The work we do today will meet your project goals while simultaneously preserving our natural resources for the future. As our clients’ most trusted business partner we deliver excellence with integrity.
President and CEO
As the owner of SummitWest, Chez Brungraber is a strategic business leader who loves the challenge of putting people in the right places, finding new opportunities and seeking growth in underserved areas of the environmental industry. Currently Chez leads a team of more than 55 staff across 5 states …
As the owner of SummitWest, Chez Brungraber is a strategic business leader who loves the challenge of putting people in the right places, finding new opportunities and seeking growth in underserved areas of the environmental industry. Currently Chez leads a team of more than 55 staff across 5 states.
Chez is an experienced wildlife biologist and project manager, emphasizing in endangered species management, regulatory permitting, and construction compliance. Chez has over 15 years of experience in support of CEQA and State and federal Endangered Species Acts, including planning, permitting, endangered species surveys, management plans, and restoration plans.
Chez is passionate about problem solving through creative processes, data management, and listening to the client. Chez prefers to work in a collaborative environment, and she founded SummitWest in 2010 to create the work environment she had always wanted to see.
DR. GRIFFIN BRUNGRABER
Dr. Griffin Brungraber holds over thirteen years of project management and engineering experience and more than eight years of field biology and construction monitoring. He has participated in many botanical and wildlife survey projects and has an extensive background …
Dr. Griffin Brungraber
Dr. Griffin Brungraber holds over thirteen years of project management and engineering experience and more than eight years of field biology and construction monitoring. He has participated in many botanical and wildlife survey projects and has an extensive background in monitoring and compliance within sensitive habitats. Dr. Brungraber has worked in various habitats, including desert, national forest, coastal mountains, and urban or developed areas.
He has also spent more than 30 days on Catalina island and other remote locations, including 1000+ days outside of cell phone service in the Angeles National Forest, Mojave National Preserve, and more. Dr. Brungraber is skilled with radio, satellite phone, and satellite texting communications. He has participated in 500+ flights in project helicopters, and is familiar with the associated safety protocols.
His dual background in engineering and field biology make him ideally suited for building consensus on multidisciplinary teams. As a leader, Dr. Brungraber believes in asking good questions, keeping everyone on the same page, finding common ground, and win-win solutions.
DR. WILLOW LINDSAY
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Dr. Willow Lindsay brings to SummitWest nearly two decades of international leadership experience in wild animal research and project management. Dr. Lindsay’s immersive background in program development, grantsmanship, team building, data analysis, and scientific publication …
Dr. Willow Lindsay
Dr. Willow Lindsay brings to SummitWest nearly two decades of international leadership experience in wild animal research and project management. Dr. Lindsay’s immersive background in program development, grantsmanship, team building, data analysis, and scientific publication contribute to her comprehensive involvement with all aspects of SummitWest daily operations, and success in leading the SummitWest team as Chief Operating Officer.
Born and raised in rural Northwest Montana, Dr. Lindsay grew up close to the land. Her career as a field biologist started early in life, graduating from selling huckleberries as a child to seasonal work as a forester through high school. During college, Dr. Lindsay spent another six seasons cruising timber, clearing trails, and wildland firefighting with the US Forest Service. Her undergraduate research on Australian bees propelled her from a BS in Wildlife Biology to a PhD in Zoology – years spent chasing songbirds through the Outback, enthralled with the nuances of animal behavior. In her first Post-Doctoral research position, Dr. Lindsay spearheaded a series of field expeditions in Central and South America, aimed at understanding how bird brains have evolved to accommodate complex acrobatic courtship dance. From birds to reptiles, and the Americas to Scandinavia, Dr. Lindsay moved her growing family and research program to Sweden where she spent the next half decade as a University of Gothenburg Researcher. Increasingly galvanized by the effects of climate change on wild lands and animals, Dr. Lindsay immersed herself in the field of Climate Refugia Analysis, developing and implementing research programs to filter land-use planning through predictive climate models.
With SummitWest, Dr. Lindsay has found and embraced the perfect combination of scientific rigor, employee empowerment, and the dynamic challenge of a rapidly growing business in which to engage the full array of her strategic leadership abilities.
Senior Project Manager / Wildlife Biologist
Amanda Castro earned her BS from Arizona State and MS in Zoology at Washington State University. Her thesis focused on the effects of herbicides on salamanders in their larval stage. She has more than seven years of experience in compliance monitoring and a background in environmental management. Amanda has led multiple environmental compliance trainings and worked with endangered species. At SummitWest, she interfaces daily with monitors, construction groups, agencies, and clients. Amanda is experienced with wetland delineations, habitat assessments, restoration work, and mitigation monitoring. Her experience includes working as POC for multiple projects, including SCE’s vegetation management, Routine Line Clearance program, and emergency response for the Creek Fire in Shaver Lake, CA. Amanda’s field expertise includes amphibian and reptile identification, amphibian mass monitoring, large mammal surveys, raptor nest monitoring, nesting bird surveys, and burrowing owl surveys. In her downtime, Amanda enjoys backpacking, hiking, biking with her husband and dog, and participating as a board member with the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society.
Mrs. Gumbleton gained a Bachelor of Arts Degree from California State University, San Bernardino in Biology. Before switching gears into field biology, she worked as a veterinary technician for over 9 years. This career path helped increase her understanding how important it is to follow strict standard operating procedures and diligent record keeping. Mrs. Gumbleton is currently working as a wildlife biologist conducting pre-construction surveys and construction monitoring throughout the SCE territory. She has shown herself to be an excellent birder, has gained familiarity with Southern CA habitat classifications, and has gained valuable skills interpreting and enforcing environmental requirements during construction monitoring. Her energy sector experience coupled with her past botanical experience in the San Bernardino Mountain Range have made her a well-rounded biologist. Also, her proficiency in analyzing collected data, willingness to add to her repertoire of knowledge by taking training courses, and her overall scientific background make her a strong addition to any team.
Dr. Calum Ninnes
Utility Program Manager
Dr. Calum Ninnes
Dr. Calum Ninnes is an experienced ecological researcher with over 13 years of experience managing research projects in Tanzania, South Africa, New Zealand, Spain, USA, Sweden, and Antarctica. Dr. Ninnes is experienced in managing all aspects of a project’s lifecycle, from permitting, budgeting, team construction, and leading field teams, to data analysis and final publication production.
Through his career Dr. Ninnes has amassed extensive fieldwork experience in remote areas around the world, from New Zealand backcountry only accessible by helicopter, to isolated rural sites in Tanzania lacking electricity or cell phone coverage, to camping in Antarctica 100 miles away from the nearest base. These challenging field conditions have shaped Dr. Ninnes into a decisive leader and excellent problem solver.
Many of Dr. Ninnes’ projects have involved working with critically endangered species, such as the New Zealand birds kakapo, kokako, and kiwi. Beyond this Dr. Ninnes has experience working with a large range of protected species, and is familiar with the sensitivities and regulatory diligence that is required.
Dr. Ninnes’ experience of interacting with all kinds of people from around the world have made him an excellent communicator who is engaging and personable. Dr. Ninnes is a skilled critical thinker, who is diligent, forward-thinking and adaptable to dynamic company, client and project needs.
Human Resources Manager
Christina grew up in southern California, moving from the high desert to Orange County and eventually settling in the Inland Empire. She spent most summers camping at the Kern River exploring, fishing and swimming with her family. These fond memories were a catalyst to a career supporting environmental conservation.
Christina brings over 20 years of administrative experience in a plethora of disciplines including Human Resources, Accounting, Marketing and Payroll. Since 2015, she has worked with environmental firms providing Planning, Environmental Compliance, Marketing, Human Resources Management, and administrative support on a variety of projects and teams. Her eclectic background allows her to see the “big picture” and gives her a deeper understanding of projects from start to completion.
Further, Christina brings nearly 10 years of Human Resources Management to the SummitWest team. She has an in-depth understanding of management and employee relations that allow her to bridge the gap and create a harmonious, cohesive, and supportive environment for all levels of staff. She strives to ensure that her team feels supported, empowered, and challenged.
Most weekends, Christina can be seen volunteering in her local community, doing anything creative from scrapbooking to cake decorating, or cheering for her son’s T-ball team.
Accounting Support and Bookkeeper
Elizabeth Murphy earned her Bachelor of Arts in Geology with a minor in Environmental Science at Hartwick College. Fieldwork experience to complete her degree included geology work in the
Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia; ornithology studies in upstate New York and in the Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming; thesis work on Pre-Pleistocene Micritic Lithoclasts on San Salvador Island, Bahamas; and geology field camp in the Bridger Mountains, Montana.
After graduating, a part time sales position morphed into managing a small business in Bozeman, MT. This paradigm shift was followed by a series of bookkeeping and accounting positions for a variety of businesses. Focusing on her professional development, Elizabeth returned to academia for an accounting degree at Central Oregon Community College. She also earned her Tax Preparer License and has been preparing income tax returns for the last 5 years.
Elizabeth is excited to be part of the SummitWest team where she is able to combine her passion for the environment with her love of numbers. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking in the Cascade Mountains around Bend, traveling and exploring new places or working on a craft project at home.
Erin has worked for conservation non-profits across Oregon since the early 2000’s, focusing on restoration ecology and community engagement. Her field work has focused on testing various strategies to restore native plant communities and riparian function. With experience in project management, field surveys, permitting applications and collaborations with private, government and local sectors, Erin has a well rounded background that allows her to jump into new situations and readily make connections.
Erin has her Master’s degree in Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management from the University of Wyoming and her B.A. in Environmental Science and Art from St. Olaf College. She serves on the board of the Deschutes Basin Native Plant Seedbank. During her free time she enjoys all things outdoors, adventuring with her husband and daughter, and doodling in her sketchbook.
Dr. James Maley
Senior Wildlife Biologist
Dr. Maley is an ornithologist based out of Los Angeles, with a lifelong dedication to studying birds. He recently transitioned from academia to biological consulting and is now enjoying much more time in the field. Dr. Maley is known for research on birds in the Americas, with a focus on combining fieldwork and genomics to study hybrid zones. His research led to the splits of Ridgway’s Rail from Clapper Rail and California/Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay from Western Scrub-Jay. Dr. Maley has over 20 years of experience researching birds in the field, with an emphasis on southwestern and Mexican bird communities in the last decade. He loves all organisms and is rapidly increasing his knowledge of California’s diverse flora and fauna.
Client Outreach Specialist
Born and raised in central Montana, Jess is an avid outdoor lover and environmental advocate. She brings over 5 years of experience in statistical and spatial data analyses, client relations, volunteer management, and scientific research to SummitWest. Jess received her B.S. in Resource Conservation and Climate Change Studies from the University of Montana and is completing her M.S. in Environmental Policy & Management from the University of California Davis. Jess enjoys being a detective to solve problems and loves when she can use tools like Excel, RStudio, or ArcGIS to find those answers. In her free time, she likes to experiment with new recipes, design spaces with plants, and get outside with her husband and doggo. Her longest hike: 500+ miles on Camino de Santiago de Compostela.
Geologist and GIS Analyst
After earning a BSc. in Geoscience with High Honors from Stockholm University, Jesse Haag completed the course and research requirements for an MSc. in Geology and immediately found his professional skills in high demand. As Planner/Sanitarian and Floodplain administrator for Lincoln County, MT, Jesse successfully manages a high volume of projects involving a complex array of land-use engineering, permitting, and public communication. In his free time, Jesse exercises his strong work ethic by consulting as a Geologist and GIS Analyst for SummitWest Environmental. In between all of this, Jesse is writing his MSc. thesis entitled ‘Mineralization and alteration paragenesis of Fe-oxide-sulfide-REE mineralization in the Bastnäs area, Bergslagen ore district, Sweden.”
Lead Environmental Scheduler
Jillian’s love for the outdoors began while living in Nairobi, Kenya. Going on safaris and traveling abroad unlocked her adventurous spirit and passion for wildlife conservation. After moving to West Yellowstone, Montana in 2006, she began leading educational tours into Yellowstone National Park during the winter. Her favorite topics to teach included wildlife ecology, ecosystem dynamics, and microbiology. In 2015, Jillian earned her first Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences focusing on Conservation Biology and Ecology from Montana State University. After graduating, she began working as a bear specialist, patrolling the National Forest and traveling around SW Montana educating the public about bear biology and safety. She also worked as an Adventure Guide, leading weeklong excursions across the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem during the summer. In 2021 she completed her second Bachelor’s degree from Montana State University in Secondary Education General Science Teaching in 2021. She relocated to Bend from San Jose del Cabo, Mexico in January 2023 to become a part of the SummitWest team as their Environmental Scheduler. In her free time, Jillian can be found outside exploring with her fiancé, Peter, and their two dogs, Cooper and Phineas.
Katja has a Master’s degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz. While her education and experience have been mainly marine focused, she is starting her migration to the terrestrial world. She worked for 5 years as a marine science educator before obtaining her Master’s degree and shifting to a career focused in scientific research. Her experiences includes working as botanist support for rare plant surveys, working on a schooner in Greenland to collect and analyze water and air samples, and conducting a seaweed harvesting experiment to measure optimal growing conditions for commonly consumed California native species. Katja also conducted a research project focused on seagrass ecosystems. For this project she created a habitat loss map of Eelgrass in the San Diego Bay using ArcGIS, created and conducted a survey gathering information about the knowledge of seagrass ecosystems, and created an educational film about seagrass ecosystems. When Katja is not in the field, you can find her backpacking, camping, diving, and knitting!
Kim has almost a decade of experience in wildlife field work, including research, conservation, and environmental consulting. She has worked with a variety of species including capuchin monkey, domestic chicken, gorilla, orangutan, striped skunk, coyote, great horned owl, kit fox, antelope squirrel, kangaroo rat, burrowing owl, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, spotted owl, bald eagle, northern goshawk, bumblebee, bat, and various avian species. In addition to field work, she has experience with mapping, statistical analysis, capture and release of wildlife, report writing, permit compliance, and project management. Kim earned her MS in Biology from California State University Long Beach and her BS in Animal Behavior from Bucknell University. After living in several states, she moved to Bend, Oregon, and is excited to join the SummitWest team. When she is not working, you can find Kim hiking, training dogs, reading, trying to find the best pizza in Bend, or spending time with her cats and soon-to-be husband.
SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER
Accounting and Administrative Support
Since a young age, Maggie has seen herself as a steward of the outdoors. After many years of exploring the environment, living in Arizona, Washington, and now Oregon, she decided she wanted to dedicate her career to saving and maintaining these natural areas. By applying her passion, Maggie has found that she can make a more significant impact through administration and policy changes. While finishing a double degree in Business and Sustainability, with the idea of entering law later in life, she currently works on the accounting and administration team for SummitWest. Outside work, she is avid in the snowsports and mountain biking community, finding joy in helping others get outside and have fun doing so; working in the outdoor recitation community for nearly a decade has allowed her to see the outdoors from the point of view of those who love, cherish, and use the land.
Although Ragnar’s current home is in Bend, he has lived and worked in Iceland, Spain, and North Carolina. He graduated from Davidson College, where he majored in Economics and minored in Studio Art. His background lies in finance and data but with recent concerns regarding the well-being of the Earth, Ragnar has decided to apply his skills to the Environmental realm. He knows that his role with SummitWest will contribute positively to the Earth. When you can’t find him working diligently and efficiently in the office, he is most likely skiing, kickboxing, playing soccer, or making art.
Tom grew up in Ohio and moved West to attend college at the University of Idaho. After receiving a degree in Natural Resource Management, he worked for the BLM and USFS on wildland firefighting crews and worked with the Montana Conservation Corps maintaining trails. Tom loved working seasonally, spending much of the off-season traveling the country. After moving to Bend, OR and starting a family, he worked in a geotechnical engineering lab before finding SummitWest Environmental. In his free time Tom can be found rock climbing, mountain biking, playing table tennis, and exploring the wildlands of Oregon with his wife and children.
Alex is a California native who graduated from California State University, Channel Islands with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science & Resource Management. Having seen an increase in wildfire and severe drought conditions in his lifetime, Alex has become motivated to do his part in contributing to the restoration and conservation of natural ecosystems. Some skills he’s acquired over the years include an expertise in performing post-fire restoration work and in trail building/maintenance. He’s also gained a proficiency in fuel reduction via chainsaw work, herbicide use, UAV utilization, training others on restoration work protocols, tree surveying, and pollinator surveying. In his spare time, Alex enjoys backpacking on the John Muir Trail, donating his time towards local open space restoration work, strength training, traveling the world, and hiking with his field guides on hand to educate himself on the local flora and fauna. He loves the natural world, loves to work hard, but even more he loves to see that his hard work has made a positive impact on the natural world.
Alicia graduated with a degree in Environmental and Earth Science from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2014. She has had a varied and immersive career that began with working as a naturalist and wilderness guide in the Salish Sea and throughout New Zealand. She went on to work in outdoor education in Washington and Montana. Alicia then shifted into marine research, focusing on ocean soundscapes and the impact of noise pollution on marine mammal behavior in British Columbia. A passionate educator and environmental advocate, Alicia is determined to uplift species longevity and ecosystem integrity through her work as a SummitWest wildlife biologist. When she isn’t working, Alicia loves to backpack, surf and garden.
Anna Hatch graduated from Eckerd College in St Petersburg, FL with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is currently working on a Master’s degree in Conservation Biology from Miami University of Ohio’s online program, Project Dragonfly. Anna is currently a wildlife biologist working throughout central and southern California conducting habitat assessment and pre-construction surveys as well as construction monitoring work. Previous to this field work, Anna has worked in zookeeping and animal training, which allowed her to gain a better understanding and appreciation for a variety of native and exotic wildlife. She has a passion for birds and conservation and spends her free time as a volunteer with Audubon, hiking, and traveling.
Camille is based in Southern California, mainly working in the High desert, Inland Empire, Orange and LA County. She graduated from Chapman University with a Bachelor’s in Biology with an emphasis in ecology and evolution. Her lab and technical skills paired with field experience varying from nesting bird, botanical and small mammal surveys to construction monitoring make her a versatile biologist.
Christian currently lives a short hike away from the coast in Vista, California. He was hired in March 2022 as a Wildlife Biologist with SummitWest. He graduated from San Diego State University, majoring in Journalism and minoring in Psychology. The majority of hobbies Christian enjoys, and where he spent most of his time throughout his childhood and young adult life, were in the great outdoors of Southern California. Over time, growing up, there were dramatic shifts or impacts on the habitat and landscape throughout San Diego. Those shifts encouraged him to play a bigger role in his relationship with the environment. Christian’s first professional efforts to work with the flora and fauna in California were during his three years working as a Habitat Restoration Ecology Technician. He continues to further develop a positive relationship and active role in the environment while with SummitWest. It’s easy to find him when he’s not “working” because he is generally exploring the same beautiful areas, doing nearly the same activities he does on the clock, but with a camera in hand.
Cynthia Martinson currently resides in Paso Robles, CA. Growing up in San Diego, she developed a deep appreciation for our natural world and its resources. Since obtaining her B.S. in Environmental Sciences from San Diego State University in 2017, she has worked in various fields pertaining to the biological sciences. Most notably, she has spent time as a fisheries observer in the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, a research coordinator for a non-profit specializing in sea turtle research and community development in Costa Rica, and a pesticide research technician on agronomic crops in Central California.
Bio coming soon
Deborah graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in wildlife science from Purdue University in 2019. She quickly moved out west to be closer to mountains where she could hike and backpack. She has worked with Spotted Owls, desert tortoises, lizards, rattlesnakes, and squirrels, and is always looking to work with new species. She has worked in Indiana, California, Oregon, Arizona, and Alaska, but her favorite place she has worked has been Sitka, AK for its beautiful mountains and gorgeous ocean views. She has a passion for fire and disease ecology. In her free time, she loves board games, roller skating, and ultimate frisbee.
As a child Demi loved being outdoors, learning about the different plants and animals around her. In college, Demi fell in love with herpetology thanks to a very inspiring instructor who worked with hellbenders. She then graduated in 2021 from Middle Tennessee State University with her bachelors in ecology and organismal zoology. During her last semester of college however, she interned at the International Bird Rescue in San Pedro California. This gave her hands-on experience with shorebirds and waterfowl. Demi continued her pursuit to become a biologist and just after being in California for 2 years has achieved her goal. She hopes to continue her working with California Red-Legged Frogs and other herps within the region. In her spare time Demi loves to travel, hike, whale watch, and find good vegan restaurants in Los Angeles.
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Dustin has been living in Southern California since 2016. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and Management from Michigan State University, he relocated to San Diego. There, he began working at an environmental consulting firm where he focused on restoration of the chaparral and coastal scrub habitats of Southern California. Dustin has been enjoying all of the new experiences and knowledge he has gained during his time at SummitWest. When he is not at work, Dustin likes to spend his time surfing and hiking.
Ellen grew up in a remote wilderness area near the Canadian border and lived alone for four years off grid in the southern Cascades with bears as her closest neighbors. Her work with SummitWest is primarily with the Mojave desert tortoise in both surveying and construction monitoring. She enjoys travel, literature and alpine lakes.
Emily is native to Michigan, with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability and is WFR certified. She is most interested in the study of pacific coastal ecosystems and wildlife. In her free time she enjoys rock climbing, sailing, diving, and spending time on the beach.
Grant Howard graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Biology. He is passionate about the evolution and ecology of vertebrates. He believes in the preservation of both our living ecosystems and the fossilized remains of ancient ones. Grant has performed numerous field surveys for nesting birds, woodpeckers, and special-status species with SummitWest. He has also performed monitoring for special-status plants and amphibians. Additionally, he is knowledgeable of vertebrate morphology, wetland delineation, math, report writing, RStudio, PCR, and air scribe. Grant has a strong dedication to learning new skills. He has spent substantial time in the lab and the field, and works to use his experience to provide value as a team member at SummitWest.
Hann Osborne is a dedicated field biologist with a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. His professional experience includes biological fieldwork, ecological restoration, GIS support, backcountry guiding, environmental education, and land stewardship. Hann gained botanical identification and land stewardship skills working for the UCSC Arboretum managing a California native plant garden, the University of California Natural Reserve System in Big Sur maintaining an 8,000-acre ecological reserve, and a private environmental consulting firm that focuses on restoration projects throughout Central California. The bulk of his biological survey experience includes amphibian surveys with the National Park Service and avian surveys with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Hann’s extensive backcountry experiences have taken him to the dramatic mountains of the Chugach Range in Alaska, the vast valleys and rivers of the Central Yukon, the exaggerated peaks of the Sierra Nevada, and the beguiling wilderness of Arizona. These experiences led to his employment with the National Park Service where Hann spent a season in the backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park as a team lead for an ecological restoration project focused on restoring the Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog habitat. Furthermore, Hann loves to spend time with his family and friends in the outdoors, whether that be through birding, backpacking, backcountry skiing, surfing, and mountain biking. He also is never too far away from his guitar.
Isabella Furlanis is a staff wildlife biologist with SummitWest. Before joining the team, Isabella graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Earth and Soil Sciences from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. She grew up loving the outdoors and spending time with animals which is why she chose to pursue a degree and career in environmental sciences. In her free time, Isabella loves to travel, spend time exploring outside with friends, and read books.
Originally from New England, Jake moved to the west coast when he was 12 and fell in love with the landscapes of California from the Sierras to the high desert. Before becoming a Wildlife Biologist for SummitWest, Jake graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Always curious about birds and climate change, he involved himself in different labs researching avian behavior and anthropogenic influences on bird life, kickstarting his field work with endangered species. He has worked numerous hours hands-on with the endangered Spotted Owl and has a proficient background in nesting bird surveys, plant identification, report writing, and data entry. He is fascinated with the diversity of animal and plant life in California and is keen on protecting the environment around him. In his free time you will find Jake backpacking, birding, and shooting pictures in the outdoors.
Jacob has always been fascinated by the rich diversity of plants and wildlife that live on our planet. He has a Bachelor of Science in Ecological Management and Restoration from the University of California, Davis. He is passionate about sustaining the natural resources our world has created and facilitating projects in a practical, efficient, environmentally friendly manner. Mr. Sloboda’s experience is a combination of lab work, field work, and report writing, which includes: monitoring and surveying for nesting birds and rare plants for SCE’s deteriorated pole program throughout Kern County, San Jacinto, Antelope Valley, Shaver Lake, Porterville, Lancaster, and Visalia. He has also interned as a lab assistant at UC Davis to help study the effects of overwatering on walnut tree roots. Finally, Jacob interned as a restoration assistant for Cache Creek Conservancy where he repaired and planted native plant species, reduced the spread of invasive vegetation using hand removal and controlled burns, and monitored wood duck nest boxes for nesting activity. These past practices have helped provide habitat for: western pond turtle, wood duck, tricolored blackbird, and various other species of wildlife that depend on wetlands.
Jeffery Guerard is a wildlife professional that has worked with agencies such as Arizona Game and Fish and SUNY Potsdam. After growing up and attending college in northern and central New York State, Jeffery traveled the country as a contract forester for the U.S. Forest Service. After a year of forestry the transition into wildlife biology started with research on Blanding’s Turtles in NY. The transition was easy then to Arizona Game and Fish where he gained experience surveying desert tortoise, fringe-toed lizards, and Arizona red squirrel. In his free time Jeffery plays video games and goes backpacking. Some notable hiking accompaniments are thru hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2022 and becoming an Adirondack 46er in 2021.
Jorjele Quintero is a Staff Wildlife Biologist with SummitWest Environmental. Jorjele obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from California Baptist University. She was the Captain of her university’s Water Research team, which equipped her with meaningful skills such as leadership, organizing, field sampling, data collection, and habitat identification. During her water research experience, she was able to work closely with the environment and wildlife surrounding her sampling sites. In her free time, Jorjele enjoys traveling with friends, visiting National Parks, and trying out new cooking recipes!
Justin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife from Purdue University’s Forestry and Natural Resources program. He has broad experience within environmental consulting, focusing on threatened and endangered species surveys, reporting, and GIS for major energy clients in the solar, transmission, and extraction sectors. Prior to his role in consulting he worked with federal agencies including the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, wildlife ecology research labs with the University of Georgia and Ohio State University, and a sea turtle conservation and education non-profit in Costa Rica.
Katelyn Hammel is a wildlife biologist with SummitWest. Before joining the team, Katelyn graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Biology from UNC Chapel Hill. She has previously worked as a tutor at Veritas Collaborative children’s hospital in North Carolina, and as a wildlife conservation apprentice at Oglebay-Good Zoo in West Virginia. Her experience includes nesting bird and rare animal and plant surveys, herpetile husbandry, animal behavior research, tropical species research, and fish farm conservation studies. In her free time, Katelyn loves to read, hike with friends, pet sit and walk dogs, and play her violin!
Kyla is a Wildlife Biologist with SummitWest and earned her degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology with a minor in Animal Science from the University of Vermont. Previously, she worked as a park ranger for two different federal agencies, the National Park Service and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Some of her field experiences include nesting location and emergence surveys for threatened and endangered turtle species in Vermont and Costa Rica as well as marine mammal experience observing and analyzing data on seals and manatees. Kyla worked in wildlife rehabilitation which taught her human-wildlife conflict mitigation and how to properly handle wild animals. Working as a park ranger, she gained experience with natural resource projects such as nesting bird surveys, riparian habitat restoration, and timber stand forestry work. Operating in an environmental compliance role taught her how to strategically communicate and share knowledge with both the public and stakeholders. Her culminated past experiences have taught her natural resource management and conflict mitigation skills and have given her the ability to handle unique situations involving both people and wildlife. She is excited to further contribute to protecting wild places and animals by advocating for them and assisting to create a more symbiotic relationship between wildlife and humans. In her free time, Kyla can be found mountain biking, cooking, snowboarding, walking dogs, or reading a book.
Maria is a recent graduate from the University of California, San Diego where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution, with a minor in Marine Science. She grew up loving animals and has always known that she would dedicate part of her life to protecting them. Maria has always loved the outdoors and is thrilled to be working as a wildlife biologist, a position that allows her to protect various plants and animals. In her free time she enjoys cooking, going on hikes, and playing with her pet cat, Milo, as well as picking up random crafting hobbies for a few months at a time.
Mello Dee Hrdlicka
Mello Dee Hrdlicka
Mello Dee Hrdlicka is a wildlife biologist with SummitWest Environmental. Mello Dee graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Zoology from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She has worked in the environmental field for over 5 years. Her experience includes performing pre-construction surveys for rare animals and plants, construction monitoring, vegetation analysis and mapping in habitats across Southern California. Most notably she has spent numerous hours hands-on with the endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat. Her unique experience with the flora and fauna throughout Southern California make her a versatile wildlife biologist.
Michael Schwanhausser earned a Bachelor of Science from Cal Poly – Humboldt in Wildlife Conservation and Applied Vertebrate Ecology. His degree has equipped him with a wide variety of skills, including plant, fish, and wildlife identification, experiment design, data entry, and the ability to sample and extract DNA. He has a proficient background in scientific writing (JWM) and strong communication skills that enable him to relay information to those with or without a scientific background. His most recent project involved designing a multi month experiment that examined the effects of habitat fragmentation on the abundance and diversity of salamanders in the Arcata Community Forest. During his study he independently identified more than 300 salamanders to species level and sampled 4,000 square meters of second-growth redwood habitat. His experience surveying in the Pacific Northwest overlaps with Northern Spotted Owl, fisher, and Humboldt marten habitat, making him well-versed working within forested habitats.
Nate Fischer is a California native who has lived and worked the majority of his life in or around the Sierra Nevada. Hailing from a small community near Sequoia National Park, Nate has always had a passion for the outdoors and the ecosystems held within them. After moving to Lake Tahoe and further indulging his affliction for nature, he decided to embrace his passion for the outdoors and dive into the world of natural resources and conservation. Following his transfer to Humboldt State University, Nate received his Bachelor of Science in Biology with a focus on Ecology and Biodiversity.
Since the completion of his academic career, Nate has worked on numerous projects with various different agencies and nonprofits throughout the western United States. While focusing largely on aquatic biology and conservation, he has accumulated a broad range of experience spanning from habitat restoration and non-native species control to large scale prescribed burn operations. In his offtime Nate enjoys camping, hiking, four wheeling, and traveling.
Nicole graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology. While in college, she spent a semester at the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies taking full immersion courses in phycology, ichthyology, and marine ecology. It was here that she discovered her love for field work and completed an independent research project on the effects of low light intensity on the photosynthetic rates of kelp. In fall 2021, she spent several months traveling around Alaska and living on commercial fishing vessels as a fisheries observer collecting data to be used by NOAA for fish stock assessments. She also performed marine mammal and seabird presence/absence surveys. As a wildlife biologist, she is able to make an impact by conserving and protecting the environment and endangered species. In her free time, she likes hiking, rollerblading, going to the gym, doing jigsaw puzzles, and spending time at the beach.
Pete grew up in Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh. Here he completed a degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Social Justice. After a few years of hopping between field work in North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Nevada, Pete began focusing on compliance and mitigation work for utility companies in the Desert Southwest. With a young child at home, Pete has shifted focus away from fieldwork to more office and remote oriented roles. To this end, Pete completed a GIS certificate program at Michigan State University in 2021. He has most recently worked as an Addressing and NextGen 911 Specialist for Bayfield County in Wisconsin, performing frog acoustic analysis surveys in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and as a lead biologist on a pipeline hydrotest project in California. In his free time, Pete enjoys playing soccer, trail running, reading, drinking tea, and spending time with his family.
Rob Gumpert earned a bachelor’s in biological science and a master’s in secondary education, both from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Prior to joining SummitWest as a Wildlife Biologist, Rob worked as a vegetation survey technician, a land maintenance technician, and a wildlife technician at military installations in Alaska. Projects included live trapping and tracking wolverines, tracking moose and wolves, counting smolt and adult salmon, deploying and monitoring remote cameras, clearing vehicle trails, documenting habitat degradation, and cataloging vascular plant species. In addition to working in environmental science, Rob has supported construction logistics on Alaska’s north slope, and taught secondary students in grades six through twelve, in subjects ranging from life science to US government. When he is not busy looking for interesting plants and animals, Rob enjoys reading, hiking, camping, board games, and making things out of wood and metal.
Robin Jenkins graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology to work outdoors and research the fascinating animals we share our world with. She is an experienced wildlife biologist with over a decade of field work, and has studied a wide range of species, including caterpillars, salmon, terns, and woodpeckers. The majority of Robin’s work has taken place in remote areas of California, Oregon (her home state), and Washington, but she lived abroad for over two years in Costa Rica studying wild and rehabilitated sloths. Her focus has been on wildlife conservation and she worked with critically endangered California condors for two years. Using her radio telemetry skills to pinpoint a sloth hidden in a dense rainforest or a dropped condor GPS transmitter in steep mountains is a challenge that Robin finds very rewarding. Her passionate enthusiasm is apparent when sharing her knowledge about these species. Robin enjoys hiking, reading, games, and folk dancing.
Rocio is a Southern California native whose lifelong curiosity about the natural world led her to a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife, Fish, & Conservation Biology from the University of California, Davis. Throughout her time as an undergraduate she participated in a variety of conservation efforts – from local chaparral and coastal sage scrub restoration projects, to ecological studies in the arid deserts and pinyon-juniper woodlands of the Southwest US. Armed with her special interest in desert ecology and a passion for public education, Rocio aims to help bridge the gap between conservationists and the greater public in as many ways as possible.
Rose grew up in Connecticut and earned a Biology degree from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. She spent her time after graduating working field jobs including insect surveys in Hawaii, desert tortoise population surveys in Nevada, small mammal trapping and bird counts in the Snowy Mountains of Wyoming, and environmental education in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Over the past decade, Rose has focused on compliance and mitigation work in the Desert Southwest supporting utility projects. Since becoming a mother, Rose has been shifting her career away from field work towards office support work. She enjoys spending time with her family, crafting and mending, and riding her bike around town.
Samantha graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2022 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Biology and Environmental Justice. She has previously worked in several conservation roles including freshwater monitoring of Lake Erie and a 3 month stint in Thailand assisting in artificial reef maintenance. After graduation she accepted a position with SummitWest and made the big move to where she currently resides in Long Beach with her dog. She is incredibly excited to join the SummitWest team and use her role to promote just and sustainable development. She loves music, taking her dog to the beach, cooking, scuba diving, and traveling.
Samantha Love holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Humboldt State University in Environmental Science, where her passion for plants and wildlife blossomed. Since graduation in 2019, she has spent several years in the environmental field. Samantha began as an outdoor educator, conducting botanical and wildlife species surveys, where she accumulated skills in data collection, Southern California species identification, and report writing. Her experience gives her a unique and valued perspective in the environmental field.
Samuel Toth graduated from Texas A&M University at Galveston with Bachelors’ of Science in Marine Fisheries and Marine Biology. His coursework included classes such as Conservation Biology, Wetland Ecology and Fishery Techniques which taught him various survey techniques for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. Since relocating to California, Samuel has gained experience with nesting birds and terrestrial wildlife species. At SummitWest he has been able to apply his discipline in research and his current tasks in field work, which he greatly enjoys.
Maguire has over 8 years of field experience. He has worked in western Nebraska and Nevada conducting post-fire vegetation response surveys for invasive and noxious weeds. He has worked in Idaho examining the effects of spring cattle grazing on sage-grouse demographic traits and habitat characteristics. Sean has also worked in South Park, Colorado where he monitored, identified, and mapped the location of rare plants in the Mosquito Mountain Range. Sean has volunteered in trail work in coordination with USFS trail crews & Wildlands Restoration Volunteers. Sean also has wildlife experience working in Oklahoma conducting northern bobwhite quail triangulation using telemetry as well as conducting surveys in Colorado at high elevations for pika. Additionally, Sean has also volunteered investigating the trait functions of wolf spiders in mate selection and competition. Other research includes investigating animal host-parasite relationships, epizootiology, ecology, host distribution, classification, and life-cycle stages of animal parasites. Finally, Sean has investigated methods for testing evolutionary hypotheses under field conditions with emphasis on foraging behavior, animal communication, and animal social systems.
Mr. Maguire most recently worked for GSRC since 2018. This experience has allowed Mr. Maguire to gain a variety of knowledge of Federal processes and procedures, as well as an in-depth understanding of environmental regulations and requirements specific to the southeast and southwest areas of the country.
Sean holds a bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Nebraska as well as an Associate’s of Arts from Southeast Community College.
Sepanta Jafari Jozani
Sepanta Jafari Jozani
Sepanta’s aim is to preserve and protect ecosystems as they provide important services that are essential to humanity’s survival. He has a passion for researching ecological cascades triggered by climate change, and has worked with a variety of different species worldwide. Although he is a skilled ornithologist, he has explored the worlds of mammalogy, paleontology, archeology, sociology, philosophy, art, and music.
Simona has a Masters of Science Degree from the University of Haifa, Israel in Evolutionary and Environmental Biology. She has 6 years of experience in a wide range of field projects, including endangered amphibian surveys, vegetation surveys, nesting bird surveys, and protocol biological sampling. Simona is also an experienced researcher with a track record of planning and executing field and laboratory experiments.
Skyla Cameron has been in the field on and off since 2014. She first began her career as a biologist on a restoration crew. She has over 5 combined years of experience in fieldwork and management, threatened and endangered species surveys, botanical surveys, and science education. She has led botany and conservation-restoration teams and worked with threatened and endangered species. Her botanical expertise includes rare plant identification, monarch butterfly habitat restoration, native planting, weed mapping, reporting invasive plant removal, and restoration work. Her avian work has focused on nesting surveys for plovers and terns, species identification, banding, and general habitat assessments. Her training includes a course in Ornithology on North American birds and contributions to a graduate project on California condors. Skyla has also worked with mammals and worked on projects surveying for and tracking black and white ruffed lemurs. Finally, Skyla is skilled in Monarch butterfly habitat restoration, identifying native and non-native plant species, identifying marine invertebrates and fish, and the use of dichotomous keys for species identification.
Stanley comes from a construction background but grew up in a rural area surrounded by nature. Stanley graduated from Ohio state university, Columbus with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science in Evolution and Ecology. He’s based in Southern California and has a wide range of experience with raptor surveys and nesting bird surveys from work within the zookeeper field. His laboratory work, handling, and field experiences with threatened and endangered animals makes him an adaptable biologist.
Tim Sullivan has been working in the environmental research and management field for more than two decades. His serious interest in this area started with long distance backpacking trips, which has included through-hiking the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. His professional endeavors began with work as a Ranger Naturalist working to preserve rare alpine and riparian habitats in Vermont’s Green Mountains, as well as with a paid apprenticeship with a wildlife ecologist helping to train volunteer citizen scientists to monitor wildlife and habitat conditions in their own communities. He has since worked on a broad range of research and conservation projects involving wildlife, water quality and habitat assessments for Government agencies, NGOs and Universities. His most recent work includes rare plant, animal and waters delineation surveys along with environmental compliance monitoring for a variety of energy related projects on public and private lands throughout the Southwest.
Zac Lopez graduated from University of California, Davis with a Bachelor’s in Ecological Management and Restoration. In recent times, Zac has worked in avian-focused habitat restoration in the wetlands of California, as well as forest restoration work in East Texas where he collaborated directly with the USFS to prepare for and perform prescribed burns safely. Throughout his life, Zac has had an interest in preserving the natural world and sharing its wonders with as many people as possible. Through his work, he hopes to share his knowledge of biology and contribute to the conservation of the natural environment around us.
Interested in the outdoors from an early age, Zack Kinman was always looking for hawks and spent hours in the nearby creek catching lizards and exploring. His passion for the outdoors led Zack to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from California State University – Channel Islands. He was able to dig into botany and biology in school and had spent time in the field where he could apply his learning. Post-degree, Zack worked in habitat restoration, further strengthening his love and knowledge of the natural world, which led him to pursue wildlife biology and find his new career path in the field with SummitWest. Zack often spends time surfing, camping, birding, and playing guitar outside of work.
Caroline is currently completing her master’s degree in Rhetoric & Writing Studies at San Diego State University, and she hopes to enter the fields of professional writing and science writing with her degree. While her bachelor’s degree in English widened her literary background, she was drawn to professional applications of writing such as environmental reporting and technical communication. Caroline spends plenty of time at the keyboard, but she also enjoys hiking, yoga, and trying new restaurants around her home in San Diego.