Meet our new NJ endangered species biologist!
Meet Alicia Protus, a new member of the endangered species team in our New Jersey Field Office!
What is your professional background and experience with the Service?
I am a recent graduate from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a B.S. in conservation biology. While there, I conducted a thesis with Dr. Jonathan Cohen on visitation patterns of piping plover predators at nest exclosures.
Following graduation, I was selected to participate in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Directorate Fellowship Program, one of the agency’s many recruitment programs seeking to involve young professionals with the Service. I spent three months with the Virginia Field Office assisting their endangered species biologists with incorporating information for five listed species into the IPaC (Information, Planning and Conservation) program. Toward the conclusion of my fellowship I realized I wasn’t ready for my work with listed species to end, though, honestly, I don’t believe I will ever be ready for such a time to come. I transitioned into a volunteer position with the biologists at the Long Island Field Office and Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge where I assisted with various projects and routine biological work for several months.
Now I’m excited to be a part of the New Jersey Field Office supporting the efforts of the endangered species program. I’ll be working on consultation and recovery actions for the bog turtle, Indiana bat, northern long eared bat, and several plant species.
What are your goals as a new member to the endangered species team in New Jersey? (can be what do you hope to work on, achieve, etc)
As a part of the endangered species team, I’m excited to assist with recovery actions for New Jersey’s listed species and plan future projects. I have had a small obsession with bats since my time in high school, so I am particularly thrilled to be able to support the work on the listed bats in New Jersey. I’m honored to be able to play a role in safeguarding public resources, especially in the coastal Northeast not far from where I grew up. I’m looking forward to working with all the wonderful folks in the endangered species program and beyond!
Can you share a story about one of your greatest accomplishments at work so far? What you’ll bring from that experience to your new role?
One of my greatest accomplishments so far has been advancing the progress of the IPaC (Information, Planning and Conservation) program, a system that automates parts of the ESA-mandated project consultation process. I supported the addition of five new species into the program (three freshwater mussels and two plants), which reduces the overall consultation workload of Service biologists and allows for more time spent on direct conservation actions, like species recovery planning. My work to distill a biologist’s thought process into tangible chains of effects for the program was challenging, but through it I gained a unique perspective of the consultation process.
I hope to apply my experience to the Service’s ongoing efforts to streamline consultation work.