Leah Kerschner



Leah Kerschner

(2013- 2014)

Leah started in IERC’s internship program where she assisted in our southern Sierra Nevada bobcat-fisher relationships project during 2013- 2014. She then transferred into our IERC ecological technician staff and assisted on projects investigating ecosystem health and rodent population dynamics. Leah graduated from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada with a B.S. in biology.

Where are they now? Leah is currently a Fisher technician for the USFS Pacific Southwest Research Stations Kings River Fisher Project monitoring fishers in the Southern Sierra Nevada




Wyatt Peterson (2012)
Wyatt was an undergraduate student intern from Humboldt State University Wildlife Department. Wyatt helped with the bobcat-fisher project in Hoopa California assisting in trapping bobcats.





Justin Demianew (2012-2013)
Justin was an undergraduate student in the Department of Wildlife at Humboldt State University. Throughout his undergrad career he worked on a variety of wildlife related projects involving small mammals, great grey owls in the Sierra Nevadas, and wolves in Idaho and Canada. Justin is a student intern for the Fall 2012 semester where he will be assisting in variety of molecular tasks for several IERC projects.

Where are they now? Justin is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree at Humboldt State University in Wildlife Ecology studying the direct and indirect effects of nonnative trout removal on a high elevation herpetofauna community.

Kevin Weller

Kevin Weller (2012-2013)
Kevin was an undergraduate student intern from Humboldt State University. Kevin helped with the bobcat-fisher project as well as assisted in the IERC molecular lab on various molecular ecology projects.  Kevin led our project on bobcat diet on the north-coast of California for his senior thesis.




Gregory Hacker (2012)
Gregory was a Master’s student in Wildlife at Humboldt State University under the direction of Dr. Richard Brown. His Master’s thesis is titled “Spatial clustering of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato within chipmunks and woodrat populations in northwestern California”. Gregory is a student intern for the summer of 2012 where he will be learning molecular techniques utilized for both genomic DNA amplification and pathogen detection in various IERC projects.

Where are they now? Greg is currently a biologist for the National Parks Service and California Department of Public Health.


Jaime Rudd (2011-2013)
Jaime was an undergraduate student intern during  from Humboldt State University. She helped in the field on a project estimating population size of bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions using mark-recapture methods with fecal DNA. In addition, she worked on a parvovirus project on California native foxes through IERC and UC Davis. She ultimately used some of these data as part of her senior thesis within the HSU Biology Department.

Where are they now? After IERC, Jaime moved on to become an Environmental Scientist at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wildlife Investigations Lab. She is also currently pursuing her PhD in the Animal Biology graduate group in UC Davis at the Janet Foley Laboratory focusing on a fatal sarcoptic mange outbreak occurring in the endangered San Joaquin kit fox.



Gary Sousa (2011)
Gary was an undergraduate in the Wildlife program at Humboldt State University. He assisted IERC on the Hoopa bobcat project by setting and checking traplines, assisting with captures, and performing scat surveys in 2011 – 2012.





Andre Arifin

Andre was a high school intern from Fresno, California who has an interest in medical biology. He learned various molecular techniques that can be used to study ecosystem health as well.

Where are they now? Andre is currently a Senior at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) pursuing a degree in Geographic Information Systems.






Benji Thomas (2016)

Benji was brought onto the IERC student intern staff to introduce and develop his ecotoxicology, molecular ecology and conservation genetics skill sets. He works on a wide variety of projects from polymerase chain reaction (PCR), serology, DNA extraction, and ecotoxicology sample storage, organization and analysis procedures, to maintaining the large amount of data IERC generates. Benjie received his B.S. in Biology from Humboldt State in 2016.

Where are they now? Take a look at our staff page where Benji works as IERC laboratory manager.


Tessa Smith, IERC ecologist

Tessa Smith (2011-2013)

Tessa worked as an IERC ecologist working on both the bobcat-fisher interaction project and disease ecology of fishers and sympatric mesocarnivores project in the southern Sierra Nevadas. She was instrumental in both monitoring GPS-collared bobcats as well as processing multiple carnivores such as ringtails, martens and gray foxes to collect biological samples. Tessa obtained her B.S. at Texas A&M’s in the Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences program

Where are they now?  Tessa is currently an M.S. Grad student at Utah State University at Dr. Eric Gese’s laboratory studying how the impacts of forest fuel treatments affect fisher spatial use. Her M.S. project is titled “Determining Pacific fisher (Pekania pennanti) response to silvicultural treatments in southwestern Oregon.”

Courtney Nicks, field ecologist

Courtney Nicks


Courtney first was a student intern with IERC working on her senior project focusing on serological applications for exposure to tick-borne pathogens in Missouri carnivores. We then brought Courtney in as a field ecologist and lab technician for IERC from 2010-2012. She assisted in both training new crew members on telemetry and mesocarnivore trapping techniques, as well as laboratory methods including DNA extractions and serology. She is a graduate of Humboldt State University’s Wildlife program.

Where are they now? Courtney is pursuing a Master’s degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Jeffrey Larkin. She is also a Terrestrial Unit Resource Science Assistant for the Missouri Department of Conservation.