The following members and affiliated organizations of Save The Snakes help us with technical guidance, field assistance and intellectual input.
Choti Singh developed a passion for wildlife and nature as a child. She spent her school years in India, Kenya, and rural Zambia. Among all the animal species she spent time with, Choti was especially drawn to snakes, as well as her early love of frogs! After pursuing a degree in Zoology with a focus in animal behavior, she conducted graduate research involving taste-choices in rodents, as well as maternal bonding in primates. She subsequently specialized in forensic psychology and working within the mental health field professionally, but has maintained her love for conserving wildlife and preserving the environment. She has traveled to Central and South America to photograph wildlife, and plans to return to Zambia soon.
Laura Gruber is the Conservation Training Programs Coordinator at White Oak Conservation Holdings LLC, where she oversees conservation related professional development programs, including the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL). As a 2014 EWCL graduate, Laura embraces the programs mission by promoting training and development opportunities that strengthen the capacity of conservation professionals through skills and leadership trainings. With a lifelong dedication to biodiversity and conservation, Laura has worked in the zoological and conservation field since 1999, where she has filled roles in education, outreach and animal care at the Zoological Society of San Diego and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Laura received her undergraduate degree with a BS in Biology from San Diego State University. As an admirer of lesser known species and an avid outdoors enthusiast, Laura spends her free time exploring North Florida’s wild spaces, caring for her menagerie of pets and sitting on the board of Papoose Conservation Wildlife Foundation.
“Why do I love snakes? I’ve always admired lesser known and unappreciated species, and snakes are definitely under appreciated. The wide variety found within the roughly 3,000 species of snakes is awe inspiring, alone the family Elapidae includes not only the largest venomous snake (the king cobra) but also entirely aquatic sea snakes! Unfortunately snakes instill fear in humans for a variety of reasons, but after enough chance encounters it’s hard not to gain a healthy respect for these amazing creatures that avoid conflict whenever possible and remove the rodents that so many of us consider pests.“
Ru Mahoney is a Science Impact Producer working at the nexus of conservation, education, and storytelling. That passion takes many forms, ranging from researcher and impact producer on documentary film projects, to NSF PI on science communication research. She brings nearly a decade as a classroom educator and five years as executive director of a nonprofit nature center to Save the Snakes. Ru’s love of snakes comes from her childhood in central Florida, where she enjoyed the indigo snake living in her backyard, and plenty of childhood encounters with beautiful corn and king snakes, cottonmouths, and a few rattlesnakes. Ru is passionate about empowering conservation through education, and believes that changing public perception about snakes is especially critical in communities where human interaction is a risk to native reptiles and humans alike.
Laura Patterson is the Statewide Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Coordinator for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Her lifelong love of nature led her to obtain a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and a M.S. in Biological Conservation. She began focusing on reptile and amphibian issues in 2000, particularly on the giant gartersnake, a threatened species endemic to the disappearing wetlands of California’s Central Valley. A large part of Laura’s current work involves participating in multiple-stakeholder groups to develop and implement strategies to research, monitor, protect, conserve, and recover sensitive amphibians and reptiles within sometimes complex regulatory, social, and political frameworks. She hopes bringing this experience to the Board will help Save the Snakes advance understanding, respect, and conservation of snakes across the globe.
Dr. Wojnowski’s life-long passion for reptiles and amphibians, especially snakes, was enhanced by growing up in Tucson in the beautiful Sonoran Desert. One of his primary research interests is teacher’s perceptions of herpetofauna and the situational aspects of interaction based on knowledge, experience and culture. Dr. Wojnowski is also intrigued at how conceptual understanding of science concepts may influence curricular and pedagogical decisions made by educators.
During his doctoral studies at Kent State University, Dr. Wojnowski traveled to East Africa where he lived and worked with rural Kenyan teachers as he investigated their perceptions of snakes. While at the University of North Texas he continued his research in Kenya and co-facilitated a conference in Uganda entitled, Sustainable Tourism and Environmental Education: A Natural Link, as well as teaching undergraduate and graduate courses including project-based instruction, science methods, effective teaching and learning, and conceptual models of learning and instruction.
Now at Georgia State University, Dr. Wojnowski has continued working in Uganda partnering with the Bishop Willis Core Primary Teachers College’s Active Teaching and Learning initiative. As GSU’s Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education STEM endorsement program coordinator he teaches science methods, project-based learning and integrated science courses, as well as graduate level courses in the science endorsement program and a research seminar course for doctoral students.
“I hope that my work with Save the Snakes will afford me new opportunities to continue my life-long efforts to educate people and communities about the importance of sustainable practices and the harmonious coexistence of humans and snakes.”