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Former EPA scientist joins Wisconsin-based bird observatory

Jennifer Phillips-Vanderberg

The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, the only full-time bird observatory on Lake Michigan, has named Jennifer Phillips-Vanderberg as its new science director.

Phillips-Vanderberg is a Ph.D. biologist with extensive experience conducting ornithological research. For the last two years, she has worked as a life scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago, addressing pollution-control issues in the Great Lakes Region, primarily in eastern and southern Wisconsin.

Phillips-Vanderberg is a graduate of Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She received her doctorate in animal behavior in 2016 from the University of California-Davis, where she used a combination of museum and field methods to study the evolutionary relationships among climate, life history, and coloration in 101 species of birds.

She arrives at the observatory, which has its headquarters at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve near Port Washington, Wisconsin (Hotspot Near You No. 156), with a life-long affection for the Great Lakes region and a deep appreciation for the issues facing the region and its birdlife.

She grew up in Michigan in a town on Lake Huron and worked for years as a naturalist at Michigan DNR’s Saginaw Bay Visitor Center, in Bay City, where she taught ornithology, conservation biology, ecology, wildlife management, and other subjects to students, developed an outreach program that used bird banding as a gateway to biology, and surveyed bird populations.

Phillips-Vanderberg succeeds Bill Mueller, who is retiring after nearly a decade of service as the observatory’s director. Mueller, one of Wisconsin’s top ornithologists, is an occasional contributor to BirdWatching.

Mueller and Phillips-Vanderberg will deliver presentations at the Observatory’s upcoming Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit on Friday and Saturday, November 1-2.

Thanks to the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory for providing this news. 

Read a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel profile of Bill Mueller

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