People

Dr. Russell Benford

Russell Benford, Ph.D.

Russell Benford is a behavioral ecologist interested in the conservation and management of terrestrial wildlife species. He uses observational and molecular techniques to better understand the dispersal and migratory habits, landscape and habitat use, genetic structure, and social organization of free-living birds and mammals. He and his students currently study a variety of imperiled island endemic species in the western Pacific. His research group is particularly interested in the causes of decline and the genetic integrity of geographically isolated populations affected by human activity. They use information from their research to inform management and conservation strategies. Russell Benford holds dual positions: Assistant Research Professor, NAU, and Supervisory Wildlife Biologist, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. He is the Program Director of NAU’s Field School in Conservation Ecology and the primary instructor of Conservation and Management of Imperiled Species (BIO 468). 

Dr. Neil Cobb at Disneyland

Neil Cobb, Ph.D.

Neil Cobb is an ecologist interested in arthropod biodiversity and the processes that mediate biodiversity, particularly the effects of climate change. As the Curator of the Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity, Dr. Cobb coordinates arthropod surveys and inventories throughout the Southwest and beyond. His work also involves a variety of ecological studies to examine changes in biodiversity resulting from climate and land-use change, invasive species, and other processes. Dr. Cobb’s specific interests in the Northern Mariana Islands Program are to conduct arthropod biodiversity surveys and create a reference collection for the islands, mentor students in biodiversity studies, and examine the impact of invasive species on native species. Dr. Cobb is also the Director for the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, supervising its day-to-day operations, including administrative activities and strategic planning. As an Associate Research Professor, Dr. Cobb teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in entomology and ecology.

Dr. Nashelly Meneses

Nashelly Meneses, Ph.D.

Nashelly Meneses is a molecular ecologist interested in how plant-animal interactions change over ecological gradients. Dr. Meneses is the multilingual Program Coordinator who has experience working in adverse conditions in underdeveloped countries. She is the primary Instructor for the Internship in Conservation Ecology (BIO 485).                                                                                                                                                                                           

Steve Shuster with a crab

Stephen Shuster, Ph.D.

Stephen Shuster is a Professor of Invertebrate Zoology at Northern Arizona University, where his teaching and research interests include animal mating systems, male and female reproductive strategies, and the genetic population structure of genetic marine organisms. Dr. Shuster’s primary research goals are to understand (1) the genetic and environmental basis for the expression of sexual phenotype, (2) how selection can be measured in nature, (3) how mating systems and alternative mating strategies evolve, and (4) how genetic variation and biodiversity are maintained in natural populations. Dr. Shuster has served as the primary instructor for the Northern Mariana Islands Program’s Island Demography and Dynamics course (BIO 467), teaching students about intertidal ecology, population biology, and quantitative biology, and is a research mentor (BIO 485).