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Meet the Team

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Michael Birt B.S./M.S.

Founder- President

Michael Birt graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. degree in wildlife and fisheries science after which he began working for the Fort Worth Zoo. He then left the zoo to pursue a M.S. degree in animal behavior and physiology.  During the publishing process of his research he was hired at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas as a hoofstock animal care specialist; he quickly became the internship director, research liaison, and the first video marketing supervisor for Fossil Rim. After successfully publishing his research in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science and working at Fossil Rim for several years he moved to New Orleans to work for the Audubon Nature Institute to assist in starting up the hoofstock breeding program at the Audubon Species Survival Center.

The interest in STEM education began in 2009 after he finished a study abroad and summer  marine biology/terrestrial ecology internship with James Cook University in Queensland, Australia.  

During his master’s he participated in a summer internship in South Africa. This experience really sparked the idea of ResearchWild! which started as a film project highlighting the lives and jobs of conservation professionals. Since 2015, ResearchWild, Inc has sent many students to Southern Africa for amazing wildlife conservation internships, has donated and supported its international hosts in ground breaking research,  and has made connections with 100s of universities, hosts, and wildlife professionals. 

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Amanda Lewis A.A./A.S./B.A./M.A.

Vice President

Amanda Lewis graduated from Sonoma State University with a B.A. in Biology emphasis in zoology in 2013. She has always had a love for wildlife and nature and her education has further nurtured that love.

 

She started out working at numerous wildlife rehabilitation centers in California. She then got her conservation start with Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she helped run breeding programs for endangered bird species such as the Whooping Crane. This is where she met Michael Birt, ResearchWild’s founder and president, and immediately fell in love with the Researchwild mission. She loved helping individual species groups increase their populations in the wild, but she wanted to help more than just one or two conservation programs at a time.

ResearchWild made this possible! She started out as the recruitment and affiliation director for ResearchWild in 2018, where she helped develop the structure of ResearchWild’s internship program. Simultaneously she went back to school and graduated with an M.A. in Conservation Biology from Miami University’s Project Dragonfly program in 2021. It was there that she developed a deep appreciation and love for community based conservation efforts and educating the public about the importance of conservation.

 

She continued to stick with ResearchWild, even through its transformation and change in 2020 and was promoted to Vice President in 2021 where she has overseen the development of the new Researchwild and is extremely excited to continue to build it and push it to achieve its mission statement of advancing conservation efforts locally and globally while educating future conservationists of the world.

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Devin Preston B.S./M.S./Ph.D

Research Director

Devin is currently an Associate Professor of Biology at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from University of Missouri in 2007, an M.S. in Biology from Texas State University in 2013, and his PhD in Integrative Biology from University of New Orleans in 2020. He has numerous articles published in the scientific journals of Thermal Biology, Herpetology, and Fish and Wildlife Management. Through academia and extensive outreach experiences he has developed his goal, which is to involve researchers from diverse disciplines to provide holistic answers to important research questions in the realms of ecology, sociology, and natural resource management. 


By working with researchers to develop complementary projects that promote the One Health concept, ResearchWild! can contribute to the creation of comprehensive solutions to complex problems. He ultimately wants to combine theoretical and practical knowledge to create methods that are beneficial both to specialists and laymen. He believes this work will bring him into contact with diverse demographics, and that he will serve not only as a director of research, but also an ambassador.

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