Our Team


Michael Machart B.Sc. 


Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by wildlife and the natural world, yet there was not much of it to be found in Houston, the city where I was born and raised. While not offering much in the way of wildlife and nature, this highly populated urban environment, commonly referred to as “The Energy Capital of the World,” did provide me a successful career working I.T. for some very large oil and energy companies. However, this success gave me a growing awareness of a lack of fulfillment and sincere life-purpose. Ignorant of purpose, I sought fulfillment by selling all my stuff and moving to an active volcano in Hawaii.

Living in ‘paradise,’ however, did not allow me to ignore the world’s ever-increasing conservation and environmental issues, and soon the realization of a purpose slowly dawned on me. With a strong desire to contribute, I returned to Texas to properly learn how.

During my university studies, I had the amazing opportunity to intern in South Africa. The experience was mind-expanding, to say the least. Since my first summer in South Africa, I returned many more times, received a Baccalaureate of Science in Wildlife Management, fallen in love and married my beautiful South-African wife, Cornelia, and I am currently working on my graduate degree here at Tarleton State University.

All of this has been and still is an amazing journey. So amazing, in fact, I want to help provide similarly inspiring opportunities to others. By providing an ever-growing list of internship and research opportunities to students around the world, I hope to help us make better decisions about our world’s future by increasing our awareness and understanding of this precious planet and those we share it with.

Michael Machart – founder and owner, ResearchWild!


Michael Birt M.S.


My passion for wildlife conservation began when I was very young, and like many of us with this passion, it never went away and only grew stronger. This fascination led me to Texas A&M, where as an undergraduate I found a degree track in Wildlife and Fisheries that fit me like a glove. During my junior year I saw a flyer for a land and marine conservation study abroad trip to Australia and Fiji. When it came to the cost for the trip I found myself on my own. I also had never been out of the country. That day I decided none of this would deter me.

I got accepted into the program, applied for several scholarships and loans through Texas A&M and received multiple, and obtained my passport. The study abroad program was AMAZING! It opened my eyes and changed my life. I became more social, trusting, confident, knowledgeable, and my professional network expanded exponentially. I networked with the local university and set up an internship of my own assisting marine Masters and PhD students with catching and studying sharks and whales. After I graduated from Texas A&M University, I went to work for the Fort Worth Zoo as a mammal keeper. After two years, I decided it was time to go back to school and my supervisor from Fort Worth introduced me to a professor at Tarleton State University.  He took me on and thus began my Tarleton master's odyssey. 

Midway through I found an internship at a game ranch in South Africa where I learned many new techniques in the wildlife management field. This internship spurred my excitement and passion in a new direction. I wanted to help create an internship program that created a massive network of connections between university students and property owners, professionals, and researchers based on trust, hard work, and follow through. The seed of ResearchWild! was planted that summer.

After graduating from Tarleton with my Master’s, I got hired on as an animal care specialist at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is a world renown breeding facility for endangered species that has taken part in several reintroduction programs where many of its animals were introduced back into the wild.

One day after work, Michael Machart came over to visit and during that visit the vision of ResearchWild! was discussed and weeks later the company was created and named ResearchWild! 

Michael Birt – founder and owner, ResearchWild!

Cornelia Machart

Program Administrator / Cultural Specialist

Hallo! My name is Cornelia Machart. I am originally from South Africa, but I recently moved to the fine state of Texas! Coming from a family of environmentalists, I am very passionate about conservation and the environment. This passion, and the skills and experience I earned studying project administration, project management, and business management while working all over Africa in a fast upscale engineering environment, makes me perfect for fulfilling my role as ResearchWild!’s Program Administrator and Cultural Specialist.

Other skills and experience I possess include knowledge of South African and international wildlife law, a strong ability towards public interaction, and experience with resource management, program management, and oversight functions. I also have excellent interpersonal, verbal, and organizational skills, and the ability to work in a multi-cultural team.

I will always do my best for ResearchWild! and you!

Corneila Machart - Program Administrator and Cultural Specialist, ResearchWild!

Our Faculty Advisers

ResearchWild! operates in cooperation with Tarleton State University. Tarleton's Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences, as well as its Office of International Programs have been strong supporters of ResearchWild! since our inception. ResearchWild! works hand-in-hand with Tarleton faculty and staff to create these amazing experiences abroad. ResearchWild! and our students sincerely appreciate our advising faculty and supporting staff at Tarleton State University!


Dr. Jeff Breeden

Professor, Graduate Program Coordinator

email: breeden@tarleton.edu

phone; +1 (254) 968-1950

Jeff Breeden is a Professor and the Graduate Program Coordinator for Tarleton State University's Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Science. While an undergraduate, he was an intern in the Lower Rio Grande Valley at the Las Palomas Wildlife Management area for three summers assisting with management of white-winged dove. In addition, both his masters and doctoral research focused on Columbids. He has experience in habitat evaluation, abundance estimation, productivity, behavior, trapping, and radio tracking doves and pigeons. His current research focus includes the evaluation of habitat quality for threatened ungulate populations at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. He has GIS applications experience and teaches the introductory GIS course at Tarleton.

Dr. T. Wayne Schwertner

Associate Professor, Department Head

T. Wayne Schwertner is the Department Head and an Assistant Professor for the Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences at Tarleton and is a research wildlife biologist with Texas A&M AgriLife Research. He has extensive experience conducting research and management of game bird populations, including doves. Prior to coming to Tarleton, Dr. Schwertner had a twelve-year career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, including duties as the Statewide White-winged Dove Program Leader. During this time, he played a key role in implementing Texas’s first statewide white-winged dove survey, as well as the ongoing white-winged dove banding project. Dr. Schwertner has experience in modeling population dynamics and habitat relationships of a number of vertebrate species


Dr. Heather Mathewson

Assistant Professor, Undergraduate Advising Coordinator

Heather Mathewson is the Undergraduate Advising Coordinator and an Assistant Professor in WSES Department at Tarleton State University. Her research interests include avian ecology, population dynamics, and wildlife habitat relationships


Dr. Darrel Murray

Assistant Professor

My research and teaching interests include the application of ecological science toward real-world problems involving conservation of species, sustainable use of resources, land degradation, climate change, and ecosystem management. I am advisor to the plant ID team and Prescribed Burn Society at Tarleton. I welcome undergraduate & graduate research projects.


Dr. Hemanta Kafley

Visiting Assistant Professor

Hemanta Kafley is a Visisting Assistant Professor in WSES Department at Tarleton State University.