ECOWEB program advisors are Dr. Jim Maskey, an expert in the area of wildlife and conservation biology, and Dr. Michael Lares, a specialist in ecology and environmental science. All ECOWEB scholars will be advised by either Dr. Maskey or Dr. Lares, and will be mentored by one of five biology faculty members.

Program Advisors

Jim Maskey

Jim Maskey, PhD

ECOWEB Co-PI and Program Advisor

  • PhD Biology, University of North Dakota
  • MS. Biology, Northern Michigan University
  • BS Biology/Ecology, Northern Michigan University

Dr. Maskey is an associate professor of biology and began teaching at the University in 2009. He teaches courses in mammalogy, range management, conservation biology, wildlife management, botany, and general biology.

Upon leaving his home state of Michigan, Jim moved to the University of North Dakota to pursue a Ph.D. studying North Dakota’s moose population. While there, he met his wife, Amanda.

He loves all sorts of outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, biking, and golf. He also enjoys watching movies, playing guitar, and reading, especially during long North Dakota winters.

Michael Lares 

Michael T. Lares, PhD

ECOWEB Co-PI and Program Advisor

  • PhD Biology, University of South Florida
  • MS Biology, University of Alabama
  • BS Marine Science/Biology, Southampton College

Dr. Michael Lares, professor of biology and administrative chair, has been with the University of Mary since 1998.  He teaches courses in the organismal and environmental areas.  He believes in “hands-on” approaches to teaching, especially in lab (for example most Animal Behavior labs are held at the Dakota Zoo).

He is a recipient of the Crystal Apple Award, awarded by the Bismarck Chamber of Commerce.

He has several publications in scientific journals, including a description of a new species of gregarine parasite from sea cucumbers.

He is the Vice President of the Board of Director’s of the Dakota Zoo, as well as the Chair of the Conservation Fund Committee, and actively volunteers at the Zoo (come see him at the next breakfast).

He also reviews grants for the Grant in Aid of Research Program for Sigma Xi, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

His daughter competed on the Aquastorm Swim Team and Century High School Swim and Dive team.


Faculty Mentors

David Ronderos

David S. Ronderos, PhD

ECOWEB faculty mentor

  • PhD Neuroscience, University of Texas, Southwestern
  • BA Biology/Chemistry, Minnesota State University–Moorhead

Dr. Ronderos, assistant professor, came to U Mary in 2013. He teaches Anatomy & Physiology, Hematology, and Cellular & Molecular Biology, has given some guest lectures on Darwin & Evolution, Faith & Reason, and Bioethics.

He is on the Advisory Committee for University of Mary’s exciting new Master of Science (MS) of Bioethics program, offered in collaboration with the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC).

Dr. Ronderos’ research interests are in sensory neuroscience, focusing on 2 of the 5 Classical Senses: Smell & Sight. Most recently, he’s been studying the genetics of vision.

He and his wife, Emi, have 3 small children. They especially enjoy reading books together, playing games, and spending time with friends & family.

Michelle Lett 

Michelle Lett, DVM

ECOWEB faculty mentor

  • DVM, Kansas State University
  • MS Biology, Kansas State University
  • BS Biology, Washburn University

Michelle Lett, DVM, is an assistant professor of biology who joined the biology faculty at the University of Mary in 2014.

She earned her doctorate of veterinary medicine from Kansas State University, and, before that, a Master of Science degree in biology from Kansas State University, in which she studied the effects of woody plant encroachment in tall grass prairies.

Dr. Lett practiced private veterinary medicine for 3 years and taught in a veterinary technician program for 3 years before coming to the University of Mary.

She teaches parasitology, microbiology, general biology, human biology, and anatomy and physiology labs.