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APSU alumni Lynn Von Hagen celebrates her role in ‘a new generation of women’ undertaking remote fieldwork


Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University (APSU) graduate Lynn Von Hagen is living a lifelong dream working with elephants in the Kenyan bush while pursuing a doctoral degree at Auburn University.

Austin Peay State University alumni Lynn Von Hagen in Kenya. (APSU)

Austin Peay State University alumni Lynn Von Hagen in Kenya. (APSU)

And in a recently posted blog for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s website, she shares her realization that she’s “part of a new generation of women who are undertaking remote fieldwork to advance our scientific knowledge and aspiring to show that badassery isn’t just for men.” 

“I want to share with you why I think it’s never too late for women to keep surprising people,” Von Hagen writes in the blog. 

She explores her fear of returning to school as a nontraditional student after a 20-year gap and her insecurities about entering a male-dominated field. 

“How many generations of women have been lost to the STEM fields because of their insecurities or acceptance of what society expected?” she writes. 

To read Von Hagen’s blog entry, click here.

‘Expectations are still male-dominated’ 

Austin Peay State University alumni Lynn Von Hagen in Kenya. (APSU)

Austin Peay State University alumni Lynn Von Hagen in Kenya. (APSU)

Von Hagen is doing her Ph.D. work as a Presidential Research Fellow at Auburn studying human-elephant coexistence and elephant movement and behavior in the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor in Kenya.

She’s also the field team co-leader of Elephants and Sustainable Agriculture in Kenya.

As part of her research, she has spent up to eight months alone in the remote bush. Many people asked her if her husband was with her, Von Hagen said.

“While the conversation on female equality and empowerment has definitely taken a positive turn, the expectations for STEM practitioners is still male-dominated,” she writes.

Von Hagen came back to school at Austin Peay State University as a nontraditional student to pursue a lifelong goal of being a conservation biologist and graduated in 2015 with a degree in zoology. 

“APSU is special to me because I felt like the daunting task of being a returning student was assuaged by the kindness of both the teachers and my fellow students,” she said in an interview while in Africa last year. “I received a lot of support during my time at APSU and made lifelong friends and colleagues. 


To learn more

  • You can learn more about Von Hagen’s current project in Kenya at
  • To read Von Hagen’s blog entry, click here.
  • You also can follow her on Twitter @LynnVonHagen1 or Instagram @lynn_vonhagen.
  • You also can read Auburn’s profile of Von Hagen here.
  • To learn more about APSU’s Department of Biology, go to




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