My job: Salamander Secret Investigator
Real title: Research Wildlife Biologist
Education: PhD, University of Maryland, College Park, 2009
How I help save sallies: As a wildlife biologist, I conduct research on salamanders that can aid species conservation and management. The conservation decisions that affect Appalachian salamanders (and other wildlife) are made in a complex framework that incorporates social, political and ecological objectives. These decisions will be better informed if we have greater understanding of the threats facing wild salamander populations and the most effective strategies for protecting these species.
Best salamander story: While sampling salamanders (in which we are crawling around on our knees, turning rocks and focused with our eyes on the ground in case a salamander darts out), I heard a rustling sound behind me. Assuming that it was just someone wandering back to record data after finishing their survey, I didn’t think much of it. The rustling got louder, and then I heard a grunt. I turned around to find a black bear and its cub ambling towards us. We both realized that we weren’t alone at this moment, and I could see the shock and confusion in the bear’s eyes (and she in mine, it seemed) just before we both turned to scamper away. An exciting day of salamandering!