Meet Our Staff
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Esteban Muldavin, Division Leader and Ecology Coordinator
Dr. Muldavin joined Natural Heritage New Mexico as the Senior Ecologist in 1991 and became its Director in 2008. Dr. Muldavin received his B.S. and M.S. in Natural Resources from Humboldt State University in 1982 and a Ph.D. in Biology from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces NM in 1988 with a focus on forest ecology. Dr. Muldavin has spent his career as an ecologist in the Southwest applying multidisciplinary approaches to broad range of issues in ecology and conservation biology. As Director, he leads a staff committed to inventory, monitoring, and assessment of New Mexico’s ecosystems, and building a comprehensive database and modeling program on sensitive species and ecosystems for the state. He is also Chairman of the Ecological Society of America Panel on Vegetation Classification and is a contributing scientist on the Sevilleta LTER.
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Rebecca Keeshen, Unit Administrator
Rebecca joined Natural Heritage New Mexico in 1993. She has handled the administrative and financial aspects of the program since then as both an employee of The Nature Conservancy and the University of New Mexico. Her outside interests include international travel, playing Irish music, and art.
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Elizabeth Milford, Riparian Ecologist
Elizabeth Milford joined Natural Heritage New Mexico as a student employee in 1992, became an ecology research technician in 1997, and a research scientist in 2000. She received her B.A. in Biology from Smith College in 1988, and her M.S. in Ecology from the University of New Mexico in 1996. She has always had an interest in the natural world, fostered by her early adventures in the wilds of northern New Mexico and along the Rio Grande with her father. She began work in riparian ecology while completing her Master’s thesis on ant communities in the Middle Rio Grande Bosque. She continues to have an interest in entomology, but the focus of her work at NHNM has been riparian and wetland vegetation monitoring, assessment and mapping. In her free time she enjoys hiking, rafting and camping with her family.
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Yvonne Chauvin, Botanist
Yvonne Chauvin grew up in Albuquerque and joined Natural Heritage New Mexico (NHNM) in 1993, when she graduated from the University of New Mexico with her Bachelor’s degree. Since then, she has worked as the lead botanist for the Ecology group on many projects throughout New Mexico including vegetation mapping, ecological monitoring, and rare plant surveys. When not in the field she enjoys spending her time with her many rescue animals (horses, dogs and cats) and rock hounding with friends.
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Corrie Gonzalez, Vegetation Ecologist/GIS Program Coordinator
Corrie started working for Natural Heritage New Mexico in August of 2014, shortly after she received her B.S. in Conservation Ecology from New Mexico State University. She developed her love for the outdoors and conservation growing up in rural New Mexico and working with her dad on various habitat restoration projects on the middle Rio Grande. While working for Heritage she has spent many hours in the field across all of New Mexico collecting vegetation data for various mapping and monitoring projects. She has been involved with the development of the New Mexico Riparian Habitat Map and has been in charge of planning and coordinating the fieldwork for many of the projects within the ecology realm at Heritage. She spends what free time she has fishing, hiking, practicing her botany and hanging out with her dogs. She is also currently working on finishing her M.S. in Biology with a focus on Plant Physiological Ecology at the University of New Mexico.
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Amy Urbanovsky, Research Technician
Amy Urbanovsky received her B.S. in Biology from Oklahoma Christian University in 2011 and an M.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Spatial Science from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2016. Throughout her time in graduate school, she worked as a GIS mapping analyst and research assistant on a variety of natural resource and wetland monitoring projects. Amy joined Natural Heritage New Mexico as an ecology research technician in 2017 where she has worked to develop the New Mexico Riparian Habitat Map and evaluate riverine wetland conditions throughout New Mexico using the Rapid Assessment Method.
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Amanda Kennedy, Vegetation Ecologist
After taking a 13 year hiatus to raise her two beautiful daughters, Amanda is back at Natural Heritage as a Research Scientist. Using her decade of experience mapping and monitoring all over the state of New Mexico, she is focused on helping to develop the New Mexico Riparian Habitat Map and looking forward to future monitoring, assessment, and mapping of New Mexico's enchanting landscape.
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Grace McCartha, Research Scientist
Grace joined Natural Heritage New Mexico as a Research Scientist in 2022. She was raised in South Carolina and earned a B.S. in Biology from Furman University in 2018. During her undergraduate years, she studied hyperaccumulating plants with Dr. Joe Pollard. She also spent a semester in the Gila National Forest of New Mexico where she fell in love with the state's landscape. After college, she moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico to work as a Fire Effects Monitor at Bandelier National Monument for two seasons. In 2020, she moved to Arkansas to pursue an M.S. in Biology, with a focus in Botany, from Arkansas State University. Her research focused on the plant communities of Lower Mississippi River islands, and she graduated in 2022. In her free time, Grace enjoys hiking, posting plant pictures to iNaturalist, reading fantasy, baking, and spoiling her cat.
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Richard Norwood, Information Coordinator/Data Manager
Richard joined Natural Heritage New Mexico as the Data Manager in 2019 where he works to expand the New Mexico Conservation Information system to meet the information needs for agencies, researchers, and the public . He is originally from Arkansas and graduated with his B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Central Arkansas in 2014. Prior to his role as Data Manager with NHNM, Richard worked as a GIS Supervisor with the Arkansas Department of Health’s Source Water Protection division where he worked to develop solutions to help enhance surface and ground water quality throughout the state. Richard enjoys spending time hiking, backpacking, traveling, and playing music.
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Jacqueline Smith, Assistant Information Coordinator/Assistant Zoologist
Jackie studied birds and ecology at Earlham College in Indiana, moving to weed ecology at the Long Term Ecological Research site at Kellogg Biological Station in southwest Michigan. Later it was field research in pollination ecology at the University of California at Riverside and Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. At NHNM since 2000, she helps to map and study bird and other habitats with GIS and ground surveys. Her outside interests include road biking, quilting, and creating natural animal habitat in her yard in Albuquerque.
Rayo McCollough, Emeritus Data Manager
Rayo McCollough was the Data Manager for Natural Heritage New Mexico (NHNM) from 2002 – 2019 and is now an advisor to NHNM. He has a B.S. in chemistry/archeology from Southern Methodist University and a M.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at Dallas. He was a database consultant for 17 years before joining NHNM. He, along with NHNM staff and our many agency partners, created the New Mexico Conservation Information System (NM CIS), an online portal for biological conservation data, which includes the New Mexico Environmental Review Tool. He works with government agencies, industry, researchers, and the public to develop innovative solutions for their information needs.
Brett Reynolds, System Administrator
As System Administrator at NHNM since 2013, I built and now maintain our IT systems. I got my BA in MIS (Management of Information Systems) from UNM and am currently working on my MSISA (Masters of Science in Information Security Assurance) - also through UNM. I enjoy mountain biking, winter camping, and snowboarding.
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Kristine Johnson, Zoology Coordinator (Retired)
As Zoology Coordinator for Natural Heritage New Mexico, Kristine Johnson has directed a team of researchers studying New Mexico animals of conservation concern since 1996. Their research has focused on bird conservation; including surveys, monitoring, habitat modeling, and management, with specialization in habitat modeling and conservation of piñon-juniper birds. She and co-authors have produced >100 technical reports (nhnm.unm.edu). Recent research has focused on the Pinyon Jay, a declining species of the southwest. Over the last 16 years, they have published >15 technical reports and 10 peer-reviewed publications on Pinyon Jays (https://www.researchgate.net/
My interest in nature and wildlife in particular began while growing up on our family farm in Michigan. During walks through our fields and woods, I would often see white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, songbirds, and other wildlife. After high school, I enrolled in Michigan Technological University’s Forestry Program and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in forest management. In the early `90s, after several seasonal jobs with the U.S. Forest Service, I returned to school to study wildlife management and ecology at South Dakota State University. My graduate work entailed studying songbird community dynamics in the Black Hills in South Dakota and Wyoming. In 1995, I moved to Arizona to work as a wildlife biologist. During 17 years working along the Mogollon Rim, I coordinated yearly Mexican Spotted Owl and Northern Goshawk surveys and conducted songbird, amphibian and bat surveys. I finished my Forest Service career in 2018 after 6 years as the Southwestern Region’s Wildlife Program Leader. In that position, I was fortunate to coordinate with a number of agencies and organizations, including Natural Heritage New Mexico. Working with NHNM on data sharing and management agreements piqued my interest in learning more about their data management systems and led me to eventually sign on as a volunteer. I have learned much about NatureServe’s rare species ranking system and am excited to now be working on NHNM’s Endemic Species Project.