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Meet the CREW

blank Biomes Defined Meet the Crew Biome Trivia ORDER VIDEOS Biology Video Podcasts (Science Podcasting) Biology Newsletter: from Explore Biodiversity

Rob Nelson Rob Nelson

Rob Nelson was born in Denver, Colorado in 1979. Since then he attended primary school in Texas, completed university work in Miami, Australia, Texas, Oregon, Hawaii and Montana. These academic pursuits have taken him to six different colleges for coursework, and multiple tropical and subtropical habitats for scientific study.

Teaching has always come naturally for Rob. He has taught seven semesters of undergraduate lab classes in introductory biology, ecology and marine biology. He has also taught classes for Duke University's Talent Identification Program (TIP) in Costa Rica. Rob continually works to improve his teaching style and ability to engage his students. Outside of school, he worked as a Scuba Dive master and a Nature Tour Guide in Hawaii demonstrating his ability to communicate the wonder of the outdoors with non-scientists. It is this passion for science and education that has inspired Rob to produce documentary films.

From an early age, Rob had an interest in video and story-telling. His first short films were action hero and adventure videos, a style which has never really left his videos. As an undergraduate he saved up money and bought his first 3CCD digital video camera and began shooting wildlife documentaries. His first documentaries featured stories of Oregon wildlife while working as a Salmon researcher. He then documented two trips to Colorado along multiple mountain ridges. This work lead to a video project for the Army Corps of Engineers about Aquatic Plants in Texas. After moving to Hawaii, he made several sports-related videos including the UH swim team video and a historical film entitled, “Hawaii’s Swimming Legacy”. The University of Hawaii Biology Department funded the production of 12, 2-minute shorts to be played at the beginning of biology lab classes. Then in June of 2003, Rob began filming “The Biodiversity of Mexico”, his biggest and most costly documentary to date. In 2004, Rob and crew member Joseph Coleman documented their bike ride (Cycling the Last Frontier) from Seattle, WA to Anchorage, AK and raised money for the non-profit organization SEACOLOGY. Later that year, after defending his masters thesis in Shrimp-Goby Behavioral Ecology, Rob and Jonas Stenstrom set off to film a documentary entitled, “Hawaii: Biodiversity Forgotten,” a bio-adventure documentary following their journey over each of the seven main Hawaiian islands and across their ocean channels.

Rob Nelson Hawaii LavaCurrently, Rob is a student at the Montana State University Department of Science and Natural History Filmmaking. Future work will focus on invasive species, and online educational documentaries that teachers can use as aids in the classroom.

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Jonas StenstromJonas Stenstrom

Jonas' great interest in nature and biology began while pursing BS in science and marine biology at James Cook University, Australia. Located in the tropical regions of Australia, he participated in many voluntary projects ranging from gliders in eucalyptus forests to starfish on the tropical coral reefs.

In 1999 I started working as a marine biologist guide on the reefs off Airlie Beach on Australia's east coast. The following year I continued working as a combined marine biologist and Dive master, organizing and supervising dive and adventure tours on the Great Barrier Reef. After returning to Sweden, I started working as a guide at Sweden’s National Science Center, teaching visitors about science in areas such as the oceans and rainforests. I also began working on an ecotoxicological project through Gothenburg University, investigating the toxic effects of a group of polycyclic-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to natural assemblies of marine micro algal communities. My study was a part of a larger international project (called BEAM) funded by the European Union set out to study the toxic effects of a large number of chemical pollutants on the marine environment. In these days, the health of the oceans are unfortunately jeopardized by human impacts such as oil spill, use of toxic boat paints and pollution runoff from land. Since chemicals generally never occur individually but often in complex mixtures, it was important to investigate possible mixture effects and if such effects can in anyway be predicted in environmental risk assessments. For my masters project I studied the regeneration ability of echinoderm appendages and neural system.

My passion for the great outdoors and adventure drives me to always move on to new challenges. Teaching science to both school kids as well as adults and inspire them to get out and get active is to me, one of the biggest kicks in life. I currently teach evening classes in marine science to adults as well as general biology in middle school. Teaching scuba and taking people on tours in the ocean also takes up a lot of my time.

I believe that in one way or another, we have all been touched by the beauty of nature.

Jonas StenstromWhether or not we live in a region of the world dependent on fisheries as a major source of food, watching majestic lions roaming an african savannah, viewing lush tropical rain forests on TV or we just enjoy heading down to the beach for a swim or surf, we can all appreciate the natural wonders of life. Unfortunately , these environments and many of their inhabitants, just like many other natural regions of the world, are under serious threat, potentially leading to extinction. Often this threat is just a result of lack of knowledge. On the news we hear more and more frequently that an animal species is close to extinction or an area of the world is threatened. Still, our lives move on like we had nothing to do with it. It is so easy in these situations to live by the rule that “If it doesn't affect me directly, it doesn’t affect me at all.” It is not difficult to make that little difference that could do so much.

What I hope we can achieve by making these movies is to open the eyes of at least a part of the public, and let them see how much there is out there to see, explore and experience. I hope we can show how everyone can go and Explore Biodiversity themselves and at the same time care for the environment.

Jonas Stenstrom


Hazen AudelHazen Audel

Hazen is a native of Eastern Washington. He is an avid adventurer and currently works as an artist and biology teacher. He has been a leader of outdoor experiences for over 15 years. Hazen has recently received his Bachelors of Science in biology from Western Washington University. He has also studied botany and zoology at Eastern Washington University and Northwest Indian College, and has completed advanced studies in tropical ecology at the University of Hawaii.

Hazen works as an instructor for Outward Bound Outdoor Schools and independently as a visiting speaker. He is a public school educator, concentrating on natural history, rainforest ecology, and biology. Hazen's passion for nature is an integral part of his character. He is a "hands-on" educator.

He has been guiding natural history trips in South America since 1993. He has been heavily influenced by indigenous people and has pursued his interests in outdoor survival and primitive skills.

In 1998, Hazen traveled to The Malocus and Irian Jaya, Indonesia, in pursuit of further adventures in one of the most remote places in the world. He carried out independent biology and ethnobotany research which inadvertently tested this survival skills. (Ask him about it!)

Hazen's vision is to carry on adventure education to both young people and adults focusing on awareness, personal growth, earth skills, nature, and conservation.

Joseph Coleman

Hello, my name is Joseph. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Coming from an area rich in mountains and evergreens, I developed an interest in my surroundings at a young age. Audubon books filled my shelves. To see a unknown species of mushroom in my back yard was an exciting opportunity to investigate and discover.

Later, at age 17, I would attend a mountaineering school where I developed skills to safely climb the Olympic and Cascade mountains.

I enjoyed hiking in groups and getting to know people on the trail. A sense of adventure guided me to explore more. Namely, the world outside Washington state and the academic world of higher learning. With a friend of mine I spent 3 months riding motor cycles around the USA. I loved seeing the beauty of the Nation but I also enjoyed the subtle difference of the people in each state.

Joseph ColemanAfter my "easy rider" trip I entered The Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington. At Evergreen I took a couple of study abroad programs. One in France and the other in the Ivory Coast of West Africa. I graduated from Evergreen, with a Liberal Arts Degree, in 2000 and moved to Hawaii to explore the tropical Islands.

Naturally interested in my surroundings, I began to learn about Hawaii's interesting and unique flora and fauna. After studying the natural history of the Hawaiian Islands, I began to lead guided adventures for Oahu Nature Tours. I am now a senior guide and have worked with Oahu Nature Tours for two years. Living in Hawaii is leading me to explore new territories of higher learning. I plan to work on getting my masters in evolutionary biology at the University of Hawaii

Meena 'Loca' Walker Meena Walker

Spending the early years of my life on the island of O’ahu, my earliest childhood memories are of exploring and camping on O’ahu’s windward coast. Later my family moved to the Pacific Northwest and I learned to love the magnificent rainforests, mountains, and most of all, the Pacific coastline. Though the beaches in the Northwest aren’t covered in yellow sand and half naked bodies, they are timeless, and virgin in their beauty with few signs of humans besides foot prints in the sand. Growing up in Lacey, which is nestled at the base of the Puget Sound in WA State, I was surrounded by the scent of cedars, pines and firs, the sounds of bird songs, and the sights of nature that will stay with me forever.

After a mind-opening trip to Mexico with my high school Spanish teacher and 12 other students, my taste for adventure abroad took fire. My mind was filled with my experiences in the rich natural landscapes and the beautiful culture of Mexico. The excitement I felt with that initial trip has influenced my desire to learn about this fascinating world and has motivated me to share this fire with others.

At The Evergreen State College I studied chemicals and microorganisms that affect the central nervous system and cognitive psychology. After acquiring enough credits for a Bachelor of Science, but nearing enough for a dual degree, I decided to postpone graduation. I returned to Hawaii and spent a year outdoors learning about the natural history, current ecosystems, and conservation of native species as a tour guide for O’ahu Nature Tours. The R&R flew by and I returned to Evergreen taking environmental studies and botany earning my dual degree before the year’s end.

I’m an eclectic student of life. I like to think of my learning and teaching style as an interdisciplinary approach incorporating the study of life with the act of living. I enjoy examining questions such as: why did a plant or animal evolve particular chemicals toxic to other species around it and how do those chemicals effect humans? How are humans modifying the environment and what impact does that have on the functioning of the ecosystem and thus, the quality of the future of human life? How does the evolution of the human brain and cultures effect human behavior towards biodiversity in the present? I’m an environmentalist/neuroscientist and therefore approach questions from this perspective. Scientists are a curious breed and I’m here to tie the applications of the science, behind the wild classroom, to your life.

Suzi SerengetiSuzi Serengeti

Suzi's profile soon to come.

Video with Suzi Serengeti:

Suzi SerengetiDina Tucker

Dina Tucker was born in rural Arkansas in 1980.  She spent her childhood playing in the backyard, catching various animals and insects and surprising her mother at the dinner table.  As a teenager, she spent her free time exploring all that “The Natural State” has to offer, spending countless nights beneath the stars on the Buffalo National River with her father and sister.  At the age of 16 she moved to Hot Springs, AR to attend the Arkansas School for Math, Science, and the Arts.  This is where her love of science deepened, and merged with her love of the outdoors.  In the two years she lived in Hot Springs, she along with her adventurous group of friends, rafted the Buffalo, Mulberry, Kings, Spring, Ouachita, Little Missouri, and White Rivers extensively.  They camped every chance they got, including most weekends and all school breaks.

After graduation, she moved to Fayetteville, AR to attend the University of Arkansas, and majored in Zoology.  During her last two years of college she befriended Dr. Steven Beaupre, an assistant professor at the U of A who specialized in Animal Physiological Ecology, focusing generally on herpetofauna, specifically on the pit vipers of Arkansas.  Under the tutelage of Dr. Beaupre, Dina became enamored of the interdependence of all species, and thus her passion for biodiversity conservation was born.  Her studies also allowed her to earn credit for the one thing she loved the most: playing outside. 
At the end of her college career, she and a fellow herp student took off on a road trip to explore the west.  They hiked and camped in National Parks across Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, California, Utah and Arizona.  Upon their return, she became the assistant director of Camp Mountain Brook, an environmental education/recreation camp located on Lake Weddington near Fayetteville, which cultivated another of her passions:  educating others about the environment.  “My two favorite memories from that summer are 1) “rescuing” a young camper from a Black Rat Snake in the boys’ bathroom, and 2) witnessing an Eastern River Cooter lay her eggs, but especially the latter.  Standing with 40 children under the age of 10 in complete silence while watching nature in action was not only unheard of, but a moment that I will never forget as long as I live.  The great outdoors makes for a wonderfully effective classroom.” 

Not long after, she moved to Austin, TX, and became a science teacher.  She has taught every scientific discipline, but the thing she loved the most about teaching was inspiring young minds to become aware of their impact on the environment.  Under her guidance, her students started a recycling program at the school, became volunteer water quality monitors for the Lower Colorado River Authority, worked with Keep Austin Beautiful to clean up the urban spaces of Austin.  They also started an Alternative Physical Education club, or APE, organizing outings in Austin and surrounding areas to further their knowledge of the flora and fauna of Texas, and (you guessed it) playing outside. 

“Somewhere in the course of my life I developed a passion for environmental education.  I guess the seeds were planted as a kid in my attempt to stave off boredom, and I just kept feeding on the feeling that I got when I saw a snake sitting in a tree above the river, or listened to the frogs sing me to sleep.  I discovered a whole new exhilaration teaching others.  I feel it is my responsibility to share this love and fascination with the world around me, and I hope to inspire people to become more responsible citizens with every decision they make.”

Dina still lives with her two dogs in Austin, TX.  She has recently become interested in the politics of the environment, and enjoys picking up trash on the side of the road and growing her own vegetables. She is a member of the National Wildlife Federation, The Ocean Conservancy, The Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund.  She travels to Arkansas several times a year to visit family and friends, and continues to play outside every chance that she gets. 

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