North Carolina names Lori Williams ‘Biologist of the Year’

Lori Williams looks for eastern hellbenders. Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS

Lori Williams, a TWS member and wildlife biologist in the Wildlife Diversity Program with the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, recently earned the title of 2020 Biologist of the Year.

“Lori is inspirational to those of us lucky enough to work with her because of her incredible no-nonsense work ethic, compassion for wildlife and people, humility and her warm and giving demeanor,” the North Carolina Chapter of The Wildlife Society wrote in its newsletter. “Though her schedule is always packed, Lori is quick to offer help for other staff’s projects as often as needed whether directly or through sharing her wildlife technician.”

Williams oversees and conducts research on rare amphibians and other species, adding to months of surveys and monitoring projects. Some example of her work include providing technical guidance to NCWRC staff, other state and federal agencies, NGOs and members of the public on activities including dam removals, bridge replacements, timber sales, species and habitat management and more.

She coordinates and manages projects on eastern hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus), green salamanders (Aneides aeneus), mountain chorus frogs (Pseudacris brachyphona), Weller’s salamander (Plethodon welleri), four-toed salamanders (Hemidactylium scutatum) and more. In many of these projects, she’s used cutting edge research including eDNA and other genetics techniques to improve surveys, monitoring and conservation for amphibians in western North Carolina.

Williams also has participated in public outreach events, some of which feature a hellbender that she cares for at home, offering members of the public an opportunity to see a live hellbender.

“Lori does not seek the limelight or any accolades, yet she is always quietly working as hard as possible to conserve North Carolina’s amphibians,” the chapter wrote. “She is a passionate, joyful advocate for amphibians and their habitats. This exuberance rubs off on her colleagues, permit holders and landowners.”

Read the chapter’s newsletter here.


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