Alexis M. Mychajliw
Office
McCardell Bicentennial Hall 374
Tel
(802) 443-5439
Email
amychajliw@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Mondays/Wednesdays 9:00 - 10:00 in MBH 374; 1 hour reserved weekly for Zoom appointments to accommodate schedule conflicts, please email me for the link.

Alexis Mychajliw joined Middlebury as an Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies in 2021. She is also a National Geographic explorer and a Research Associate at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Previously, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology & Microbiome Research at the University of Oklahoma and a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science fellow at Hokkaido University in Sapporo. 

Professor Mychajliw is trained as both a conservation biologist and a paleontologist. She studies extinction— past, present, future— and uses fossil and historic records to detect previously hidden baseline shifts in how ecosystems function and what we perceive as “natural”. Professor Mychajliw has worked with stakeholders, students, and NGOs across the Caribbean. Despite being a small mammal specialist, she has somehow found herself working on bears and other megafauna in California with the California Grizzly Research Network and the La Brea Tar Pits.

Her new research program at Middlebury focuses on tracing the legacy of the North American fur trade as a coupled socio-ecological system from archaeological shell middens, historic pelts, and collaboration with present day trappers in Maine. She is also eager to curate Middlebury’s natural history specimens as a community collection available for research and outreach activities alike. 

When not in the lab, you might find her hanging out with various rescue mammals (rats, hedgehog, dog), exploring forests and mountains, and searching for “tar pits” around the world. 

To learn more, please visit the HEDGE (Holocene ecology, diversity, & global extinctions) Lab website.  

Courses Taught

Course Description

Mammalogy
Thanks to a rogue asteroid, we now live in the Age of Mammals. Mammals fulfill important ecological roles and have adapted to a wide range of habitats – flying, swimming, and scurrying their way to survival. Mammals are also central to numerous livelihoods and cultural practices. We will use the phylogeny of mammals globally to build expertise with evolutionary concepts. Locally, we will work within Vermont to develop a field-based toolkit for studying wild mammals. Experiential learning opportunities may include preparation of salvaged animals, non-invasive monitoring, engagement with trappers/hunters, and introduction to molecular techniques. (BIOL 140) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Conservation Biology
A conservation biologist is a problem-solver who applies tools from disparate fields – e.g., evolutionary biology, genetics, ecology, paleontology, anthropology, and population biology – to address complex real-world dilemmas of relevance to human, wildlife, and ecosystem health. To effectively leverage their data, conservation biologists must also recognize and navigate government regulations, diverse cultural practices, and stakeholder perceptions. This course is international in scope. Emphasis will be placed on current issues such as species reintroduction, detecting extinction, rewilding, novel ecosystems, protected area design, shifting baselines, human-wildlife conflict, and climate change. This course will require engagement with community partners in independent research. (BIOL 140 required; recommended ENVS 112, BIOL 145)

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Spring 2022

Requirements

CW, SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Independent Study
In this course students complete individual projects involving laboratory and/or field research or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and a faculty advisor. Prior to registering for BIOL 0500, a student must have discussed and agreed upon a project topic with a member of the Biology Department faculty. Additional requirements include attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. This course is not open to seniors; seniors should enroll in BIOL 0700, Senior Independent Study. (BIOL 0211. Approval required) 3 hrs. disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Senior Independent Study
In this course students complete individual projects involving laboratory and/or field research or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and a faculty advisor. Prior to registering for BIOL 0700, a student must have discussed and agreed upon a project topic with a member of the Biology Department faculty. Additional requirements include attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. (BIOL 0211. Approval required; open only to seniors) 3 hrs. disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Senior Thesis
Seniors majoring in Biology who have completed one or more semesters of BIOL 0500 or BIOL 0700 and who plan to complete a thesis should register for BIOL 0701. In this course students will produce a written thesis, deliver a public presentation of the research on which it is based, and present an oral defense of the thesis before a committee of at least three faculty members. Additional requirements include attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. Open to Biology and joint Biology/Environmental Studies majors. (BIOL 0211 and BIOL 0500 or BIOL 0700 or waiver; instructor approval required for all students) 3 hrs. disc

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Natural Science and the Environment
We will explore in detail a series of current environmental issues in order to learn how principles of biology, chemistry, geology, and physics, as well as interdisciplinary scientific approaches, help us to identify and understand challenges to environmental sustainability. In lecture, we will examine global environmental issues, including climate change, water and energy resources, biodiversity and ecosystem services, human population growth, and world food production, as well as the application of science in forging effective, sustainable solutions. In the laboratory and field, we will explore local manifestations of global issues via experiential and hands-on approaches. 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs. lab.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Spring 2022

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Pleistocene Park, Jurassic World: Fossil Stories of Our Future
What can coprolites tell us about climate change? Will mammoths roam Siberia once more? While paleontology might seem like it’s all about the past, the tools that paleontologists employ are directly relevant to our future. Students will explore scientific topics such as the process of fossilization, how to reconstruct the history of life, and why mass extinctions happen. We will also discuss the ethical dimensions of fossil ownership, de-extinction, science communication, and other societal issues. Ultimately, students will leverage the richness of geologic and evolutionary time to develop a new personal context for interpreting our rapidly changing planet. 3 hrs. lect

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Community-Engaged Environmental Studies Practicum
In this course students work in small groups with one of a variety of partners and organizations to complete a semester-long, community-engaged project. Project themes vary by term and typically focus on local and regional environmental issues that have broader application. Projects rely on students’ creativity, interdisciplinary perspectives, skills, and knowledge developed through their previous work. The project is guided by a faculty member and carried out with a high degree of independence by the students. Students will prepare for and direct their project work through readings and discussion, independent research, collaboration with project partners, and consultation with external experts. The course may also include workshops focused on developing key skills (e.g., interviewing, public speaking, video editing). The project culminates in a public presentation of students’ final products, which may various forms such as written reports, policy white papers, podcasts, or outreach materials. (Open to Juniors and Seniors) (ENVS 0112, ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215, GEOG 0120 or GEOG 0150) 3 hrs. sem./3 hrs. lab

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Independent Study
In this course, students (non-seniors) carry out an independent research or creative project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member with related expertise who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, must involve a significant amount of independent research and analysis. The expectations and any associated final products will be defined in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may enroll in ENVS 0500 no more than twice for a given project. (Approval only)

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Senior Independent Study
In this course, seniors complete an independent research or creative project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. During the term prior to enrolling in ENVS 0700, a student must discuss and agree upon a project topic with a faculty advisor who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program and submit a brief project proposal to the Director of Environmental Studies for Approval. The expectations and any associated final products will be defined in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may enroll in ENVS 0700 as a one-term independent study OR up to twice as part of a multi-term project, including as a lead-up to ENVS 0701 (ES Senior Thesis) or ENVS 0703 (ES Senior Integrated Thesis). (Senior standing; Approval only)

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Senior Thesis
This course is the culminating term of a multi-term independent project, resulting in a senior thesis on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. Approval to enroll is contingent on successful completion of at least one term (and up to two) of ENVS 0700 and the approval of the student’s thesis committee. The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty advisor who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, will result in a substantial piece of scholarly work that will be presented to other ENVS faculty and students in a public forum and defended before the thesis committee. (Senior standing; ENVS major; ENVS 0112, ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215, GEOG 0120, and ENVS 0700; Approval only)

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Fall 2022

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Upon completion of GEOL 0400, all senior geology majors will continue their independent senior thesis research by taking one unit of GEOL 0700. This research will culminate in a written thesis which must be orally defended. (Approval only)

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

View in Course Catalog

Academic Degrees

B.S. Cornell University 
Ph.D. Stanford University

Publications