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Meet the Team

Kayla Allen - Water Lab Member

Kayla is currently a senior Biology major at the University of North Georgia. She has worked in the Water Lab since November 2016, and is very passionate about the ongoing goals of the Water Lab to test and maintain the water quality in the North Georgia area. She is proud to be a part of a team that has been actively working towards maintaining healthy rivers for the last 30 years.

Kayla has lived among the North Georgia mountains for the last 24 years, but plans to venture out and see the rest of the world while pursuing the career of her dreams: wildlife ecology and conservation. Her interests span all aspects of Ecology, both past and present, but her main goal is to protect current ecosystems from being damaged or ultimately destroyed. Kayla enjoys all aspects of field work, and has visited parts of the world like Costa Rica and Kenya to further expand her skills and knowledge that is part of working in the field of ecology.

Kayla Ballenger - GIS Analyst

I am a December 2016 graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Spatial Analysis from the University of North Georgia. I focused my undergraduate research on environmental conservation and planning by utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

I currently am working with Dr. Justin Ellis and Dr. Sudhanshu Panda on the Chestatee Restoration Project. My role is to perform GIS analysis, along with soil and water testing, to help determine the areas in the Yahoola-Chestatee Watershed most probable for soil erosion. In the future, I will be attending the College of Environment & Design at UGA in August 2017 for an M.S. in Environmental Planning.

With this opportunity, I intend to focus my research on community planning for an environmentally sustainable future while still incorporating important cultural values. My passions include running, taking care of animals, and camping!

Kaitlin Ramspeck - Ecological Protection Lab Assistant

Kaitlin Ramspeck is currently a senior at the University of North Georgia where she works as an ecological protection lab assistant. Her job consists of rearing predatory beetles that consume the eggs of the hemlock trees’ ultimate killer: the wooly adelgid.

The wooly adelgid is a parasite majorly known to infest and kill hemlock trees all across North Georgia counties. Kaitlin feels passionate about the work she does at the school due to awareness of how important hemlock trees are to surrounding ecosystems. Her main interest is in conservation biology work, similar to the work she is currently doing. Though unsure of what graduate program she wants to pursue, she wishes to be in a career field that allows her to make a positive impact by providing environmental protection to the earth’s ecosystems wherever she can.

Born and raised in Georgia, she also hopes to find a career that allows her to become an avid traveler. Kaitlin has traveled to Costa Rica in the summer of 2016 for a study abroad Tropical Cloud Forest Ecology class. She has received a FUSE grant that will fund her to travel to Taiwan the summer of 2017 to perform a research project focusing on the differences in soil characteristics and invertebrate diversity between conventional and organic tea plantations. She believes that through travel comes learning experiences that lead us to become more conscientious and diligent individuals.

Jacob Roberts - GIS Technician

Jacob is developing the GIS and Spatial Analysis portion of the Environmental Protection Lab. He joined the lab in Spring 2017 as a full-time seasonal worker. Jacob's primary roles are to create and manage the labs geospatial database, perform spatial analysis on predatory beetle data, and create maps for research and public use. When you hear music blasting from the beetle lab at midnight, its probably Jacob sweating over a data sheet.

Jacob grew up in Acworth, Georgia. He graduated from UNG during Spring 2017 with a B.S. in Biology. In his spare time, Jacob is an avid whitewater kayaker and backpacker. He is an Eagle Scout and still participates as an adult leader in his troop. Jacob's career goals are to do spatial analysis and modeling of freshwater ecosystems.

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