Desert Institute Instructors
|CYNTHIA ANDERSON has a BA in Marine Mammal Biology form UC Santa Cruz and an MS in Natural Resources/Wildlife Biology from Humboldt State University and she has been working as a field biologist and environmental educator for more than 30 years. Her teaching experience includes students from a wide variety of ages and diverse backgrounds, from K-12 graders, community college students and CA Conservation Corps crew members. Cynthia is currently an NPS Ranger at Joshua Tree National Park.|
|MISHA ASKREN is an outings leader for the Sierra Club and is an instructor in the Wilderness Travel Course. He leads trips that are “off-trail” in the wilderness in the Sierras, the San Gabriels and in Joshua Tree.|
|KRISTIN H. BERRY, Ph.D. is Supervisory Research Wildlife Biologist at the Western Ecological Research Center of the United States Geological Survey, and current board member of the Desert Tortoise Council. Dr. Berry has published over fifty scientific journal articles about desert tortoises, as well as numerous technical reports, magazine articles and books. She has organized and instructed a great variety of scientific symposia and workshops, and made research presentations to many different professional groups such as the Desert Tortoise Council.
|DAVID CHAPPELL, Ph.D., Astronomy, Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy, University of La Verne, has taught astronomy and physic since 2000. Chappell’s research interests include star formation, galaxy evolution, and computational astrophysics. His interest in archaeo-astronomy has led him to study in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, the Shetland Islands, and the Kingdom of Tonga.
|DON CHAMBERS has been hiking, climbing and taking pictures in Joshua Tree and throughout the west for 45 years. His early interest in the outdoors led him to an MS in Geography. He was a naturalist in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest for the USFS, taught geology of the National Parks at Valley College and Cal Poly, and for the last 36 years has been the manager of consulting services at ESRI.
|CHRIS CLARKE is a natural history and environmental writer, an editor and photographer. It was in the mid-1990s that Chris’ fondness for the desert southwest, nascent since he first visited as an adult in the early 80s, blossomed into an obsession. He’s traveled extensively in the Mojave, Great Basin and Sonoran deserts, as well as in the steppes and slickrock country of the Colorado Plateau. Chris currently writes for KCET and the Beaconreader.com. He is working on a book on Joshua trees, which will be based on over a decade of research.
|JEANETTE CLOUGH’S collection, Flourish, was published in 2014 by Tebot Bach. She is also author of Island (Red Hen Press) and Cantatas (Tebot Bach), both of which include poems emerging from time spent in and around Joshua Tree National Park. Her poetry appears in the Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Atlanta Review, Pool, and other journals and anthologies. Clough is an art researcher, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and in 2012 she was Artist in Residence at JTNP.
|PAUL DELEY obtained his Ph.D. in Invertebrate Zoology at Ghent University, Belgium in 1994 and moved to Riverside in 2000 to joined the Department of Nematology at UCR as a faculty member. His research focuses on ecology, diversity and systematics of nematodes in arid ecosystems, using methods that combine light microscopy observations with DNA sequence analyses. His current teaching duties include annual upper division undergraduate courses at UCR on the subjects of Invertebrate Zoology and Biology of Nematodes, and his past teaching also included subjects such as Soil Ecology, Arthropod Diversity, and Theoretical Systematics. He is an avid nature photographer with particular interest in macro photography as a tool for exploring biodiversity of Southern Californian deserts and ranges.
|PAUL DELANEY, Ph.D. is a tenured professor of biology at Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree. He is the USFWS-authorized tortoise biologist for the CMC translocation area, and has been monitoring the tortoise population at the 85 acre preserve on campus since 2007. A field biologist since 1977, Delaney has conducted zoological research in California, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and published over two dozen scientific papers.
|TODD ESQUE, Ph.D., Ecology Evolution, and Conservation Biology, is a reseach ecologist with the USGS Western Ecological Research Center, Henderson, Nevada. His research studies include projects to determine how desert tortoises, Mojave ground squirrels, golden eagles, long-lived plants, and biodiversity will respond to climate change.
|CRAIG FUCILE, B.A., Physical Geography, teaches photography for University of California, Riverside Extension. A longtime instructor, Fucile has taught numerous photography workshops in western landscapes that he enjoys photographing including: Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Eastern Mojave, Owens Valley, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Anza-Borrego, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia. He received the Fall 2010 Instructor Excellence Award from UC Riverside Extension and the 2007 Distinguished Instructor Award from UC Irvine Extension.|
|MONICA GORMAN holds a Ph.D in Biology and a J.D. She has spent most of the last 20 years teaching a wide range of biology courses at colleges in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, although she took time off from teaching to earn her J.D., work as a biotechnology patent lawyer, and travel. She moved to Joshua Tree in 2011 and currently teaches at Los Angeles City College, the Twentynine Palms Marine Base, and College of the Desert. She is an avid desert enthusiast and spends most of her free time exploring and hiking in Joshua Tree National Park.|
|LAURIE GREEN is a certified interpretive guide through the National Association of Interpreters and a paramedic and NOLS wilderness EMT. She has been an instructor for seven years, teaching life saving techniques to the public and professionals. Laurie is also a hike leader and works with the Desert Institute and National Forest Association.
|James Heintz is the Climate Change and Botany & Research lead for Joshua Tree National Park managing species in Transition Zones in a large scale climate change project still in its early stages. The project is in partnership with National Park Service, University of California Riverside, The Wildlands Conservancy and The Mojave Desert Land Trust. James works with Cameron Barrows of the Center for Conservation Biology on climate change in Joshua Tree National Park.
|KATHI KLOPFENSTEIN has been making pine needle baskets for 20 years. Her pine needle basketry has won awards at the San Bernardino County Fair, Del Mar Fair, and California State Fair and has been exhibited at numerous venues in southern California. Kathi is a member of Chaparral Artists, Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council, Misti Washington Gourd and Basket Guild, Los Angeles Basketry Guild, Bay Area Basketmakers, and Columbia Basin Basketry Guild.|
|KERRY KNUDSEN is the Curator of Lichens for the UC Riverside Herbarium. Kerry, a recognized expert in the study of Lichen in California, not only oversees and adds to the lichen collection at UCR Herbarium, but is also a principal contributor of lichen data to the Plant Atlas Project based at the San Diego Museum of Natural History. Kerry is currently working on the Lichen Flora of Southern California as well as the genus Acarospora for the Lichen Flora of the Greater Sonoran Desert Region.|
|EDWARD LARUE, JR., M.S. specializes in California desert biota as field investigator and scientist for Circle Mountain Biological Consultants, Inc. In 2005 he authored the Copper Mountain College Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), and in 2008, he implemented the federal and state permits for the HCP. In 2007 he organized and coordinated a multi-agency effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), California Department of Fish and Game, National Park Service (JTNP), BLM and San Bernardino County to establish a tortoise conservation area in the Morongo Basin. LaRue has received numerous awards for his conservation work with desert tortoises.|
|KURT LEUSCHNER, M.S., Wildlife Ecology, Professor of Natural Resources, College of the Desert. Leuschner’s specialties include ornithology, entomology, and desert ecology. He has led hundreds of field trips both locally and as far afield as Africa. He teaches natural history courses for the Bureau of Land Management, UCR Extension, the Desert Institute, the Living Desert, California State Parks, Riverside County Parks, and many other conservation organizations.|
|JIM LOWERY is a nationally known tracker and author of The Tracker’s Field Guide. He has taught tracking to thousands of students, including many special trainings for field biologists, universities, naturalists, and park rangers. Some of his specialized field workshops have focused on tracking individual species including bighorn sheep, badgers, mountain lions, elk and black bears.
|DANIEL MC CARTHY, M. S., Anthropology, has worked at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and throughout Southern California compiling photographic inventories of the rock art of this region. He is the Director of the Cultural Resources Management Department with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. His research interests include desert archaeology, aboriginal trail systems, and rock art.
|DIANE McCLARY graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington with a major in teaching and art and studied with the well-known impressionist artist Sergei Bongart. Her paintings are distinguished by her unique use of color. She has taught workshops nationally, in Washington, California, and Florida, as well as demonstrated for various art groups. She has had solo shows in the Northwest and has exhibited at the Frye Art Museum and the Clymer Museum in Washington, as well as in Palm Desert, California. Her studio and gallery is located in La Quinta, California.
|DENNIS MAMMANA, M.S., Astronomy, has delivered the wonder and mystery of the cosmos to audiences for over three decades. A nationally syndicated newspaper columnist with Creators Syndicate and author of six books on popular astronomy, Mammana is also an accomplished night sky photographer and invited member of TWAN—an international team of the most highly acclaimed sky photographers on the planet. Mammana photographs the heavens from around the world, but mostly from his desert home in Borrego Springs.www.dennismammana.com|
|JIM NATAL is the Pushcart Prize-nominated author of 52 Views: The Haibun Variations, Memory and Rain, and two previous poetry collections. His work has appeared in many journals and anthologies. The co-founder of indie publisher Conflux Press, he directs The Literary Southwest series at Yavapai College in Prescott, AZ.
|RALPH NORDSTROM has had several careers in education, along the way teaching the full gambit from pre-school to adult, and handicapped to gifted. Branching into photographic workshops was a very natural path for him. His philosophy on workshops is simple: They are successful when the attendees return home with a few great photographs and feeling that they have expanded what he likes to call their “Creative Vocabulary”, that is, their ability to express themselves through their photography.|
|ROBERT PELLENBARG, Ph.D., Professor of Geology, College of the Desert, Palm Desert, CA. Dr. Pellenbarg spent twenty five years as a research chemist with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He currently teaches Earth Sciences, Geology, Chemistry and Oceanography at the College of the Desert.|
|NICOLE PIETRASIAK received her Ph.D. in the Soil and Water Program at UC Riverside. Currently she is a post-doctoral fellow at John Carroll University, Ohio. Her research interests include soil science, botany, algal biodiversity, and desert ecology. Ms. Pietrasiak has conducted extensive research on cryptobiotic crusts across the western U.S. and has made major contributions to the study of abundance, distribution, and diversity of cryptobiotic crusts at Joshua Tree National Park.|
|TED REEVES, B.A., Geology, taught sciences at Chaffey High School for 37 years. He is presently teaching for University of the Pacific and believes that a relevant Natural History class requires an outdoor experience. In 2000, he received the National Association of Geology Teachers Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award.|
|STEFANIE RITTER, M. S. Zoology, Botany, and Genetics, has taught Biology at Copper Mountain College and presently holds the position of Museum Coordinator for the Hi-Desert Nature Museum in Yucca Valley. She is responsible for all educational programs. Ritter has also taught geography, ecology, and botany for National University at the Twentynine Palms Campus.|
|JOHN SCAHILL, M.F.A., Illustration. Art has always had a great influence on John’s life. He draws, paints, and creates any chance he gets. John earned his private pilot’s license in high school with a desire to fly the rest of his life. That changed after six years in the United States Marine Corps. Once off active duty John earned a BFA with honors in illustration from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. After a brief stay at Norton Simon museum John gave teaching a try in a private art studio. He fell in love with it and has taught Beginning Drawing, Watercolor/ Mixed Media, and Painting 1 & 2 at Mount San Jacinto College. As a freelance illustrator the artist has earned an MFA through the Academy of Art in San Francisco.|
|ALLAN SCHOENHERR, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Ecology, Fullerton College, is an expert on California flora and fauna, as exemplified by two major books he has authored, A Natural History of California and A Natural History of the Islands of California. Schoenherr has been doing research, traveling, and photographing the southwestern desert for many years. In addition to teaching ecology at several universities, he has led many field courses throughout the deserts of California.|
|DONALD SCRIVEN is an interpretive guide and desert naturalist working towards a degree in Natural Resources. Born and raised in the Coachella Valley, he enjoys the great outdoors of this beautiful yet harsh environment, year round. He also appreciates how unforgiving it can be to anyone lost, stuck, or just broken down along the side of the road.|
|DARRELL SHADE is a retired high school teacher and recognized botanist/desert naturalist for Joshua Tree National Park. Shade has a deep love for the desert and its enormous variety of plant and animal life as well as being a master teacher. He has worked closely with Joshua Tree National Park botanists over the last 20 years and keeps up on all the new floral discoveries being made in the park.|
|DIANA SHAY DIEHL, M.Ed., has over 25 years of teaching experience from kindergarten to graduate level college courses. Her love of using photography to capture the nuances of life has been a life-long venture beginning with formal training in black and white film processing under the tutelage of Andrew Shumaker, a photographer and former student of Ansel Adams. Her training continued with various university classes and most recently, in Italy where she intends to return each summer to work on alternative printing processes. She prefers getting intimate with her subject in the natural or industrial worlds – especially in our magical Mojave light; bringing into focus those everyday things that tend to be overlooked and unseen.|
|CHRIS SMITH. Ph.D., Biology, has studied the biology of Joshua trees for ten years, and has taught evolutionary biology at Willamette University for five years. He has led research expeditions in California, Nevada, Arizona, Baja California, and central Mexico. Chris Smith is a recent recipient of the National Science Foundation Career Award for his work on coevolution of Yucca Moths and Joshua trees.
|MARK WHEELER has a M.S. in Education and a journeyman’s degree in natural history, having spent most of forty years hiking and studying the mountain and desert landscapes of the west coast. Mr. Wheeler has worked extensively with wilderness-adventure programming groups such as Outward Bound, training both students and instructors in wilderness travel skills and group dynamics. A working writer, he has focused on subjects about the natural world.|