Ivana Mali and Donald Brown getting ready to set turtle traps on the Rio Grande
River (Photo Credit: Michael R.J. Forstner)
Meet the Researcher
Ivana Mali, Eastern New Mexico University
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager
Eastern New Mexico University Biology Assistant Professor Ivana Mali enjoys research and teaching courses in wildlife biology, with an emphasis on herpetology, mammalogy, and landscape ecology. She currently is focusing on herpetofaunal communities that are indigenous to the region, as well as surveying for soft ticks among prairie dog burrows. One of her favorite critters from the realm of herpetology has been the turtle, which was the subject of her master's project in 2008. Moreover, the results of her PhD research on the effects of turtle commercial harvest led the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to propose a ban on all commercial turtle harvests in Texas (which is still under review). In 2016, Dr. Mali began turtle research at ENMU. Since that time, she has continued to survey the status of the threatened Rio Grande cooter on the Pecos River drainage and its tributaries. She has also completed an assessment of the prevalence of hantavirus among small mammals in eastern New Mexico. She also enjoys sharing these passions with her students: "I find great joy in sharing my knowledge about the natural world and the issues about biodiversity we are facing today. It is on us, teachers, to educate young minds so we and they can preserve natural resources for future generations," said Dr. Mali.
Mali was born and raised in Serbia, a small country in southeast Europe. She says she always liked being outside, and especially enjoyed trips to her grandparents' farm, where she could indulge in outdoor explorations of the sort that now, in her later professional life, would be considered "field work." As she happily notes, "It is now my job, and I love it." On the other hand, her childhood also had its challenges because she grew up during the time of the Yugoslavia civil war of the early 1990s, and the later bombings related to the Kosovo conflict of 1999. Despite the resulting hardships and political instability, with some luck and much perseverance, along with the indispensable help of her family, she was able to get an athletic scholarship (in volleyball), and finally made her way to the U.S. Ever since, she's taken advantage of every available opportunity to realize her current circumstances. Looking back, she considers just being where she is today as her greatest accomplishment.
Mali received a BS in biology from Henderson State University, and an MS in wildlife ecology and PhD in aquatic resources from Texas State University. She is a faculty sponsor of ENMU Fish and Wildlife Club and was a recent faculty advisor on an NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant awarded to Andrew Letter for his research on water quality impacts on the dietary habitats of the Rio Grande Cooter (see November New Mexico Water eNews for article on Letter’s project).