Chad Seewagen, Ph.D.
Executive Director


Chad joined Great Hollow as the organization’s first Executive Director in May of 2016. He is currently working to develop scientific research programs and collaborations both within and beyond the preserve, attract external scientists to use Great Hollow as a field research station, develop educational programs and events for children and adults, and raise funding to support all of Great Hollow’s initiatives. Prior to joining Great Hollow, Dr. Seewagen was a Senior Wildlife Biologist and Technical Director at a New York City-based environmental consulting firm, and before that, worked as a Research Scientist in the Department of Ornithology at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo.  He holds a B.S. in Wildlife & Fisheries Conservation from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, an M.A. in Conservation Biology from Columbia University, a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Western Ontario, and is an Adjunct Research Scientist in the University of Connecticut’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (faculty webpage).  Dr. Seewagen’s primary research interests include the physiological ecology of bird migration and the impacts of mercury pollution on birds, but his work also spans other taxa and topics, often in collaboration with colleagues at a variety of other institutions.


John Foley
Naturalist & Preserve Steward


John is a self-taught naturalist who has spent years working in and around Great Hollow, studying the local plants and animals that make the area so special. He is a Connecticut-certified Master Wildlife Conservationist and has worked as a field technician for multiple agencies and organizations, such as the Connecticut Bureau of Natural Resources and Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Great Swamp and the Naromi Land Trust. John’s passion is turtles, and he has spent the past several years collecting valuable data on the movement patterns and survivorship of turtles inhabiting Great Hollow and neighboring natural areas. At Great Hollow, John works hard to maintain the trails that so many people enjoy hiking while also managing the land to optimize habitat for native plants and wildlife. John also maintains Great Hollow’s many facilities and coordinates and leads many of our events and outreach initiatives.

Sena Rasun-Mahendra, M.Ed.
Education Coordinator


Sena develops the curricula and lesson plans for all of Great Hollow’s environmental education programming, and is the director of our summer camp. She holds a Master of Education degree from Antioch University-New England, is a certified Wilderness First Responder, and brings over 15 years of outdoor and environmental education experience to the Great Hollow team. Over the course of her career, Sena has directed the wilderness camping program for an urban charter school, led 30-day backpacking trips for adjudicated youth, taught at several residential environmental education and nature centers, and most recently coordinated the nature-based learning program at a rural elementary school.


Seasonal Staff:

Anika Lindsey
Camp Instructor

Anika is originally from Chicago and recently graduated in May 2018 from Oberlin College, with a B.S. in Biology. She has previously worked with children at summer camps run by the City of Chicago and private organizations back home in Illinois. She first became interested in environmental education when she studied abroad in Costa Rica and is excited to be working this summer as an instructor for Great Hollow’s popular Eco-Discovery Camp. She is an avid backpacker and camper, and is Wilderness First Aid certified.

Megan Hart
Field Technician

Megan joins us from Tennessee where she recently completed a M.S. in Biology from the Center of Excellence for Field Biology at Austin Peay State University. Megan is working full-time on the Connecticut Bird Atlas Project, conducting standardized bird surveys all over western Connecticut, as part of Great Hollow’s contribution to this important initiative that is being lead by UConn and the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. She has a great amount of previous field experience studying birds, including her thesis research on the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Seaside Sparrows. After her work on the Bird Atlas Project at Great Hollow, Megan is looking to begin a Ph.D. program to further her education and experience in biology.

Clare Quinlan
Research Intern

Clare received one of Great Hollow’s competitive Research Internships for 2018 and is assisting our staff with various field research projects this summer to further her hands-on experience in the fields of ecology and conservation biology. She comes to us from Ohio where she is currently working towards a Master of Environmental Science degree at Miami University. Clare graduated with her B.A. in Zoology & Environmental Science, also from Miami University, in 2017. She is particularly interested in ornithology and is looking forward to helping out with Great Hollow’s ongoing studies of migratory songbirds.

Evalyn Machia
Research Intern

Evalyn is one of our Research Interns for 2018 and is assisting with several field research projects this summer involving songbirds, turtles, bats, and ticks and other invertebrates. She’s originally from nearby Brookfield, Connecticut but is currently a student at the University of Maine where she is majoring in Zoology. Her primary interest is mammal ecology and behavior, but she has previously worked with amphibians and is looking forward to continuing to diversify her experience with other taxa through her internship at Great Hollow.