Contribue to Ben-David's campaign to help her get the word out. Every dollar counts.

Meet Merav Ben-David

Born on January 17, 1959, on a family farm in Israel. It was a drought year but the night she was born, it started raining, which is why her parents named her “a lot of water”; in Hebrew, “Merav”. This may have sealed her fate, she loves water (streams, lakes and the ocean) and the color blue. Merav learned to ride on 2 old family mares, but for her “Bat Mitzva” when she was 12, her father bought her a horse; an Arabian filly. She was adorable at first but turned into a terror when they started riding her. On every excursion, Merav ended up hanging from a tree branch, underneath her, or several meters away in the bushes. Watching bucking horse riders get hurt during our rodeos, she wonders how she never broke a bone in all the years owning this horse.

Merav grading student papers in Arches National Park
Merav hunting with a friend in Alaska.

Merav received a BSc in Biology (1984) and an MSc in Zoology (1988) from Tel-Aviv University. After working as a safari tour guide in Kenya for 5 years, and volunteering on several research projects there, Merav relocated to Alaska and received a PhD in Wildlife Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (1996). Her dissertation on the effect of spawning salmon on mink and marten using stable isotope analysis distinguished her as an expert in the field. While in Alaska, Merav learned how to ski, skijor, fly fish, and hunt (from her Greenlandic Inuit boyfriend at the time). She also experienced there, for the first time, what it means to belong to a minority group and what Anti-Semitism looks like. 

Merav was hired as an assistant professor at the University of Wyoming in 2000. Ever since, she's been calling Laramie home. She became a U.S. citizen in a moving ceremony at the federal courthouse in Cheyenne in 2009, and has been a full professor since 2010. She studies the effects of global change on a variety of animals including the effects of invasive lake trout on river otters in Yellowstone Lake, sea ice loss in the Arctic on polar bears, timber harvest on marten and ermine in southeast Alaska, and population status and distribution of spotted skunks in Wyoming, among other issues. Merav's research articles can be found on her Google Scholar profile HERE

In addition to spending numerous summers studying river otters in coastal Alaska, in 1996 and 1997 Merav participated in expeditions to the Wrangell-St. Elias ice fields (for description of that expedition see National Geographic December 1998 issue). In 2009 she served as the Chief Scientist on an icebreaker cruise to the Arctic Ocean, aboard the Coast Guard cutter the Polar Sea, as part of her polar bear studies. Her numerous research projects have propelled her across the globe from Africa to Patagonia, from Tasmania to Europe, from California to Alaska and, of course, all across Wyoming. She feels exceptionally lucky to live in this beautiful and unique state.

In 2012, Merav received the Barrett-Hamilton distinguished ecologist award from the University of Manitoba for her contributions to polar bear conservation. She also won the Excellence in Wildlife Education award from The Wildlife Society in 2016 and became a Wildlife Fellow in 2017. Over the past 2.5 years she served as the chair of the Department of Zoology and Physiology, a position that sharpened her people management skills. Over the years, she trained over a 1,000 aspiring wildlife professionals, many of which are scattered across our lovely state ensuring the sustainability of our fish and wildlife resources. It is for their future and that of Wyoming that she decided to run for U.S. Senate in 2020.

Merav and a recent capture on the Spotted Skunk Project.

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