Interim Data Manager
Biologist & Lab Manager
Keara Bixby has a degree in Conservation Biology and Sustainability Studies at the University of New Mexico and was formerly BEMP’s Crawford Intern and Tamarisk Leaf Beetle Summer Intern. Growing up in Las Cruces with the Organ Mountains in her backyard, she spent much of her time looking for reptiles and developing an appreciation for wildlife. In her spare time, she loves being outside and circus acrobatics. She is extremely excited to be BEMPin’ it up and learning about what the Bosque has to offer to everyone.
Rio Grande Phenology Trail Educator
Kim Eichhorst PhD
Dr. Kim Eichhorst, Ph.D. is the Co-Director of the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP) and serves as a Research Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico (UNM). Kim started research in the bosque in 1995, working with Dr. Cliff Crawford (BEMP’s co-founder) on the interaction between herbivores, cottonwoods, and pollution in urban and rural areas. She has worked for BEMP since 1999 and loves studying the intricacies of bosque ecology. Kim is married, has two energetic kids, dogs, cats, horse, goat, chickens, fish and whatever strays come their way.
Educator/Student Research Coordinator
Katie Elder was lucky enough to grow up with BEMP, starting when she was a sixth grade student at Bosque School. BEMP fostered her love for the natural sciences all the way through her senior year of high school. Katie received two BS degrees from Humboldt State University in 2013 (Biology, with a marine emphasis, and Wildlife Conservation and Ecology). Katie couldn’t stay away from BEMP and continued working for BEMP during summer breaks throughout college. Over the years, Katie has worked with cane toads in Australia, coral ecosystems in Florida, Bryozoans in California, and porcupines in New Mexico. Katie’s current BEMP role is as a biologist and educator. She oversees the independent high school research program, mentoring future generations of wildlife biologists.
Ruby Estrada monitors BEMP’s southern-most research site located at Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. Ruby is a full-time science teacher who enjoys students’ a-ha moments during the process of scientific learning. In her spare time (as if such a thing exists with teachers) she works on her dissertation in curriculum and instruction. Ruby believes spending time in natural settings outdoors is foundational to scientific thinking – she also believe spending time in nature is how people become good stewards of the planet.
Kim Fike grew up just south of the Rio Grande Nature Center where her weekends were filled with lizard chasing, bike rides through the bosque, and wading through the Rio Grande. Her curiosity for understanding riparian ecosystems grew along with the pursuit of her undergraduate degree in Environmental Biology from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO and her master’s degree in Biology from the University of New Mexico. She enjoys just about every outdoor activity there is from climbing rocks and jumping out of airplanes, to hiking and napping in the sun.
Katie Wurden Higgins is originally from Los Alamos, NM, but has lived in the greater Albuquerque area since 2010. She holds a B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of California, San Diego and an M.P.A. in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Katie has a background in environmental compliance and planning with a focus on water quality, most recently with Los Alamos National Laboratory. She joined BEMP in May 2016. When she’s not at work, she can be found hiking the Jemez Mountains, skiing the Rockies, or attempting to garden in Rio Rancho, all with her husband, baby girl, and dog Chaos.
A New England native captivated by the Southwest, Melanie Kazenel received her BA in Environmental Studies and Spanish from Wellesley College and her MS in Biology from the University of New Mexico. Melanie has studied meadow ecosystems in Massachusetts, tree species in Minnesota, native grasses and their fungal partners in Colorado, and native bees in Vermont and New Mexico. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys outdoor adventures of all kinds, dancing, cooking, and dabbling in guitar. She is excited to share her love of ecology and the outdoors with BEMP.
Matt Leister is a graduate student at the University of New Mexico working on spider systematics. Matt has been passionate about spiders and arthropods for as long as he can remember. He is particularly fascinated with the diversity, natural history, and behavior seen in these amazing animals. Matt’s been working with BEMP as the staff entomologist since 2013 and enjoy both field and lab work. When he’s not staring under a microscope, Matt can be found exploring nature, and educating people about arthropods.
Sean O’Neill was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He graduated from Bosque School and continued his education at the University of New Mexico, obtaining his degree in Biology. BEMP has been influential in shaping Sean’s passion for biology: as a sixth grade student helping to collect data, a two-time high school summer intern, a field assistant during his undergraduate career, and currently as a BEMP biologist. Sean is an avid fan of the outdoors, skiing throughout the winter months while enjoying the summers backpacking and fishing.
Laura Pagès Barceló is originally from a tiny town in Catalunya, Spain. She left her country five years ago to study sea turtles in Costa Rica, after which she traveled to Albuquerque to visit a friend for a few weeks, but fell in love with the landscape and never left. She is currently a graduate student in the Department of Biology at the University of New Mexico where she is finishing her master’s thesis using stable isotopes to study sea turtle diets. Joining BEMP has allowed Laura to combine her interest in education and science. When Laura is not studying sea turtles or working with students she enjoys spending time with the people she loves through rock climbing, hiking, and dancing.
Porcupine Whisperer/Bus Driver
Patrick Ryan has been transporting kids from all over for BEMP research in the bosque for over 8 years after moving to New Mexico from the DC area and the Big Island of Hawaii. He has seen the great effects these trips have on so many different people, not just kids! When not hiking the bosque he likes hiking (just about anywhere), painting, playing guitar, learning about astronomy, and studying history.
Daniel Shaw co-directs the citizen science Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP) and along with the late Dr. Cliff Crawford, and Dr. Crawford’s then graduate student, Lisa Ellis were BEMP’s cofounders. His Bosque School students’ research includes wildlife and habitat issues in urban landscapes, threats to amphibian survival, and the delicate work of capturing and radio-collaring porcupines to study this prickly rodent’s distribution and natural history. His publications include the UNM Press Southwest Aquatic Habitats: On the Trail of Fish in a Desert and Eco-tracking: On the Trail of Habitat Change, both of which profile BEMP students and their environmental monitoring and stewardship work. As an original Bosque School faculty member in 1995 and BEMP’s first employee in 1996, he has helped to grow both entities and takes pride in the many students with whom he has shared the discovery, study, and care of the Rio Grande and its watershed.
Kelly Steinberg has been BEMPing it up since 2012, first as a UNM student, then an undergraduate intern and as a BEMP educator starting in the fall of 2013. She graduated from UNM with a degree in conservation biology and sustainability studies and while in school she spent time teaching environmental education in New Mexico and Alaska. When she’s not BEMPing in the bosque Kelly spends her time hiking, skiing, and making music on her cello.
Crawford 2017-2018 Intern
Jonathan Tyrrell’s BEMP journey began at age 9, collecting ecological data throughout elementary and middle school with the Rio Grande Roots and Shoots group. Jonathan re-engaged with BEMP in the summer of 2017 as a summer high school intern and is currently the BEMP Undergraduate Crawford Fellow. He recently graduated high school from the Early College Academy is now a freshman at the University of New Mexico with plans to major in Biochemistry. When not in the bosque, you can find Jonathan immersed in Albuquerque’s art community. He is excited to continue exploring new horizons with BEMP!
Ara Winter Ph.D.
Ara Winter, Ph.D. is the Data Manager for BEMP. Ara’s spent the past ten years mixing data analysis across different spatial and time scales with extensive fieldwork in New Mexico. In his off time he is a Zen Buddhist priest, enjoys cooking, hiking, climbing, gardening and generally being outside. His current kids are a herd of rescued cats and dogs.