Monarch Watch Announcement

Monarch Watch welcomes a new director, Dr. Kristen Baum | November 2023

kristenDr. Kristen Baum, well known for her work on monarchs and pollinators, is now the Director of Monarch Watch as well as senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research and a faculty member in the KU Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Baum comes to KU from the College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University, where she was a professor in the Dept. of Integrative Biology and associate dean for research. The Monarch Watch Directorship will be supported in part by the Chip and Toni Taylor Professorship in Support of Monarch Watch, established last year by Orley "Chip" Taylor, who founded Monarch Watch in 1992, and his wife Toni Taylor. Chip Taylor announced last year that he would be stepping away from day-to-day operations of the program to focus on completion of several projects.

Baum has worked with monarchs and other pollinators in the Great Plains for more than 25 years. Her monarch research focuses on the effects of land use and management practices on the distribution and abundance of monarchs, milkweeds, and monarch-parasite interactions. She also has a long-term project focusing on the wing size, body weight, sex ratio, and OE infection status of fall migrants in Oklahoma. Baum has served on numerous state, regional and national working groups to support conservation efforts for monarchs and other pollinators.

Taylor, Founder and Director Emeritus of Monarch Watch related:

"I started a small monarch tagging project in 1992. This project grew and changed through the years from a focus on research and outreach to an international program dedicated to monarch science and conservation. When close to retirement, I realized that the program was reaching at least 100,000 people a year and that it simply had to continue. I'm pleased to be able to turn the directorship over to Kristen Baum. Kristen is an outstanding scientist, a dynamic and experienced leader with a strong research program. She also has an outstanding record as an adviser to developing scientists."

Baum said she was excited about the opportunity to join the Monarch Watch team.

"I've participated in several Monarch Watch programs over the years, including tagging monarchs as part of my research and creating a Monarch Waystation at my home," she said. "Under Chip's leadership, Monarch Watch has developed an international reach through research, education and on-the-ground conservation efforts that have benefited the monarch butterfly, as well as other pollinators and wildlife. I'm honored to have been selected to lead Monarch Watch and build on these efforts that have been decades in the making."

Please see the official news release and we will have much more to say about this transition soon.

The future of Monarch Watch: an announcement by Chip Taylor, Director | October 2022

chipGreetings: I have a bit of news to share. My leadership of Monarch Watch, a program I started with Brad Williamson in 1992, is coming to an end. However, Monarch Watch will continue. A new director/scientist/professor will be hired to fill my position and I will step aside in August 2023, assuming I remain in good health and a director/scientist is hired.

While I've never been paid to direct Monarch Watch, to hire a replacement will require funding. The solution has been to create a Monarch Watch Endowed Directorship & Professorship. Such endowed positions require substantial financial support and while the fundraising behind the scenes has gone well, we still have a ways to go. We will announce a public fundraising campaign with more information soon.

This transition has been discussed extensively with chairs and the administration here at the University of Kansas over the last decade; in fact, we were planning to make these changes in early 2020 but then Covid happened. It's time. I turned 85 in August and I have to step away in order to find enough time to finish 6 manuscripts and a couple of experiments - one of which has given me an idea for a new community science project. There is always something new and even if I'm not directing Monarch Watch, I'll continue to contribute.

The official description of the new position is available via the link below. Thank you for your continued support.


Press Release: Couple establishes professorship in support of Monarch Watch with $1.4M gift, encourages others to support the cause

Support Monarch Watch: Donate to our general fund or the new professorship fund

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