Employees & Volunteers

gene thawEugene V. Thaw – Owner of Wind River Ranch and Founder of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust:
Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw owned the Wind River Ranch and decided that they wanted the land to serve a societal benefit.  To that end, they formed the Wind River Ranch Foundation which was assigned the task of starting programs in conservation and education.  In 2012, they donated the ranch land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to form the 560th National Wildlife Refuge-the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge.  By their leadership, vison, and generosity, they have fostered a conservation legacy for the land and the people of Mora and San Miguel Counties.

Dr. Brian J. Miller– Founding Scientist:
Brian received a Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming in behavioral ecology and conservation of black-footed ferrets and then was awarded a Smithsonian Institution Fellowship at their Conservation and Research Center. Brian worked with the conservation of the endangered black-footed ferret for a decade, then lived in Mexico for five years beginning an ongoing research project on jaguars and pumas in the dry tropical forest of Jalisco, Mexico. After seven years as a Coordinator of Conservation and Research at the Denver Zoological Foundation, Brian accepted a position to develop conservation and education programs at the Wind River Ranch Foundation. His main research interest concerns the role of highly interactive species (keystones) in regulating ecosystem processes, and how to improve protection for those species when designing reserves. He has published 100 scientific articles, seven books, and has been on the board of five conservation organizations.  In 2009 he was given the Denver Zoo’s Annual Conservation Award.


Shantini Ramakrishnan – Coordinator of Research and Restoration:

SR_badger (2)Shantini moved to Rio Mora NWR in May 2012 to run a study on plague dynamics in small mammals. She joined the Denver Zoo team in September 2013 as the bison research intern, coordinating field research trips to New Mexico for Denver-based staff and volunteers, and working on restoration projects in arroyos, grasslands and the Mora River. She currently manages the logistics and organization of various partners/projects/interests at the refuge. She has held field and laboratory technician positions working with endangered black-footed ferrets, black-tailed prairie dogs and American badgers in South Dakota; mesocarnivores in southern Illinois; small mammals in Colorado; and Texas horned lizards in Oklahoma. She starts her graduate studies at New Mexico Highlands University in August 2013, continuing her work on plague ecology in rodents.