AITRC Staff

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Karen Linnell

Executive Director

Karen has been involved with AITRC since its inception. She has a thorough understanding of federal and state grant management and has been involved in protecting customary and traditional hunting and fishing rights for many years. In 2011 she was appointed by the Secretary of Interior to the Wrangell-St. Elias Subsistence Resource Commission and has served as Secretary to the Copper Basin Fish and Game Advisory Committee since 2008.  Karen also served on the Alaska Board of Game from 2017-2019. She currently serves on the  BIA Alaska Region Tribal Budget Committee and is one of the Alaska representatives to  BIA Tribal Interior Budget Committee.  She also represents Alaska on the Western Region Tribal Conservation Advisory Committee with the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

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Bruce Cain

Development Director

Bruce is an accomplished finance and business manager with over 30 years of experience developing business and public programs in rural Alaska. He has over 25 years of involvement with Chinook and Sockeye Salmon research on the Copper River. He also has a broad range of experience working with subsistence, land rights, and self-determination on the Copper River.

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Odin Miller

Social Scientist

Odin accepted the position of social scientist with AITRC  in July 2019. He is working to develop the AITRC Fisheries Program with funding and support from the USFWS Partners Fisheries Monitoring Program. Odin grew up in Juneau and earned a BA degree at University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). He then went on to complete an MA in Cultural Anthropology from UAF, researching the role of human-reindeer-caribou relationships in shaping food systems on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula. From 2012-2015, Odin worked and traveled extensively in western Alaska, conducting fisheries and social science work for Alaska Department of Fish & Game. He has traveled widely in the Circumpolar North and has lived in both Siberia’s Sakha Republic and Canada’s Yukon Territory.

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Dan Gorze

Fisheries Biologist

Dan began his fisheries career during college with the Coast Salish Lummi Tribe near his hometown in Bellingham, Washington. Upon completion of a Bachelor of Science, at Western  Washington University he immediately went to work for various fisheries management programs around Washington State. Primarily located in the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula, most recently Dan conducted hiking, rafting, and helicopter spawner surveys, as well as biological sampling and population analysis as a Fisheries Biologist for the Quileute Tribe. Dan’s role in AITRC  will focus on the sustainability of Copper River salmon, and ways to further build AITRC’s fisheries program.

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Sterling Spilinek

Wildlife Biologist

Sterling Spilinek was born and raised in Douglas Wyoming. Sterling attended Whitman College in Walla Walla Washington where he played on the baseball team and received a degree in Biology. After college Sterling moved back to Wyoming and worked for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department; working throughout Wyoming on projects involving landowner/hunter relations, ungulate migration habitat improvement, ungulate herd tracking, and large carnivore noninvasive sampling. Deciding to continue his education, Sterling enrolled into the Wildlife Ecology program at Texas State University. Sterling wrote his graduate thesis on rumen morphology of white-tailed deer comparing energy of diets and presented his research for the coveted Cottam Award at the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. Sterling’s most recent employer was Pheasants Forever, as a partner biologist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Billings Montana. In this role, Sterling largest accomplishment was submitting a grant for grassland bird conservation in southeast Montana totally over one million dollars.  

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Kelsey Stanbro

Ecologist

Kelsey Stanbro grew up on the east coast and attended the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia where she played on the volleyball team and received a degree in Marine Conservation with minors in both Environmental Sustainability and Business Administration. At Mary Washington Kelsey studied the impact of climate change on eastern oyster populations, how increasing surface water temperatures from climate change impact copepods, and how the introduction of northern snakeheads in the Potomac River Basin is affecting largemouth bass populations. After university Kelsey spent two years working as an English teacher in Bangkok, Thailand. During this time, she volunteered at a university doing coral restoration and leading educational school trips to the area. Kelsey decided to further her education and attended the University of Bremen in Bremen, Germany where she received a master’s degree in marine biology. Kelsey wrote her student research project on the feeding behavior of mesopelagic fish using stable isotope analysis and her graduate thesis on the trophodynamics of mesopelagic fish in the Benguela Upwelling System using stomach content and fatty acid analysis. She has worked at the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research modelling food-web dynamics in the Humboldt Upwelling System and at the Thünen Institute for Sea Fisheries where she worked with mesopelagic fish in the Benguela Upwelling System and Canary current and spent 3 months on a research ship collecting samples.

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Lauren Didio

Indigenous Sentinels Network Coordinator

Lauren Didio is from Cerritos, California and comes to us with a background in Anthropology and Geography. Her academic career began at Cerritos Community College where she earned an AA in Social and Behavioral Science and transferred with honors to UCLA to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a minor in Earth and Environmental Science. Shortly after graduating, Lauren began an internship with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles in the Invertebrate Paleontology Department. As an intern, she was responsible for cataloging, labeling, and organizing invertebrate fossils to support a collection of over 6 million specimens. She also contributed to a multi-institution specimen digitization grant from NSF by geo-referencing and data visualizing over 1,000 Plio-Pleistocene fossil-collecting localities in Los Angeles, CA. Through this experience, Lauren learned how to utilize GIS as an effective tool for studying multiple geographic phenomena, including paleontology, archeology, and geography. In July of 2018, Lauren joined the Borneo Nature Foundation for their Sabangau field course. There, she assisted with several surveying methods such as passive acoustic monitoring, call triangulation, tree plotting, nest counts, and drone operation. She was involved in a team project that examined the relationship between gibbons and their environment. Additionally, the field course also created community education strategies to help inform nearby villages about sustainable waste management. Soon after, Lauren pursued graduate studies at Texas A&M University to investigate peatland conservation strategies. Her NSF-funded research allowed her to identify an interdisciplinary approach to peatland conservation. As part of her thesis, Lauren conducted surveys and interviews with peatland stakeholders in Chile to understand the unique ways in which different stakeholders use and perceive peatlands, as well as how they identify which biophysical measurements can be used to help value peatland ecosystem services. During her time as a graduate student, she worked in the paleoecology lab where she contributed to an incubation study of peatland soils, soil carbon analysis, and soil deconstruction by measuring soil carbon fluxes and bulk density.  In addition to her graduate studies at Texas A&M, Lauren also received a certification in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Among the coursework taken were GIS Programming, GIS Modeling, Applications in GIS, and Advanced Topics in GIS. In 2021, Lauren presented at the American Association of Geographers on “The Use of Linking Indicators for Peatland Conservation.” This work, which is closely related to her graduate thesis, presented a framework for connecting peatland stakeholder values with peatland ecosystem services.