Katie Barnes
Coastal Senior Biologist,
Katie comes to Birmingham Audubon from a two-year stint monitoring Wilson’s Plovers, Least Terns, Black Skimmers, and Common Nighthawks in Cameron Parish for Audubon Louisiana. A native of Pittsburgh, she earned a BS in Biology from Saint Vincent College (where she studied White-breasted Nuthatch foraging behavior), and an MS in Biology from East Stroudsburg University, where her thesis focused on Louisiana Waterthrush ecology. An avid birder and bird-bander with field experiences ranging from the deserts of Arizona to the beaches of the Gulf Coast, Katie brings a wealth of expertise to her new position at Birmingham Audubon.


Andy Coleman, PhD
Program & Science Director,
Andy joined Birmingham Audubon as the organization’s first Program Director in February 2015.  A native of Greenville, Alabama, he holds degrees from the University of Alabama, Appalachian State University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where his research focused on salamanders in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, diamondback terrapins on the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coasts, and sea turtles in the Mississippi Sound. While he continues to collaborate with scientists studying diamondback terrapin conservation in Alabama and sea turtle conservation in Mexico, Andy also maintains an active research program at Birmingham Audubon, with current projects examining the ecologies of Bald Eagle and Eastern Bluebird populations in Alabama.

Nicole Love
Coastal Programs Coordinator,
Originally from Pittsburgh, Nicole has spent a great deal of time in Florida, the state where she received both her BS and MS degrees (University of Central Florida) and where she began her professional biology career. She has since been involved with several marine and estuarine programs operating at a variety of scales, from studying the ecological relationships of benthic invertebrates to monitoring regional watershed issues. She comes to Birmingham Audubon from The Nature Conservancy, where she worked throughout the Gulf of Mexico with local communities and other stakeholders on coastal resilience and restoration issues. Through her work, Nicole has developed such a deep appreciation for the Gulf that she and her family now live in Fairhope, on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay—a great place to enjoy all that the coastal lifestyle has to offer.

Chris Oberholster
Interim Executive Director,
Chris came to Birmingham Audubon as the organization’s first Partnership & Policy Director in December 2016, and was appointed Interim Executive Director in February 2018. Born and raised in South Africa, he earned a Master’s degree in Agronomy and Soils at Auburn University, and has lived in and explored Alabama for the last thirty years. Before coming to Birmingham Audubon, Chris worked for almost twenty-five years at The Nature Conservancy in Alabama—most recently as that organization’s Alabama State Director—and played a pivotal role in the 2012 renewal of Alabama’s popular Forever Wild public-land program. An avid hunter, birder, and stamp collector, he lives in Hoover with his wife Suzanne and their three children.

Ansel Payne, PhD
Outreach Director,
Ansel is a native of West Virginia and a former high school science teacher. A lifelong naturalist, he holds degrees from Harvard and Tufts, as well as a PhD in Comparative Biology from the American Museum of Natural History. While in New York, his work on the evolutionary history of digger wasps led to field expeditions in Central America and the Middle East, as well as to extended trips in the American West. In addition to his efforts on behalf of birds and their habitats, Ansel has also written for a diverse set of publications, including The AppendixTIME, and NautilusHe lives in Birmingham’s Avondale neighborhood, a few blocks from the Birmingham Audubon office.

Emma Rhodes
Coastal Biological Technician,
A native of Foley, Alabama, Emma is a recent graduate (BS Biology, with a minor in GIS) of the University of South Alabama. While much of her recent research has focused on the effects of window strikes on bird mortality, she has also spent parts of the last eight years banding neotropical migratory birds on Fort Morgan. In addition to these pursuits, she worked as a research assistant for Audubon’s Maine-based Project Puffin in 2014 and 2015, and has volunteered for both Audubon Mississippi and Birmingham Audubon as part of their Audubon Coastal Bird Surveys.

Chris Sykes
Operations Manager,
A native of Paris, Tennessee, Chris comes to Birmingham Audubon from the United States Marine Corps, where he served for six years as a corporal with extended stays in Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy), the Middle East (Jordan), and Africa (Djibouti), and from UAB, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and recently finished a Masters in Public Administration. Chris has also worked in administrative and managerial positions at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and at Erwin and Associates, Inc., respectively. He currently lives in Birmingham’s Crestline neighborhood.