[cancelled] 8th February 2016 – Michelle LaRue, University of Minnesota

Michelle LaRueDr. Michelle LaRue is a research ecologist at the University of Minnesota, where she uses GIS and remote sensing tools to study the biogeography and effects of climate change on populations of Emperor and Adélie penguins, Weddell seals, polar bears, and mountain lions. Michelle received her bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University Mankato in 2005 where she worked as an intern for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, studying chronic wasting disease, habitat use, and distance sampling methods for estimating populations of white-tailed deer. She then moved on to her master’s degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she developed a habitat model and dispersal corridors for cougars recolonizing the midwestern portion of North America. After providing GIS analysis and assistance for the United States Antarctic Program for 4 years, Michelle decided to pursue her PhD in conservation biology at the University of Minnesota. Michelle’s doctoral work included developing GIS/remote sensing methods for assessing populations of penguins and seals in the Antarctic and has since added a methods development project for assessing polar bears in the Canadian Arctic. Her work has resulted in the first ever population estimates of two penguin species, launched her to the executive director position of The Cougar Network, and has been covered by hundreds of media outlets internationally, including BBC, National Geographic, NBC Nightly News, and the Wall Street Journal.