Camps Staff

We are still in the process of assembling our 2020 staff team. This page will be updated as positions are filled over the coming months.  

Camps Director, science educator, paleobiologist

Camps Director, science educator, paleobiologist

David Levering – Camps Director, Instructor

Phone: 785-639-5249

David joined the Museum staff in 2013. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelors degree in geology in 2007. He also worked as a teaching assistant in the Zoology department at Oklahoma State University from 2010 to 2013, where he graduated with a Master’s of Science. Before coming to the Sternberg, David spent seven summers working in the youth science camp industry. He also worked three summers with the National Park Service at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument in southern Idaho. There, he carried out paleontology field and lab work and worked with kids showing them geology and paleontology. He is a published researcher, collaborating with professional academics on work focusing on mammal paleobiology and mechanics. David manages the entire camps program, and oversees program logistics and curriculum design.

Geosciences student, camps alumnus (2015-2017)

Geosciences student, camps alumnus (2015-2017)

Marjie Cone – Program Assistant

Marjie is a student at University of Illinois, majoring in Geology with emphasis on paleontology. Marjie has had a lifelong love of fossils and minerals, leading her to pursue geoscience as a career path. During the summer, Marjie works as a camps program assistant in the field and in the office, working with students and managing logistics. During the school year, Marjie helps with the development and improvement of the camps program. In her own words: “I began my affiliation with the Sternberg Museum in 2015 when I was looking for some way to gain experience in the field, and found the Sternberg’s summer science camps. I participated in the paleontology field camp as a sophomore in high school and I loved it so much that I have been returning for the past two summers as a camp counselor/ teaching assistant. These camps are more than just a fun experience, but a unique educational opportunity that has enabled me to expand my horizons and give back to the scientific community.”

Biology student, camps alumnus (2015-2017)

Biology student, camps alumnus (2015-2017)

Maggie Wolf – Program Assistant

Maggie Wolf is a student at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana. She is a Biology and Spanish double major and hopes to continue her education and eventually conduct research. Maggie has had extensive experience in the outdoors through Girl Scouts and Venturing Crew. She participated as a student in Sternberg Paleontology Camp (2015), Southwest Biology Camp (2016), and Expedition Ecuador (2017). During the summer, Maggie works as a camps  program assistant in the field and in the office, working with students and managing logistics. During the school year, Maggie manages our wildlife data processing, including overseeing the work of our student interns. She also helps with the development of new camps, and making improvements to existing camps.

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Gui Aksit – Instructor 

Gui is geologist with a love of all things volcanoes. She graduated from Ohio University in 2009 with a B.A. in Anthropology and went on to receive a B.S. in Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in 2019. She interned at the Cascades Volcano Observatory in the Summer of 2019, conducting fieldwork at Glacier Peak, WA to unravel the eruptive history of this Cascade volcano. Gui is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Oregon researching how topography controls dike propagation at Summer Coon volcano in Colorado. Gui loves summers in the field and is excited to share this passion with budding geoscientists!

Biologist, Science Educator

Biologist, Science Educator

Keri Maricle – Instructor 

Keri Maricle is originally from North Texas, and has lived in Hays for the past seven years building an educational background in biology with an emphasis in botany. She graduated with her B.S. in Biology from Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in 2015, and her M.S. in Biology from FHSU in 2017. Maricle taught undergraduate laboratories in biology and botany at FHSU while she was a graduate student from 2015-2017. Currently, Maricle is the biology instructor at Thomas More-Prep Marian where she teaches courses in general biology, advanced biology, as well as human anatomy and physiology. She also works individually with her high school students on research projects to present at science fairs and conferences. In her spare time, Maricle enjoys spending time with her family including planning botanical adventures with her husband (a fellow botanist).

Paleontologist, FHSU Biology Faculty

Paleontologist, FHSU Biology Faculty

Catherine Sartin – Instructor 

Cat is a vertebrate paleontologist who is at home both in the field and the laboratory. Her latest work has been on the growth of a group of dinosaurs known as the ornithopods. This group includes the iguanodontians (Aladar in Disney’s “Dinosaur”) and the hadrosaurs. To study their growth, she made thin sections (microscope slides) of dozens of bones, of all different sized individuals. Before this project, she investigated the traits that paleontologists use to determine what bones belong to what species. She has done field work all over the United States – in Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Florida and more. She has also works abroad in southern Alberta and in the Gansu Province of China. When she’s not digging up fossils or researching them, she teaches in the Biology Department at Fort Hays State University. This is Catherine’s second year as an instructor, working with the high school paleontology students in 2018.

Paleontologist, Science Communication and Education Specialist

Paleontologist, Science Communication and Education Specialist

Ashley Hall – Instructor

As one of the most popular science communicators on social media, Ashley Hall has spent the most recent years of her career communicating science to a global audience, with over 14.6K followers on Twitter alone. After attending Indiana University Bloomington where she received her B.A in Anthropology and Animal Behavior, she spent a decade working as a science educator at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and the world famous La Brea Tar Pits. Ashley is a phenomenal public speaker and has designed and given thousands of natural history museum tours, programs, and classes for visitors of all ages. As Assistant Curator at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, Ashley worked with vertebrate paleontologists Dr. Andrew Farke and Dr. Don Lofgren to excavate, identify, and curate the Museum’s immense collection of fossil specimens. She has discovered and excavated dinosaurs in Montana and Utah, and Miocene mammal fossils in California. Her own research concerns the structure and movement of sauropod dinosaur hand and foot claws. Along the way, Ashley realized that she could reach broader audiences by sharing science on social media than through in-personal interactions alone. She has given several professional development workshops on communicating science through social media at national and international paleontology conferences. 

You can follow Ashley on Twitter and Instagram at @Lady_Naturalist.

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Dr. Win McLaughlin – Instructor

Win McLaughlin (PhD 2018 University of Oregon) is a paleontologist and geologist. She works on how changing landscapes and climates drive changes in the biological ecosystems living on those landscapes. Working both in the American West and abroad in Kyrgyzstan, she specializes in looking at mammals, especially ones with hooves! After finishing a PhD in Oregon, Win spent a year teaching paleontology classes at Oberlin College in Ohio, and is now teaching geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles. In addition to teaching, Win also works for a paleo-remediation company, helping out when construction projects expose fossils in the greater LA area (whales… so many whales…) Outside of work Win rides horses, plays way too many nerdy board games, and enjoys anything that gets her out in nature! 

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Alyssa DeRubeis – Instructor

Alyssa DeRubeis is an aspiring avian ecologist and educator. She grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where pond critters, backyard toads, and local birds captivated her. In 2013, Alyssa obtained her Bachelor’s degree in wildlife ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. During her time as an undergrad, she conducted research on grassland raptors, Greater Prairie-Chickens, and frogs and water quality; and helped with other research and educational projects. While attending college and for several years after, Alyssa worked in Alaska, the Upper Midwest, Arkansas, and Belize. You could find her surveying grassland and wetland birds, counting raptors, and teaching children about ecology. Finally, her travels led her back to the University of Arkansas, where she taught introductory biology labs and completed her Master’s degree on tallgrass prairie bird habitat ecology. Alyssa’s favorite hobbies are bird-watching, nature photography, watercolor painting, cooking, and dancing.

Professional fossil preparator, independent contractor with museums around the world.

Professional fossil preparator, independent contractor with museums around the world.

Mike Eklund – Instructor

Mike Eklund is regarded as one of the best fossil preparation professionals in the world, working on special projects for various museums including the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. Mike worked with Sternberg Museum paleontologist Dr. Laura Wilson to equip the new prep lab at the Sternberg, and developed the curriculum for both of our fossil preparation methods camps. Mike instructed our Intro to Fossil Prep camp in 2019, and we are immensely excited to have him back in 2020. 

Prep Lab Manager, Sternberg Museum of Natural History

Prep Lab Manager, Sternberg Museum of Natural History

Tia Ruppert – Instructor

Tia Ruppert is the Fossil Prep Lab manager at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Geosciences at Fort Hays State University. Her career in paleontology began when she discovered her passion for working with and mentoring students, discovering fossils in the field and being immersed in a museum setting. As a volunteer for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where she gained valuable experiences in both fossil preparation and field work. She was invited to participate in summer field work where she learned how to prospect and collect fossils. She also assisted DMNS curators in the Teen Science Scholar Paleontology/Zoology field excursion where she helped teach field techniques and outdoor safety to a group of junior and senior high school students. Back at the museum, she was trained as a fossil preparator and shadowed the lab manager to learn about the logistics of running a lab. Her favorite part of being a lab manager is having the opportunity to mentor young scientists and communicate science to the museum’s visitors.

Paleontologist, fossil preparator at the Burke Museum in Washington

Paleontologist, fossil preparator at the Burke Museum in Washington

Jessica Barnett – Instructor

Jessica is a paleontologist with a passion for finding and cleaning fossils. She’s worked alongside fossil preparators at numerous sites and with material of various ages. She has prepped fossils all across the US at locations big and small. From Pleistocene megafauna in South Dakota and Permian crinoids in Texas, to Miocene monkeys in Oregon and Cretaceous crocodiles in Washington, D.C., Jessica loves to work with it all. She has developed training programs in fossil preparation for independent museums and the National Park Service. When she doesn’t have her hands in the dirt, she can be found at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument working as a park ranger. Jessica is an alum of Fort Hays State University, completing her MS in Geosciences in 2017.

Professional Illustrator and Sculptor

Professional Illustrator and Sculptor

Reid Psaltis – Instructor

Reid Psaltis is an illustrator, sculptor and natural history enthusiast from the Pacific Northwest. Always interested in expressing an interest in animals through art, he majored in oil painting at Western Washington University, completed the science illustration graduate program at California State University Monterey Bay, and interned in the exhibitions department at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Recent achievements include the publication of Kingdom/Order and The Order of Things: A Bestiary  by Secret Acres Books and being awarded a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Reid currently lives in Portland, Oregon where he works as a freelancer and manages a shared studio spaced called Magnetic North. He is also presently working as an Artist in Residence at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Paleobiologist, doctoral researcher (University of Oregon)

Paleobiologist, doctoral researcher (University of Oregon)

Kellum Tate-Jones – Instructor 

After working as an ICU nurse for 4 and a half years, Kellum left the medical field to pursue her dream of becoming a vertebrate paleontologist. She graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in summer of 2017 and began her Ph.D. program at the University of Oregon that fall. Kellum studies marine mammals and the transition from terrestrial to aquatic environments, and is extremely passionate about sharing the wonder of the earth sciences with the public. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, rock hounding, fantasy fiction, and pestering her cat.

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Lissie Connors – Teaching Assistant

Lissie is a graduate student at the University of Oregon, where she studies how volcanic gasses drive explosive volcanic eruptions in Eastern Africa. Fascinated by the inner workings of volcanic systems, Lissie has done fieldwork on ancient and active volcanoes across the globe, from the western US, to Iceland and New Zealand. After graduating with a B.S. in Geology from Lafayette College in 2018, she worked with the National Park Service at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Eastern Oregon. She’s excited to teach students this summer about her backyard volcanoes the Cascades!

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Lilly Duncan – Teaching Assistant

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Molly Hunt – Teaching Assistant

Molly is an Undergraduate Student in The School of Earth Sciences at The Ohio State University. She has been conducting paleontological research since high school. Currently, she focuses on rodent body size evolution throughout geological time. Molly also works as the Education and Collections Assistant at the Orton Geological Museum on OSU’s campus. She has done fieldwork both in the United States and internationally; in addition, she has worked as a paleontology intern at The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs South Dakota. When she is not working or taking classes Molly enjoys being a Board Member of the Education Division and Student Advisory Council of the Geological Society of America. She plans to attend graduate school, gaining a Ph.D. and working as a curator of vertebrate paleontology at a major American museum. She is very excited to join this year’s Sternburg Science Camp team!

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Anne Kort – Teaching Assistant

Anne is a PhD student at Indiana University studying the evolution of mammal locomotion. She has worked on a variety of research topics, from rodent jaws and carnivore limbs to planning field work. She got her start as an undergraduate in Earth Sciences at the University of Minnesota processing CT scans of fossil and modern bone. After a gap year doing digital mapping (GIS) at a utility company, she went on to do a masters at Indiana University studying an extinct mammalian carnivore named Patriofelis. Over the past two summers (2018 and 2019), she interned at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon, helping with field work and analyzing field data. Anne is always excited to share her love of paleontology and research and happy to be joining the staff for the Ancient Beasts camp.

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Samantha Ocon – Teaching Assistant

Samantha “Sam” Ocon has known she wanted to be a paleontologist since the ripe old age of two. This love of fossils has lead her to serve 7 years with the Florida Museum of Natural History, most recently as the lead curator of The FOSSIL Project eMuseum. Besides fossil arthropods and foraminifera, outreach and science communication are Sam’s favorite research topics. She will be graduating from the University of Florida in Spring 2020 with her B.Sc. in Geology. After this, she will begin her Masters education in Paleontology in the Fall.

Wildlife biologist, Zoology Collections Manager

Wildlife biologist, Zoology Collections Manager

Curtis Schmidt – Museum Curator of Zoology, Instructor 

Curtis became the museum’s first official Zoological Collections Manager in 2011. A Hays native and FHSU grad, Curtis received his B.S. in biological sciences in 1999 and his M.S. in 2004. Curtis is no stranger to the museum, as he began as a curatorial assistant in Herpetology in 1998, eventually becoming associate curator of Herpetology and Mammalogy before being appointed Zoological Collections Manager. Because of his involvement in many research projects, Curtis’ contributions to the Herpetology and Mammalogy collections are numerous. As Zoological Collections Manager, his primary responsibilities are the Entomology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, Mammalogy and Ornithology Collections. Curtis also plays an active part in educational programming and exhibits.

Counselors 

Sophia Cajune. 
Undergraduate at Montana State University, camps alumnus (2019)

Sophia Cajune. Undergraduate at Montana State University, camps alumnus (2019)

Abby Ludlum. Camps alumnus (2018-2019)

Abby Ludlum. Camps alumnus (2018-2019)

Ethan Couture. Undergraduate at U. Maine, camps alumnus (2014-2019)

Ethan Couture. Undergraduate at U. Maine, camps alumnus (2014-2019)

Katie Gatlin. Camps alumnus (2015-2019)

Katie Gatlin. Camps alumnus (2015-2019)

Gaston Meya. Camps alumnus (2016-2019)

Gaston Meya. Camps alumnus (2016-2019)

Alex Landwehr. Fort Hays State University Student, camps alumnus (2017-2018)

Alex Landwehr. Fort Hays State University Student, camps alumnus (2017-2018)

Alese Thompson. Undergraduate at Oakland University, camps alumnus (2017-2019)

Alese Thompson. Undergraduate at Oakland University, camps alumnus (2017-2019)

Brandon Schmidt. Biology student; Camps alumnus (2018-2019)

Brandon Schmidt. Biology student; Camps alumnus (2018-2019)

Brenna Koehler. Biology student, Camps alumnus (2016-2019)

Brenna Koehler. Biology student, Camps alumnus (2016-2019)