Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Pennsylvania People

Federal Staff

Duane R. Diefenbach

Duane Diefenbach Unit Leader Website: Tel: (814) 865 - 3992

Upon completion of my Ph.D. I worked for the Pennsylvania Game Commission as their biometrician for 7 years. There I began my current research involving grassland sparrows and black bears. Since 1999 I have been a research scientist with the Pennsylvania Unit and enjoy the challenges in integrating research to improve management decisions.


Tyler Wagner Assistant Unit Leader Tel: (814) 865 - 6592

I received my PhD from the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University (MSU). Upon completion of my PhD I served as a postdoctoral researcher at the Quantitative Fisheries Center (located at MSU). The primary focus of the my research is on linking fine-scale lab and field studies within a macrosystems theoretical framework to understand ecological patterns and processes in aquatic systems across broad spatial and temporal scales.

Office photo

W. David Walter Assistant Unit Leader Website: Tel: (814) 867 - 4763

After finishing my Ph.D. I served as a post-doctoral Researcher at the National Wildlife Research Center for nearly 5 years. A majority of my research explores spatial ecology of various species throughout the U.S. using GIS to further our understanding of wildlife presence/absence, nutrition, and disease.

University Staff

BJ Scovern

BJ Scovern Tel: (814) 865 - 4511

Students and Post Docs

Farshid Ahrestani

Danielle Begley-Miller

Danielle Begley-Miller Tel: (814) 865 - 2180

I graduated with my MS in June of 2013 from Wright State University in Dayton, OH. My previous research focused on the impacts of white-tailed deer herbivory on forest understory plant communities in Northern Wisconsin. I'm now in the co-op unit working on The-Deer Forest Study with Duane Diefenbach in pursuit of my PhD in Wildlife. I'm excited about the DFS and its potential to answer much needed questions about the influences of other factors (in combination with deer browsing) on forest vegetation.

Tess Gingery

Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah I majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry at Southern Utah University. My undergraduate research experience was with the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks surveying elk and Bighorn Sheep with vegetation plots, GIS, and radio telemetry. My interests are in integrating large mammal behavior and physiology. I currently work with Duane Diefenbach and the PA Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit on a master’s project looking at white-tailed deer populations. When I’m not studying I enjoy backpacking, hiking, and collecting random Star Wars memorabilia.

Megan Kepler

Megan Kepler

My interest in the field of fisheries biology began at a very young age. As I began thinking about my career goals, I wanted to explore the broader field of biology to really get a feeling of how encompassing biology truly was. I attended Lock Haven University and pursued a biology degree with concentrations in cellular and environmental biology. During that time, I was able to complete internships that strengthened my fisheries knowledge, one with the Clinton County Conservation District and a second with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. After this point, I knew I wanted to continue my education and also gain more work experience. I began working as a research technician for Dr. Tyler Wagner of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit where I was able to assist in a wide variety of research projects. Currently I am a pursuing a master’s degree with Dr. Tyler Wagner as my advisor. My thesis work will focus on Comparative Lake Trout Bioenergetics. Additionally, I enjoy spending most of my spare time outside. Whether it is hunting, fishing or just taking a walk with my dogs, my love for the outdoors has always been a large part of my life and has helped develop my career path.

Ethan Kibe

Yan Li

I received a M.S. degree and a Ph.D. degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation, and a M.S. degree in Statistics from Virginia Tech. Before joining in the unit, I worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at University of California, Davis. My research has been focusing on population dynamics, stock assessment, risk assessment, conservation, natural resources management, statistical modeling, and spatial modeling. I have been working on projects related to fish, seabirds and marine invertebrates. Currently in the unit, I am a Postdoc Researcher working with Dr. Wagner focusing on the impacts of endocrine disrupting compounds on fish and wildlife.

William Miller Tel: (717) 327 - 9672

Asia Murphy

Tyler Thompson

Shannon White

Shannon White

Having earned a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Randolph-Macon College and a M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Science from Virginia Tech, I’ve devoted my academic career to understanding various aspects of fish ecology. My research has included topics on non-game fish conservation, stream habitat restoration, and social learning in salmonids. Through this, I developed a keen interest in determining how the behavior of individual fish drive observed patterns in populations and across landscapes; a topic I will explore further while pursuing a Ph.D. in the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

Lacey Williamson

I received a B.S. in Wildlife Science, a B.S. in Biological Science, and a minor in Statistics from Virginia Tech in 2014. During my undergraduate career, I worked on projects assessing entomological pests and their damage to agriculture, point count surveys for grassland and shrubland birds, and analyzing Red-cockaded Woodpecker population data. After graduating, I spent the winter trapping American Black Ducks with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. I am currently working with Duane Diefenbach, David Walter, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission on a master’s project to model potential habitat for pheasant population restoration in parts of Pennsylvania. Outside of academics, I enjoy hunting, fishing, and knitting.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 3

Masters Students: 4

Phd Students: 4

Post Docs: 3

University Staff: 1

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 17

Scientific Publications: 88

Presentations: 115


Contact Us

Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit University Park, PA 16802 Phone: (814) 865 - 4511 Fax: (814) 863 - 4710

Unit Leader

Duane Diefenbach
Duane R. Diefenbach

Upon completion of my Ph.D. I worked for the Pennsylvania Game Commission as their biometrician for 7 years. There I began my current research involving grassland sparrows and black bears. Since 1999 I have been a research scientist with the Pennsylvania Unit and enjoy the challenges in integrating research to improve management decisions.


  1. Penn State University Campus Maps

Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
  2. Pennsylvania Game Commission
  3. Pennsylvania State University
  4. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  5. U.S. Geological Survey
  6. Wildlife Management Institute