Meet Our Staff
NJ Audubon's research and monitoring team comes from a variety of backgrounds, each bringing unique talents and areas of expertise. Together, they form a cohesive group to design and conduct scientifically sound professional research projects and programs that focus on conservation issues at the forefront of local, state, national and international concerns. Most of our staff are based at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research and Education. Additional staff, as well as the Citizen Science programs, are based mainly out of our Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary.
David Mizrahi, PhD
Vice President for Research
David Mizrahi has been Vice-president for Research and Monitoring at New Jersey Audubon since 2000. He earned his Ph.D. with honors in Zoology from Clemson University in 1999. The focus of his dissertation research was the behavior and ecophysiology of Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers during spring migration stopovers in Delaware Bay. This work has continued and been expanded at NJ Audubon to encompass the conservation of migratory shorebirds using the Delaware Bay stopover and on wintering grounds in northern South America. During his tenure at Clemson he worked with Dr. Sidney A. Gauthreuax, Jr., studying migration stopover ecology of landbirds using National Weather Service Doppler radar data. At NJ Audubon, he and his staff are using National Weather Service Doppler radar data to identify critical stopover sites used by nocturnally migrating landbirds during passage through the mid-Atlantic region. Also, they have been involved in several projects using mobile marine radar systems to assess the potential impacts of tall structures on aerial vertebrates. Project locations include the mid-Atlantic Appalachian Mountains, the coastal plain of southern New Jersey, the Tug Hill Plateau region of New York and Block Island in Long Island Sound. Under his direction, NJA Research and Monitoring staff also work on a variety of other initiatives, such as "Assessing the effects of contaminants on birds breeding in urban landscapes," "Determining avian behavioral responses and productivity to grassland management on military and civilian airfields" and "Relationships between airfield habitat management and bird/aircraft strike hazards."
Nellie Tsipoura, PhD
Senior Research Scientist and Director of Citizen Science
Dr. Tsipoura coordinates a number of studies that involve an army of volunteers throughout the state of NJ to monitor bird populations. In addition, she directs NJ Audubon’s urban ornithology research. Current ongoing projects include a study on foraging habitat use and behavior of egrets and herons in wetlands of the NY/NJ Harbor, as well as a seasonal migrant shorebird survey along coastal New Jersey. In research, Nellie strives to bridge measures of bird ecology and behavior with measures of habitat loss, pollution, and other human disturbances, and their potential effects.
Dr. Tsipoura earned her Ph.D. from Rutgers University for work on eco-physiological and hormonal aspects of wintering and migration in shorebirds. She has over 25 years of experience on bird ecology, behavior, and population biology on a variety of bird species in New York, New Jersey, Washington, Virginia, Georgia, Venezuela and Mexico. Prior to joining the NJ Audubon staff in 2004, the majority of her work involved ornithological research for non-profit organizations including National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Wildlife Conservation Society. She has published numerous articles on shorebird ecology, heavy metal contaminants in birds and horseshoe crabs, as well as the effects of oiling on birds. She is also the co-author of the Harbor Heron Conservation Plan to be published later this year.
Kristin Mylecraine, PhD
Senior Research Scientist
Dr. Mylecraine received a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University. Before joining New Jersey Audubon, Kristin worked as a postdoc at Ohio State University, studying population genetics of migratory and resident Canada Geese, and as a Research Biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, studying grassland birds.
Kristin joined New Jersey Audubon in 2008, and is currently a Project Coordinator for the Grassland Citizen Science project. This project is a cooperative effort between NJ Audubon and the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program, designed to monitor the abundance and distribution of grasslands bird populations on private lands enrolled in incentive programs, as well as assess the effectiveness of these programs. She is also involved in a variety of other Citizen Science projects, including the statewide Nightjar survey, and the Harbor Heron survey in the Meadowlands and Raritan Bay areas, as well as a variety of breeding and migration surveys in urban wetlands. Kristin currently works out of our Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary in Bernardsville.
René (Kochenberger) Buccinna
René holds an MS in Biology, focusing on animal behavior, and joined NJ Audubon originally in 1982 as Research Assistant for the Cape May Bird Observatory (now the Northwood Center). She worked with Peter Dunne thru 1987 to establish and document Cape May’s importance to migratory birds, and build the foundation which has grown into today’s Center for Research and Education. During that time, she was co-author of the Peregrine Observer, organized Cape May Spring and Autumn Weekends, and supervised various research projects to quantify and statistically analyze the official hawk counter daily data. She conducted research on small mammals in various Cape May County habitats, and is co-author of “Hawk Watch: A Guide for Beginners.” She has been active in the Cape May Raptor Banding Project since 1980.
René returned to NJ Audubon in 2007 as Administrative Assistant for Research and Education. During her absence, she spent her time in the hospitality industry, where she honed her skills on the computer as well as in office management, always managing to weave nature awareness and conservation into tours and activities developed for senior citizen groups in NJ as well as throughout the United States. Coupled with her biology and research background, she currently manages the majority of the day to day department office duties, as well as keeping track of the many seasonal technicians for the department’s myriad of ongoing research projects. She has assisted in editing reports, helps maintain the research portion of the NJ Audubon website, and occasionally writes for NJ Audubon magazine.
RESEARCH PROJECT COORDINATORS
Michael Cobb Allen
Mike has a B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Rutgers University, and an M.S. from East Stroudsburg University where he studied the responses of Acadian flycatchers to eastern hemlock decline.
Mike has worked for NJ Audubon since March 2008, when he joined our multi-year study of grassland bird populations on military airports, funded by the Department of Defense. Prior to joining NJ Audubon, Mike worked on a variety of bird-related field projects from Alaska to Cuba. His excellent GIS skills and sharp eye for bird identification has made him an invaluable asset to our field technician teams. In 2010, he will lead a field crew, which will locate and monitor the productivity of grassland bird nests on airports in Massachusetts, New Jersey (Lakehurst), and Maryland. He has also assisted in our ongoing Delaware Bay and South American wintering and migratory stopover studies of the Semipalmanted Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla).
Bob received his BS in physics and chemistry from Rutgers University and spent 2 years studying physics in grad school at Cornell University. His passion for birding led him to pursue a career studying bird migration. After spending a summer monitoring Burrowing Owls in southeast Arizona, he returned to NJ and worked for NJ Audubon Society as a Hawk Counter at Sandy Hook in the spring of 2004. Bob was also the counter at the Seawatch in Avalon later that fall. The following summer he conducted grassland bird counts at the Atlantic City International Airport as part of the Department of Defense multi-year study on grassland birds, and later worked with GIS software to map out the data. Bob then joined NJ Audubon as a full time Research Associate. Over the past four years his research has been directed towards using marine radars in conjunction with software development to gain some insight into migration patterns. His software knowledge has produced new methods of utilizing weather radar data and nocturnal bird migration data to better predict important stopover areas, as well as effects of weather on nocturnal migration patterns.
Patti joined New Jersey Audubon in 1997 as a Research Associate after volunteering for NJ Audubon for many years in various projects. She holds a federal master bird banding permit and worked on an MS in Biology at Northern Arizona University. She has 30 years experience working with raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds in Cape May County as well as in Arizona and Texas. Patti supervised banding operations for the avian community monitoring project of the Colorado River corridor in Grand Canyon National Park, and for the assessment of avian composition of desert oases in central Arizona. She currently supervises the field crew for the ongoing shorebird project assessing the dynamics of fat accumulation in Semipalmated and Least sandpipers during spring migration stopovers in Delaware Bay. Patti also works as a Global Information System analyst for the avian migration stopover project.