THE EDUCATION TEAM

LAURA LEE BAHR
EDUCATIONAL CONTENT DIRECTOR

Laura Lee Bahr is an author, filmmaker, and performer. She recently relocated from the City of Angels to the City of Champions (Brockton, MA). In addition to the eclectic “you name it, I’ve done it” artistic endeavors, she has spent years in education, teaching everything from mathematics to vocal performance. Her debut feature film as writer/director, BONED, is about a dogwalker/detective who ultimately discovers that the only “true love is a dog’s love.” But in real life, Laura’s obsession has always been with her cats. 

Her mantra is “may all beings be happy and free, and may my actions contribute to the happiness and freedom of others.” You can learn more about her personal work at lauraleebahr.co. Laura is the author of NEPC’s The Case of the Disappearing Habitat: The Candy Culprit lessons and stars in the series’ videos.

DEBRA CURTIN
EDUCATION PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Debra is New England Primate Conservancy’s founder. For 35 years, Debra developed and delivered presentations, workshops, and training seminars for professionals in multiple industries.

Well-versed in the plight of nonhuman primates in captivity and in the wild, coupled with her awareness of the worldwide habitat loss crisis, Debra launched New England Primate Conservancy’s outreach programs in 2004, developed the Conservancy’s original Education Center curriculum, and has spoken at a variety of venues on behalf of the Conservancy’s mission, including to students from elementary to university and post-graduate programs. Debra develops some of NEPC’s web-based education programs, continues to produce its educational videos, designs educational activities, and leads the talented and diverse Education Team that carries out the Conservancy’s mission to leave a legacy of hope and tools to build a better tomorrow for all the Earth’s citizens… because education is the heart of animal protection.

BRANDI BELLACICCO
WRITER/EDUCATIONAL CONTENT CREATOR

Brandi is an advocate, writer, and passionate educator. Brandi received her Bachelors in Psychology from Boston University and her Masters in Education from Johns Hopkins. Brandi pursues work that has a meaningful, sustaining impact on our communities and world. She is currently an early childhood educator in Western Massachusetts. As part of her goal to continually improve our schools, Brandi hopes to bring engaging and empowering science lessons to young students to inspire the next generation of changemakers and advocates. In her free time Brandi enjoys running outdoors, yoga, watching rugby, and learning new things.

HANNAH BROADLAND
WRITER

Hannah is a writer from California with a passion for nature conservation and elementary education. She is the founder of multiple Surf, Skate, and Yoga camps for San Diego youth, a project that started as a way of ensuring safe socialization and physical activity for children during the COVID-19 era. Her background in outdoor sports, including a successful career as a coxswain for The U.S. National Rowing team, fuels her drive to ensure that we protect our natural environments so we may enjoy them harmoniously through physical activity and recreation. 

ACIMA CHERIAN
WRITER

Acima was born in Dubai, studied in India, worked in South Africa, and is getting her Ph.D. on African civets at the University of Connecticut. After a B.Sc. in Zoology and M.Sc. in Environmental Science, Acima worked as a field guide in South Africa for multiple years where she lived on a reserve surrounded by antelopes, lions, rhinos, and elephants. Acima credits her ability to think laterally and solve problems to the many mishaps she has had during her adventures in strange places. 

Acima is a lifelong learner, and her writing reflects her love and curiosity about natural history and ecology . Easily distracted by fascinating animals and their behavior, she loves traveling down rabbit holes of research. Breaking down complex ecological relations into simplified analogies is Acima’s favorite part of writing for NEPC. When she is not writing about primates, she is birding, trying to photograph birds, and working on wildlife research projects.

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KATHLEEN DOWNEY
WRITER AND EDITOR

Kathy is a lifelong animal protection advocate. At age 11, she successfully appealed to her town’s legislators for the preservation of a pet cemetery that was to be razed. As an adult, she’s participated in and helped organize several animal protection campaigns in Massachusetts, including the successful 1996 Ban the Steel-Jaw Leghold Trap; Grey2K campaigns, which succeeded in banning the abusive practice of greyhound racing in 2008; and a 2016 Massachusetts initiative, working with Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, to ban the cruelest of farm animal confinements.

As a journalist, Kathleen has worked as a correspondent for regional publications, profiling people in the community and writing feature articles—highlighting animal protection and environmental causes whenever the opportunity arose. For seven years, she wrote the newsletter and fundraising appeals for the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society (mrfrs.org), along with appeals for other animal rescue organizations. She also wrote a regional book, Legendary Locals of Newburyport, published in 2014, for Arcadia Publishing.

Kathleen has been writing NEPC primate profiles, editing our book and other educational content, and contributing her input to NEPC initiatives since early 2016.

K. SCARLETT HEBERT
EDUCATIONAL CONTENT CREATOR

Scarlett grew up in the Atlanta metropolitan area, graduating from the University of West Georgia with a B.S. in Geography, and later from Georgia College and State University with a Master of Arts in Teaching. Scarlett’s love of the natural world stems from her outdoorsy family, who were always up for a hike at a local park, a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail, or a paddle down the Chattahoochee River. Scarlett has experience in outdoor leadership, Montessori, and public education. Her goal is to make environmental education engaging, informative, and accessible, so that young people may better understand their place in nature and the importance of environmental stewardship. Scarlett is the author of New England Primate Conservancy’s Conservation Exploration! activity and Using a Dichotomous Key to Identify Primates lessons.

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ZACHARY LUSSIER
WRITER

Zach grew up in rural Connecticut where he spent a large portion of his childhood out-of-doors. The many summers he spent on Monhegan Island, 12-miles off the coast of Maine, roaming through the woods, climbing up and down cliffs, and swimming in the frigid North-Atlantic ocean endure as some of his most cherished and influential memories. He briefly studied in Boulder, Colorado with the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. While living in Providence, Rhode Island  Zach proudly worked at the Providence Children Museum and began writing for New England Primate Conservancy. While finishing his degree at the University of Rhode Island, he developed a keen interest in all things primates. In 2018, during a trip to Vietnam, he had the great pleasure of observing yellow-cheeked gibbons in their natural habitat—an experience that galvanized his passion for primate conservation. Zach now writes for New England Primate Conservancy from his home in Berlin, Germany.

BROOKLYNNE MITCHELL-ARNO
WRITER

Brooklynne was born and raised in central Massachusetts in communities surrounded by forest and farmland. Inspired by her surroundings, from a very young age, she knew she wanted to pursue a career researching animals and the environment. In 2023, she graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a bachelor’s degree in conservation journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Since then, she has spent most of her time advocating for wildlife conservation and environmental awareness, most notably in Costa Rica working with sloths at a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center. When she is not writing, you can find her practicing yoga, reading, or spending time with friends at vintage stores.

KELLY NOTT
GRAPHIC DESIGNER

As a graphic designer, Kelly has a passion for creating innovative designs that communicate important information. After completing her degree in Illustration in 2018, she started using her artistic skills to help enhance the Healthcare industry’s communication and awareness in her area. Kelly is also committed to delivering effective messages that inspire, educate, and inform the public about promoting and protecting animal welfare to help species now and in the years to come. She has previously created artwork for conservation purposes and is enthusiastic to jump on board and help to create additional visual content for NEPC. When she’s not designing, she likes to explore the outdoors with her rescue dog, soaking up the beauty in the Southwest of England, where she lives.

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MELINDA OZEL
EDUCATIONAL CONTENT AFFILIATE

Melinda specializes in the art and science of facial expressions. Using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) as a descriptive device, she teaches artists, engineers, and researchers how to build and break down facial movements and emotions. Melinda is passionate about sharing her knowledge and integrating concepts from cross-disciplinary fields. Her goal is to push the innovation of expressions in art, science, and technology to greater levels of accuracy and higher standards of ethics. Melinda is the creator of New England Primate Conservancy’s Color Me Chimpanzee activity. 

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K. CLARE QUINLAN
WRITER

Clare grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania. She has always been passionate about animals, and in college she developed a strong interest in wildlife conservation. She has a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a master’s degree in applied ecology and conservation, both from Miami University of Ohio. When she’s not writing primate profiles for the NEPC, she is a conservation specialist working to protect wildlife habitat in the US mid-Atlantic region

LINA RADEMACHER
WRITER

Lina’s love of animal behavior began by watching backyard wildlife in her native southern Mississippi, and continued into her undergraduate education at The University of Southern Mississippi where she majored in biology. While the ecology of Mississippi will always hold a special place in her heart, since graduating with her bachelor’s degree Lina has lived out her lifelong dream of traveling the world to study animals. Her travels began close to home with an internship at Dallas Zoo where she worked with a variety of animals, and continued with her master’s program at York University in Toronto, Canada. For her master’s thesis on female reproductive strategies in vervet monkeys, Lina also had the opportunity to travel to Uganda to study vervets in the wild. After completing her master’s, Lina hopes to apply the knowledge she’s gained working with animals to conservation efforts, including through contributing to accessible education on primates and conservation by writing for NEPC. 

ROBYN SCOTT
WRITER

Robyn is a long time animal lover and advocate. As an 8th generation Texan, her heart belongs to the Lone Star state, however she currently resides in Washington where she is studying Primate Behavior and Ecology at Central Washington University. She hopes to engage in studies of African apes later in her career, looking at cognition and sociality. Robyn is passionate about non-invasive research methods and hopes to spread further awareness of the benefits these methods offer. In her free time, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, hiking, and watching animal documentaries.

SIENNA WEINSTEIN
WRITER

Sienna Weinstein is a wildlife photographer, zoologist, and lifelong advocate for the conservation of wildlife across the globe. She earned her B.S. in Zoology from the University of Vermont, followed by a M.S. degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England. While earning her Bachelor’s degree, Sienna participated in a study abroad program in South Africa and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), taking part in fieldwork involving species abundance and diversity in the southern African ecosystem. She is also an official member of the Upsilon Tau chapter of the Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society. 

Deciding at the end of her college career that she wanted to grow her hobby of photography into something more, Sienna dedicated herself to the field of wildlife photography as a means to promote the conservation of wildlife. Her photography has been credited by organizations including The Nature Conservancy, Zoo New England, and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. She was also an invited reviewer of an elephant ethology lesson plan for Picture Perfect STEM Lessons (May 2017) by NSTA Press. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games, watching nature and animal documentaries, and photographing nature and wildlife, and posting her work on her LinkedIn profile. She hopes to create a more professional profile in the near future.

BRETON WORTHINGTON
WRITER

Breton Worthington is a Boston-based documentary associate producer and writer whose films include The Extraordinary Passage of the Great White Hunter, a larger-than-life biopic illustrating the emergence of the conservation movement and the field of Primatology, and Safe Sets: Dying to Work in the Film Industry, a much-needed examination of Hollywood’s treatment of filmworkers, starring John Malkovich and Jon Hamm. During the pandemic, Breton joined physician Dr. Paul Heinzelmann in his mission to bring Hollywood safely back to work by expanding his side-hustle, SetMD, into a country-wide, multinational operation serving film productions from Los Angeles to the Peruvian Amazon. In addition to being Director of Operations, Breton found himself in the unusual position of sticking COVID-19 test swabs up celebrities’ noses. His passion for using art as an educational tool to convey scientific knowledge led him to write articles such as A Tale of Two Tests and The Curious Case of the Persistent Positive. Breton has a B.A. in anthropology and world history from the University of Vermont and pursued a post-baccalaureate degree in pre-medicine at Northeastern University. He is deeply passionate about protecting biodiversity and is in the process of redirecting his skills and experience in business, research, and public education into the conservation space. When he is not working on his next project, Breton can be found nose-deep in books about biology, behavior, and natural history or exploring the great outdoors.

STEPHANIE YOUNG
EDUCATIONAL CONTENT CREATOR

Stephanie is a London born, Oxford bred, country girl who’s always had an affinity for nature. Her love for animals led her to study Animal Management and Care at college to better understand their behaviour. A few years later, she decided to go back to school and study Ecology and Wildlife Conservation at Bournemouth University. Says Stephanie, “It changed my life, how I viewed the world, appreciating how extraordinary and complex our planet is.”

After university she traveled in Asia to experience what the rest of the world had to offer and it wasn’t long before she found her calling. On a small island in Cambodia, she founded, funded, and coordinated her own wildlife project, The Wonderful Wildlife of Samloem, documenting over 400 terrestrial and marine species. The project created PADI Open Water Diver course material, local school lessons, and advised businesses and tourists. She stood as ambassador for diving schools during the establishment of Cambodia’s largest MPA (Marine Protected Area) and used her research to assist Flora and Fauna International with zoning for the MPA and deploy trawler net defenses. Since the project, she has never looked back and finds herself drawn to environmental education. “By understanding the forces of mother-nature, we can live sustainably with her. I believe we all have a duty to leave the world in a better state than we found it. Working with NEPC is a great place to start.” Stephanie is the author of the New England Primate Conservancy’s What is Nature? lesson series.