Director, Monarchs in the Classroom Program; Associate Professor, Department of
Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota; President,
Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary Foundation.
Karen Oberhauser has been studying monarch butterflies since 1984.
She works with teachers and pre-college students in Minnesota and throughout the
United States using monarchs to teach about biology, conservation, and the process
I am becoming more and more concerned with the impacts that humans have on monarchs
and other organisms, and with the precarious balance between human needs and the
needs of the species with which we share the planet. I'm convinced that learning
as much as we can about our fellow earth-inhabitants and then sharing the amazing
things that we discover will tip the balance in a direction that will be better
for all of us.
Coordinator, Schoolyard Ecology Explorations
Elisabeth Young-Isebrand graduated from Macalester College in 1989
with a major in biology. She taught high school biology, chemistry, AP biology and
environmental biology for seven years at Minneapolis Washburn High School. She left
Minneapolis Washburn in 1999 to raise her son, work part-time in environmental education
and finish her Masters degree.
Elisabeth began working with Dr. Karen Oberhauser at Monarchs
in the Classroom (MITC) as program coordinator in 2001. Working with Dr.
Oberhauser exposed her to the powerful impact monarchs have on motivating students
to ask questions and learn.
In the spring of 2005 she began her current position as community program specialist
for a new initiative called Schoolyard Ecology Explorations.
She is interested in the ways students can learn science and other topics by studying
the plants and animals in their schoolyard. She completed her M.Ed. in environmental
education at the University of Minnesota in 2005.
Coordinator, Monarchs in the Classroom
Grant first got involved with the Monarch Lab through a freshman seminar about monarch
biology and conservation Karen was teaching in his first semester at the U of M.
After that, he took another class with Karen in the spring and was thrilled at the
chance to work in the Monarch Lab in the summer of 2005. Grant spent three years
as an undergraduate research assistant, helping out with graduate students’ research
and maintaining the lab until he graduated in May of 2008. After graduation, he
became the Program Coordinator for Monarchs in the Classroom.
Grant is excited to have the opportunity to work with teachers and provide the tools
they need to teach science, inquiry, and conservation biology.
I think back to the teachers that impacted me, and most were science teachers. Without
their passion and dedication, I might not be in this field. To have the chance to
work with teachers who impact their students in the same way my teachers have is
rewarding and fun.
Reba Batalden is
a PhD student with the Monarch Lab. Her research focuses on the effect that climate
change could have on monarchs’ summer and migratory habitat. This project
relies heavily on data collected by
volunteers. Reba also participates in the
as she monitors three sites in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin with the lab group.
She is active in the Monarchs in the Classroom
program as well, helping to teach teachers about insect ecology and give them tools
to use in their schools. Reba joined the Monarch Lab in the summer of 2003, after
completing her undergraduate degree at St. Olaf College.
Dina Kountoupes graduated from Macalester College in 1993 with
a degree in International Studies and Spanish. She also studied environmental issues
and followed that interest immediately after college to work in environmental education
centers around the nation: in California, Maine, Vermont, and Minnesota. In 1996
she took her interest in the environment to the tropics of Costa Rica where she
applied her Spanish skills to work at sustainable development research centers,
sustainable farms, environmental education centers and a sea turtle research center.
In 2000 she returned to Minnesota and began working in children’s gardens
programs while pursuing a Master's Degree at the University of Minnesota in environmental
education, under the advisement of Dr. Karen Oberhauser. Her thesis project evaluated
program to learn more about how it could better serve a youth audience. Dina continues
to work in the Monarch Lab at the University of MN, helping coordinate both the
program as well as the Schoolyard Ecology Exploration (SEE)
Karen Christenson graduated in 2002 from the University of Utah
with a degree in biology. She traveled extensively and worked in outdoor education
before deciding to pursue a teaching degree. She taught eighth grade physical science
for three years in Lamar,
CO. In 2009 she began her graduate studies at the University of Minnesota
in the department of Natural Resource Science and Management with a focus on environmental
education and a minor in sustainable agriculture.
She is currently working with Monarch Lab by evaluating the University of Minnesota’s
Schoolyard Ecology and Exploration Garden Grant
program for her Master’s Plan B project.
Kenzie Kelly is an undergraduate majoring in Ecology, Evolution,
and Behavioral Science. She first got involved with the Monarch Lab as a middle
school student with the
MLMP. She started working as an undergraduate research assistant in the
Monarch Lab in fall 2009. She has continued to work in the Monarch Lab since then,
helping with the Insect Fair, Monarchs in the Classroom,
MLMP, and research projects.
Wendy Macziewski began working at the Monarch Lab as an undergraduate
research assistant in 2007. She conducted research through the Undergraduate Research
Opportunities Program at the University studying the effects of wasp parasitoids
on monarchs. In addition to research, she has been involved with outreach activities
such as the Insect Fair, the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project,
and the monarch distribution. After graduating from the
in 2009 with a degree in Environmental Science, she continues to help in the Monarch
Kelly Nail is excited to work in the Monarch Lab as she pursues
her PhD in conservation biology. As an undergraduate at St. Olaf College, she majored
in mathematics and biology. Kelly also spent a year researching Mongolian paleoecology
and has completed field work in the forests of Southern India. After graduation,
she spent the next few years teaching high school biology in rural Mississippi.
Currently, Kelly is working on mechanistically modeling monarch butterfly migration
using physiological data determined from lab and field work. She especially enjoys
working in the Monarch Lab because of the strong scientific outreach component,
and Monarchs in the Classroom.
Amy Witty graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT) in June 1995 with
a BS in Mechanical Engineering. She worked as a manufacturing engineer, design engineer,
and continuous improvement specialist at various local companies before leaving
Corporate America to have a baby (she now has two kids) and to develop her own web
design company, Witty Web Design. She
also enjoys photography and soccer.
Alma De Anda
Alma P. De Anda received
her BS in zoology from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 2005,
and her MS at the University of Minnesota in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior in
2010. She studied predator-prey and host-parasitoid dynamics using monarch butterflies
(Danaus plexippus) as model systems, and collected thousands of lines of
data as a graduate student. She is now teaching in community colleges in southern
While researchers have studied how host plant defenses and temperature affect larval
survival, there are few comprehensive studies of predators, and no studies of the
relative importance of predators, host plant defenses and abiotic factors. I studied
the relative importance of interactions with host plants and predators in regulating
monarch population densities. My work--involving observational field studies, empirical
work, and a cooperative network of volunteer citizen scientists--provided the first
comprehensive study of monarch population regulation during the breeding portion
of their annual migratory cycle.
Graduate Student, University of Michigan
Sarah Kempke graduated from the U of MN in May 2005 with a BS in Ecology, Evolution
and Behavior, and a minor in Technical Communication. Interested in ecology, insects,
and human impacts on the environment - as well as in communicating these topics
to the public - she jumped at the chance to coordinate programs at the Monarch Lab.
She is constantly inspired by the hard work and dedication of the monarch students,
teachers and volunteers that she interacts with every day - in whom she sees hope
for future generations of monarchs, and for our world as a whole.
Associate Professor, University of Georgia
As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, Sonia Altizer
studied the interactions between a protozoan parasite and monarch butterflies. She
is interested in how diseases affect natural populations of many organisms, and
is currently teaching at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
A fascinating array of parasites and diseases persist in insect hosts, and
I would like to understand factors affecting parasite outbreaks in insect populations.
I hope that my research on host-parasite interactions will aid in the preservation
of threatened species and habitats.
As a graduate student in the Department of Ecology, University of Minnesota and
as the first Director of the Monarch Larva Monitoring
Project, Michelle Prysby studied patterns of monarch distribution
and abundance, and the many factors that influence these patterns. She is now the
Master Naturalist Program Coordinator for the state of Virginia.
I see a need for better communication between scientists and the public, and
my passion is to help bridge this communication gap through both formal and informal
education. The nationwide larval monarch monitoring program is just one example
of the many possible partnerships between scientists and the public, and I intend
to continue developing and promoting these partnerships throughout my career.
Athena Decker worked on the original design of this website. She
now works for Americorps in the southern US, and continues to help with
Monarchs in the Classroom technical work.
I like working with monarch butterflies; they are fascinating creatures. Working
in this lab has given me the opportunity to experience hands-on what research is
like, something that you can't get in class.
Jolene Lushine graduated from the U of MN with a Bachelor of Science
in Biology in the Spring of 2002. She stepped into the monarch world in the summer
of 2000 when she was hired as a field assistant and spent a majority of her summer
monitoring monarchs in cornfields. She continued to contribute to monarch research
by working on a summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity Project to determine if
energy availability had an impact on male monarch mating success. Jolene is currently
embarking on a new career in medical technology, but still finds time to help out
at the Insect Fair every year.
Brij Bhasin graduated with an Undergraduate degree in Computer
Science in December 2003 and worked on the MITC website and Monarch