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People at the center

Posted by | March 30, 2017

Volunteers at the WSU Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center will interact regularly with center manager Brandon Evans Hutzenbiler and professor Charlie Robbins. Here’s a little background info about each one.

Brandon Evans Hutzenbiler, WSU Bear Center Manager

Brandon Evans Hutzenbiler, with bear cubs.

Where are you from?
I’m from Ellensburg, Wash.

What is your background?
I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology in 2014 from WSU.

How did you get involved with the Bear Center?
I began volunteering at the center as an undergraduate, just like these volunteers. After graduation I continued to work part time at a USDA/ARS green house on campus and part time as a research assistant in Dr. Heiko Jansen’s laboratory. Since his research involves the bears, I continued to learn about and work with the bears. I continued to work at the bear center providing bear care and for Dr. Jansen assisting in graduate student projects (such as those involving in vitro culture of bear adipocytes).

What are your goals at the Center?
I just became facility manager in August 2016. One of my big focuses is on improving the enrichment program for the bears. It’s fun designing and building new things that will stimulate and challenge the bears, mentally and physically- or just providing them a new thing to interact with and adapt to. It’s been a great challenge for me.

Charlie Robbins, professor of Wildlife Biology in the School of the Environment

Where are you from?
I grew up in Texas, and came to WSU from Cornell University.

Why did you start the Bear Center?
There was a great need for biological and ecological information on grizzly bears.

What research are you currently working on?  I’ve got several projects going on. We have two ongoing field projects in Katmai National Park, several lab-based projects on the genetics of hibernation, and I’m starting a project on the energetics of grizzly bears with Yellowstone and Canadian field biologists. The latter will use the new treadmill at the center.

What do you consider your major accomplishments at the Center?
Just keeping it going for 31 years, generating an enormous amount of knowledge about bears, giving several hundred undergraduates the opportunity to work with such a unique species, and training more than a dozen graduate students who are now professional biologists with various universities and federal and state agencies.