The Crew

Focused, Passionate, Driven
Hanna Mounce, PhD
Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project Program Manager

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 Seidl, PhD
Mosquito Research & Control Coordinator

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.

Laura Berthold
Avian Research Field Supervisor

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 Foster
Data & GIS Senior Technician

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.

Nikki Preston
ʻAlalā Research & Logistics Senior Technician

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.

Erin Johnson
Program Associate

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.

Sonia Vallocchia
Field & Data Technician

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 Patton
Field & Data Technician

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.

Nathaniel Watkins
Field & Data Technician

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.

Layla Rohde
Mosquito Research & Control Field Technician

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 Navarrete
Mosquito Research & Control Field Technician

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.

Aidan Callahan
Mosquito Research & Control Field Associate

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.

Tess Hebebrand
Field & Data Technician

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.

Hokuaokaʻale Gilman
KUPU ʻĀīna Corps

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.

Mia Spencer
Field Assistant

My name is Mia Spencer and I recently joined the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project. I’m originally from Montana and grew up loving the outdoors. I graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 2023 with a B.S. in Marine Biology. I have always had a passion for conservation, while I was at UH-Mānoa I focused my studies on native wetland plant restoration. Although my degree is in Marine Biology I have experience in terrestrial conservation and have worked with organizations like the Montana Conservation Corps, the Kupu ʻĀina Corps, and the Maui Invasive Species Committee. I was able to be a member of the KUPU Conservation and Leadership Development Program at the PaePae O He’eia Fishpond and this experience opened my eyes to the importance and need for Native Hawaiian cultural and environmental restoration. I look forward to taking my experience and applying it to the amazing work that the MFBRP is currently doing for the conservation of Hawaiʻi’s native forest birds.

Sophie Shelbourne
Field Assistant

Sophie has always been passionate about conserving wildlife. During her time studying at Royal Holloway University of London, she took part in research on the conservation of the Red Kite (Milvus milvus) and completed her B.Sc. in Biology. Sophie moved to Maui in 2022 where she began working for the Pacific Whale Foundation as a Naturalist. Being immersed in the beauty of Maui’s marine ecosystems, she found her desire to educate people about marine conservation and the protection of Hawaiian wildlife. Before joining Maui Forest Birds, she completed a Wildlife Conservation Internship with GVI in South Africa and is currently engaging in research on avian diversity at Karongwe Private Game Reserve. Sophie is excited to join the team at MFBRP and for the opportunity to assist with conservation efforts that will be crucial for the recovery of the native Hawaiian forest birds.

Idangie Sein
Field Assistant

Idangie graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelors in Integrative Animal Biology. She worked in the veterinary field, working with domestic and exotic pets, with her local wildlife rehabilitation center, and in emergency medicine until deciding to pursue a career as a field biologist. Her career started working on her native Florida beaches with nesting birds and then she headed to California to work with the endangered California condor program as an intern with the National Park Service. She is passionate about avian conservation and working with communities to create and sustain shared habitat for native species. She is excited to lend and learn new skills with the MFBRP team!

You are donating to : Nā Koa Manu Conservation helping MFBRP to protect and recover Mauiʻs forest birds

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