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Jon Skaggs

Meet the Team

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Travis DeVault

Associate Director of Research

Senior Research Scientist

Travis DeVault is the Associate Director for Research and Senior Research Scientist at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. He also has a courtesy faculty appointment in the Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources where he advises graduate students. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ecology and systematics from the Department of Biology at Indiana State University and a PhD in wildlife ecology from the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University. Travis is a wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist; his research focuses on understanding and preventing animal-vehicle collisions and other human-wildlife conflicts. He also maintains a long term research interest in the ecology of vultures and other vertebrate scavengers. Outside of work, Travis is a jack of all trades and master of none. He’s an eclectic sort who enjoys fishing, hunting, kayaking and canoeing, hiking with his family, wrestling with his dogs, playing basketball and disc golf, obsessing over Chicago Cubs baseball and Indianapolis Colts football, blues guitar, tinkering in his woodshop, and playing video games while consuming bourbon and scotch.  Actually, he is pretty good at that last one. 


Amelia Russell

Research Professional II

Lab Manager

Amelia earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of South Carolina Upstate and a M.S. in Forestry and Natural Resources with a concentration in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Georgia. Prior to accepting her position as lab manager of the DeVault Wildlife Lab at SREL, Amelia worked as a conservation biologist consulting with a variety of clientele throughout central and south Florida. She has nearly 10 years of experience working with numerous species of reptiles and amphibians, including several imperiled species of turtles and tortoises. In addition, Amelia has worked on a handful of mammal projects including the USDA's Rabies Eradication Program, and the study of coyote and deer populations in urban and rural areas. In general, Amelia is most interested in applied ecology and wildlife conservation. In her spare time, she enjoys life on her little farm, kayaking, hiking and spending time with family and friends. 

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Caryn Ross

PhD Student

Caryn earned her B.S. in Biology from Longwood University and her M.S. in Environmental Science from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her passions for ornithology, citizen science, and facilitation of public communication began as an undergraduate researcher and continue today. She has experience in wild bird rehabilitation, bird banding, falconry, land conservation, outdoor environmental education, and ecological modeling. Her undergraduate research focused on the effects of urbanization on birds in the southeastern U.S. and the status of common wintering bird populations in Virginia. Her master’s thesis focused on the effects of urbanization on avian diversity throughout the state of Tennessee over a 40-year period, utilizing citizen science data and GIS. She has worked on several migratory and breeding bird research projects. Prior to joining the DeVault lab, Caryn worked as a USGS Biologist on a research team employing a system dynamics model to investigate climate change effects on prairie pothole wetlands and potential future impacts on breeding duck pairs in the United States. 

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Carson Pakula

PhD Student

Carson received his B.S. in Biology from Central Michigan University where he studied black footed ferret genetics and the impacts of hiking trails on small mammal populations. He is currently a PhD student at Warnell's School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Carson is studying the behavior of deer and wild pigs to help reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. He is interested in behavioral ecology, wildlife conservation, and human-wildlife interactions. 

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Courtney Werner

MS Student

Courtney Werner is investigating accumulation of radiocesium and heavy metals in avian populations. Her research interests include wildlife health, ecotoxicology, and environmental stewardship. Courtney received her B.S. in Evolutionary Anthropology from Duke University, where she focused on macroecology of infectious diseases in mammals. 

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Matthew Strassburg

Research Technician II

Matthew earned his B.S. degree in Ecology at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota and his M.S. degree in Zoology at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota. He has experience working with several avian communities including passerines, shorebirds, waterfowl, and wading birds. His current research investigates avian use of the Augusta, GA airport and heavy metals ecotoxicology of wetland birds in Savannah, GA. His research interests include the ecological factors affecting long-term population trends of passerine species. 

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Zach Keenan

Research Technician

Zach is an eight year U.S. Marine Corps veteran and is currently earning a bachelor's in Data Analytics from Southern New Hampshire University. He has approximately two years of experience of avian trapping and is currently undergoing an apprenticeship to become a falconer. Zach currently cares for a juvenile red-tailed hawk, named Solstice. 

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Erin Doran

Research Technician

Erin Doran received her B.S. in Biology from the University of South Carolina Aiken where she studied the genetic population structure of the American Wood Stork for conservation management assessment. Her research interests include wildlife conservation, restoration ecology, and ecotoxicology.

Former Lab Members

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