Undergraduate Research Lab in Conservation

The Celastrina Project

Oh, the beer and butterfly story, but it really is so much more.

The Beginning

Celastrina poster
Celastrina Saison Odell Brewing Company

As a mammalogist I frequently have my nose pointed toward the ground looking for traps, but on an occasion in 2011, when I peered above the dense mat of riparian vegetation I was fighting through, I saw a small blue butterfly that seemed to be hovering around wild hops. Knowing there were reports of a rare butterfly called the hops blue, I called my colleague over to verify what I was looking at. Well, after confirmation and a few after-hours beers discussing how to fund studies of rare invertebrates, our hops-infused ideas turned to breweries.

Pushing the idea, I approached Odell Brewing Company and they eagerly collaborated on a beer called Celastrina Saison. Odell graciously rewarded the idea with a donation…but it was a donation far exceeding our expectations, which we greatly appreciated, but allowed even more beer-induced creativity. These funds went on to start the early beginnings of an undergraduate lab that would study rare and lesser-known Colorado species (URLIC).

The Linda S. Hamilton “Conserving Colorado” Award

One of the early champions of such a research endeavor was Linda S. Hamilton. An alumna of Warner College of Natural Resources, Linda generously lent her voice to our crowd-sourcing efforts (below) , and supported it through her own generosity.

She liked the idea so much she started an endowment that now carries her name and provides stipends for undergraduate researchers executing their own conservation research.


Callie Puntenney (2014)
Occupancy modeling of the hops blue butterfly (Celastrina humulus)

Callie with Linda Hamilton who generously supports CNHP’s undergraduate research program

Rachel Maison (2015)
Celastrina humulus (hops blue butterfly) occupancy at teh U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Rachel with Celastrina bottle
Rachel with her commemorative Celastrina Saison bottle. Photograph by Rachel Maison.

Blaise Newman (2016)
Fluorescent powder tracking as a possible technique to understand Preble’s meadow jumping mouse microsite habitat use

Tristan Kubik (2016)
Facultative myrmecophily in the hops blue butterfly (are hops blue butterfly larvae tended by ants?)

At University of Texas, Tristan is working with Drs. Alex Wild and Ulrich Mueller on the ecology, evolution, and behavior of leafcutting ants and their predators, namely the New World army ants.

Kira Paik (2017) and Toryn Walton (2018)
Little brown bat roosts: spatial distribution and characteristics of little brown bat day roosts and maternity roosts in the Yampa Valley of Colorado

Kira (left) and Toryn (right) with their bat-tracking mobile and conspicuous antenna

Kira is now pursuing her Master’s degree in fisheries biology at Colorado State University.

Toryn tracking bats around the Yampa Valley Land Trust’s Rehder Ranch

Nina Phillips (2018)
Patch occupancy and habitat of the Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Nina Phillips and Rob

Emily Fitzjohn (2019)
Estimating abundance and density of the endangered Pagosa skyrocket (Ipomopsis polyantha)

Emily Fitzjohn conducting distance sampling. Photograph by Jill Handwerk.
Pagosa skyrocket. Photograph by Rob Schorr.

Hailee Nolan (2021)

Hailee (right) conducted research with Dr. Emily Mooney (left) at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, to understand hops flower phenology and the chemicals hops blue butterfly larvae provide to mutualistic ants.