out of the field. While at SMSC, he had the amazing opportunity working with the institute’s small animal population on site and was a resident advisor as well. Other opportunities he has had were being part of the Green Patriots, Mason’s club volleyball team, and worked with the restoration of pine rocklands in Miami Dade County. Michael can’t wait to work at the conference and meet all the amazing people!

Bio Update: Gretchen Gorecki, Faculty Advisor, Teal Group

Gretchen Gorecki is an analyst and project lead at Marstel-Day, an environmental consulting firm, where she supports natural resource programs, encroachment management strategies, and geospatial analyses primarily for federal clients, including the U.S. Department of Defense. Her project portfolio includes invasive species management, native species and pollinator habitat restoration, wetland surveys, rare, threatened and endangered species surveys, and encroachment management plans. Gretchen relies on her GIS skills to provide additional support to these projects, including: land use classifications, landscape scale conservation planning, compatible land use strategies, and submeter-accuracy GPS data collection.

Gretchen recently completed her MSc in biodiversity, wildlife, and ecosystem health from the University of Edinburgh. She obtained her BS from the University of Mary Washington, where she double majored in environmental science and geography and received a GISc certificate. She is a certified GIS Professional (GISP) and serves on the board of the Friends of Lake Anna State Park. In her free time, Gretchen enjoys hiking and spending time at her backyard farm.

National Zoo Breakout Speakers

Breakout Session Talk:  Understanding “One Health”: human impacts on conservation and disease emergence

Dr. Lindsey Shields, DVM, DACVPM will replace Dawn Zimmerman 

Dr. Lindsey Shields is a board-certified preventive medicine veterinarian with more than 7 years’ experience in veterinary public health, international outbreak response, and emerging infectious diseases.  Currently serving as the Director of Training for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Global Health Program, Dr. Shields manages a wide range of capacity building programs both domestically and internationally and supports the Global Health Program’s work in emerging infectious disease research.  Dr. Shields is especially passionate about understanding the dynamics between human and wildlife conflict, and how that can lead to disease spillover and emergence.

Summary:  Ebola, Nipah, Avian influenza… all these new and scary sounding diseases have come from wildlife, but what role do the wildlife really play and how does the human impact on their habitat cause these diseases to emerge?  This session will talk about disease spillover from wildlife to humans, and from livestock to wildlife, highlighting how land use changes and environmental impact of human activities can lead to emergence of new diseases.  This discussion will focus on the importance of One Health, the understanding that the health of humans depends on the health of animals and the environment they share.

Career Session Breakout Speakers

Maritza Arizaga, Conservation-Operations Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy will replace Esther Peters 

Maritza Arizaga joined the Maryland/DC Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in March of 2017. As Conservation-Operations Coordinator she supports the conservation and philanthropy teams to drive effective conservation priorities in clean water and climate resilience.  Most recently her work focuses on supporting projects and handling operations and finance requests in the Maryland/DC Chapter. As part of her current administrative role, she is currently co-developing a Green Office Initiative focused on driving sustainability outcomes and best practices to reduce carbon emissions at an organizational level.

Prior to joining TNC, Maritza worked for Colorado State University as Logistics Coordinator for the Center for Protected Area Management. Key components of her role included supporting and facilitating capacity-building and leadership trainings for international conservationists and practitioners. While in this role, she had the opportunity to travel throughout western U.S and visit some of the most iconic national parks such as Yellowstone, Tetons, and Rocky Mountain National Park.  Based on the nature of her travels, she was able attain experience in different conservation management methodologies and Leave No Trace practices in rural and wilderness environments.  Among the most notable techniques include leading backcountry trips with llamas in Colorado.

Stephanie Pareja,  Honey Bee Initiative Graduate Assistant

Stephanie Pareja has worked with the Honey Bee Initiative for several years, and has studied bees on campus through Perilla’s courses and in the Amazon. She is currently working on her Masters in Elementary Education at George Mason University.

Zuri Gagnon, 2012 WYSE Alumna and recent Mason graduate

Zuri Gagnon attended WYSE in 2012. She has since studied at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) and graduated from George Mason University (GMU) with a BS in Biology. Her research interests include conservation medicine and wildlife endocrinology. As a student, Zuri was a part of many student organizations involved in environmental sustainability, such as the Green Patriots and the Patriot Green Fund. She also interned at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute as an Elephant Health and Conservation Research intern, where she categorized clinical problems encountered in zoo elephants from historical health records and learned non-invasive hormone monitoring techniques. Then, she completed an undergraduate research project where she investigated the behavioral patterns of pregnant red pandas to determine if parturition can be predicted via observations. Now, Zuri is starting a new chapter of her life at GMU as she pursues her Master’s in Environmental Science and Policy.