How people perceive nature is important, and I believe it is at the core of what determines the present and future of conservation. We need to be mindful and proactive in creating new ways for people to identify with nature. Activity (recreation/museums), imagery (marketing/media), and personal perception (culture/ self-identification) are powerful forces in conservation. If we can get most people to realize science is cool and that nature is mysterious and powerful, we have a much better foundation to work with.
I work for the National Parks Conservation Association as the senior manager for conservation science and policy. Its an incredible honor to have been recently welcomed into NPCA, and I am looking forward to the most interesting and challenging conservation work of my career.
Initially, my interests toward international wildlife conservation, science, and art had led me to theSmithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Of all that DC has to offer, particularly appealing is the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, where I have had the privilege to work with good-hearted and visionary people for many years. The research program at NZP has appropriately evolved into the new Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
Under a joint agreement with the Smithsonian, I received a Ph.D. fellowship at theEnvironmental Science and Public Policy program of George Mason University. My research was based in Laikipia, Kenya where I studied the ecology of a multi-ranch system in regard to the effects of land-use on plant communities and large mammal distribution and diversity. Laikipia is a fascinating area for studying conservation as it currently lacks national protection (there is a proposed national park in the works); all efforts are driven by people and private organizations throughout Laikipia.
Aside from professional activities, DC is one of the more stimulating cities to live in with great opportunities for urban living and quick access to the outdoors. One way to appreciate DC's natural history is through a hobby that many share, nature photography - enjoy this great website: DCNature.com.
I stay active in my community and surround myself with people I can always learn from. I also appreciate being able to help others by giving back - to achieve those things important in their lives. I'm humbled by knowing what others have done for me - and are still doing every day to keep me on track and pursue my goals and ambitions. We should pass the torch whenever possible and remind ourselves we also receive support and encouragement.
I have completed my field research in Kenya and can now focus on data analysis and dissertation writing. Never did I think it would be possible for me to study wildlife inAfrica. By DC standards, such exotic travel is quite common, but where I come from, it's a childhood dream rarely attainable. You mostly watch it on TV and wonder what it's like to be that other person. DC has the largest concentration of research scientists in the world, not to mention being a global hotspot for environmental organizations.