Meet our awesome Science Mentors!

Dr. Liesl Erb, Warren Wilson College info_outline

Mammalogy Science Mentor

Dr. Liesl Erb, Warren Wilson College close

Mammalogy Science Mentor

Dr. Liesl Erb is a Professor of Conservation Biology at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. Liesl works with students and the public to better understand how human activities affect wild animals, particularly mammals in mountain regions. She and her students use live trapping, scat collection, hair snares, and camera traps to study several local species and communities of conservation concern, including Appalachian cottontail rabbits, Allegheny woodrats, and eastern spotted skunks. Her classes are also collaborating with several community partners to establish a bat citizen science project in Western North Carolina. Liesl collaborates on a long term study of American pika (a small rabbit relative) survival and stress in the Rocky Mountains. She has an undergraduate degree in Biology from Colorado College and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado – Boulder.

Andrew Laughlin, University of North Carolina, Asheville info_outline

Ornithology Science Mentor

Andrew Laughlin, University of North Carolina, Asheville close

Ornithology Science Mentor

Andrew Laughlin is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies department at University of North Carolina Asheville, where he teaches Ecology & Field Biology, Avian Ecology & Conservation, Wildlife Ecology & Management, Urban Ecology, and other courses. He is most interested in how animals, especially birds, respond to environmental change. He and his students began a re-survey of the bird communities of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to document how birds are responding to hemlock removal and climate change. He received a Ph.D. from Tulane University in New Orleans where he studied Tree Swallow migration and winter roosting ecology.

Chris Goforth, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences info_outline

Entomology Science Mentor

Chris Goforth, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences close

Entomology Science Mentor

Chris Goforth is the Head of Citizen Science at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and works to get people throughout North Carolina involved in authentic scientific research. She currently heads several citizen science projects, including the Dragonfly Swarm Project and Dragonfly Detectives, both of which focus on observing and reporting dragonfly behaviors. Chris holds a master’s degree in entomology from the University of Arizona and has published her work with dragonfly flight behaviors and giant water bug parental care. She also has extensive experience using aquatic insects to study water quality and co-authored several reports for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality about the impacts of impaired habitats on aquatic insect populations throughout Arizona.

Ann Somers, University of North Carolina at Greensboro info_outline

Herpetology Science Mentor

Ann Somers, University of North Carolina at Greensboro close

Herpetology Science Mentor

Mrs. Somers’ work centers on the biology and conservation of some small turtles found in North Carolina. Box turtles (Terrapene carolina) are North Carolina’s only fully terrestrial turtle and are believed to be in serious decline due to habitat fragmentation (roads, railroads, etc.) and destruction (residential and industrial development). She chairs a citizen science effort called The Box Turtle Connection which gathers data on these turtles, once common throughout our state, in hopes to guide conservation efforts. Bog turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii), found in the western part of the state, are studied using mark-and-recapture, radio telemetry and other trapping methods. Mrs. Somers is one of the directors of the Project Bog Turtle, a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve habitat and advise state and federal agencies on the conservation of turtles. Additionally, she is a principal investigator working with a multi-disciplinary team working on an informal science education project called The HERP Project, funded by National Science Foundation.