Ellen Brandell has had a curiosity and passion for ecology and wildlife before she even understood the terms themselves. After growing up in Metro–Detroit, Ellen moved to Montana where she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Montana in terrestrial Wildlife Biology. Ellen began her work in Yellowstone in 2015 on the summer predation crew and began pursuing her PhD in Ecology at Pennsylvania State University in 2016, focusing on the disease ecology of Yellowstone wolves.
After Emily Almberg's spectacular work on Yellowstone wolf disease (see our bibliography section for her publication list), the same collaborators were itching to learn more. Dr. Peter Hudson (Pennsylvania State University), Dr. Paul Cross (USGS), and Dr. Doug Smith (Yellowstone Wolf Project) now advise Ellen in her research. Her aim is to understand how disease travels through the wolf population, what impacts disease has on the social structure of wolf packs, and how disease fits into the food web in both predator and prey. Ellen is thrilled to be able to work in such an incredible ecosystem and try to uncover the complexities it maintains!
Emily Almberg is a PhD candidate in the Ecology Program at Penn State University, working with her advisor, Dr. Peter Hudson, as well as Dr. Paul Cross of the US Geological Survey, Dr. Andrew Dobson at Princeton University, and Dr. Douglas Smith of the Yellowstone Wolf Project. Emily has worked in collaboration with the Yellowstone Wolf Project since 2003, first as a field technician and public liaison, and then as a master's, and now PhD student, studying the impacts of infectious disease on Yellowstone's wolf population.
The idea for "Yellowstone Wolf: Project Citizen Science" sprung from Emily's efforts to track sarcoptic mange and its impacts on Yellowstone's wolf population. While trying to sustain monthly observations of all radio-collared and uniquely identifiable individuals (which takes a huge amount of time!), Emily and her colleagues found themselves turning to visitor and professional photographers' photographs posted on various websites as a means to augment their field observations. At that point, they realized just how valuable it would be to have one place where they could collect and make use of all this extra data that visitors and wolf-watchers were collecting on a regular basis. After several encouraging conversations with field staff and the public, they decided to go for it!