International Penguin Early Career Scientists (IPEC; ) is an international network dedicated to providing career development, networking, and other educational opportunities and support to early career penguin professionals in academia, NGOs, private industry, and beyond. You can learn more at .
Alex Thornton () is a marine ecologist based in Alaska, USA, and is interested in how polar seabirds and marine mammals respond to environmental change. He’s a life-long penguin nerd and co-founded IPECS with Meagan Dewar. You can learn more about him at .
Dr Meagan Dewar is a lecturer in Environmental Science from . Meagan’s research focuses on the microbial composition of marine wildlife and understanding what factors influence the microbial composition and its importance. Meagan is the co-founder of IPECS with
Michelle LaRue is a research ecologist and speaker at the University of Minnesota, where she focuses on ecological and conservation issues from North America to Antarctica. Her research centers on the distribution, habitat, and effects of human impacts on populations of Emperor and Adélie penguins, Weddell seals, polar bears, and cougars. Her work has resulted in the first ever population estimates of two penguin species, informed the United States’ proposal for the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area, and launched her to the executive director position of The Cougar Network, which is the premiere research organization tracking cougar range expansion in North America.
Michelle started her research career working as an undergraduate intern studying food habits of bats and habitat use of white-tail deer at Minnesota State University Mankato. This work propelled her to a master’s degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she focused on potential habitat and eastward range expansion of cougars in the United States. Since then, Michelle has not only honed her research and communication skills, but she has worked as private consultant and grant-writer, published more than a dozen papers, and lead a field team in Antarctica for five seasons before finishing her PhD in Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota in 2014. Over the past ten years, her research has been covered by hundreds of media outlets, including articles in The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, and The Guardian, and TV and radio interviews on NBC Nightly News, BBC, and NPR.
Dr. 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.