Alaini Schneider Cossette (Laini) joined WEST as a part-time biologist in the Golden Valley, Minnesota office in November of 2018 and became a full-time biologist in February of 2019. Her current role focuses on report writing and document preparation for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Laini has helped to develop and prepare Environmental Assessments, Eagle Conservation Plans, Bird and Bat Conservation Strategies, site characterization studies, and other pre- and post-construction wildlife survey reports. She is excited to grow as a biologist through both the taxonomic and geographical variety that WEST’s work offers and eager to contribute to any herpetological-related projects and opportunities that may arise.
Prior to joining the WEST team, Laini obtained a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry at the University of St. Thomas in 2016. During her time as an undergraduate, she was involved in research projects concerning heavy metal accumulation in lake sediments, painted turtle home range and population demographics, and long-term wood turtle population monitoring and conservation. Laini went on to receive her M.S. in Conservation Biology from Central Michigan University in August of 2018. Her thesis research explored genetic isolation of snapping turtles and spiny softshell turtles in Minnesota. Laini has worked with ten different turtle species and is a champion for reptile and amphibian conservation, particularly in urban environments. Although Laini’s research has focused on turtles, she has experience in conducting a variety of field surveys and methods, including vegetation surveys, pollinator surveys, radio-telemetry, live-trapping, and bird census techniques. Laini is proficient in ArcGIS and R statistical software.