This summer, here in our hometown in Montana, the 500 Women Scientists: Bozeman Pod has been hosting a series of science discussions dubbed “Suds and Science” at a local pub on the campus of Montana State University. Aiming to bring science to the community in a new and interesting way, they’re featuring five scientists at each event presenting their work, claiming that to enjoy it all you need is a “thirst for knowledge!”

At their next event, Adventure Scientists’ own Michelle Toshack and Anya Tyson will take the mic, talking about the Conserving Biodiversity: Pollinators and Timber Tracking projects respectively. 

500 Women Scientists is a grassroots organization dedicated to standing up for women and for science, pushing to build an inclusive and diverse scientific enterprise. Anya and Michelle will have much to talk about, as women doing important science and putting their scientific knowledge and know-how to use for conservation. Get to know them better below the break.

Michelle Toshack, Pollinator Project Manager
​Originally from Spokane, Washington, Michelle relocated to Bellingham to pursue an environmental science degree from Western Washington University.  The North Cascades have been her most explored mountains, where she has conducted field work on owls, pikas, and butterflies.

She has been chasing butterflies since 2008, when she worked for the National Park Service to inventory butterfly species in North Cascades and Mt. Rainer National Parks.  After the inventory was completed, the project transitioned into a citizen science effort called the Cascades Butterfly Project and she worked as the Field Coordinator to train and manage volunteers.

Michelle holds a MSc degree in pollination ecology from Simon Fraser University. Her research focused on the effects of surrounding landscape and farming practices on wild pollinators and birds.

Michelle loves trail running, gardening and playing with baby goats.


Michelle lets fly with her trusty butterfly net on a mountain path near a meadow known for its pollinators. Photo by Louise Johns

Anya Tyson, Timber Project Manager
Anya Tyson hails from the tangled green forests of the Oregon coast. A self-described “field trips major,” she studied the geology, botany, zoology and cultural history of the American Southwest at Colorado College. Afterwards, she spent several years in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem chasing wild animals including owls, wolves, cougars (and adjudicated teenage boys at a wilderness therapy center).

Lured east by education, Anya studied at the intersection of science and storytelling through the Field Naturalist Program at the University of Vermont. As a graduate student, Anya launched the Clark’s Nutcracker Project, leveraging the efforts of hundreds of hikers to research and protect the imperiled whitebark pine and its winged seed-disperser in western Wyoming. Wielding an accordion and a harmonica, Anya hooked many of her best volunteers with ecological songwriting.

In her heart of hearts, Anya will always remain a wildlife tech; you will find her packrafting, bushwhacking, and using binoculars whenever possible.   


Anya sizes up a bigleaf maple to demonstrate proper sampling protocols at a Timber project training event. Photo by John B. Hanle

If you’re near Bozeman, join Michelle and Anya for the event on Sunday, August 26. If you’re farther afield, they’ll be sharing their reflections on the event here afterwards!