Course Faculty

Fostering connectivity is the cornerstone of the Wyoming Field Studies Program. Students from universities such as the University of Pittsburgh, Tulane, University of Washington, Yale, and more collaborate and develop relationships that extend well beyond the length of the program. To this end, the University Honors College has assembled a faculty for the Field Studies Program that represents a diversity of ideas and perspectives from both the academic and professional worlds to facilitate this connectivity while connecting the students' theoretical studies to practical field work.

Ed McCordEdward McCord is director of the Allen L. Cook Spring Creek Preserve and also oversees the University of Pittsburgh Yellowstone Field Course in the opposite corner of Wyoming, serving them both from his base in the University of Pittsburgh Honors College where he directs programming and special projects. He is also director of the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy, a University of Pittsburgh instrument for public education and civic action that builds on Dick Thornburgh's legacy as governor of Pennsylvania, attorney general of the United States, and under-secretary-general of the United Nations. He holds graduate degrees in philosophy, anthropology and law, and he teaches environmental ethics, law and public policy at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is an affiliate professor of philosophy. McCord is a Florida native and lifelong naturalist, and an expert on carnivorous plants worldwide and the native orchids of North America. His recent book, The Value of Species (Yale University Press, 2012) is marketed widely for the general public and academe.

Mandela Lyon (Mandi) is an educator with a strong background in paleoecology, the study of fossil organisms and their interactions with each other and their environment. She received her B.S. in Geosciences from the University of Arizona, and has completed graduate coursework and research in Paleobiology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her particular interest is in fossil plants, namely understanding how leaf macrofossils can be used to interpret past climates and reconstruct fossil habitats. Ms. Lyon has experience excavating fossils in Egypt, Argentina, and numerous North American localities. She firmly believes that understanding the "how" and "why" in science is as important as learning factual content, and to that end she finds that the Wyoming field course is her most rewarding teaching opportunity, with its emphasis on the important questions and methods in geology, paleontology, and ecology.

Kelli Trujillo is a paleontologist and geologist with Uinta Paleontological Associates, Inc., a paleontological consulting company that works with the energy industry to insure that fossils are not harmed during the construction of energy projects. She received her Masters and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wyoming in Laramie in Vertebrate Paleontology. Her research specialty is the geology and paleontology of the Morrison and Cloverly formations, and during the fieldwork for her Ph.D. she wandered all over what is now the Spring Creek Preserve. She later worked with rancher Allen Cook to conserve the property. She has helped with instructing Pitt students during the summer since 2007 and primarily focuses on fossil prospecting and excavation techniques and regional geology. In her spare time she plays and sings in local bands and runs a small music promotion and production company.

Richard Adams is a faculty member in anthropology at Colorado State University and former senior archaeologist with the Office of the Wyoming State Archaeologist. Several weeks each summer he conducts research on high altitude hunter-gatherers in the Wind River Range. For the past three years he has provided Wyoming Field Studies students with hands-on archaeological experience at the Spring Creek Preserve. This is an archaeologically rich area with evidence of human occupation from big game hunting Paleoindians11,000 years to historic outlaws like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Each year, he helps Pitt students construct and use stone and bone tools, gather edible roots, and prepare a prehistoric meal.

Gary Beauvais is the Director of the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, a research unit of the University of Wyoming dedicated to maintaining comprehensive information on rare plants, rare animals, and important vegetation communities throughout the state. His research focuses on the biogeography, habitat use, and conservation of Rocky Mountain wildlife. Each year he instructs students from the University of Pittsburgh in the ecology and natural history of Wyoming landscapes, including the Yellowstone region and the Spring Creek Preserve. Understanding how these systems have responded to past changes such as Holocene warming, livestock production, and petroleum extraction provides insight into how they may respond to new challenges such as wind-power development, invasive species expansion, and climate change.

Steve Latta is Director of Conservation and Field Research at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. His current research focuses on the use of birds as indicators of habitat change, and especially how we can use birds to understand the environmental consequences of acid precipitation, acid mine drainage, and the use of hydraulic fracturing to access natural gas deposits. A native of Michigan, Steve was educated at Kalamazoo College, Earlham College, University of Michigan, and University of Missouri where he received his PhD in avian ecology in 2000. Prior to life as an ornithologist, Steve hitchhiked around the world, and spent several years as a community organizer, political activist, urban planner, flower deliverer, fisherman, and farm laborer. He worked for several years with the US Forest Service in the West in range conservation, wildlife habitat evaluation, and firefighting before moving to Puerto Rico to complete one of the first studies of how shade-grown coffee benefits birds. Steve has worked for 20 years in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean where his research targets the ecology of migratory birds, and understanding how birds respond to natural and anthropogenic change to their habitat. Other work has focused on the ecology and conservation of endangered endemic species, determining the distribution and effects of avian malaria, understanding population dynamics in high Andean habitats, and measuring long-term population trends of tropical birds. Steve also teaches at the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, and regularly conducts ornithological training workshops and facilitates internships for Latin Americans.

Additional Instructors

Throughout the course, students will be treated to special lectures from and discussions with a number of professionals in the field. The roster of speakers is unique to each summer session, but past speakers have included Matt Lamanna (Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History) Charlie Jones (Geologist, University of Pittsburgh) and Tom Rea (author, Bone Wars).