Summer and fall 2017 updates from the Mills Lab

lab group

Now that the fall 2017 semester is underway and most of our group is back on campus and back to work after summer fieldwork and travels, we will resume posting regular news stories from the research group once again.  For our first post of the semester, we wanted to share some quick updates on our lab members’ summer activities and accomplishments, as well as our plans for the fall.  Stay tuned for more in depth news updates from Scott and the rest of our group:

MS student Brandon Davis:  Unlike past summers, this summer Brandon spent most days in the office chugging through journal articles and prepping/writing manuscripts from his field tech days in West Virginia. When he wasn’t in the office he spent time in the field helping both Scott and Alex on field based projects. Overall it was a fun, productive summer!

MS student Tashi Dendup’s summer holidays were a mix of field work and travel. During the early part of summer, he worked with the hare crew at the Mills Lab in Montana and later, he took an opportunity to be a part of the first class of National Geographic Young Explorer Leadership and Development Program in Washington D.C. For the fall semester, Tashi will be defending his proposal and planning his MS project fieldwork on tigers in Bhutan which is due to start in Spring 2018.

Speaking to the National Geographic Society fraternity (PC: Bolortsetseg Minjin)

PhD student Jennifer Feltner spent the summer in Wyoming wrapping up field work with the Teton Cougar Project and Wyoming Game and Fish and finalizing data sharing agreements with her collaborators at Grand Teton National Park, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, the National Elk Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wyoming Fish and Game.  Jen looks forward to sharing more about this exciting news and her research plans on the Mills lab website soon;  in the meantime you can read more about her summer here.


Uncollaring a mountain lion with the Teton Cougar Project

PhD student Alex Kumar spent this past May helping to organize and implement a workshop in the northeast region of India focusing on Asian elephant conservation.  He then returned to Montana to live trap hares and camera trap predators for his dissertation. This summer he also spent time at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center working on his dissertation research, which he looks forward to developing into a proposal this semester.


Alex, Scott and Lisa with the workshop participants in Assam, India in May 2017.

PhD candidate Julie Weckworth is incredibly excited that after 7 years of academic life with no data, she finally has some.  She spent this summer typing away, connecting dots, and enjoying the process of analyzing data and writing.  Julie is scheduled to defend her dissertation in December.

PhD candidate Marketa Zimova spent a month in Montana this summer, where she helped to trap snowshoe hares for Scott's long-term population study, worked with committee members and collaborators on a new manuscript and visited Glacier NP with a wonderful group of friends. Then she went to back to Connecticut, where she calls home now, to work on her dissertation chapters (and actually finished one!).

Market with the summer hare crew

The Mills lab also said farewell to our post-docs this summer, though they both moved on to exciting new positions.  Dr. Diana Lafferty recently began a new position as an Assistant professor at Northern Michigan University and Dr. Eugenia Bragina will be starting a new position as a Course Director at WCS Russia.

Finally, the Mills lab is excited to welcome a new member, undergraduate student Lindsey Barnard.  Lindsey joined the Mills lab this summer as the managing caretaker for our captive hares that are helping us understand how animals might adapt to climate change. She also got experience with the field crew trapping hares.  At the end of the summer she flew to Raleigh, North Carolina to bring hares from our former facility at North Carolina State University to our facility here at UM.  The hares have settled in nicely, and are loving the Montana lifestyle. 

Captive hares free-ranging