Jennifer Fuller

Jennifer Fuller (MS ’21)

As the project coordinator at the National Audubon Society, Jennifer Fuller (MS ’21) recalls that her childhood dream of becoming a wildlife biologist was kindled by a love of nature. As a graduate student at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), she discovered how that dream would take flight. 

“My interest and appreciation for birds started while doing undergraduate fieldwork in Arizona, New Zealand, Florida and Ohio,” says Fuller. “But it wasn’t until I was at SEAS that I found my niche in avian research.” 

Fuller, who specialized in Ecosystem Science and Management, worked primarily within SEAS Assistant Professor Karen Alofs’ lab, which studies freshwater conservation ecology. Her master’s thesis focused on the breeding response of the black tern—a wetland-breeding shorebird in rapid decline—to lake-level extremes and habitat loss in Michigan’s Lake St. Clair. 

“I was lucky enough to work with Audubon studying black tern breeding colonies in the Great Lakes,” says Fuller. “The combination of getting to band and monitor birds in the field and apply geographic information systems to model the dynamic relationship between nest success and lake levels was perfect for my interests.”

It was more than just a technical learning experience—I feel fortunate to have learned from so many perspectives on conservation and land justice.”

In her current position at the National Audubon Society, Fuller serves two teams. For the national team, Fuller’s main goal is to help coordinate a large-scale stewardship project on the Gulf Coast that contributes to the protection of coastal breeding birds. She also assists with geospatial work for the Climate Initiative.

On the Great Lakes team, Fuller’s work is varied. “I do anything from making mapping tools and running analyses with eBird data, to surveying marsh birds in the field,” relates Fuller. “By far the most exciting project I’ve worked on was putting nano-tags on juvenile black terns and tracking their migration. But working in the field is always inspiring, and so are the people I work with. I find myself constantly learning from them.”

Before taking the position at Audubon in early 2022, Fuller interned for the Highstead Foundation, a regional conservation nonprofit in Connecticut. The StoryMap she created served as the landing page for the organization’s annual meeting of conservationists throughout the Northeast.

“Highstead was a great introduction to nonprofit work and using ArcGIS Online,” says Fuller. “It was more than just a technical learning experience—I feel fortunate to have learned from so many perspectives on conservation and land justice.”

In addition to her avian research, Fuller also is an accomplished artist and photographer.

“I’ve always loved making art, and it’s reflected my passion for the outdoors and wildlife. I get a lot of my inspiration from observing and photographing wildlife in these amazing natural areas. Creating art also helps me to connect with nature in a more personal way.”