Michael Skibsted

Staff Writer

Michael Skibsted, Staff Writer - theTurtleRoom

Michael is a Staff Writer for theTurtleRoom, producing educational content. Michael splits his time between school work, where he is in advanced AP/IB classes, and assisting with multiple NAFTRG projects/studies in Texas. He is working on a research project (slated to be published sometime in 2021) in collaboration with the Los Angeles Natural History Museum investigating interspecific basking patterns displayed by Southern Pacific Pond Turtles. He is currently a Founders Fellow and serves as an advisor on the SSAR Founders Fellowship committee, has received both the IHS Junior Herpetologist Award (2018) and JMIH’s pre-college research award, and has been distinguished by the OC register as a “Whiz Kid” for his work.

Michael’s main focus at present is centered around researching basking habits of Southern Pacific Pond Turtles, where he is specifically looking at the effects urbanization has on pond turtle densities within a local creek. This project will be published soon, as part of a collaboration with NHMLA and the Southern California Academy of Sciences RTP program. Michael also collaborates with researchers with the Turtle Survival Alliance NAFTRG, specifically on a study looking at cutaneous lesions in Common Snapping Turtles, and will be undertaking a study looking at turtle optics and scleral social cues in the near future.

Among other activities, Michael has worked on Desert Tortoise tracking with the DNR in Utah, turtle trapping at the Phoenix Zoo, sea turtle monitoring in Southern California, Desert Tortoise habitat preservation with the DTPC in California, sea turtle triage at the Karen Beasley Center in NC, and turtle community monitoring in Florida springs. He also regularly attends the TSA symposium, the DTPC symposium, the IHS symposium, the JMIH symposium, and other wildlife conferences. He has spoken at multiple conferences and regional meetings on topics ranging from community ecology in Texas springs to his experience working in Madagascar on tortoise triage.

Michael first learned about theTurtleRoom six years ago after finding the tTR YouTube page. Since then, he has learned many things, both from the tTR webpages and many of the individuals involved in the organization. Throughout the years, tTR has proven to be a go to place for information to fuel Michael’s passion.

One of the highlights of Michael’s work so far has been working on the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR) Founders Fellowship Committee as an advisor. Michael’s role here is to recruit other young herpetologists into the program by getting them interested in pursuing a research project and applying for the SSAR’s pre-college research award. He currently works on multiple group chats on various social media platforms with dozens of other young herpetologists who share his passion. This network of kids has become very close over time, and many of them have met from opposite sides of the country to work together on projects and to look for reptiles. It has been rewarding to watch, and he looks forward to continuing this endeavor.

When he isn’t reading about turtles or studying, Michael enjoys running cross country, hiking, biking, photographing animals and landscapes, writing articles on his social media page, reading philosophy novels and other miscellaneous literature, and playing guitar.

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