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Originally from Rhode Island, I began my college career close to home at the University of Rhode Island where I obtained a B.S. degree in marine biology. From there I continued on to earn my M.A. degree in ecology and environmental sciences from Central Connecticut State University. Continuing in the vein of aquatic research, I joined Dr. Barry Chernoff’s laboratory during 2006, to pursue my Ph.D. in biology from Wesleyan University. I still remained a part of the Chernoff Lab, while being the biotechnology program coordinator at Middlesex Community College during the past three years. Fall 2016, I will begin teaching at the University of Saint Joseph as an assistant professor in biology.
I first acquired my appreciation for and the ability to identify fish while quahogging and fishing with my dad on Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, and later in more detail when stocking fish in Connecticut rivers and lakes for the Department of Environmental Protection (now DEEP). I also worked with the EPA in Narragansett, RI, to study the micro-habitats of winter waterfowl and aquatic surveys for the EPA’s National Coastal Assessment program (for which I received the EPA’s Superior Accomplishment Award).
I enjoy conducting research on many topics in aquatic ecology and have participated in wide variety of projects ranging from microhabitat analyses to toxicity indicator evaluations and freshwater to saltwater. I am interested in expanding our knowledge of the evolution of fishes using molecular techniques. This latter topic encompassed my PhD thesis at Wesleyan University, where I investigated the systematics of the Blacknose Dace complex and the phylogeography of the Blacknose Dace, Rhinichthys atratulus.
It is important to understand the evolutionary processes of the past and today so that we may model and apply our findings to the future. Understanding the way organisms function, interact and evolve allows us to apply the appropriate methods of protection. Nature is an amazing resource, but can be fragile and too often destroyed by human effects. I hope that in my career I can discover some of this information and, in the words of a great former mentor, do my little bit to help the world.
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Kate Miller is a conservation ecologist, with an interest in the complex interactions of organisms, including humans, and their environment. Kate earned her PhD in Biology at Wesleyan in 2013. Her doctoral project explored interacting influences of prey, habitat and landscape, as well as the effects of a devastating fungal pathogen (white-nose syndrome), on communities of foraging bats. As part of the Chernoff Lab team she also studied the effects of dam removal and drought on river systems.
Prior to coming to Wesleyan Kate spent more than two decades as an educator, and an environmental advocate and program coordinator. Her work included helping to establish CT’s recycling law, implementing that law in New Haven (receiving an award for best municipal recycling program), creating environmental education programs and educating, training and mentoring undergraduates, primarily at Middlesex Community College.
She received her Master’s Degree from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and was awarded the Switzer Environmental Fellowship. She obtained an interest in making environmental and social change – along with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and Sociology - from Tufts University.
Currently Kate is the Curriculum Innovation Coordinator for the $1.3 million Health & Life Sciences Career Initiative at Middlesex Community College, part of a consortium grant funded by the US Department of Labor to expand academic and career training in STEM fields. She continues her research on bats, and in finding ways to involve undergraduates in ecological and conservation oriented projects.
Kate is a long-time member of Middletown’s Conservation Commission, the Jonah Center for Earth and Art (and its Coginchaug River Action Group) and Project Green Lawn. She spends much time with family and with friends, her suburban backyard wildlife habitat, hiking and traveling.
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Max Perel-Slater, a San Francisco Bay Area native, received his BA in Environmental Studies & Earth and Environmental Science from Wesleyan University in May 2011. As part of his undergraduate degree he studied abroad with the School for International Training (SIT) in Arusha, Tanzania where he did his Independent Study Project (ISP) on the water situation in Shirati. He continued this research the following summer as part of his Senior Capstone Project at Wesleyan University's College of the Environment.
In 2009, Max started working on water projects in East Africa, leading the construction of a ferro-cement rainwater catchment system. In 2011, Max worked in Kibera, Kenya for the Community Based Organization (CBO) Shining Hope for Communities where he coordinated their water project and co-led their summer program for American university students. In March 2012, Max co-founded a disease prevention and health promotion project called Maji Safi Group (MSG). A core belief of MSG is that preventable diseases can be avoided by taking a community-led approach through empowering women and children to promote disease prevention.
Currently, Max lives in the rural village of Shirati, Tanzania where he works as the president of the US nonprofit corporation, Maji Safi Group, and as the treasurer of the Tanzanian affiliate non-governmental organization (NGO), Maji Safi Organization (MSO).