Meet the Authors

Lisa Barrett


Lisa Barrett, Doctoral Student, University of Wyoming

Lisa, a Pennsylvania native, graduated from the University of Michigan in 2013 after obtaining a B.S. in Evolutionary Anthropology. Throughout her undergraduate career, she was fortunate to gain various experience conducting animal behavior research on a variety of species – the most exciting of which included studying squirrel monkeys in Costa Rica as part of her 2011 DANTA primate behavior and conservation field course. After graduating, Lisa studied Asian elephant behavior and cognition in Thailand for one year. This research assistantship with Think Elephants International, Inc. helped to solidify her interest in animal cognition (and specifically, convergent cognitive evolution) while also introducing her to interests in developing science education curriculum, fundraising for non-profits, and educating children and adults from all over the world about conservation. Lisa will be attending the University of Wyoming as a doctoral student in Zoology this fall.

Arrianne Byrum

Arrianne Byrum, Environmental Educator

Arrianne Byrum, Environmental Educator

Arrianne graduated in 2013 from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Environmental Sustainability and Stewardship after completing an honors thesis focusing on the current state of conservation education in the world of Primatology, and how education programs should be evaluated in order to maximize effect.

As a result of attending the DANTA Primate Behavior and Conservation Field Course, Arrianne decided to pursue a career in environmental/conservation education, having found a passion for spreading information throughout the community about the wonderful world we live in, and what they can do to conserve and protect it. After graduation, she spent a year with the Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center in Yellow Springs, Ohio as a Naturalist Intern, leading elementary school students on educational hikes and providing both raptor and reptile encounters. Currently, she is preparing to embark on a new chapter in her career as an environmental educator for the Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island, Georgia, once again following her passion of teaching students and providing critter encounters.

Arrianne will be focusing her posts mainly on environmental education, including experiences, materials, and other developments within the field. To hear more about her various (and often humorous) experiences, please check out her personal blog called Mulch In My Shirt.

Kenny Coogan

Columnist for Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan

Columnist for Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan

Kenny, CPBT-KA, has a B.S. in animal behavior and is a certified bird trainer through the International Avian Trainers Certification Board. He is a weekly pet columnist, magazine contributor and has authored a children’s book titled “A Tenrec Named Trey (And other odd lettered animals that like to play).” Please search “Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan” on Facebook to learn more.






Maisie Fraley

Maisie Bio Picture

Maisie Fraley

Maisie  is currently an anthropology graduate student at Colorado State University, but West Virginia will always be home. Growing up in a rural area of the Appalachian Mountains, Maisie has always been interested in wildlife and conservation. She participated in the 2011 Primate Behavior and Ecology field school with DANTA, an opportunity that provided guidance, inspiration, and invaluable experiences (about both monkeys and humans). Since her time with DANTA, she spent three months volunteering in Belize with a primate and manatee rehabilitation, release, and education organization called Wildtracks. After two years, she is beyond ecstatic to return during the summer of 2014.

Maisie is currently working on her Master’s thesis exploring the relationships between wildlife conservation and/or rehabilitation organizations and the public, focusing largely on conflicts between humans and wildlife. She hopes to one day work with communities, in any way possible, to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and promote conservation, as well as co-existence.

Outside of academia, Maisie has two cockatiels named Tom and Lily as well as a cat, Chairman Meow. Dedicated to the outdoors and her health, she enjoys hiking, camping, riding horses, and hitting the gym 5 times a week. She is interested in all things conservation, public education, wildlife, and environmental protection.

Allysa Hallett

Allysa Hallett


Illustration by Allysa Hallett.

Allysa graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a Pre-Veterinary focus and a minor in Chemistry. Originally, veterinary school was to follow, but a series of fieldwork experiences (including the 2011 DANTA primate behavior and conservation field course) encouraged a desire to explore research. As an undergraduate, she conducted research in an arthropod behavioral ecology lab for two years before continuing on to her Master’s in Biology, with a focus on pollination ecology and the evolution of plant mating systems. Her Master’s research focuses on the effects of pollinator loss and population size reducation in whorled milkweed. She also conducts moth surveys through various nature centers in the Milwaukee area. Ultimately, Allysa would love to work in a field that allows for cross-pollination of her passions – nature, ecology, conservation, education, and illustration.

Allysa’s contributions to this blog will focus on illustration of tropical species in both an artistic and scientific manner, and illustrations will often supplemented with information about the subject.

Kasey Mitchell

Kasey Mitchell

Kasey was born and raised in the mountains of West Virginia. From a very young age she knew her goal in life was to help animals in need. Kasey graduated from Marshall University with her B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She currently resides in Georgia working fulltime as a veterinary assistant and is pursuing a career in Wildlife Veterinary Medicine. She attended DANTA’s Primate Behavior and Conservation
course in Summer 2011. This course reinforced to her that there are so many species out there that are in danger of becoming extinct because of the human race. Summer 2014 she traveled to Belize to volunteer with primates and manatees at Wildtracks.



Ginny Mulé

Ginny Mule

Ginny Mule in the Galapagos

Ginny  graduated from Stony Brook University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Anthropology in 2013. She is currently enrolled at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she is pursuing a career in wildlife medicine and public health.

During her undergraduate career, she developed a love for travel that began, in part, with participation in the Summer 2011 DANTA Foundation Primate Behavior Course. She has also traveled to Honduras, Ghana, and Panama with the organization Global Brigades- a student-led sustainable development organization, and to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with a Hofstra University Study Abroad program.

Ginny’s interests include zoonotic diseases, livestock production, and international development. When she not traveling, she enjoys spending time with her dog, cats, and horse.

You can follow Ginny on her personal blog at Monkey See Monkey Poo to hear more about her adventures.

Sam Patterson


Sam Patterson, Ph.D. Student, Arizona State University

Sam  studied evolutionary anthropology at the University of Michigan and is currently a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University. Sam has studied spotted hyenas, hamadryas baboons, and anubis baboons in the wild. Additionally, she has analyzed data on wild chacma baboons to examine the Challenge Hypothesis and has worked to improve the comparative method.

As an anthropologist, Sam is interested in the evolution of human behavior and turns to nonhuman primates to seek answers. For graduate school and beyond, Sam intends to focus her research on female reproductive strategies, conflict and cooperation between the sexes, social cognition, and behavioral endocrinology.



Jessica Ritsche

Jessica is a student of physical anthropology who hopes to spread her passion to everyone who has an interest in the various aspects of field work, conservation, and primatology through the work of DANTA: Association for Conservation of the Tropics.

Jessica began her studies by participating in the primate behavior and conservation course through DANTA. Shortly thereafter, she completed her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Anthropology. The following year, she interned at a sanctuary in Panama where they worked on rehabilitating juvenile howler monkeys that were rescued from the pet trade. Though this experience was very unique, she has decided that she most enjoys studying primates in the wild. She will be continuing her education this fall through the Graduate School at Northern Illinois University as a Teaching Assistant in the Anthropology Department. In Fall of 2015, she will be conducting her thesis on territoriality in titi monkeys at a site in Bolivia under the guidance of Kimberly Dingess. After graduate school Jessica plans to continue her education and obtain a Ph.D. in biological anthropology. Her long term goal is to become a Professor of physical anthropology and a successful researcher and conservationist.

Jessica will be focusing her posts mainly on volunteer and internship opportunities, as well as current conservation efforts, news, and research pertaining to primatology and general animal studies.


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