Clay delineates and classifies natural communities using GIS and field inventories to document landscape features, rare species, and high quality natural communities on state lands. At MNFI since 2017, his work here has introduced him to the diversity of Michigan’s natural communities. He has had a lifelong interest in nature and science, so it was a natural progression from exploring forests and streams as a child to becoming an ecologist. Growing up in Michigan fostered a deep interest in its natural areas and wildlife. He earned a BS in Biology from Central Michigan University and his MS in Wildlife Ecology from Mississippi State University. His field and laboratory research experience at CMU formed the foundation for using science as a tool to better understand natural resources and help inform conservation decisions. He honed his research skills designing and conducting landscape scale population inventories for large carnivores in North America and Africa. He is an avid outdoor enthusiast and enjoys wildlife photography, kayaking, birding, and hiking.