Candidates for elected positions 2018

Candidates for President-Elect
Jason Estrella - My name is Jason Estrella and I am a regional GIS Specialist in the Wildlife Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.  I am currently stationed out of The Nature Center in Tyler, TX.  My work area includes 115 counties of eastern and southern Texas where I work with our biologists to provide technical guidance on a host of conservation issues that include; eastern wild turkey restoration, black bear management, and coastal waterbird monitoring.  I also serve on the Geospatial Advisory Committee of the Southwest Section of TWS and I am the GIS technical advisor for the Northeast Texas Conservation Delivery Network.  I am a wildland firefighter for TPWD and for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and have been deployed on the fireline, as far north as Montana, as well as GIS support.  I have been with TPWD for five years; and before this, I was a natural resource specialist with the Texas General Land Office, stationed in Alpine.  My work area included the Trans-Pecos and the Panhandle regions of Texas, where I dealt in issues such as land use and habitat management, endangered species management, and landowner outreach.  My professional interests include spatial statistics, mobile data collection technologies, conservation geography, and wildland fire.  I am originally from Corpus Christi, TX, and graduated from Texas A&M University-Kingsville with a degree in Wildlife Science.

Dr. Tad Theimer - Tad Theimer is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, where he has taught for over 20 years.  His research interests are varied, but he has focused on three main projects during his career: long-term monitoring of seedling dynamics in Australian rainforests, ecology of the southwestern willow flycatcher and urban skunk ecology as it relates to rabies management.  He has been fortunate to mentor numerous, talented undergraduate and graduate students on projects ranging from wild turkey genetics, to prairie dog relocation to elk-highway interactions, among many others.  He has benefited throughout his career from collaborations with a variety of agencies and organizations, most notably the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the USGS and USDA Wildlife Services.  He served as board member and president of the Arizona Chapter of The Wildlife Society and has been faculty adviser for the NAU Student Chapter of TWS for most for his career at NAU, receiving the Outstanding Student Advisor Award in 2007. Tad got his BS in Biology at University of the Pacific, his Master's at Colorado State University and his PhD at Northern Arizona University studying the genetics and foraging behavior of javelina.

David Bergman - For the past 16 years, David Bergman has been the State Director for the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services’ Arizona Program.  David oversees a diverse program that includes wildlife damage management for airports, agriculture, property and natural resources in addition to management of rabies, plague, and other zoonotic diseases.  His focus is on Mexican wolves, urban coyotes, plague, and rabies.

Prior to working in Arizona, David worked for Wildlife Services as a Staff Wildlife Biologist in the Washington, D.C. area, a Wildlife Biologist for the North Dakota/South Dakota Program, and a Biological Technician for the National Wildlife Research Center in North Dakota.  David earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Nebraska-Kearney, and conducted his Master’s research at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

David began his commitment to The Wildlife Society as the Secretary Treasurer for his undergraduate college chapter.  He continued on by being active in graduate school with his university chapter.  After graduate school and moving to North Dakota, David joined the North Dakota Chapter.  He was instrumental in developing a Wildlife Damage Management Working Group for the Chapter.  David was the co-originator of the GIS Working Group.   He has been a member of the Central Plains and Mountains Section.  He was a member of the Maryland Chapter and is currently a member to the Arizona Chapter, the Southwest Section, and the national program. 

David is a Certified Wildlife Biologist through The Wildlife Society.  He served on the Wildlife Professional Editorial Board for over eight years.  He is a member of the Wildlife Damage Management Working Group, the Wildlife Disease Working Group, and the International Working Group.  He has served as a Board Member for the Wildlife Damage Management Working Group, developed symposia for national meetings, and moderated and presented at the national meetings in the US and Canada.  He has presented at chapters in Texas, North Dakota, Arizona, and New Mexico. David looks forward to continuing his service to The Wildlife Society through an opportunity to grow and expand the Southwest Section. 
Candidates for Secretary
Dr. Melanie Culver – I am an Assistant Professor and Assistant Leader of the Arizona Cooperative Fisheries and Wildlife Unit at the University of Arizona, Tucson.  My research focus, along with the students in my lab, is conservation genetics.  We study the genetics of wild populations to answer management-related wildlife questions using genetic/genomic tools.  Much of our research focuses on large carnivores, in addition to other mammals, reptile, amphibian, bird, and invertebrate species.  We focus on questions ranging from biodiversity assessment, revising taxonomy, gene flow/fragmentation, behavioral ecology, to assessing the impact of boundaries such as the border wall.  Within The Wildlife Society organization, I was a former President of the Arizona Chapter and am the current Secretary for the Southwest Section.  I have enjoyed all my service to the Wildlife Society and would like to continue in that role for another year to continue my involvement in The Wildlife Society.  I believe The Wildlife Society plays a beneficial role so many ways for wildlife professionals, and as a member of the Southwest Section Board I can help guide that positive impact.

Dr. Melissa Merrick - Melissa is a senior wildlife biologist at the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation and Management.  Her research primarily focuses on the population ecology, behavior, space use, and resource selection in threatened and endangered vertebrates, including the endangered Mt. Graham red squirrel.  She has experience with a diversity of taxa, from beetles and bats to rodents, raptors, and ungulates.  Melissa enjoys working and playing in the field as well as getting to work on collaborative research projects with local, state, national, and international colleagues.  She is a state, section, and national TWS member since 2005 and serves TWS at many levels.  She is a member of the Spatial Ecology and Telemetry Working Group and chair-elect of the International Wildlife Management Working Group, a member of the Southwest Section Geospatial Advisory Committee, the 2018 JAM planning committee, and participated in the 2017 TWS Leadership Institute.  She has helped to organize workshops and sponsored symposia for TWS working groups and committees.  Melissa has also enjoyed volunteering for AZGFD’s black-tailed prairie dog reintroduction program, antelope jackrabbit surveys, and bat research on DOD lands.  She received her BS in Biology from Nebraska Wesleyan University, MS in Biology and GIS certificate from Idaho State University, and PhD in Wildlife Conservation and Management from the University of Arizona.

Candidates for Treasurer

Dr. Ryan O’Shaughnessy - Ryan is an Assistant Professor and Research Scientist with the Borderlands Research Institute in the Department of Natural Resource Management at Sul Ross State University.  Ryan’s current research focuses on the effective management and restoration of pronghorn to the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas, interactions between aoudad and desert bighorn sheep, waterfowl and wetland ecology in arid environments, and the use of quail as indicators of rangeland quality.  Further research interests include agricultural business relating to hunting in rural communities, game-species management and ecology, species distribution and habitat selection, foraging ecology, and human-wildlife conflict.  Ryan has taught courses dealing with the following topics: ranch and range use economics; agricultural marketing; sustainability and diversity in ranching; game management; outdoor hospitality industry; farm and ranch records and accounting.

Prior to his current position, Ryan worked at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  His dissertation tested the ideal free distribution in spring migrating waterfowl as well as exploring processes governing habitat selection by migrating ducks.  He received his MS from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.  His thesis examined competitive interactions of puku and lechwe antelope in the Chobe National Park of Northern Botswana.  He completed his Bachelors with Honors and BS in Zoology at the University of the Witwatersrand where he studied diet selection and nutritional status of two populations of sable antelope in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. 

Ryan also runs three additional businesses in the far west Texas region – a quail hunting/guide service, aoudad hunting/guide service, and management of rental properties.

Jonathan Hanna - Past Arizona Chapter President - I have been working in the field as a wildlife biologist for 30 years.  Over the years, I have worked in a variety of management and research areas for several state agencies, including Ohio, Wyoming, and Arizona.

As a graduate of the University of Wyoming with a BS in Wildlife Management, I worked for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and the University of Wyoming Cooperative Research Unit.  My career highlights include projects involving management of black-footed ferrets, grizzly bears, black bears, mule and white-tailed deer, pronghorn, moose, mountain goats, and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.  

I joined the Arizona Game and Fish Department in 1992 as the Nongame Mammals Field Project Coordinator; then in 1995 became one of six Regional Game Specialists for game species management.
I have been involved in many animal capture operations using a variety of techniques and have also been an instructor for University of Arizona undergraduate students and the Arizona Wildlife Society in animal capture and restraint methods.  In spring of 2011 I retired from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  

I have been a member of the Arizona Chapter of the Wildlife Society since 1992 and served as the Continuing Education Chairman from 1995 to 2011.  I stay active in the Chapter by serving as the Conservation Affairs Committee Chairman as well as this year’s Plenary Chairman on “Becoming an Advocate for Wildlife.”