Staff & Board

The Pajarito Environmental Education Center is operated by a Board of Directors, staff members, and a corps of devoted volunteers. To contact us, please use the e-mail addresses below or the Contact page.


Katie Bruell

Executive Director

505.662.0460
director@peecnature.org

Katherine Bruell learned to love having dirty feet at years of Farm and Wilderness summer camps in Vermont, where she only put on shoes when she was on dish duty or a backpacking trip. She came to New Mexico to go to St. John’s College, where the Search and Rescue Team and trips to Canyonlands and Joshua Tree were highlights of her experiences in the Southwest. Katie says, “I love working at PEEC because I get to use my teaching skills and my administrative skills to help people enrich their lives through the outdoors.”


Siobhan Niklasson

Education Programs Director

505.662.0460
educator@peecnature.org

Environmental education made an early and lasting impression on Siobhan when Ellsworth the Owl visited her fourth-grade class in her home state of Maine. Since then she has been engaged in environmental outreach and education. Siobhan has a BS in geological and environmental sciences from Stanford University and an MS in geophysics from UC Santa Barbara. She came to Los Alamos in 2001, working for several years as a researcher at LANL in the areas of materials science and geophysics. She has also worked as an educator at the Randall Davey Audubon Center in Santa Fe and volunteered at the Wildlife Center in Española. She enjoys swimming, hiking, cross-country skiing, and seeing the world through the eyes of her two children. Siobhan served as a member of PEEC’s board of directors from October 2010 until July 2013, and then became the staff educator.

Kristen O’Hara

Director of Interpretation

505.662.0460
kristen@peecnature.org

Since her early childhood growing up in Santa Fe, NM, Kristen has had an overwhelming curiosity about the natural world. Sparked by her parents’ love of gardening and native plants, this curiosity has grown into a burning passion to share the natural world with diverse communities. After receiving a B.S. in Biology at the University of New Mexico, Kristen pursued a career in informal education, creating public programs, teaching school groups, and sharing conservation science with communities throughout the east coast at various nature museums, botanic gardens, and conservation organizations from Maine to Georgia to the Hudson River Valley in New York. Kristen joined the PEEC team in 2020 as the Director of Interpretation and looks forward to creating new exhibits and continuing to craft stellar programs! In her spare time, Kristen loves to hike (she’s always on the lookout for herps and pollinators), run, travel, garden, and watch movies (horror and sci-fi are her favorite genres).

Beth

Beth Cortright

Adventure Programs Manager

505.662.0460
adventure@peecnature.org

Beth spent most of her childhood running around the creeks and forests in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her parents always stressed the importance of volunteering and environmental protection, and it seems like it stuck. The biology department at the College of Mount St. Joseph was able to harness Beth’s outdoorsy nature, infect her with a travel bug, and enable her love of biology. A combination of good memories from visiting family in the southwest and caving expeditions in Carlsbad resulted in Beth moving to White Rock in 2012. She wasted no time getting involved with PEEC, first as a volunteer, then through an Americorps program called Public Allies, and finally joining the staff. Beth loves to get outside and explore and enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for nature, including hiking, caving, camping, and rock climbing.

Kate

Christa Tyson

Visitor Services Manager

505.662.0460
visitorservices@peecnature.org

As a young child, every time Christa told her mom she was “bored” her mom would respond “Well then, you can either play outside or do a chore!” When given the choice, she chose to play outside, exploring the woods and creeks near her house. She also spent most weekends and summer vacations at the lake by her grandparents’ home or on trips to the ocean. The exposure to water as a child led her down a path of environmental biology with a focus on marine life. Christa worked as a marine biologist in New York, Hawaii, and Australia, studying cetaceans, specifically spinner dolphins and humpback whales. In addition to her research background, she created outdoor education programs and coordinated volunteer efforts for marine non-profits. When she moved to New Mexico it was quite an adjustment! She now loves the dry air, breathtaking mesas, canyons, and bright blue skies. Christa has three children and is thrilled to raise them in such a kind, loving, and beautiful community. Christa joined the PEEC staff in June 2016.


Rachel Landman

Marketing Manager

505.662.0460
publicity@peecnature.org

Rachel grew up in Albuquerque, NM, and moved to Illinois to study at Knox College, where she was involved in the journalism and environmental studies programs and earned her B.A. in Creative Writing. After graduating, she briefly lived and worked in Sitka, Alaska. Prior to working at PEEC, Rachel worked at the Desert Oasis Teaching Gardens at Albuquerque Academy. Rachel enjoys hiking, birding, rock climbing, and playing with her dog, Hugo. Rachel joined the PEEC staff in March 2018.

Elizabeth Watts

Educator

505.662.0460
elizabeth@peecnature.org

Elizabeth has been camping and hiking basically her entire life. Growing up, every summer was spent camping across the country with her family. She still remembers her first visit to New Mexico 35 years ago where she earned her Bandelier Junior Ranger Badge and ate a tortilla burger in Taos. She has been involved in informal science education since volunteering at a hands-on science museum as a teenager and continued that work in college and graduate school. Elizabeth earned a B.S. in Physics at Birmingham-Southern College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Texas at Austin.  She moved to Los Alamos in 1999 and loves that she can be hiking on a trail within 5 minutes anywhere in town. While staying home with her young kids, she enjoyed bringing them to many of PEEC’s programs and is excited to be able to work here to help more children learn about the great area we live in. Elizabeth joined PEEC’s staff in August 2018.

Ashleigh Lusher

Gift Shop and Programs Coordinator

505.662.0460
a.lusher@peecnature.org

Ashleigh has loved animals for as long as she can remember. Some of her first memories in nature are taking trips with family to Estes Park and Yellowstone. It was while hiking through these beautiful landscapes and seeing the wildlife that lived there that she knew she had found her passion. Ashleigh attended college at Texas A&M University and studied Wildlife Ecology. She also found her love for teaching, minored in education, and student taught in a high school biology class. Prior to graduating, she interned with the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska as an instructor for their outdoor science camp. She enjoys skiing and hiking with her dog, Lincoln. Ashleigh joined the PEEC staff in September 2019.


Mariana Freeman Rivera

Field Science Specialist

505.662.0460
mariana@peecnature.org

Mariana began volunteering for PEEC in 2018 between field seasons in the Valles Caldera National Preserve studying the behavioral ecology of Gunnison’s prairie dogs. She holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Unity College in Maine, where she found her place in field research. During her time up north, she worked with painted turtles, black bears, and small mammals. She quickly fell in love with rodent societies and completed her undergraduate thesis on caching behavior in red squirrels. Mariana first came to environmental education while teaching at the Cincinnati Zoo. She joined the PEEC staff as a Field Science Specialist in 2020, and most enjoys working on education initiatives with communities in the Española Valley. She hopes to pursue graduate school in the near future to continue studying prairie dog ecology and historical biogeography. During her free time, Mariana enjoys hiking with her husband and corgi, playing all sorts of games, and dabbling in creative writing.

Elizabeth Allen

Board President

Elizabeth is originally from Utah but has lived in Idaho, California and New Mexico (although she prefers New Mexico).  She graduated from Brigham Young University (Provo) with a BA in International Politics and a minor in International Development.  Elizabeth received her J.D. from Pepperdine School of Law (Malibu, California).  She has worked as a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and has managed her own law firm since 2011.  After moving to Los Alamos in 2014, Elizabeth worked as a coordinator for the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and then the Los Alamos Teen Court program.  She has often gravitated toward mentoring and representing youth during her career, whether representing foster children in child protection court, advocating for children with disabilities or volunteering at the Los Alamos Teen Center.  Elizabeth teaches Business Law and Criminal Law at UNM-LA.  She is married to Los Alamos Golf Course Superintendent Matthew Allen and they have three children (8, 6, 2) who ask to go to PEEC on a weekly basis to look at the fish and build forts.

Jennifer

Jennifer Macke

Board Vice President

Jennifer grew up playing in the woods of Ohio and took particular interest in ponds, creeks, and anywhere she could get her good clothes muddy. She studied biology in college, and later received a master’s degree in molecular biology. She is currently employed as a Lab Operations Manager at the New Mexico Consortium. Since starting as a PEEC volunteer in 2007, she has served in a variety of roles, including animal curator and webmaster. She continues to play in ponds and creeks, and PEEC continues to be a place where she enjoys her interests in aquariums, terrariums, earthworms, and amphibians. Board Member 2007-2015 and rejoined in January 2018.


Mouser Williams

Board Secretary

Mouser Williams is an avid birder and wildlife photographer who has called Los Alamos home for over 16 years. He coordinates the Los Alamos Breeding Bird Atlas, a five-year data collection effort running between 2017 and 2021 where local birders are working on a new revision of the 1992 Atlas of Breeding Birds of Los Alamos County. Mouser also organizes the annual Christmas Bird Count, a program that Los Alamos participates in with the National Audubon Society. When not enjoying the outdoors, helping PEEC, or spending time with family, he works as an electrical engineer at LANL. Williams joined the board in October 2017.

Linda Zwick

Board Treasurer

Growing up in Pojoaque, Linda came to know the Española Valley, Los Alamos, and Santa Fe well.  Early years spent hiking, swimming, skiing, and exploring on horseback with her sister and brother gave Linda a deep appreciation of northern New Mexico’s natural and human ecologies, histories, and prehistories.  Being a child of an elementary school teacher mother and engineer father taught her the value of life-long learning.  As an adult, Linda has continued to enjoy the outdoors with her husband and many friends, backpacking, rafting/canoeing/kayaking, hiking, and skiing while living in Colorado and Utah and since she has returned to northern New Mexico to stay. Board member since October 2018.


Galen Gisler

Board Member

Galen Gisler was born under the dark and starry skies of eastern New Mexico and eventually found his way back to his home state. With a Bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy from Yale University and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge (England), Galen went on to postdoctoral positions at the Leiden University Observatory (Netherlands) and Kitt Peak National Observatory (Arizona). He spent two years at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he met his wife Susan. In 1981 he began a 25-year career at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Galen has been involved in a variety of activities including extragalactic jets, particle beams, plasmas, astronomical transients, adaptive processing, and hydrocode simulations of impact processes and tsunamis. In 2006 he and Susan moved to Norway where Galen held a senior research position at the Center for the Physics of Geological Processes at the University of Oslo. They returned to Los Alamos in late 2012 to enjoy the mountains. Galen and Susan have two children: Andy, an aerospace engineer at ASTRALite in Boulder, and Ellie, an artistic manager at the Caramoor Performing Arts Center in New York. They have one granddaughter, Fiona, who is gradually learning the physics of bipedal locomotion. Board member since October 2019.


Angela Lopez

Board Member

Angela Lopez was born in Colorado, however, she has spent most of her life in New Mexico where she has developed a deep appreciation for the Rocky Mountains and desert landscapes. Raised in Pojoaque, she spent long summer days playing in the dirt, watching wildlife on hikes, and exploring new places. Angela attended New Mexico State University and received a Bachelors of Arts and Sciences in Elementary Education (K-6) with an emphasis in Science, endorsements in Bilingual and TESOL Education, and a minor in Spanish. Currently, she is completing her masters in Curriculum and Instruction: Learning Design and Technology. She teaches fourth grade at Barranca Mesa Elementary and enjoys teaching science the most. She has been very fortunate to have PEEC as a learning resource for her students for the past three years. From field trips to the Valles Caldera to learn about erosion and stream ecology to in-class models of aquifers, PEEC has taught her students about nature in such a hands-on and meaningful way! Angela has also helped on the PEEC Education Board and work with nature-loving students as a counselor for PEEC’s summer camps. While teaching and graduate school keep her busy, in her free time she enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, rafting, kayaking, and traveling to National Parks.  She looks forward to using her education background and love of nature as a member of the PEEC Board. Board member since October 2018.


Nan Sauer

Board Member

Nan Sauer came to Los Alamos in December 1986 as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She and her husband, Jeff, have lived in Los Alamos since that time. Nan is deeply committed to resolving environmental issues and is through her career at LANL and through her personal pursuits focused on environmental education. She is the Senior Director for the Partnerships & Pipeline Office under the Deputy Director for Science, Technology, & Engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Nan has been engaged in a number of Governance Boards for nonprofit organizations. Her most recent position has been as the President and then past President of the Los Alamos Foundation Board. She completed her term in May of 2020. Board member since November 2020.


Hari Viswanathan

Board Member

Hari Viswanathan grew up in Los Alamos, NM moving here in 1978. After graduating high school and attending undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara, obtaining at Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and spending 2 years as Visiting Professor in Germany, he returned to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2001. He lives in Los Alamos with his wife Gowri Srinivasan and their son Aditya. He is the Subsurface Flow and Transport Team Leader in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory where he focuses on increasing energy efficiency and reducing the environmental impacts of fossil fuels and has authored over 80 publications in this research area. Hari enjoys nature and wildlife photography, and living in New Mexico gives him many opportunities to pursue his hobby. He has also traveled all over the world and has had opportunities to visit and photograph many amazing places. Hari has given numerous wildlife photography talks at PEEC and contributed photos to the new Nature Center. He has also participated in PEEC’s efforts to certify Los Alamos as a Community Wildlife Habitat. Hari has also participated in numerous PEEC Earth Days and worked with his mother, Selvi Viswanathan, former board member, on numerous PEEC initiatives. Hari is now excited to apply his experience with securing funding opportunities, strategic planning, the natural world and general knowledge of Los Alamos to PEEC. Board member since October 2015.


Rick Wallace

Board Member

Rick has a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from U.C. Santa Cruz (Lick Observatory), with a concentration in numerical calculations of stellar explosions (Novae, Supernovae, X-Ray Bursts), and nuclear fusion. He has worked at LANL for 30 years, including physics simulations, security of Russian nuclear material, technical management, and international safeguards. He was awarded a shared Nobel Peace Prize for work he did to improve non­proliferation of nuclear weaponry. Rick’s hobbies are nature and wildlife photography and developing shows for the planetarium. Board member since fall 2016.

Shelly Wiemann

Board Member

Shelly Wiemann is originally from North Dakota but has lived in Duluth and Minneapolis, MN, Santa Fe, and Los Alamos since 2016. As a young person, she was active driving snowmobiles, swimming at the Y, golfing, ice skating, and spent her summers on Lake of the Woods in Northern Minnesota/Ontario Canada. These days she is an active hiker, swimmer, and volunteers her time as a Site Steward with the SFNF. Along with her passion for archeology, she enjoys exploring forest roads in her 4wd vehicle and white-water rafting on the Chama River. Shelly graduated from the University of Minnesota with MA and BA degrees in Psychology, summa cum laude. She is a licensed investment manager and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional. She established her private wealth practice with Raymond James, Wiemann Wealth Strategies, in 2020, after several years working at Edward Jones and Northwestern Mutual. Board member since November 2020.

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