Meet the DoD AKN Program Team!

The DoD AKN Program is ran by a multi-disciplinary collaborative team of project partners from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Point Blue Conservation Science, and Klamath Bird Observatory.

Read a little more about the people behind the Program by clicking on their photos below!

Elizabeth Neipert, Program Director

Elizabeth Neipert is a Research Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Environmental Laboratory (EL) in the Ecological Resources Branch stationed in Interior Alaska, where she conducts wildlife research and monitoring projects on DoD lands nationwide.  She also serves as the Technical Coordinator for DoD’s Bird Conservation Program where she collaborates with military natural resources managers and directs DoD-wide conservation efforts designed for mission support for the Military Services and Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) Natural Resources Program. 

Ms. Neipert is the Director of DoD’s Avian Knowledge Network (AKN) Program where she leads the interagency partnership to address all DoD avian data needs. She coordinates DoD’s use of the AKN with OSD, the Military Services, installations, cooperators, and partners to create an organized, strategic, and comprehensive approach that directly supports the DoD Bird Conservation Strategic Plan and supports DoD’s military missions. 

She also chairs the National AKN Steering Committee, the primary decision-making body for the AKN, committed to fostering the international collaboration of diverse institutions and agencies with goals to improve the conservation of birds and their habitats utilizing scientific data and cooperative partnerships. She also represents DoD and leads the federal agency partnership, coordinating future plans and actions with all AKN partners, over 100 organizations. 

Previously, Elizabeth served as President of the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association (NMFWA) from 2016-2018 and co-founded NMFWA’s Bird Conservation Working Group in 2015. From 2008-2014, she was the Natural Resources Program Manager and Wildlife Biologist at U.S. Army Garrison Fort Wainwright’s Donnelly Training Area, Alaska managing over 750,000 acres of military training and testing lands. 

You can reach Liz at

Zoe Duran

Zoe Duran is a contracted Research Biologist and Data Support Analyst with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Environmental Laboratory (EL) in the Ecological Resources Branch remotely stationed in southwest Idaho.

Ms. Duran assists the DoD AKN Program team with data integration, Program support, and DoD-specific initiatives. Prior to joining the DoD AKN Program team in 2023, Ms. Duran worked ten years for the Idaho Army National Guard (IDARNG) where she conducted extensive wildlife and botanical research and monitoring projects on DoD-managed lands in southwest Idaho. Ms. Duran is also the current Vice President of the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association (NMFWA).

Ms. Duran received her B.S. and M.S. in Biology from Boise State University where she studied population dynamics and behavioral ecology of raptor prey species at the IDARNG Orchard Combat Training Center (OCTC).

You can reach Zoe at

Sam Veloz, PhD

Sam Veloz is the Director of Ecoinformatics and Climate Solutions at Point Blue Conservation Science. He leads a team that uses our science to help decision makers and natural resource managers prepare for future environmental changes. His group specializes in the development of models and tools that enable climate-smart decision making. We work in ecosystems ranging from upland and tidal marsh ecosystems in the San Francisco Estuary, to coastal forests and grasslands of the Pacific Northwest, to the deserts of the southwest United States and in the Ross Sea in Antarctica. Our Ecoinformatics team supports the management of Point Blue’s and our partners bird monitoring data through the Point Blue Science Cloud. Sam also represents Point Blue on the Avian Knowledge Network (AKN) Steering Committee. 

Dr. Veloz represents Point Blue on the Department of Defense AKN team. His role is to direct the Point Blue Ecoinformatics team to develop new features and upgrades to the Point Blue Science Cloud in support of DoD and AKN priorities. He also leads the training of DoD staff on the use of the AKN for data management and analyses. 

Sam came to Point Blue in 2010 after working as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he studied how plant species responded to global warming following the last deglaciation as a proxy for how species will respond to future climate change. He received his PhD from UC Davis in ecology in 2008 where he studied how urbanization in Australia led to behavioral changes in megabats and the coincidental emergence of fatal zoonotic diseases in humans. He received his bachelors degree in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz in 1997. 

You can reach Sam at

Dianne Miller

Dianne is the Technical Product Manager for the Eco-Informatics team at Point Blue. She is responsible for working with partners in the Avian Knowledge Network to bring all of their bird observation data into the Point Blue Science cloud, as well as helping to maintain, modernize, and upgrade our systems. Her expertise is in database design and programming, and in software documentation and training. On the DoD AKN team, she participates in Office Hours and assists with the training classes for DoD staff to help them get data into the AKN database. She also works with the Point Blue software engineers to create, modify, and improve tools to meet DoD user’s needs.   

Prior to joining Point Blue in 2022, Dianne spent the first 14 years of her career working as an air quality meteorologist and database developer at a consulting firm, followed by seven years as a senior database developer and Team Lead at a financial institution serving the needs of the agricultural community. She received her M.S. degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and her B.S. degree in Atmospheric Science from Cornell University.

You can reach Dianne at

John Alexander, PhD

John D. Alexander, PhD (Klamath Bird Observatory Executive Director) has been an AKN collaborator since its inception. Dr. Alexander has been working to integrate bird conservation with natural resource management in the Pacific Northwest since 1992.  He is focused on applying bird conservation science as a tool for advancing ecosystem conservation regionally, nationally, and internationally. His expertise includes participatory action research; ecological monitoring and research using standard bird and habitat sampling techniques; the use of scientific results for overcoming land stewardship challenges; and the development of applied science tools and teaching materials for natural resource management professionals, community members, and students of all ages.

John’s KBO team manages the Avian Knowledge Northwest regional AKN node, as well as the eBird Northwest portal. John represents the AKN on the North American Bird Conservation Initiative US Committee. John plays several roles on the DoD AKN team, working with Ms. Neipert and Dr. Veloz to set strategic direction for the program; supervising the KBO team; advising on database, project, and decision support tool design; consulting with DoD associates on monitoring and research design, field methodology selection, analysis, and data management; and representing the DoD program by meeting with and presenting to various partners and collaborations. 

You can reach John at

Caitlyn Gillespie

Caitlyn is a Research Biologist at Klamath Bird Observatory where she has managed data collection, analysis, and reporting for numerous long-term bird monitoring and applied ecological field studies throughout Oregon and northern California. She now works within KBO’s informatics and data science program to assist with AKN program support and data management, analyze data for applied avian monitoring research, and develop conservation planning tools.

As part of the DoD AKN support team, she attends DoD Office Hours to consult with installation biologists to help identify ways in which the AKN can meet their data management needs and support their research objectives. She is also working with biologists to help identify protocols, historic datasets, and data management solutions for Mission-Sensitive Species and assists with DoD AKN virtual and in-person trainings.   

You can reach Caitlyn at

Ellie Armstrong

Ellie works for Klamath Bird Observatory where she works on many things AKN related. Much of Ellie’s work has focused on helping bulk upload large historic datasets into the AKN to help preserve the integrity and accessibility of previously collected data in many formats. She also helps run the AKN’s helpdesk ticketing system, Zendesk, and attends DoD Office Hours where she helps with a wide array of issues from getting people first set up to enter data into the AKN to using AKN customized tools to analyze data.   

You can reach Ellie at

Have a question, but unsure who to contact?

Contact any of our Team members at