About the Department

NH Audubon’s Conservation Department is dedicated to using sound science to inform decision-making. Our work is varied, including research, management, monitoring, policy development, expert consultation, and citizen science. The Department includes two Ph.D. and five Master’s level scientists with more than 170 years of combined experience in wildlife ecology and conservation. We depend on a strong corps of volunteers to assist with our work. Department projects are funded by grants, contracts, and private donations.

Conservation Staff

Vanessa holds a B.S. in Biology from Providence College and a Master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of New Hampshire.  She worked in the Conservation Department for eight years in a variety of roles including GIS Specialist, Wildlife Biologist, Land Protection Specialist and Conservation Department Management Assistant before taking on the role of Director in 2015.

Vanessa’s current work at NH Audubon is focused on the issues surrounding pollinators and pesticides, with a specific interest in NH butterflies.  She has participated in projects involving community planning, wildlife monitoring and management, wind energy, and connectivity.  Previous work has included surveying a variety of wildlife and plants, and work with threatened and endangered species.

Carol holds a B.A. in Biology from Colby College, a M.S. in Zoology from the University of Connecticut, and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine. Carol has served NH Audubon in a variety of capacities for more than 30 years, beginning her career as resident naturalist at the Paradise Point Nature Center during the summers of 1975 and 1976. She joined the headquarters staff as part-time Education Director in 1977, and soon shifted to Director of Wildlife Programs when NH Audubon partnered with the NH Fish & Game Department to develop the NH Endangered Species Program. After a serving as a consulting biologist while working towards her Ph.D. and addressing family eldercare needs, Carol returned to full-time duty as Director of Conservation in September 2007. Carol is a New Hampshire native, and lives with her husband in the Penacook neighborhood where her ancestors settled in the 1700s. She is especially interested in bird behavior during the breeding cycle and in the influence of human activities on how birds use the landscape. Her favorite places to do field work are the Androscoggin/Magalloway watershed in northern New Hampshire and western Maine, and the Rio Tahuayo area in northeastern Peru.

Diane holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Cornell University and has completed Masters Work in Environmental Studies at Antioch New England. Diane has been a biologist with NH Audubon since 1987. She has been responsible for the monitoring and management of many endangered and threatened bird species including winter eagles, grassland birds, and high elevation forest birds. More recently, Diane’s work has been focused on coastal species with project leadership of the Tern Restoration Project at the Isles of Shoals and long term monitoring responsibilities of the upland sandpiper at the Pease International Tradeport.

Laura holds a B.A. in biology from Dartmouth College, and a Master’s in wildlife biology from the University of Vermont. Laura came to work at NH Audubon in 1992. Although primarily focusing on bird surveys (including wintering bald eagles, forest birds, marsh birds, and migrating raptors), she has also studied Blanding’s turtles, stream salamanders, and vernal pool amphibians. She has served on several working groups related to natural resource policy and management, most recently the Vernal Pool Workgroup, Stream Crossing Workgroup, and Land Use Impacts Legislative Commission. Laura has also reviewed and commented on plans for major transportation projects, such as the proposed expansion of I-93 and the Manchester Airport Access Road.

Pam holds a B.S. in biology from Cornell University, M.A. in zoology from the University of Montana, and a Ph.D. from Dartmouth College. Pam has been interested in birds since the tender age of 12, when an uncle took her to Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge in NJ. She came to NH Audubon in 2000 after five years as adjunct faculty at Colby-Sawyer College in New London. In her current position as Avian Conservation Biologist, she works closely with NH Fish and Game to coordinate and prioritize bird research and monitoring in the state, and most recently authored NH’s “State of the Birds” report. Specific areas of interest include habitat use by early successional birds, particularly Whip-poor-wills, and the effects of events outside the breeding season on long-distance migrants. Pam also has a growing interest in dragonflies and damselflies, which led to her initiation and coordination of the 5-year “NH Dragonfly Survey.” With the Survey now completed, she is looking into new avenues of research on the ecology and conservation of these amazing insects.

Chris holds a B.S. in Biology from Hanover College, and a M.S. in Ecology and Behavioral Biology with a minor in Wildlife Management from the University of Minnesota. For over 25 years, Chris’ work at NH Audubon has focused on coordinating recovery efforts for New Hampshire’s endangered and threatened birds of prey. He has trained and continues to supervise an enthusiastic corps of volunteers who assist with monitoring and management of the state’s bald eagle and peregrine falcon populations, as well as projects that track ospreys, golden eagles, and northern harriers. Traveling across the state — from Nashua to Pittsburg and Seabrook to Hinsdale — Chris and his volunteers will paddle, rappel, hike, boat, snowshoe and drive practically anywhere to confirm the outcome of raptor breeding attempts. Besides documenting the status of birds in the field, Chris works with state and federal agencies, utilities, land owners, and natural resource advocacy groups to implement practical management strategies that most benefit recovery efforts. Chris is a tireless advocate for New Hampshire’s birds of prey, and his effective work has been recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency and by the NH Fish & Game Department. Chris is also the voice of NH Audubon on NH Public Radio’s weekly “Something Wild” segment.

Rebecca Suomala is a biologist with the NH Audubon Conservation Department. She has worked for NH Audubon since 1988 in a variety of positions. In 2005 she completed her Master’s in Wildlife Ecology from the University of New Hampshire, conducting research into songbird migration stopover for her thesis. She is an active birder, bird bander, and moth enthusiast. Her current responsibilities include overseeing the New Hampshire Bird Records publication and associated data, coordinating the annual Backyard Winter Bird Survey and Project Nighthawk, assisting with Swallow CORE, and compiling the Department’s annual newsletter. She has also assisted with the Tern Restoration Project and numerous other department projects.