Staff and Affiliates
Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Reseach (MPCER) functions as an
umbrella center within the university for researchers pursuing
cross-disciplinary research on a wide range of topics, including climate
change, biodiversity, and ecological informatics. In addition to its affiliated
research scientists, the MPCER supports a range of facilities and services. The
MPCER’s staff and affiliated researchers include the following people:
Thomas G. Whitham
Thomas Whitham is the Executive Director of the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research and Regents' Professor. His research is focused on cottonwood riparian communities and pinyon-juniper woodlands. These studies emphasize plant-herbivore interactions and a community-level understanding of the consequences of plant genetics and environmental stress on keystone species.
Cobb is the Director for the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, supervising its day-to-day operations, including administrative activities and strategic planning. Neil’s research
interests include arthropod biodiversity and global climate change impacts.
Email Neil Cobb
Benford is an Assistant Research Professor in Biology and Program Director of
NAU's Field Experience in Conservation Biology. His research interests include
behavioral and evolutionary biology, conservation ecology, and wildlife
Email Russell Benford
Butterfield is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Biological
Sciences. His research interests include plant community ecology, plant functional
ecology, ecosystem ecology, and biogeography. Specifically, Brad’s research
focuses on the intersection between processes that regulate biodiversity and
the consequences of that diversity for ecosystem function, primarily in arid,
semi-arid, and alpine ecosystems.
Email Brad Butterfield
Karen Haubensak is an Assistant
Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Karen’s research
interests are plant-soil feedbacks in the context of invasive species, forest
regeneration efforts, and soil food webs. Karen will be teaching field and
lecture courses in soil ecology starting during the 2013 fall semester.
Email Karen Haubensak
Paul Heinrich is the Information Technology Manager for the Merriam-Powell Center. Some of Paul’s current projects include the development of
data management policy and tools, climate instrumentation, and other
infrastructure for the Southwest Experimental Garden Array (SEGA). He is also
working on technology integration and network coordination for the Southwest
Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN). With more than 20 years of experience
in a wide array of information technology subjects, Paul also holds bachelor's
degrees in biology and physics and a master’s degree in quantitative ecology
from Penn State University.
Email Paul Heinrich
Karla Kennedy is the Manager of
the Merriam-Powell Research Station, overseeing its day-to-day operations. She is also the Gardens Manager for the Southwest Experimental Garden Array (SEGA) project, assisting with common garden
development, research, and upkeep.
> Email Karla Kennedy
Mark Manone is the Director of the Geospatial Research and
Information Laboratory and an Assistant Professor in NAU's Department of
Geography, Planning, and Recreation. Mark's interests and expertise are in
field-based GIS, mobile wireless technology, and terrestrial photogrammetry.
Mark has developed and led GIS courses and workshops for the university
community as well as a wide range of private, state, federal, and tribal
agencies. Mark holds a master’s degree in geography with an emphasis in remote
sensing/GIS. He has been an authorized ESRI ArcGIS instructor since 2003.
> Email Mark Manone
Nashelly Meneses is a Postdoctoral Research Associate and Program Coordinator of NAU’s Field Experience in Conservation Biology. She employs field, greenhouse, and molecular (DNA fingerprinting and sequencing) approaches to understand the genetic, environmental, and anthropogenic factors that affect plant-insect interactions in tropical and temperate forests.
> Email Nashelly Meneses
Marie Saul is the Business Manager for the Merriam-Powell
Center for Environmental Research. Marie managers the Center’s financial affairs, having oversight responsibility for a wide range of project budgets. Marie is also responsible for the Center's day-to-day
administrative activities, including processing personnel, travel, and
reimbursement paperwork. In this role, Marie serves as the liaison between the
Center and other university departments.
> Email Marie Saul
Lara Schmit is the Director Communications for the Merriam-Powell Center. She is responsible for the Center's pubic affairs and outreach activities, including web content development and media relations. Lara also coordinates scientific conferences and meetings for the Center, including the 12th Biennial Conference of Science and Management on the Colorado Plateau.
> Email Lara Schmit
Sommer is a Research Assistant Professor and the MPCER’s Director of Education.
His research and teaching interests include insect community ecology,
behavioral ecology, pollination ecology, and environmental and cross-cultural
education. Additionally, Stefan oversees the development of mission-based
educational programs and materials for NAU students, Native American
communities, and the general public.
Email Stefan Sommer
Charlie Truettner is Field
Ecologist and GIS Specialist for the MPCER. Charlie is a graduate student who
is resampling long-term vegetation plots and constructing tree-ring
chronologies to interpret how shifts in climatic warming are affecting plant
communities. He is also a specialist in building species distribution models that
can be used to project the impacts of future climate scenarios on species
Email Charlie Truettner
Amy Whipple is the Director of the Merriam-Powell Research
Station, which is on the grounds of the Arboretum at Flagstaff. She works
on the development of experimental field research facilities such as the
Southwest Experimental Garden Array for the study of genetics and climate
change. She also works to develop research training activities for undergraduate
and graduate students, including the Research Experience for
Undergraduates in Environmental Sciences program, an intensive 10-week summer
research experience for students from Tribal or community
colleges. Amy’s research on evolutionary ecology currently focuses on
adaptation of plants to drought and climate change.
Email Amy Whipple
Jut Wynne is a Research
Ecologist for the MPCER and a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) in the Department of
Biological Sciences. His current research focuses on diversity and
distributional patterns of cave-dwelling arthropods in Arizona, New Mexico, and
Chile’s Easter Island. Jut is also investigating habitat selection of
cave-dwelling bats and insects in the southwestern United States. He is working
with resource managers in the Southwest and Chile to develop strategies to best
manage and protect sensitive cave resources.
Email Jut Wynne
Cave Ecological Research Website