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FNR Celebrates Spring 2021 Graduates

In May 2021, Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources added 50 members to its alumni family, 40 undergraduate students and 10 graduate students.

In addition to celebrating individual students, the group was collectively honored and received words of wisdom from Lenny Farlee, Purdue Extension forester, at a Last Lecture on April 29, 2021. Watch the Last Lecture below.

Below we will introduce the individual graduates. Each was asked to share their post-graduation plans as well as their favorite FNR memories.


Undergraduate Students
Alexandra Adams – aquatic sciences major, marine and freshwater biology concentration
Tate Allen – forestry major, urban forestry concentration

Jacob Amft – forestry major
  • Post-graduation plans: I will be going to Wyoming to work on the Bridger-Teton National Forest as a timber harvest inspector.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: Hiking up the mountains in Northern Sweden on the FNR study abroad. Finding a group of weasels in the rocks in the middle of the night since it didn't get dark outside in the summer.
Ariana Apodaca – interdisciplinary agriculture major
    • Post-graduation plans: After graduation I plan on taking seasonal positions around the country as an educator and an animal keeper in zoos.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite FNR memory is the study abroad trip I took in 2018 to Costa Rica and Panama that was led by both Dr. Goforth and Dr. Dunning. Along with the beautiful beaches, amazing scenery, and plentiful wildlife, the trip provided the best experiences I’ve had over my time at Purdue with wonderful memories between my peers and professors.
Michael Bane – forestry and wildlife double major


Viktoria Barr – forestry major
  • Post-graduation plans: Following graduation, I will be attending a 12-week internship with SavATree in Carmel, IN. After my internship is complete, I have plans to transfer to their Denver, Colorado location where I hope to reside for some time to come
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite memory in FNR, by far, is Summer Practicum. It’s hard to choose a very specific moment from practicum, because it every moment was amazing to experience. However, the day we spent trekking through the bog was extremely humbling, yet also very empowering. I will never forget those that I got to attend camp with and form such close bonds with over that summer and the semesters to follow. I will cherish the memories given to me from summer practicum forever and I hope that all FNR students get to share a similar experience with their class.
Rachel Brummet – wildlife and forestry double major
  • Post-graduation plans: After graduating, I will be continuing my career with the federal government. This summer, I will be working for the Forest Service in Idaho on the Boise National Forest in the silviculture program. Next winter, I will be returning to Indiana to work for USDA APHIS Wildlife Services leading the Pest Bird Task Force and participating in other projects in the state.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: It is quite a challenge to pick a favorite FNR memory because I truly have so many… A few of my favorites include summer practicum in the UP of course, sawing with Brian Beheler, and serving as a TA for dendrology and wildlife investigational techniques.


Emi Chan – wildlife major


Walker Donley – wildlife major
  • Post-graduation plans: Plans for after graduation are return to a summer landscaping job, while hoping to be hired as an Indiana Conservation Officer.
  • My favorite FNR memory is summer practicum and the DonleyWalker.jpg memories I made there.

Grace Follmar – aquatic sciences major, marine and freshwater biology concentration
  • Post-graduation plans: I have accepted an internship with REEU at Purdue, and am currently looking for positions for after this summer when the internship is complete.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite FNR memories are from the Summer and Marine Biology Practicums, which I attended in the same summer. It was so much fun and I gained not only lots of cool experiences, but I also made friends and developed relationships with those who had similar interests as me.
Taylor Fordham – forestry major
Hannah Fosburgh – wildlife major
Jacob Frame – wildlife major

Sean Fulp – wildlife major
  • Post-graduation plans: My plans after graduation are to work as a seasonal keeper in Encounters at Indianapolis Zoo. Long term, I plan to seek full time employment in a zoo, preferably working with hoofstock.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite memory in FNR was eating chicken Kiev with friends at summer practicum and going behind the scenes of the Field Museum for my Advanced Mammalogy class.

Alexander Garcia – aquatic sciences major, fisheries concentration
  • Post-graduation plans: My plans are to work at a local farm CO-OP for the summer then hopefully move on to a full-time position with Indiana DNR.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite memories are probably going to fishing with my fisheries friends around West Lafayette


Phoebe Habeck – forestry major
  • Post-graduation plans: After graduation I will be working out in the Eugene, Oregon, for the Forest Service as a biological technician. The job mostly involves invasive plant work; however, we will hopefully also be doing soil, water, and regeneration plot sampling during my time there.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: I have a few favorite memories from my time here with FNR, however, I think my all-time favorite moment was getting to go to Ammarnas, Sweden, during one of the FNR Study Abroad programs during the summer of 2019. There we stayed at a research station, went hiking up a mountain where we got to see some cool wildlife, and we also got to experience some of the traditional foods. Sweden was just an all-around amazing experience.
Logan Halderman – aquatic sciences, fisheries concentration
Amanda Heltzel – wildlife major
  • Post-graduation plans: After graduation, I will be headed out to the Great Plains to work for the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies as a seasonal avian technician. I intend to continue working towards my goal to become a wildlife biologist, and will be applying for Associate Wildlife Biologist certification after graduation
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite memory was hiking on the Kungsleden to Aigert while on the FNR study abroad trip in Sweden.


Alexandra Hicks – wildlife major
  • Post-graduation plans: My plans after graduation are to spend the summer as an Overstory Technician with the HEE. I plan to go to grad school in the future to further my education.
  • My favorite FNR memory was Summer Practicum in the UP. I got to make so many close friends and connections that will last for years to come.
Evelyn Hooper – interdisciplinary agriculture major
Ashley McDaniel – wildlife major
  • Post-graduation plans: After graduation, I plan on moving to southern Utah to work at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite FNR memory was playing cards and drinking coffee at summer practicum with all of my new friends, who are now my old friends
Samhara Mendoza – sustainable biomaterials major

Esther Mussmann – forestry major
  • Post-graduation plans: Moving to Pittsburgh and working for Bartlett Tree Experts.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: Going backpacking in Sweden during Study Abroad.
Helen Nesius – wildlife major
    • Post-graduation plans: After graduation, I will be exploring various wildlife and marine biology research technician positions, completing my SCUBA certification and working towards becoming a Certified Wildlife Biologist. I plan to attend graduate school, after some gap years, for a Master's degree or higher in wildlife science or in marine biology.
  • Favorite FNR memory: Being part of the FNR family has been the most transformative experience of my life so far! One of my favorite FNR memories is going saw-whet owl banding with some of my closest friends. It is always wonderful to catch and work up a Northern Saw-whet Owl, and when your good friends are with you, and it's late at night, you have the best time laughing with each other and doing science together.
Mackenzie Nobbe – wildlife and animal sciences double major
Tabitha Olsen – wildlife and forestry double major

Chris Orpurt – wildlife major
  • Post-graduation plans: After graduation I will be moving to southern Utah where I will be pursuing a career in wildlife rehabilitation.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite FNR memory was cleaning out the small mammal traps at summer practicum with the other wildlife students.
Aimee Parcell – wildlife and forestry double major
  • Post-graduation plans: My plan for after graduation is to figure out what I want to do. I have the problem of loving everything in both my wildlife and forestry major, so I still don't know what I want to focus my career on. This summer I'll try out silviculture first with the Forest Service in Idaho. After that, I hope to get into wildlife and then see what I love and where I end up.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite FNR memory, that's a hard decision, my 3.5 years with FNR has given me so many good memories. One of my favorites though is from summer practicum, specifically the infamous bog day. Rain, knee-deep water, and mid 30-degree weather. That probably sounds terrible, but getting to hear wolves howling, the sense of accomplishment after successfully navigating through, and feeling like I was truly a part of my FNR family made that an incredible day and one of my favorite memories.


Bethany Parish – wildlife major
  • Post-graduation plans: After graduation, I am working as a seasonal aide at Chain O' Lakes State Park. My career goal is to be a naturalist.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite memory in FNR is summer practicum. I enjoyed getting to know everyone and the hands-on experience.
Sydney Record – wildlife major
I’Yanna Scott – wildlife and fisheries and aquatic sciences double major
Christian Simpson – interdisciplinary agriculture major
Samantha Smock – wildlife major; Dean’s Scholar Program
  • Post-graduation plans: My plans after graduation are to complete a missionary internship down at IU and then serve as a missionary to Lithuania for 2 years before beginning a Wildlife career. If anyone is interested in hearing more, Sam would love to share her story!
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite memory in FNR perhaps might be conquering the bog monster that fateful day in May 2019. Or perhaps those too-infrequent FNR game nights hosted by Helen/Amanda! A close third is hanging out with the Ambassadors and eating free food with Julie during Ambassador meetings.
Kathryn Snyder – wildlife and pre-veterinary double major
Alexis Trumbower – wildlife and animal sciences/pre-veterinary double major

Charlie Warner – forestry major
  • Post-graduation plans: After graduation I am going to Ohio to intern as a manager in training with the Independent Stave Company. Once the summer concludes I will be returning to Purdue and beginning my first year of graduate school.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite FNR memory was camping with my friends in the U.P. during Summer Practicum.
Richard Witt – forestry major


Aidan Wojasinski – forestry major
  • Post-graduation plans: I am planning on moving out to Seattle, Washington, to become a climbing arborist trainee with Davey Tree Expert Company.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite memory is the camping trip in Sylvania wilderness during summer practicum...


Jordan Wolfred – aquatic sciences major, marine and freshwater biology concentration
Tabitha Wyant – forestry major
Graduate Students
Elizabeth “Lizz” Allmon – PhD, Interdisciplinary Ecological Science and Engineering
    • Dissertation topic: Cardiotoxic Effects of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Abiotic Stressors in Early Life Stage Estuarine Teleosts
    • Post-graduation plans: I will be continuing in Marisol Sepulveda's lab as a postdoc working on a USDA project with Florida Atlantic University. I will be looking into the transcriptomic effects of raising Florida pompano, a species of fish in the Gulf of Mexico & Atlantic, at low salinities.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: The field teaching experiences that I had in FNR are by far my favorite memories. I went on the Marine Biology practicum twice - once beach camping and once staying in an old lighthouse on an island - and both trips were extremely memorable! I also had the opportunity to go up to the UP for Practicum, help with alternative practicum in 2020, and work with students in the field during the REEU program. In all instances, getting to teach students through hands-on, immersive experiences was really rewarding.
Rachel Cook – M.S., Forestry
  • Thesis topic: Exotic Invasive species dynamics and forest ecosystems
Kendria Huff – M.S., Forestry
  • Thesis topic: Circular Economy in the Biomaterials Sector: Concepts for the Wood Products Industry
  • Post-graduation plans: After graduation I'll be moving to Seattle, WA to start my position as a Maritime Environment and Sustainability Graduate Intern for the Port of Seattle.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite FNR memory is traveling through Europe with the Forest Products Society.
Melissa Lech – M.S., Forestry
  • Thesis topic: Investigating the effects of per-/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on host-parasite interactions in a larval amphibian-trematode system
  • Post-graduation plans: I am going to continue to work as a technician for Dr. Hoverman and Dr. Sepulveda.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: My favorite memory is taking the canoe out in the PWA wetland and enjoying all the wildlife while looking for bullfrog egg masses.


Brian MacGowan – PhD, Forestry
  • Dissertation topic: Facilitating management and decision-making on private and public forests in Indiana
Madeline Montague – M.S., Forestry
  • Thesis topic: Linking competition and nonstructural carbohydrate dynamics in American chestnut (Castanea dentata)
Rebecca Nixon – PhD, Ecological Sciences and Engineering
  • Dissertation topic: Adaptation to social-ecological change on the Swat and Kabul Rivers of Pakistan
D. Riley Rackliffe – PhD, Forestry
  • Dissertation topic: Evolved Tolerance to Insecticides in Mayflies
  • Post-graduation plans: After graduation I will be staying in West Lafayette for a few years to support my wife as she works through her PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering. After that I hope to work in the intersection between the environment, humans, and the water that connects us all. A National Park Ecologist role would be ideal.
  • Favorite FNR Memory: I remember early in my FNR experience we had a required graduate student seminar each week. One week the human dimensions lab took over the seminar for some diversity awareness and had everyone stand up if they fit a given criteria. They had all the fisheries folk stand up, then the wildlife, forestry, PhD students, masters, Westerners, etc. And then they asked more personal questions that transcended the surface labels, like who had cried so far that semester. Seeing that my fellow students also experienced the fears, and loneliness, and setbacks that I faced helped me humanize the bunch of strangers that I had crossed the country to work with for four years and see them as more than polished research cogs in the university machine. It reminds me of what I love most about ecology. It's not about this species or that, but about the connections between them, and us, and me. It's about all the pieces that make our home.
Mayra Rodriguez-Gonzalez – PhD, Forestry
  • Dissertation topic: The Spatial, Biophysical and Social Factors Driving Community Access to Ecosystem Services in the Chicago Metropolitan Region
Nerisa “Risa” Taua – M.S.,
  • Dissertation topic: Tongan Flying Fox (Pteropus Tonganus) Activity Patterns and Associating Cover Types in American Sa

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