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Kristen Zemaitis

M.S. Student

University of Georgia 

Odum School of Ecology

Kristen was born and raised in west Michigan where she developed a passion for wildlife at an early age while diving into local ponds and streams in search of wildlife. In 2012 she traveled to Costa Rice for an internship through San Diego State University where she participated in a country-wide study evaluating the effects of climate change on sea turtle nesting beaches. In 2015, Kristen graduated from Grand Valley State University with a BA in animal biology. From there she went on to work for the AZA-accredited John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she led education and conservation programs. She also aided in their monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) breeding and release program. 

Kristen’s passion for herpetofauna and conservation education brought her to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC) where she became an AmeriCorps member during 2016 and 2017. Kristen conducted patrols, working primarily to tag and collect data and tissue samples from nesting loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) as part of a long-term genetics project and contaminant analysis study through the University of Georgia.  Kristen also became a cross-departmental AmeriCorps member, working in research and education at the GSTC.  Within the research department she assisted with a number of ongoing research initiatives and wildlife monitoring projects.  She also modified educational programs to incorporate more data from research conducted on Jekyll Island and encourage critical conservation-centered thinking. Kristen developed an interest in American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) while working with them on Jekyll Island.  She is currently conducting research on the spatial ecology and reproductive habits of these ancient reptiles while pursuing her M.S. with UGA's Odum School of Ecology. Along with the alligator project PI, Kimberly Andrews, Kristen's graduate committee includes her co-advisors, Jeb Byers and Ben Parrott. The focus of her thesis is on the ecotoxicology and diet of American alligators.

Contact Information

Applied Wildlife Conservation Lab

715 Bay Street

Brunswick, GA 31520

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