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Kennedy students participate in 25 year study

Kennedy students were able to participate in a 25 year study led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Alaska District and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Region.

This year's research team was composed of two scholars from Mississippi State University—Riley Porter, graduate student, and George Williams, undergraduate student.



Ph.D. Students

Stephen A. Clements - Ph.D.


Hometown: Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

Previous Education: 
Mississippi State University, Master of Science (M.S.), Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture (2019)
Clemson University, Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Environmental and Natural Resources (2016)

Dissertation: Waterfowl Diets and Winter Foraging Habitat in South Atlantic Coastal and Inland Wetlands: Improving Inputs for Bioenergetics Modeling for Regional Conservation Planning

Stephen is evaluating diets of migrating and wintering waterfowl using South Atlantic wetlands and estimating the forage biomass and energetic density provided to waterfowl by those wetlands. This work will improve carrying capacity modeling efforts by the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture and its partners, who strive to meet population-based habitat objectives set by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

Masters Students

Duncan Fraser - M.S.


Hometown: Rolesville, North Carolina

Previous Education: 
North Carolina State University, Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology (2021)

Thesis: Shorebird Response to Wetland Restoration in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley

My research at Mississippi State studies the response of shorebirds and other migratory waterbirds to wetland restoration actions in various National Wildlife Refuges and Wildlife Management Areas in the Mississippi Delta. Between graduating from NC State and joining MSU, I worked on a variety of avian monitoring projects. After graduating, I worked in the Florida Keys conducting Roseate Spoonbill and Reddish Egret nest surveys with Audubon. Following that, I conducted avian point counts on multiple projects in Fort Bragg, NC, and in southern Indiana. Most recently, I worked for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, serving as the Coastal Plain crew lead for the North Carolina Bird Atlas.

Madelyn B. McFarland - M.S.


Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Previous Education: 
Louisiana State University, Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Natural Resource Ecology and Management (2017)

Thesis: An Evaluation of Avian Use of Marsh Terraces in Gulf Coastal Wetlands of Louisiana

I was born and raised in south Louisiana where I attended LSU for my undergraduate degree. After graduation, I worked as a technician on a nesting Brown Pelican research project in Southwest Louisiana. From there I left home and traveled to Michigan to begin my new role as Conservation Intern with Ducks Unlimited in the Great Lakes/Atlantic Region. I assisted in the delivery of DU's conservation program across the 21-state region, but I was particularly fond of our work in the coastal wetlands of the Great Lakes. I knew I wanted to continue working in coastal wetlands, so when I was offered a position to assess marsh terrace restoration in south Louisiana, I jumped at the bit. I am assessing the restoration benefits of marsh terraces for coastal Louisiana's avifauna (wintering waterfowl and breeding secretive marsh birds). I have recently accepted a position as a Biologist with DU Illinois in the Big Rivers Initiative. I am excited to continue my work with DU and to apply what I've learned as a master's student at Mississippi State University.

Hunter Mentges - M.S.


Hometown: Trappe, Maryland

Collaborating with the Poultry Science unit at Mississippi State, Hunter is measuring egg strength and thickness of 3 different species of cavity nesting waterfowl (Wood duck (Aix sponsa, Hooded merganser Lophodytes cucullatus, and Black-bellied whistling ducks Dendrocygna autumnalis) to better understand nest box ecology of all 3 species.

Riley Porter - M.S.


Hometown: Athens, Georgia

Previous Education: 
Brigham Young University, Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Wildlife and Wildlands Conservation

At MSU, Riley is studying nesting ecology of the Common Goldeneye and other cavity nesting waterfowl of the Boreal Forest in Central-Interior Alaska.

Sharilyn Taylor - M.S.


Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida

Previous Education: 
University of North Florida, Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Biology (2013)

Thesis: Assessing native bee (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) diversity in natural wetland plant communities of the Mississippi Delta

Sharilyn has a diversity of experience including monitoring tortoise populations in Florida, trapped snakes and sampled blood, participated in various marsh ecology work in Ponte Vedra, FL, and designed undergraduate honey bee research project while an undergraduate student.

Avery J. Wissmueller - M.S.


Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Previous Education: 
Grand Valley State University, Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Natural Resources Management (2021)

Thesis: Assessing water quality and phytoplankton presence on Wetland Reserve Easement program lands, reference wetlands, and croplands in the alluvial valleys of Mississippi and Louisiana

Avery is part of the development of an ecological monitoring and assessment framework for the NRCS Wetland Reserve Easement program. For her thesis, she is assessing water quality and phytoplankton presence from 38 study sites. She is measuring several infield water quality indicators and analyzes nutrient concentrations and algae presence from water samples in the lab. Before her time at MSU, Avery worked for Ducks Unlimited as a GIS Intern to update the National Wetlands Inventory for Michigan and West Virginia.

Undergraduate Students

Connor Fung-A-Fat - technician


Hometown: Flower Mound, Texas

Previously, I had the opportunity to work on an 8-state collaborative Wood Duck recruitment project where I gained exceptional experience monitoring and maintaining nest boxes, capturing and banding various duck species, aging ducks, and candling eggs. Currently, I have the pleasure of working on a 6-state collaborative Wetland Reserve Easement assessment project monitoring the ecology of various private and government owned wetlands in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Through this project, I have bolstered my bird identification skills, learned soil/vegetation sampling techniques and protocols, collected water quality data using Sonde technology, and gained proficiency in macroinvertebrate sampling techniques. I am also working on a shorebird habitat use project in relation to wetland restoration techniques, a project funded by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. I have gained valuable knowledge with shorebird identification and ecology, conducted shorebird habitat assessments, and continued to gain experience in data collection. Working under the Mississippi State Waterfowl program lab has given me skills, confidence, and knowledge that will greatly help me in pursuing a fulfilling career.

Jordan Proctor - B.S.


Hometown: Lima, New York

I am working on the 8-state collaborative wood duck recruitment project to monitor wood duck nests and band birds, viewing and synthesizing nest camera footage, assessing habitat conditions, measuring eggshell strength of wood duck eggs, and monitoring and tagging ducklings.

Logan Tomlinson - B.S.


Hometown: Olive Branch, MS

I have worked on an 8-state collaborative wood duck recruitment project monitoring wood ducks and other non-target species. Through that project, I acquired skills with waterfowl handling, banding, egg measurements, assessing habitat, and nest box maintenance. I am currently working on a 6-state collaborative Wetland Reserve Easement assessment project that monitors wetlands on both private and government owned properties. Interactions with landowners curious and passionate about their land quality have also been great experiences. I am gaining experience in soil/ vegetation sampling, water quality assessment, and macro-invertebrate sampling and analysis. I am also honing my skills in waterfowl and other bird identification by conducting numerous bird surveys in the field. I'm deeply grateful to the Mississippi State Waterfowl lab program for the opportunity to develop and grow professionally, gaining valuable skills along the way.