Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory

Love Our Great Lakes Day Speakers


Dan Egan is the journalist in residence at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Center for Water Policy. He is the author of The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, a New York Times best seller. A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Egan was a two-time Pulitzer prize finalist as a reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in Milwaukee with his wife and four children.


Susan Bence began her radio journalism in career in 2008 after twenty years working in the nonprofit health field.

Susan studied journalism at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, interned at Milwaukee Public Radio and was then invited to join the news team.  In 2009 she was asked to take on environmental reporting, becoming WUWM's first beat reporter

Susan has received multiple awards for her work, including from the Milwaukee Press Club and the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association.


Russ Green is a maritime archaeologist and Great Lakes regional coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. After graduating from the University of Rhode Island he spent time as a college football coach, commercial fisherman, and small business owner before making his way to East Carolina University for a graduate degree in Maritime Studies. Russ has worked in Great Lakes conservation for 20 years, first as an underwater archaeologist for the state of Wisconsin and later as deputy superintendent at NOAA’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Michigan. He’s contributed to dozens of maritime archeology projects along the east and west coasts, Bermuda, Micronesia, and Japan, and regularly leads fieldwork in the Great Lakes. When not diving the Inland Seas, he contributes to NOAA’s documentation of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor and World War II shipwrecks in North Carolina’s “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” Russ is currently leading start-up efforts for the new Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

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Jennifer Phillips-Vanderberg is a Ph.D. biologist with extensive experience conducting ornithological research. She has worked as a life scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago, addressing pollution-control issues in the Great Lakes Region, primarily in eastern and southern Wisconsin.

Phillips-Vanderberg is a graduate of Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She received her doctorate in animal behavior in 2016 from the University of California-Davis, where she used a combination of museum and field methods to study the evolutionary relationships among climate, life history, and coloration in 101 species of birds.

She assumes her Observatory position, with a life-long affection for the Great Lakes region and a deep appreciation for the issues facing the region and its birdlife.

She grew up in Michigan in a town on Lake Huron and worked for years as a naturalist at Michigan DNR’s Saginaw Bay Visitor Center, in Bay City, where she taught ornithology, conservation biology, ecology, wildlife management, and other subjects to students, developed an outreach program that used bird banding as a gateway to biology, and surveyed bird populations.


Dr. Paul Roebber is a Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee’s (UWM) School of Freshwater Sciences. Dr. Roebber is the Founder and Director of Innovative Weather, an experiential learning program which trains undergraduate and graduate students in providing weather decision support services to community partners in the upper midwest. He is an Affiliate Faculty with the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute in Milwaukee. Since 2016, Dr. Roebber has been contributing to the National Weather Service’s Meteorological Development Laboratory data science efforts, which seek to improve weather forecast model information across all of North America, and he holds active grants with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation.


Dr. Roebber holds advanced degrees in meteorology and physical oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and McGill University. He has edited and published extensively in the scientific research literature, with 80 papers and book chapters in print, and is a co-author of a book published by MIT Press on Expert Forecasting ("Minding the Weather"). In support of this work, Roebber has won 43 grants from Federal and State agencies, as well as the private sector and the Government of Canada. He has directed 33 thesis students at the doctoral and masters level at UWM since 1994.


Dr. Roebber has extensive experience in public and private weather forecasting, synoptic and mesoscale modeling, forecast verification and data science. Paul is the recipient of multiple awards including the American Meteorological Society's Editors Award, the MIT Club of Wisconsin Individual Tech Award, the UWM Research Foundation Senior Faculty Award, and the UWM Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award.