The Team

Caren Cooper

Caren Cooper, PhD

Caren is an Associate Professor in Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University and Assistant Head of the Biodiversity Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Caren’s research focuses on bird behavior and reproduction, residential stewardship and conservation, and community pollution bio-monitoring and mapping. She has two current citizen science projects: Sparrow Swap and Sound Around Town. She is the author of Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery.

Suzanne Hartley

Suzanne is a graduate student at North Carolina State University pursuing a master’s degree in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation. She became interested in birds, insects, fungi and plants through her experience growing up on a farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Her previous research experiences include working with juvenile salmon and aquatic insects in Alaska and studying the use of parasitic nematodes as a control for an invasive cranefly. She is also passionate about sharing the curiosities of science and the natural world with people of all backgrounds and ages.

Christine Hawn, PhD

Christine is an ecologist and science communicator at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. She received her PhD in Zoology at North Carolina State University with a focus in conservation biology. Christine’s research interests lie in human-animal conflicts, food webs, and habitat fragmentation. In addition to Sparrow Swap, Christine has a citizen science project on cellar spiders called Food Webs of Our Homes. Her super power is that she can make anyone fall in love with spiders (yes, even you). She might one day trade that in for flying. Seems more useful.

Mariah Patton

Mariah is a recent graduate from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a Bachelors of Science, majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She is interested in plant genetics and biotechnology exploration, bat population dynamics of Eastern TN in the face of white nose syndrome, ecomorphology of ant species throughout eastern US in relation to climate and climate change, macro invertebrate herbivory and nitrogen deposition effects on dominant grassland plant species, and feral horse herbivory effects on desert plant community dynamics. Presently, Mariah is very excited to be a part of engaging the public in more research through citizen science at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. She helped successfully expand the Sparrow Swap in 2016 and is now currently working to kickstart an urban soundscape project called Sound Around Town. In her free time, Mariah also is an amateur gardener and baker, a semi-professional roller derby skater named Tempest on the Carolina Roller Girls, and loves to assist in bat conservation outreach, drink good stouts, go on long hiking and camping trips.

Aubrey Wiggins

Aubrey is a naturalist who enjoys all wildlife from bluebirds to turtles to moths. At the Museum, Aubrey can be found helping curate mice in the mammal’s collection, entering data for the herpetology research lab at Prairie Ridge Ecostation, talking to visitors about flesh eating beetles, and being an essential part of the Sparrow Swap Team. As part of the Sparrow Swap Team, Aubrey photographs the house sparrow eggs when they arrive at the Museum, monitors the team’s bluebird boxes, creates Facebook posts, and keeps everybody smiling.

Imani Bell

Imani is a recent graduate of the University of South Florida. She has a bachelors in science and majored in Environmental science. her interest is in big mammals and hopes to get into field work, hence why she got started on Sparrow Swap. Albeit she is working mostly with bird eggs, she does have a passion for land mammals, like big cats, elephants, etc. and hopes to make a career in wildlife conservation and rehabilitation.

Katherine Lane

Katherine is a senior undergraduate student at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in Environmental Science with a focus in ecology and natural resources. Her main interest is the effects of climate change on ecology. She is an intern with Sparrow Swap for the fall semester, and spends most of her time at the Museum unpacking and archiving eggs once they arrive at the lab. Outside of work, Katherine is a member of an all-female a cappella group at UNC called the Loreleis, enjoys SCUBA diving, and spending time outdoors.

Cole Parlier

Cole is currently a senior at NC State double majoring in Fisheries, Wildlife, Conservation Biology and Environmental technology. Cole’s love for the outdoors and wildlife began as a small child on his grandfather’s farm where he spent countless days exploring the forest, feeding cows, watching wildlife, and trying not to get yelled at for going too far away from the house. Cole’s main area of interest is endangered non-game species and charismatic megafauna. He plans to volunteer for the Peace Corps upon graduation and hopes to become a research scientist. In his free time, you can find him hiking, camping, or binge watching his favorite TV shows with no self-control.

Citizen Scientists (You!)

You too can be part of the Sparrow Swap Team by joining the project, sending house sparrow eggs to the Museum, and sharing your observations and feedback with us. You can join the project in SciStarter by clicking here.