During my PhD at Duke, I studied community dynamics in South Africa and seasonal antelope movements in Namibia. Now, my research focuses on the intersection of human, animal, and environmental health in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which spans five countries in central southern Africa. As a well-known "computer wizard" by friends and family alike, I use my skills to whip up biologically-based simulations of elephant movements for conservation application.
These days, I'm enjoying life in rural upstate NY. If you stop by, you'll find me plucking out new pieces on my classical guitar, trail running by the Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve, playing cards with my family, or photographing the many birds in my backyard.
PS - If any of this resonated with you, particularly my mental and physical health struggles, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.
Welcome! My name's Maggie, and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I'm an Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Wildlife Health Center in Ithaca, NY (read about the lands where I live and work here).
I was raised and schooled in Virginia: I studied math, computer science, and Russian at the College of William & Mary. A short post-graduation career as a computer programmer at IBM taught me that, while I love coding, I needed to spend more time outside and go back to my roots: a girlhood spent running around the forest with friends and siblings. In 2019 I enrolled at Duke University for a degree in the Environment program, and had the privilege to spend the next four years learning how the world works.
I also learned about mental and physical health, and how none of us can get through the PhD journey alone. In October 2021 I dealt with a severe mental health crisis while in the field; in November 2022 my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer; and in July 2023 I was diagnosed with a life-threatening bilateral pulmonary embolism (we are both doing okay these days, with the help of medication). These events forever changed how I view my work and life. Research and schooling and ecology are all incredibly important, but our time here is precious. I want to spend my time with family and friends, and doing something to protect and conserve the biodiversity of our planet.
Musical Note: Much of my approach to the world comes also from my strong musical background; I tend to listen and absorb the sounds of my environment before anything else. Growing up, Thursdays were always for piano lessons, and in college I picked up choral singing with the William & Mary Barksdale treble chorus, the William & Mary Russian Music Ensemble, and an all-female Russian barbershop quartet of my own founding. After graduation, I formed a casual choral quintet, the Kalorama Camarata, in Washington, DC. Arranging, practicing, and performing with those ladies has been one of the highlights of my musical career. Nowadays, my musical itch is soothed by the dulcet tones of my Cordoba spruce-top parlor guitar, an expensive purchase made in the throes of early pandemic blues. 😅 I don't regret it!