2017 Research Students

Au Sable’s commitment to original research investigation and research experience for Au Sable students will continue in force for 2017. Au Sable is happy to have six research students on board this summer.



Oil Pad Reforestation Team


Kirsten Fenton

Kirsten is from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois, and first came to Au Sable as a student in Field Biology in Spring, taught by Dr. David Dornbos. In his recommendation of Kirsten, David noted that, on a rainy day in the field near one of the oil pad study sites, she "pulled me out of the rain protecting forest... to walk back through the research site. She was interested in which tree species had been selected [for restoration] and which types had the greatest likelihood of survival." For her part, Kirsten noted that "My experience at Au Sable was life changing... my passion for creation, conservation, and the connection between faith and the environment grew exponentially." A highly respected student at North Park University, Kirsten has served as a Writing Advisor, Teaching Assistant and Summer Science Academy Research Student at North Park.  

Taylor Marshall

Taylor is from Southern Nazarene University (SNU) in Bethany, Oklahoma, and will complement Kirsten in the 2017 study of oil pad reforestation. Founder and President of SNU's Creation Care Club, Taylor has also served as an Intern at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks, Oklahoma, where she was responsible primarily for invertebrate displays. A student in Animal Ecology and Aquatic Biology at Au Sable's Great Lakes Campus in Michigan and in Marine Mammals on Au Sable's Whidbey Island Campus in Washington, Taylor shared that, at Au Sable, "I have found my place as a steward of His beautiful creation, and Au Sable is an institution that provides lessons in the deeper understanding of this call." 



Kirtland's Warbler Team


Michael Hindy

Michael comes to Au Sable's Research team from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he completed a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology in December 2016. Familiar with Au Sable as a former student in Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Applications for Geographic Information Systems in 2015, Michael comes to the Kirtland's study already in possession of considerable experience in bird studies and in habitat restoration. A member of a student team directed by Au Sable faculty members Darren Proppe (Calvin College) and Rob Keys (Cornerstone University) on mechanisms of habitat selection in grassland songbirds at the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Southern Michigan, Michael has also worked as a restoration intern under Calvin College and Au Sable's faculty member Dave Warners, an experience that provided him with extensive skill in plant identification, knowledge he will need in the Kirtland's study on a daily basis. As Michael said about his new opportunity with Au Sable, "I cannot express how excited I am to be part of a team researching one of Michigan's prized warblers, as well as being able to be park of a community which loves God and cares for his creation."

Alyssa Sargent

Alyssa joins Michael from Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Initially a student with a focus in chemical and microbiological research, Alyssa became interested in conservation biology through her Departmental Honors Research project on the Panamanian golden frog in which she studied methods of individual use for monitoring and managing captive and wild populations of this IUCN Red List (critically endangered) species. Alyssa perfected bird identification skills through her work as Messiah's Oakes Museum where she was responsible for the care of the museum's bird collection, not only learning how to identify adult birds but the nests and eggs of different species, a skill of immense value in finding nests of Kirtland's warblers in red pine and jack pine habitat. Alyssa also recently completed a field natural history course in New Zealand where she continued to sharpen her skills in bird species identification. Looking forward to her role as a Research Assistant in Au Sable's Kirtland's warbler study, Alyssa noted, "Au Sable has a very impressive research program, and I am excited to be a part of it - I can't wait to be in the field and learn about the Kirtland's warbler firsthand."


Grayling Team


Ridge Sliger

Brandan Ward