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Board of Director Bios.


Michelle LaRue

Executive Director

Stillwater, MN

Dr. Michelle LaRue is a research associate in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Michelle received her B.S. in Ecology from Minnesota State University Mankato, her M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (under the direction of fellow Cougar Network advisor, Dr. Clay Nielsen) and her PhD in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota. Michelle's research has ranged widely, from determining habitat and dispersal corridors for cougars in the Midwest to estimating the global populations of penguins in the Antarctic. She continues to lead the Cougar Networks' efforts to gather and analyze confirmation data in the eastern and midwestern portions of North America.


Dr. Clay Nielsen

Carbondale, IL

Dr. Clay Nielsen is Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation in the Department of Forestry and Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University (, where he received his Ph.D. in Zoology in 2001.  Dr. Nielsen also serves SIU in an administrative capacity as the Director of Graduate Studies in the College of Agricultural Sciences, where he won the 2014 Outstanding Scholar Award.  Dr. Nielsen has built an internationally recognized research program and has studied dozens of wildlife species and ecosystems across the globe.  Dr. Nielsen’s research program is highly productive, as he has (1) secured >$11 million in research funding from myriad sources; (2) advised >45 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and international scholars; (3) published >150 scholarly works (including >90 publications in scientific journals); and (4) given >500 guest lectures and presentations at professional meetings.  Beyond SIU, Dr. Nielsen is active with The Wildlife Society as the Past President of both the North Central Section and Illinois State Chapters and is a Certified Wildlife Biologist®.  He also serves as the Director of Scientific Research for the non-profit Cougar Network and is a member of 3 IUCN Species Survival Commission Specialist Groups: for Cats, Lagomorphs, and Deer.  Through his IUCN positions, Dr. Nielsen is currently leading range-wide efforts to revise species accounts for cougars (Puma concolor) and swamp rabbits (Sylvilagus aquaticus).  His research has been showcased by major media outlets such as TIME magazine, the BBC, National Geographic magazine, NPR, the History Channel, and the Discovery Channel.


Ken Miller

Concord, MA

Ken Miller is a retired high-tech entrepreneur, having founded or co-founded three high-tech companies in the computer, data networking and software fields. The most well-known company he co-founded was Concord Communications, a public company later purchased by Computer Associates, where he served as President and CEO from 1981 to 1986. Trained as an electrical engineer, Mr. Miller received his BEE degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his MSEE degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the author of a technical networking book, Multicast Networking and Applications, which was published in 1998 by Addison-Wesley. Mr. Miller has had a life-long interest in wildlife and apex predators, and his semi-retirement in 2000 provided the time to pursue this interest. He was an original co-founder of The Cougar Network in 2002. He serves as the organization’s Treasurer.


Harley Shaw

Hillsboro, NM

Harley Shaw grew up in Arizona and started working for the Arizona Game and Fish Department in 1955. He has been involved in wildlife management for 48 years, of which 27 years were as a research biologist studying the mule deer, wild turkey, bighorn, and cougar. One of the early pioneers of scientific research on cougars, he organized and hosted the Third Mountain Lion Workshop in Prescott, Arizona. He retired from the Arizona Game and Fish Department in 1990 but continued to write, consult, and work with citizen groups in wildlife monitoring.

Since 2001, he has served with 12 other prominent scientists as a member of the Cougar Management Guidelines Working Group. The group's efforts culminated in July 2005, with the publication of the first edition of Cougar Management Guidelines (Opal Creek Press, Salem, Oregon). Mr. Shaw has published two books: Soul Among Lions and Stalking the Big Bird, both through the University of Arizona Press. He also published the Mountain Lion Field Guide, which has undergone multiple printings. He now resides in Hillsboro, New Mexico.


Dr. Chuck Anderson

Fort Collins, CO

Dr. Chuck Anderson received his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University in 1990 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Zoology and Physiology from the University of Wyoming in 1994 and 2003, respectively. Dr. Anderson's dissertation research involved a number of projects, which included: (1) evaluation of cougar prey selection and predation rates from GPS collar locations, (2) evaluation of helicopter probability sampling to estimate cougar population size, (3) monitoring cougar population trends from changes in sex/age structure of harvests, and (4) cougar population genetics in the central Rocky Mountains.

Dr. Anderson was a Large Carnivore Biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department from 1994 to 1997 and from 2004 to 2006, where he directed research evaluating grizzly bear-cattle interactions and application of DNA-based mark-recapture methods for estimating black and grizzly bear populations. Additionally, he analyzed annual harvest data and prepared annual management recommendations for cougar and black bear populations. Since December 2006, he has worked in the Mammals Research Section for the Colorado Division of Wildlife. In this capacity, he has focused on ungulate research and is developing a landscape scale research project to address mitigation methods and development practices that benefit mule deer populations in areas experiencing extensive energy development. His professional interests focus on large mammal ecology and management (emphasizing population estimation techniques, population dynamics, and genetics).


Bob Wilson

Garden City, KS

Bob Wilson received his B.A. (Ed) from NWOSU (Oklahoma) in 1971. After graduation, he joined the military and spent three years in the Army. Following his military commitment, he taught Biology I and II in northwest Kansas for two years before meeting and marrying his wife, Marlene. They have two children (Melissa and Scott) and two cats. Moving from northwest to southwest Kansas, Bob received his M.S. from Ft. Hays State University in 1983. He has taught high school- and college-level classes in Biology and Human Anatomy & Physiology for 30 years.

Mr. Wilson is one of the original co-founders of The Cougar Network. He has traveled extensively in the western portion of Kansas setting up camera traps in hopes of capturing a cougar on film. In this endeavor, he has developed a good working relationship with the KDWP and praises its scientific approach to wildlife management. His hobbies include fishing, bow hunting, and the study of evolution.


Mark Dowling

Newtown, CT

Mark Dowling is a commercial lending professional with 25 years of experience. He is currently employed by Webster Bank as a Senior Vice President, Senior Credit Executive, in its Commercial Banking Division. He received his MBA from the University of New Haven and his B.A. in Economics from Saint John Fisher College. He has had a life-long interest in North American wildlife, and carnivore ecology in particular.

Mr. Dowling was one of the original co-founders of The Cougar Network in 2002. He has been very active in establishing working relationships with federal, state, and provincial wildlife agencies throughout North America, as well as numerous private sector wildlife biologists. He lives in Newtown, Connecticut, with his wife, Susan, and their three children (Caitlin, Mark & Sarah).