THE EDUCATION TEAM

SYLVIE ABRAMS

WRITER

Sylvie was born and raised in France where she made many trips to the neighborhood zoological garden as a child. She holds a Masters in Languages (English and Italian) from Université Jean Moulin (Lyons). She started her career in the software industry, managing the internationalization of products and the creation of edutainment titles for children. She is currently working in broadcasting.

For more than ten years, Sylvie has volunteered for a wild and exotic animal sanctuary in California, where she resides. This volunteer position has given her the opportunity to provide care and enrichment to many animals and education to humans. She is also part of an international non-profit organization providing education about climate change.

LAURA LEE BAHR

EDUCATIONAL CONTENT CREATION 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.

alex1-crop-2_orig

ALEXANDRA BOND

CONTENT EDITOR

Alex grew up in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, where she developed her love of nature, hiking, camping, reading, and animals. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Environmental Science and her master’s degree in Geoscience and Applied Meteorology. An editor at Cornell Alumni Magazine since 2013, Alex is the proud guardian of the cutest dachshund in the world.

img-6530-2_orig

ABIGAIL COLBY

EDUCATIONAL CONTENT CREATOR

Abby is a PhD candidate in biological anthropology at the University of Calgary. She is also a science communicator and works for TED as a science content intern. 

From 2018-2021, Abby taught biological anthropology courses at Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges (CUNY) in NYC. Abigail has a master’s degree in anthropology from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Dickinson College. After her undergraduate studies, she worked at a medical school in a neurology department investigating treatments for Parkinson’s Disease using laboratory animals. Shortly after beginning that work, she realized that working with animals in that setting was definitely not for her. However, she had always been interested in evolutionary anthropology, particularly the behavior and diversity of our living nonhuman primate relatives, and continued her studies along that path. She loves any topic or question related to evolution. She is also interested in primate conservation, especially educating students of all ages to recognize the great number of common behaviors and skills shared between us and our nonhuman primate relatives. In her free time Abigail enjoys yoga, reading, and listening to educational podcasts. Please visit the lessons that she developed for New England Primate Conservancy: Your Evolutionary Family Tree.

debra-curtin_43

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 developed 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.

MARIA DI CESARE

WRITER AND SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST

Maria is a tree-hugging copywriter, animal advocate, and animal shelter volunteer from New England. Her favorite toy as a baby was a stuffed chimpanzee and she has been obsessed with animals (and Jane Goodall!) ever since.  

She received her undergraduate degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in creative writing. Maria loves reading anthropology textbooks, playing in nature, and meeting new dogs. She is also the proud mother of a very spoiled cat. 

kathy-d-crop_66

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. 

zach-nepc-bio-photo-resize

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.

headshot-recent-002-resize_orig

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.

DIVYA PAWAR

WRITER

Divya was born and raised in India, where she developed a love for wildlife through countless annual trips to national parks, and vividly remembers her first tiger sighting in the wild. She moved to Utah in 2010 to pursue her undergraduate and graduate studies in Biomedical Engineering. While in Utah, she got a chance to explore the great American outdoors by camping, hiking, backpacking and skiing. After finishing her studies, she moved to Boston where she currently works as a technical writer for a vaccine company. She is a proud mama of a rescue dog, is fostering a rescue pup and also volunteers to reduce elder isolation in assisted living facilities.

She got exposed to writing about wildlife, after collaborating with her brother, who works as a wildlife conservationist for the World Wildlife Fund, on numerous writing projects. Her love for wildlife and its conservation for the present and future generations, led her to NEPC where she enjoys learning about primates of the world and writing about them. 

photo-resize_19

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 of Environmental Science degree in applied ecology and conservation, both from Miami University of Ohio. When she’s not writing primate profiles for the NEPC, she is an environmental scientist working on sustainability policy at the state level.

photo_17

KATIE STUART

EDITOR

Katie grew up in Massachusetts and has always been passionate about animals, volunteering her time at animal shelters and hanging out with any dog she can. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Boston University (2013), and has since worked in content and marketing at technology start ups in New York City. She is eager to use her content editing skills to help educate the public about wildlife issues and primate conservation. 

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 What is Nature lesson series which she developed for New England Primate Conservancy.