Hanna developed a passion for island ecosystems during her undergraduate education. She gained experience in the public and private sectors of avian conservation as a biologist and master bander across the US and Costa Rica before moving to Hawaii. Hanna has more than 15 years of working on the conservation of Hawaiian forest birds and more than a decade of experience designing, coordinating, and conducting large research and monitoring projects with diverse stakeholders. While coordinating the recovery actions for MFBRP, Hanna also oversees an active volunteer program and develops public outreach for the Hawai‘i community and beyond.
Christa returns to MFBRP as a disease ecologist with a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California Santa Cruz, and was inspired to pursue a scientific research and conservation career after chasing around Kiwikiu during her KUPU AmeriCorps internship with MFBRP in 2012-2014. Her Ph.D. research focused on the Hawaiian avian malaria system and ideally qualifies her to coordinate mosquito control and monitoring efforts for disease suppression in Hawaii. She additionally brings over 10 years of experience conducting avian and island conservation projects in New Zealand, Madagascar, the Galapagos Islands, and California with private, public, and industry partners. Christa looks forward to building a science-based mosquito management program for biodiversity conservation in Hawai’i.
Enzo was born and raised in a small town on the Ecuadorian coast, where he developed his passion for birds. After completing his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Guayaquil in 2013, Enzo moved to the Galapagos Islands to start his career as an ornithologist working with seabirds in different research projects. In 2018 he moved to Auckland, New Zealand to start his PhD in Conservation Biology in Massey University (Māori: Te kunenga ki pūrehuroa) researching the demography and the behaviour of the endangered Floreana Mockingbird, focusing on its reintroduction to Floreana Island in the Galapagos Archipelago. After completing his doctorate in 2022, Enzo worked for the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) monitoring and assisting in the translocation of the Black Robins on Mangere Island, Chatham Islands. After finishing on the Chathams, Enzo accepted a position at the DOC National offices in Wellington to work as research assistant helping in the binational collaboration between the New Zealand and Ecuadorian Government to improve the conservation status of New Zealand seabirds that migrate to Ecuador. Enzo is also a member of few ornithological associations and member by invitation of the Conservation Translocation Specialist Group of IUCN. During his free time, he likes to write short pieces of science communication and photography.
Nicole completed a master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, as well as a master’s degree in Zoology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. During her time in Hawaii, she has taught biology courses for the University of Hawaii, performed field work with Mauna Kahalawai Watershed Partnership, and worked as an entomologist for the State of Hawaii. She’s excited about leveraging her previous experiences to suppress mosquito populations in East Maui, in order to help protect Maui’s native birds from avian malaria.
Laura began working for MFBRP in January 2009 serving as an AmeriCorps intern. In her current position, she helps lead the field crew, assists with planning and implementing research and management projects for native honeycreeper and forest recovery, writes grants and reports, leads helicopter operations, and engages public support through presentations and other outreach events. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Laura studied Environmental Science at Loyola University Chicago. Laura began her road down wildlife research and conservation when she studied abroad in Brazil during college. Through this program as well as an internship with the Bureau of Land Management in Arizona, she gained experience with mist netting and surveying birds, animal husbandry, vegetation surveys, and more. In Hawai’i, she is involved with coastal cleanups, seabird banding, forest bird point counts, and of course enjoys all the outdoor recreational activities. She is a previous fellow of the Ka Ipu Kukui leadership program. Laura has been on the board of The Wildlife Society Hawai’i Chapter since 2021 and as the Western Section representative since 2022.
Hillary’s data management and GIS skills are from a culmination of experiences working with various species in a variety of positions. She has worked with manatees as the Manatee GIS Research Intern with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, sea turtles as an intern with the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, and humpback and grey whales as the Photo-ID Intern with Cascadia Research Collective. She also served a term with the Washington Conservation Corps/AmeriCorps as a Puget SoundCorps member at the WA Department of Natural Resources. Before joining MFBRP in 2021, she was the curator for the Mid-Atlantic Humpback Whale Photo-ID Catalog. She received her B.Sc. in Biology from Longwood University, VA and her M.Sc. in Environmental Studies from Evergreen State College, WA. Hillary is excited to apply her knowledge and skills to support the conservation of Maui’s incredible forest birds.
Born and raised in the moku of ‘Ewa on O’ahu, Nikki has always been an animal lover and this led her to start her first internship with the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center where she took care of Palila, ‘Akikiki, Puaiohi, Kiwikiu, and ʻAlalā. Nikki graduated from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa with a Masters in Environmental Management. Her master’s project was on investigating predictors of O‘ahu ‘Elepaio nesting success between areas with and without rodent control. Nikki has also worked across the Pacific with endangered bird conservation programs, such as taking care of Åga (Mariana Crow) in Rota, Mariana Islands and also assisting in the translocation release of the Guam Rail. Nikki also monitored and tracked endangered Orange Fronted Parakeets in New Zealand in 2018. Nikki is excited to work with Maui Forest Birds and contribute to the release efforts to bring ʻAlalā back into the wild.
Rachel graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point with a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology: Conservation and Research. She furthered her education earning a master’s degree in Zoology from Miami University through their Global Field Program. She began working with Hawaiian birds in 2006 as an intern at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center on Hawaiʻi Island. For nearly 10 years Rachel worked as a Research Associate as part of the conservation breeding program staff before becoming the Outreach and Education Associate for The ʻAlalā Project in 2017. Rachel joined the MFBRP team in 2021 while continuing work with The ʻAlalā Project and is excited to be a part of this team.
Erin first became involved with MFBRP as a volunteer in 2016 after completing her Master’s degree in Conservation Biology at Victoria University of Wellington (Māori: Te Herenga Waka), New Zealand. She returned to the project in 2019 as a banding volunteer before joining the team as a research assistant for the Kiwikiu translocation. In addition to being a conservation biologist, Erin has an incredible range of professional experience working with start-up non-profits and international & outdoor science education. On Maui, Erin is also involved with Maui Invasive Species Committee and is a board member at Na Koa Manu Conservation.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Gabriel was always intrigued by wildlife. After graduating from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, with a bachelors in Animal Science, he decided to expand his area of knowledge and go where career opportunities led him. From advocating for endangered species with Defenders of Wildlife to rehabilitating migratory birds at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, he’s found his place in the field of Wildlife Conservation. In 2022 he had the opportunity to come to Maui and serve a KUPU term alongside The Nature Conservancy as a Field Technician. Here he aided in the efforts to preserve some of the most pristine native forests in Maui confirming his love for field work and island conservation. Gabriel is very excited to be able to help in the conservation efforts of a place that reminds him so much of home while he continues to learn about endangered species conservation!
Born and raised on O‘ahu, Layla has been passionate about Hawai‘i’s endemic animals since childhood. She completed a B.A. in Zoology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and has been working in conservation in Hawai‘i conservation since 2016 when she served as a Kupu CLDP member at the Hawai‘i Invertebrate Program working on the Pulelehua Project. Layla moved to Maui in 2019 to work at the Maui Bird Conservation Center, caring for critically endangered forest birds, including ʻakikiki and kiwikiu, in captivity. She then joined MFBRP in early 2022 as a Kupu ʻĀina Corps member, assisting with backcountry avian research projects. Layla is delighted to now be able to put her knowledge of both insects and birds to work, fighting avian malaria with new techniques to suppress mosquito populations.
Laura first became involved with seabird conservation as a summer intern for U.S. Fish and wildlife through the Dukeengage program at Duke University where she graduated with a B.S. in Evolutionary Anthropology in 2021. Laura fell in love with fieldwork and conservation working with seabirds on Kauai, alongside Kupu interns where she learned about the organization. Originally from cos cob Connecticut, she has always been passionate about wildlife and research. While Laura was an undergrad she volunteered at the Duke Lemur Center, Duke Clinical Research Institute, and the Canine Cognition Center. Laura feels so much gratitude towards MFBRP and the Kupu ʻĀina Corps program for the opportunity to grow and learn in the conservation field and in such a special place.
Sonia graduated from the University of Kent with a B.S. in Wildlife Conservation and gained her M.S. in Wild Animal Biology at the University of London in the U.K. Her passion for ornithological research and island conservation has taken her around the world to conservation projects in Mauritius, Malta, and Mexico, where she worked in the recovery of endangered songbirds and seabirds. She also volunteered as a bird bander at migratory bird observatories in the U.K. and Canada. With an interest in veterinary medicine, Sonia worked at a wildlife center in Italy and now volunteers with local vets to learn more clinical skills. Sonia joined MFBRP in November 2021 working with the honeycreeper team. When she’s not looking for birds, she enjoys surfing, cycling and playing pickleball.
Lilli graduated in 2020 from the University of Puget Sound with dual degrees in Biology and Environmental Policy. Lilli’s passion for wildlife conservation has grown through multiple projects including her research with tufted puffins on the coast of Washington State, seasonal work in Boise, ID with diurnal raptors, and visits to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Lilli joined MFBRP in June 2022 as a Kupu ‘Āina Corps member and is thrilled to continue working with the project to help protect Maui’s native forest birds.
While completing her B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Hope developed a passion for field work while monitoring and banding the endangered Great Lakes population of Piping Plovers. Hope solidified her ornithological focus working at the Gabbert Raptor Center before graduating in May 2021 and continuing plover work for a third season with the NPS. Hope went on to work with Point Blue Conservation Science as a banding apprentice before joining the MFBRP team as a Kupu ‘Āina Corps. After a brief stint working with eiders and seabirds in Alaska with USFWS, Hope is honored to be back as a technician working on the Kiwikiu recovery team.
Having been born and raised in Colorado I developed a love for the wildness and wildlife at a young age. Most of my free time was spent hiking and exploring the Rocky Mountains. My interest in avian conservation developed during my undergrad at Colorado State University – Pueblo, where I researched climate change consequences on an under-studied passerine, the Cassin’s Sparrow. After graduation, my work in conservation started by completing a four month husbandry internship at my local zoo, where I got to work with a variety of animals such as lions, snakes, tortoises, and most importantly, tropical birds. Shortly after, I got the opportunity to utilize my newly learned skills while working at White Oak Conservation, a captive breeding and reintroduction program working towards growing the population of the critically endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. Where soon after, I gained field techniques needed to assist in rebuilding dwindling populations in the wild with endemic forest birds on the island of Kauai. After working these jobs my love for conservation of endangered species and the biodiversity of our beautiful plant flourished. I am very excited to continue my work with MFBRP and helping to conserve endangered Hawaiian birds.
Gus grew up in the mountains of Colorado where he developed a strong love for the natural world, specifically the wildlife that inhabited it. He developed hobbies such as fly fishing, wildlife photography, and hiking which only furthered his interests in working in the biology field. He attended Adams State University, where he completed his Bachelors of science in biology while also playing soccer all four years. He began a masters degree through Colorado State University – Pueblo working with the grassland bird species, the Cassin’s Sparrow. His thesis focused on the habitat characteristics of this species and how it affected the sparrows breeding biology. He truly enjoys working with birds due to the plethora of species and behaviors they exhibit. He has worked for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, where he had the opportunity to work with the endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. The work was extremely rewarding and he began looking for other opportunities to work with endangered species and conserve their dwindling populations. This led him toKauai Forest Bird Recovery project where he worked with the endangered species of Kauai and assisted with the collection of Akikiki for conservation flocks. He looks forward to assisting the team with conserving such wonderful species again on the island of Maui.
Nathaniel’s journey into avian research started during undergrad at Lees McRae College in his home state of North Carolina. Initially, his journey led him to animal husbandry and care but focused predominantly on birds. Working through undergrad he learned his actual passion was in avian field work. Since graduating in 2018 with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology Nathaniel has been working non-stop in the field. Projects include but aren’t limited to: Breeding ecology and egg patterning of King Rails, breeding ecology and territorial mapping of Black-capped Vireos, and breeding ecology/home range use of Eastern Whip-poor-wills, and monitoring/trapping migratory Red Knot’s (Rufa). Nathaniel is nothing but elated to be joining such an amazing team while being able to aid in the conservation of such a crucial group of birds.
Originally from Colorado, Tess grew up exploring the outdoors and back-yard birding with her mom. After graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in Zoology, Tess began her career in aviculture working at the Denver Zoo as a bird keeper. She later moved to Hawaii to continue her work in avian husbandry with the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program. After taking a couple years away from Hawaii to work at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Tess is excited to return to Maui and apply her skills in aviculture to help with kiwikiu recovery efforts.
During his time at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa working towards a B.S. in Biology, Josh actively participated in various conservation initiatives, focusing his efforts on the preservation of Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, and seabirds with Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response on Oʻahu. His dedication to protecting Hawaii’s unique ecosystems and wildlife has led him on a remarkable journey of discovery of the importance of their conservation for maintaining the delicate ecological balance of the Hawaiian Islands. Josh had the opportunity to join Dr. Medeiros’ lab of ecology and evolutionary biology of infectious diseases in Hawaiʻi in Fall 2021 endeavoring in a research project on symbiotic fungiʻs influence on the assembly of the Aedes albopictus mosquito microbiomes. On his creative side, Josh developed a keen interest in film photography, which allowed him to capture the natural beauty of Hawaiʻi, raise awareness about the need for environmental stewardship, and provide a unique perspective on the intricate relationship between nature and culture. He is thrilled to embark on a new chapter, post-graduation, in his conservation journey as a part of the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project mosquito crew; aiming to contribute to the recovery and preservation of these critically endangered birds, while also nurturing a stronger connection to his Hawaiian culture.
Aidan graduated from St. Lawrence University with a B.S. in Conservation Biology. Since graduation, he has worked in various sects of conservation from trail work, to animal care at sanctuaries, to invasive predator data collection. He is excited to take part in a project with the potential to make large-scale improvements in the survivability of endangered and at-risk native birds through the suppression of avian malaria’s mosquito vector.
Originally from Maui, Kayla has always been interested in wildlife and conservation. During her undergrad, she worked on multiple conservation projects with black-tailed prairie dogs in Colorado, GIS mapping wildlife in Bear Paw, California, and analyzing land-use development along roads in the Amazon region of Peru. After graduating with her B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Redlands in 2021, she interned with the wildlife management division at Haleakala National Park doing predator control and monitoring ʻuaʻu. Before joining Maui Forest Birds, she worked for the Mariana Crow Recovery project tracking and monitoring wild and captive-released crows. She is excited to be back on Maui working for the mosquito project and helping to protect Hawaii’s native birds.
Hokuaoka’ale Gilman graduated from the Hawaiian immersion program at Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Maui ma Kekaulike in may of 2023. Growing up here on maui as a native Hawaiian immersed in her culture since she was in preschool has brought immense value and purpose into her life. Her passion and love for her culture and all it encompasses motivates her to conserve and protect Maui and Hawai’i for the rest of her life. She feels it is her Kuleana (responsibility) to protect the place that she comes from. Hokua brings a culturally based standpoint to the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project to ensure education and awareness of all native Hawaiian protocols, practices, as well as the overall cultural mindset regarding life. Hokua is so grateful to have the opportunity to interact with and learn from the manu ‘ōiwi thanks to MFBRP and kupu ‘āina corps. She hopes to work under MFBRP’s honeycreeper crew after finishing her kupu term.
Aurora grew up in Rochester, New York where she spent her childhood hiking and birding. She knew she wanted to work with wildlife early on through an internship with an environmental nonprofit in the Hudson Valley where she studied turtles, frogs, native plants, and raptors. Her passion for ornithology developed in her undergraduate education at Bard College where she studied avian attraction to polarized light. She honed her skills in wildlife conservation as well as geospatial and statistical analyses during her Master’s degree which she earned from Duke University. Her thesis was on studying the threats to endangered and undescribed cave salamanders in Texas by creating an analytical model to help petition for their future protection. While in graduate school, she worked at a museum preparing avian specimens for the collection and created a multi-case exhibit for her university on Audubon’s Birds of America. She also worked with marine mammals, often surveying for them offshore, and prepared cetacean skeletons for display at a whale center. She has given presentations about her work, started and led an owl conservation group in her hometown, and has co-led a marine-focused podcast where she interviewed leaders of coastal restoration. Over the past several years, Aurora has worked with a variety of birds including seabirds in North Carolina and Florida, owls in Colorado, and songbirds in Louisiana. She is both excited and grateful for the opportunity to use and expand her skills in her next role as a Kupu ‘Āina Corps member with MFBRP to assist in endangered species recovery and release efforts for the ʻAlalā.