CLAIRE CIAFRE: GRASSLAND ECOLOGIST & RESEARCH ASSOCIATE FOR SGI
Claire grew up in Pennsylvania, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in biology with an emphasis on botany from Millersville University in 2012. The following summer she worked as a field botanist for the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project (MOFEP) and she was hooked. She returned to Missouri the following four summers to work as a field botanist for the Institute of Botanical Training (2013-2015) and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways (2016-2017). During this period her work was primarily in Ozark woodlands and glades, though she has worked throughout the state on various projects and in a wide array of ecosystems. She began attending Austin Peay State University (Clarksville, TN) in the fall of 2017 to work toward a master’s degree.
She began attending Austin Peay State University (APSU) in the fall of 2017 to work toward a master’s degree. To this end she has been researching the plant communities of depression ponds in the Eastern Highland Rim of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama that were thought to have been embedded in prairies and savannas historically. Her work will be to describe and model the communities present at these sites to further their conservation and further the knowledge of the grassland-related wetlands in this ecoregion.
As a graduate research assistant in APSU's Center of Excellence for Field Biology she is also working on a project with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to document and describe wetland plant communities throughout the state. She is a research associate for SGI and SGI's partner organization, NatureCITE (Center of Integrative Taxonomy and Ecology).
COOPER BREEDEN: COMMUNITY ECOLOGIST & RESEARCH ASSOCIATE FOR SGI
Cooper is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Biology and Center of Excellence for Field Biology at Austin Peay State University and a Research Associate for SGI. He is currently conducting a dendroecological study of the Nashville Basin limestone glade and savanna ecosystem in central Tennessee.
Before attending APSU, Cooper held positions related to wetland and river restoration, environmental education, fisheries management, and philanthropy. Most recently, Cooper led the restoration and education programs at the Harpeth Conservancy outside of Nashville, TN. There he worked with land owners, land managers, and volunteers to implement water quality conservation and monitoring projects. In addition, he led hands-on experiences for youth to explore the natural world living in their local streams.
Prior to beginning a career in conservation, Cooper worked at GlobalGiving, a nonprofit in Washington DC, and helped support and bring resources to community-based organizations around the world.