Who we are


Jana McPherson

My work at Calgary Zoo focuses on community conservation and how local ecological knowledge can benefit wildlife conservation. I also have expertise in modelling species distributions, and in developing tools to analyse data that challenge the assumptions underlying most conventional statistical methods. I completed the International Baccaleaureate at Waterford Kamhalaba United World College in Swaziland, a BSc in Applied Ecology at the University of Leeds and a DPhil at the University of Oxford.

Nafeesa Esmail

I am an interdisciplinary conservation scientist with experience in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, especially interested in projects aimed to inform proactive policy dialogues (having led a global horizon scan of emerging issues in the illegal wildlife trade) and how business opportunities and entrepreneurial approaches can catalyse sustainable strategies in both the terrestrial and marine contexts for local communities. I’ve previously worked at a number of academic, NGO and government institutions including the CORDIO East Africa, University of Oxford, Frankfurt Zoological Society, as well as within the private sector. I am or have been involved in a wide breath of applied conservation projects, relating to sustainable agriculture, locally managed marine areas, illegal wildlife trade, human-wildlife conflict, circular economy and natural capital. I completed a BSc in Applied Zoology at McGill University and a MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London.

Typhenn Brichieri-Colombi

I am a Conservation Research Population Ecologist at the Calgary Zoo where my research is primarily focused on community conservation. I am involved with the data management and analysis of the 4 community conservation initiatives with which the zoo is involved. I also have expertise in species distribution modeling, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and mixed-methods research. I completed a BSc in Wildlife Biology at McGill University, Canada, and a MSc in GIS and DPhil in Geography at the University of Calgary, Canada.

Steering Committee

Dan Brockington

I co-direct the Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID), at the University of Sheffield. I trained as an anthropologist at UCL, where I wrote my PhD under Kathy Homewood’s supervision. I then worked at the Geography Departments of the Universities of Cambridge (on a post-doc with Bill Adams) and Oxford before moving to Manchester (at the Institute for Development Policy and Management, now Global Development Institute) in 2005 and then Sheffield in 2015. Most of my research has been in Tanzania, where I have worked on livelihood change, natural resource governance, microfinance and institutional performance.  But I have also worked in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and India. My broader interests include work on global overviews of the social impacts of protected areas, media and conservation, sectoral studies of NGOs and development data. I have also worked on celebrity and development, based largely on research in the UK.

Jessica Brown

Executive director of the new England Biolabs Foundation. Jessica’s work focuses on stewardship of biocultural landscapes, community engagement in conservation, and governance of protected areas. She has three decades of experience with community-based conservation, having worked in the Caribbean, Mesoamer­ica, Andean South Amer­ica, Cen­tral and East­ern Europe, and the Balkans. Prior to joining the foundation, Jessica was senior vice president of the Quebec-Labrador Foundation/Atlantic Center for the Environment (QLF), where she was responsible for international capacity-building and exchange programs, and was a founding partner of the US National Park Service’s Stewardship Institute. A current member of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), Jessica chairs its Protected Landscapes Specialist Group. She plays a leadership role with several NGOs and foundation affinity groups, serving as chair of the board of Terralingua, vice president of International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, and on the advisory boards of New England International Donors and the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative. Recently, she has consulted with the UNDP/Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme and its Community Management of Protected Areas for Conservation initiative (COMPACT).

David Mcdonald

Founder and Director of WildCRU and Oxford University’s first ever Professor of Wildlife Conservation. My scientific background is in behavioural ecology, with an emphasis on carnivores, but as both the WildCRU, and the whole field of conservation, have evolved, our work has become inter-disciplinary. Themes as diverse as endangered species, invasives, human-wildlife conflict, wildlife diseases and payments for ecosystem services, all fit within the WildCRU’s wider aim. There is a human dimension to every WildCRU project and without the commitment and cooperation of local people, conservation is virtually impossible. We engage in education, community involvement and practical action to deliver ‘Research Plus’. In addition to our work with governments, policy-makers and NGOs, we have, for example, helped create a volunteer training scheme (part of which trains rehabilitated addicts in mammal monitoring), created a successful, funded internship training scheme, a business and biodiversity programme; we run a climate change programme with Earthwatch and HSBC, and several theatre groups that ‘perform’ our data for example in Zimbabwe

Andrew McVey

East Africa Wildlife Crime Technical Advisor at WWF, with various previous roles in WWF (Nairobi) and WWF-UK since 2009 and work for before then with the RSPB, the Department of national Parks and Wildlife Malawi, Exemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa.  Andrew holds an MSC in Conservation and Land management from the University of Bangor.

Axel Moehrenschlager

Director of Conservation and Science at the Calgary Zoo, Axel also chairs the IUCN Species Translocations Specialist Group, is on the United Nations Equator Prize Technical Advisory Committee, a Trustee of the St. Andrews Prize for the Environment, and holds affiliations with the University of Calgary, Clemson University, and the University of Oxford’s WildCRU. Axel is driven by a passion to make a difference through: 1) The Conservation Translocation of endangered species to prevent local or global extinction; and 2) Community conservation to benefit both biodiversity and the livelihood of local people in developing countries. 

Yaa Ntiamoa – Baidu

Prof. Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu is a climate change, biodiversity & ecosystems services and environmental specialist, who has received a number of meritorious awards in recognition of her contribution to wildlife research and training in Africa. She holds a PhD in Zoology from Edinburgh University, a BSc degree from the University of Ghana, Legon & was appointed Full Professor of Zoology at the University of Ghana in 2003. She has served in various leadership roles, including as Director of WWF International Africa and Madagascar Programme and as Executive Director of the Ghana Wildlife Society, a conservation NGO she established in 1992. Prof. Ntiamoa-Baidu was Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and the Founding Pro-Vice Chancellor (Acting) of the Office of Research, Innovation and Development [ORID], both at the University of Ghana. She is currently a member of the University Council and Founder & Chair of the Centre for African Wetlands, University of Ghana, Legon. Prof. Ntiamoa-Baidu is also Chair of the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA)-Ghana and a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Neema Pathak – Broome

Neema has a Masters Degree in Environmental Science and a post- graduate diploma in Wildlife Management.  She is a member of Kalpavriksh, coordinating the Conservation and Livelihoods programme. She is part of the team monitoring implementation of conservation laws and policies in particular the Wildlife Protection Act and the Scheduled Areas and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006. Her main area of interest is conservation governance, particularly Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs). She has been involved with documentation, research, analysis and advocacy related to inclusive conservation governance and ICCAs in India and South Asia. She has been part of team coordinating the National Community Forest Rights Learning and Advocacy Process since 2011. She also coordinates a local process of participatory conservation governance in Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra.

Bonnie Wintle

I am currently a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne in the Interdisciplinary MetaResearch Group (IMeRG), where we think a lot about how science is done, and ways to improve it. I am also affiliated with the Quantitative and Applied Ecology Group (QAEco) at the University of Melbourne, where I have previously worked on the early detection of threats to biodiversity and opportunities for conservation. My most recent postdoc before returning to Melbourne was with the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) at the University of Cambridge, where I scanned the horizon for emerging risks and benefits associated with rapidly changing technologies, such as bioengineering. I am still an active Research Affiliate of CSER. I completed my PhD in 2013, supervised by Prof Mark Burgman (environmental risk analysis) and Dr Fiona Fidler (cognitive psychology). I have a degree in environmental science and ecology, including some history and philosophy of science. My doctoral thesis examined expert judgment under severe uncertainty, with a focus on reducing overconfidence and improving scientific judgements.

Working Group

Razieh Ghayoumi

I am deeply committed to aquatic and community research and currently working as a Biodiversity Officer at the Research Center for Environment and Sustainable Development, Department of Environment of Iran (DOE). My main work at DOE has been centered on marine and coastal conservation. For the past few years, my research has also examined how communities can participate in finding solutions to local problems to manage their resources. In 2013, I was awarded the United Nations-Nippon Foundation of Japan Fellowship. I was also a member of the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) and am a member of The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (2015 – Present). I have extensive and diverse experience in the social, biological and physical sciences, having a set of skills that would benefit a range of work environments and projects. I received the B.Sc. Degree in Biology from University of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources of Gorgan, Iran in 1997, the M.Sc. degree in Marine Biology from Tarbiat Modarres University, Iran in 2001 and a Ph.D. degree in Marine Biology from Islamic Azad University, Iran in 2009.

Shauna Mahajan

Shauna is a conservation social scientist committed to developing inclusive and holistic solutions to conservation problems. With an interdisciplinary background in resilience thinking, environment, and development, her work and research focuses broadly on the social dimensions of conservation, with a special focus on coastal communities. At WWF, Shauna develops and tests methods for conservation strategy development and evaluation, while also researching the science of decision-making, and the natural resource governance systems that enable positive social and ecological outcomes from conservation. She has a geographic focus in Coastal East Africa.

Meher M. Noshirwani

I am a specialist on conservation and environmental management, with a particular expertise in gender. I have a Masters in Sociology from the University of Essex, United Kingdom, and I serve as Regional Vice Chair for Asia, and Chair of the Specialist Group on Gender, for the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic, and Social Policy (CEESP). With over 30 years of experience my work involves empowering women and communities to understand the importance of the sustainable use of natural resources. I have a special interest in wetlands, mangroves, and fishing communities, and have worked with women in fishing communities along the coast of Pakistan, on issues of climate change, the importance of mangroves as a natural resource and their protection to coastal communities, awareness, training, and community mobilization. I am also a Board member of Hisaar Foundation, which focuses on water, food and livelihood issues in Pakistan, and a founding member of the Karachi Conference Foundation, which spotlights the history and culture of the city of Karachi. I engage with different organizations, and individuals at all levels, and NGOs in different countries, provincial and national government representatives, civil society, and academia.

Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy

Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy has a particular interest in ocean governance, indigenous communities and human rights defense. In 2014, she was awarded the United Nations-Nippon Foundation fellowship program with the United Nations. She did her research at the University of British Columbia – Vancouver that focused on strategies to be implemented to insure the sustainable management of the coastal and marine resources of Madagascar. She coordinated Madagascar’s LMMAs (Locally Managed Marine Areas) Network called: MIHARI Network until recently for six years. During her time at MIHARI Vatosoa won the Whitley Award by working to enable LMMAs communities. Vatosoa is now putting her coordination skills at the service of INDRI, a Malagasy think tank specialised in generating collective action and intelligence to save critical ecosystems. Vatosoa retains a very strong link to MIHARI and is currently the president of the board. 

Vainuupo Jungblut

Vainuupo is currently the Protected Areas Officer with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) based in Apia, Samoa. He joined SPREP in 2004 and spent eleven years working as the first Regional Programme Officer for Oceania for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Prior to that he worked with the Samoa Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for a number of years focusing on environmental planning and nature conservation. Vainuupo holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and History/Politics from the University of the South Pacific (USP), Fiji. He is currently chair of the protected areas working group (PAWG) of the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT) and a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas, WCPA-Oceania. He has more than 20 years’ working experience both at the national and regional levels in the Environment-Conservation field within the Pacific.

Saloni Bhatia

Saloni is a conservation anthropologist working as a Programme Associate with WCS-India. She is interested in understanding how people share space with wildlife. Saloni loves working at the intersection of various disciplines and approaches. Her research examines socio-cultural drivers of human-large carnivore coexistence in the Himalayan cold deserts of Ladakh, India, the portrayal of leopards in print media as well as reviews of a range of conservation conflicts and mitigation. 

Ronit Amit

Dr. Amit designs incentives to promote coexistence between people and wildlife. Her research emphasizes conservation psychology for the integration of multi-stakeholder interests aimed to Community-based Wildlife Management. She completed her doctoral degree in the Human Dimensions of Wildlife Lab at the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Ronit coordinates the People and Fauna Program and its volunteer program, and as professor at the School of Biology at the University of Costa Rica, she co-coordinates the program on Environmental Interpretation and teaches interdisciplinary ecology.

Latoya Abulu

Latoya Abulu is an editor for Mongabay covering indigenous news, nature-based solutions to climate change and stories about high-value conservation ecosystems. As a field reporter, she has covered environmental issues impacting Indigenous peoples and local communities while reporting from Ecuador, Nicaragua, South Korea, Japan, China and UN conferences. Her work has been featured in The Diplomat, Asia Times, Japan Times, Earth Island, The Ecologist, the Venice Biennale and others. She has written a book on the importance of biological and cultural diversity in creating ecological civilizations titled ‘Harmony and Balance in the World‘. 

Jose Antonio Sierra Huelsz

Antonio is a Postdoctoral fellow at CITRO-Universidad Veracruzana (Mexico), Kleinhans Fellow with the Rainforest Alliance and an Associate of People and Plants International. Ecologist and forester, Antonio uses various disciplinary lenses and biocultural approaches to study and collaborate for local forest management initatives in Mexcio and beyond. His interests range from community forest management and governance, forest-agriculture interfaces, emergent markets for forest projects and traditional ecological knowledge. Antonio holds a B.Sc. and MSc. from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida.

Additional Contributors

Jose Postigo

Previously, as a Conservation Research Population Ecologist at Calgary Zoo, Jose participated in the Community Conservation and the Conservation Translocations portfolios. He has experience in wildlife conservation with a focus in reintroductions and invasive species, including anthropological factors affecting wildlife management, as well as expertise with the Delphi method. He hold a BSc in Environmental Science at the Universidad de Málaga and the Université de Picardie Jules Verne, and a MSc in Biodiversity Management at the Universidad de Granada.

Tero Mustonen

Tero Mustonen is a Doctor of Soc. Sciences and Adjunct Professor (Geography). Currently he is serving as a Lead Author for the IPCC AR6. He is the Chairperson of Snowchange Cooperative. Professionally he has worked in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, European North, Siberia, New Zealand and Australia on community-based conservation issues.

Madhu Rao

Madhu is a Senior Advisor and Representative of WCS in Singapore. She has provided technical, strategic and programme development support for WCS country programmes across Asia. She has broad experience with international protected area and wildlife policy and has engaged extensively with conservation planning and regional-scale conservation prioritization. She serves as Advisor to the secretariat of the Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP), an IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) initiative to catalyze conservation action for Critically Endangered species in the ASEAN region that is led by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). She has a Master’s and PhD degrees from Duke University and is currently an Adjunct Faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore (NUS). She has published scientific research on wildlife exploitation and trade, protected area effectiveness, human-wildlife conflict and community management of protected areas.

Stacy Jupiter

I am the Melanesia Regional Director with the Wildlife Conservation Society, based in Suva, Fiji. The main focal areas of my work include: evaluating effectiveness of locally-managed marine areas and integrated island management projects; undertaking spatial planning to achieve biodiversity and livelihoods outcomes; assessing downstream impacts of catchment modification on biodiversity and human health; and understanding drivers of resilience in Pacific coastal communities. I received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz. I was a 2002 Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar (to the University of Queensland) and 2019 MacArthur Fellow.

Leticia Merino

Leticia Merino has a PHD in Anthropology from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), a Masters in Population and Development (Jawarharlal Nehru University), a Masters on Sociology (Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales), and studies on Forest Governance (Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University) and Sustainable Development (Colegio de México). For more than 30 years she has taken part, as coordinator and team member, of research projects on socio-environmental themes, particularly on natural resources and ecosystem management by rural/indigenous communities, focusing on forest and bio-diversity use, commons governance and more recently on impacts of extractive economies on local sustainability and peace. She collaborated for 15 years, in research and teaching projects on community forestry with Dr. Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Price on Economics, 2009.