- Global Programs
Patty has a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). Her doctoral work focused on the evolution of phenotypes in seabirds and she conducted field work mostly in the Galapagos islands. After returning to her home country of Brazil, she took on leadership roles for Conservation International. At CI-Brazil, she directed the Amazon Program (2009-2011) and served as Director of Governance and Policies (2011-2015). She has worked extensively with NGOs, governments, and conservation networks to advance conservation on the ground. She has recently joined Island Conservation as Hawaii Program Manager.
Karl has a PhD from the University of Queensland, Australia. As part of his doctoral work, he developed advanced procedures for Judas goats, involving sterilization, pregnancy termination, and hormone therapy, which he applied to increase the effectiveness of Judas goats in large-scale campaigns he was managing in the Galápagos Islands. Karl has more than fifteen years of island restoration experience and has served as field manager of the world’s two largest island restoration projects on Isabela and Santiago Islands. He is experienced in planning, budgeting, and implementing large-scale projects and leveraging technology to increase their cost-efficiency. Advanced restoration expertise combined with his management skills make him invaluable in island conservation projects.
Victor holds a BS in education, with a mention in ecology and environment from “Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial.” He is currently studying for a masters in environmental engineering at the Atlantic International University. He worked for the Galápagos National Park Service for more than twenty years leading restoration programs in the archipelago, including directing the invasive species eradication program and recovery programs of endangered species. He also worked for the Biosecurity Agency of Galápagos (ABG), where he directed the prevention program. Victor brings regional experience and on-the-ground project skills to Island Conservation.
Paula is a wildlife veterinarian with an MSc in conservation medicine and a background in raptor medicine and island restoration. Since 2013, she has been working in the Galápagos Islands with Island Conservation, providing technical assistance to the Galápagos National Park to prevent extinctions and restore Galápagos ecosystems. Currently she is involved in the Floreana Island Ecological Restoration Project as a Native Species Specialist and coordinates all environmental aspects of the project, including species reintroduction.
Loyola Darius earned her BA in Cultural Anthropology and Communication at the University of Hawai’i, Hilo in 2003. Her passion for community development and culture preservation led her to work at the Bureau of Arts & Culture. After three years of gaining experience in the cultural sector, she decided to pursue her studies in how to promote and at the same time preserve historical sites. She conducted her studies at Kobe University, Japan where she attained her MA in Intercultural Studies in 2011. Loyola returned to Palau and became a lecturer at the Palau Community College from 2011 to 2017. In her free time, she cultivates her taro patch and also enjoys going fishing with her family.
Julia received her BA in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz. Her passion for island restoration along with experience supporting a diversity of conservation projects make her an asset to the team. Her volunteer experience has taken her from Montserrat Island in the Caribbean to the islands of Southern Thailand, and back again to Santa Cruz where she interned at NOAA and the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. In her free time, Julia enjoys spending time with friends and family outdoors, scuba diving, hiking, playing soccer, and wrestling with her dog, Pooka.
Cielo is conducting her doctorate in the Ecology and Evolution Program at the University of Puerto Rico. Her dissertation research is based on Mona Island and focuses on the Mona Island Rock Iguana and involves evaluating differences in habitat use and reproduction in this species. Cielo owes her interest and enthusiasm for both reptiles and amphibians to a summer internship in the Costa Rican rainforest working with Poison Dart Frogs and Freshwater Turtles. She started working with Island Conservation in 2012 as part of the Desecheo Island restoration efforts and since then has supported several projects including Mona, Monito and Desecheo islands, and Palmyra Atoll. As a field biologist, she has spent over 10 years working in conservation and restoration efforts in Caribbean islands focusing on rare and endangered flora and fauna species, invasive species impacts and distribution, and more specifically, on the Recovery Program for the Mona Island Rock Iguana, an endangered species severely impacted by invasive vertebrates on the island. Cielo has also been actively engaged in initiatives from the Iguana Specialist Group (IUCN) and Kew Gardens: Millennium Seedbank Partnership in the UK, collaborating in their current projects. Cielo is based in Puerto Rico where, in her free time, enjoys scuba diving, music, photography, hiking, and traveling.
Brett has a BA in sociology from UC Santa Cruz and a MS in international development and management from Lund University in Sweden. As part of his research for his Masters, he spent six months in Madagascar doing a feasibility study on alternative sources of income for remote villages. Once done with school, he spent six years working extensively in the education field for both the private and public sector in Albania. Brett is excited to be putting his economic skills to good use for IC. When he’s not in the office, you can find him at the beach either playing volleyball or surfing.
Richard received a BSc in physics from Victoria University, a postgraduate diploma in environmental science from Canterbury University, and an MSc in ecology from Lincoln University, New Zealand. Between 1997 and 2011 he worked for the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), leading species recovery, island restoration, island biosecurity and pest control, and eradication programs. He was a member of DOC’s Island Eradication Advisory Group and was the leader of the Stitchbird Recovery Group between 2000 and 2007—leading the species successful reintroduction to the New Zealand mainland after a 120-year absence. He was also extensively involved in the re-establishment of seabird populations on islands and was part of the team that confirmed the reappearance of the New Zealand Storm Petrel previously considered extinct. Richard has led notable island restoration projects including the removal of rats from Little Barrier Island and the removal of eight invasive species from Rangitoto and Motutapu islands in New Zealand. As a result of the Rangitoto and Motutapu project, Richard and DOC won the Parks Forum Environmental Award in 2010. The project’s innovative approach also earned Richard a position as a finalist for the 2010 Kenton Miller Award. Richard works for Island Conservation based in New Zealand. He leads a team of project managers and island restoration specialists whose focus is preventing extinctions. In the four years he has been with Island Conservation, he and his team have successfully removed invasive species from more than twelve islands, resulting in significant benefits to plants and wildlife.
Emily received a Bachelor’s degree in environmental science with a focus on biology from Scripps College in Southern California. Prior to Island Conservation, Emily worked as an avian research biologist and in philanthropy at various nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has several years of experience conducting biological monitoring for threatened and endangered species in Oregon, California, and Hawaii and has held a variety of conservation jobs ranging from Marbled Murrelet surveys to restoration and environmental consulting. While on the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project crew, Emily spent four years exploring Hawaii and researching Newell’s Shearwaters and Hawaiian Petrels. More recently, Emily put her fundraising skills to use while working in development at Slide Ranch, an environmental education center that connects children to nature. Emily brings to Island Conservation a valuable combination of conservation, philanthropy, and grant writing experience. In her free time, Emily enjoys exploring, biking, hiking, and playing with her dog.
Erin earned her MS and PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle. She brings more than ten years of endangered species and conservation experience working on islands throughout the Pacific. Her research has focused on examining ecological and genetic relationships of critically endangered island birds to guide management actions in systems threatened by invasive mammals and plants. Evidence of her work includes collaboration with the Chilean National Park Service in implementing and comanaging Chile’s first habitat-restoration program within a national park—a program that is now in its eighth year. Erin’s experiences living and working on remote, inhabited islands make her an invaluable member in advancing restoration action on islands with permanent human communities.
Tommy earned his BS in biology from California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo, where he worked on a variety of biology and ecology projects. Traveling with his father in the mountains of California and around the world served as the catalyst for igniting Tommy’s passion for preserving the beauty of natural ecosystems. As an avid outdoorsman, Tommy enjoys fishing, hunting, surfing, and backcountry snowboarding. A skilled photographer, Tommy captures photos of native island species and their habitats; his images play an important role in communicating Island Conservation’s mission and can be seen throughout our website and outreach materials. Tommy’s scientific background combined with his advanced skills in the field make him an essential member of Island Conservation’s Conservation Operations team.
Project Director Chad Hanson, B.S., has worked on a suite of invasive mammal eradication project for the last fifteen years. He has extensive experience in assessing feasibility, developing plans, budgeting, implementing and confirming the eradication of a suite of species, including feral goats, cattle, horses, buffalo, cats, macaques, rabbits and rodents in several countries. Before joining Island Conservation, Chad played a predominant role in the world’s largest goat removal on Santiago Island, Galápagos, applying his management and training skills to a team of over 40 field staff. He co-chairs Island Conservation’s Eradication Advisory Team and has led the development of Island Conservation’s internal project management process.
Emily earned a degree in Zoology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a student, she discovered that she had a passion for the conservation of endangered species and their ecosystems. Her background in informal education allowed her the opportunity to share her passion for animals with others, something she seeks to continue doing while working with the Island Conservation communications team. In her spare time, Emily enjoys exploring the amazing hiking trails found in Santa Cruz and spending time with friends.
Stella earned her BS from California State University, Long Beach and a MS in Biology from California State University, Northridge. She went on to receive her PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology from the University of California Santa Barbara. Her graduate work examined the recovery of tropical coral reefs in French Polynesia as a part of the National Science Foundation Long Term Ecological Research Program. Her research highlights how overharvesting key species of fish and sea urchins results in ecosystems that are less likely to recover from natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Stella has experience with field-based research and education in French Polynesia, Belize, California, Hawai’i and Thailand. Stella is thrilled to be a part of the science team at Island Conservation and is using her research experience to investigate global invasive species eradications. As a conservation biologist she contributes to the global Database on Island Invasive Species Eradications (DIISE). In addition to her work with IC, Stella continues to be passionate about education and teaches Biology courses at UC Santa Cruz.
Jose Luis earned a MS in biology from the University of Puerto Rico, conducting research with the amphibians and reptiles composition in the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge at Vieques Island in Puerto Rico. Before joining IC in 2011, Jose Luis held various positions related to natural resources conservation, including working with Envirosurvey Inc, a conservation and wildlife organization based in Puerto Rico, conducting forest and wildlife assessments and outreach campaigns promoting conservation practices in partnership with state and federal governmental agencies. For two years he worked with to manage sea turtle nesting habitat and hatchlings and has conducted additional ecological work with amphibian and reptile species as a private consultant or volunteer. From 2009 to 2010, Jose Luis started working on Desecheo Island with the UCSC Conservation Measures Program, doing surveys for a single-island endemic gecko and assisting the ecosystem restoration project on Desecheo through the removal of invasive predators. At Island Conservation, he supports and leads various restoration work on islands such as Desecheo, Juan Fernández, Cabritos, Alto Velo, Antipodes and Mona for the benefits of threatened and unique species. Jose Luis is currently serving as the Point of Contact for the Island Conservation’s activities in Puerto Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic.
Nick’s career and passion focus on research program management and conservation ecology. He earned his PhD from the University of Tasmania, Australia, working with the Australian Antarctic Division to develop best-practice guidelines for managing human impacts to seabirds in the subantarctic. Prior to joining Island Conservation, Nick managed the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project at the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, University of Hawai‘i, developing and implementing recovery actions for Newell’s Shearwaters, Hawai‘ian Petrels and Band-rumped Storm-petrels. He brings to Island Conservation more than ten years of experience in conservation biology, with research and management expertise in seabirds, population modeling, endangered species recovery, environmental impact assessment, human-wildlife interactions, and monitoring programs. His experience includes a strong focus on island conservation and ecology, including time spent living and working on islands in the subantarctic, Antarctica, Hawai‘i, and Australia. His professional goal is facilitating practical conservation outcomes based on sound science.
Gregg has been working in the island conservation field for more than nineteen years, and since 1999 has focused on the restoration of island ecosystems internationally. Gregg serves as Island Conservation’s Director of Global and External Affairs, and his experience and expertise are utilized for many of IC’s projects worldwide. Gregg has developed a diverse array of North American partnerships among federal government agencies, private industry, NGOs, research scientists, and local communities. These partnerships have led to the direct implementation or consultation on more than forty island restoration projects and programs throughout North America—ranging from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, to tropical Mexico and west to Hawaii, the Central Pacific, and Micronesia, as well as South America on the Galápagos Islands. Gregg earned an MS in ecotoxicology from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and has assisted the US Environmental Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of Agriculture, among others, with project planning and policy guidance. Together this work established a precedent for the successful registration and authorized use of conservation rodenticide products for rodent removals on islands in North and South America.
Wes received his degree in wildlife science with a minor in biology from Utah State University. He has held a variety of conservation jobs ranging from studying bats in southern Utah to working on a silviculture crew in Alaska. Wes joined Island Conservation in 2009 as part of the team dedicated to the restoration of San Nicolas Island, California. He has served various roles on Island Conservation’s projects in the US, Ecuador, Chile, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic. Since being promoted to project manager in 2013, Wes has focused on saving the IUCN-listed Critically Endangered Ricord’s Iguana and six other Vulnerable species by restoring Cabritos Island, which is located in Lake Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic.
Mele Khalsa received a Bachelor’s degree in environmental biology with an emphasis on botany and a minor in geology from Occidental College in Los Angeles. Prior to Island Conservation, Mele worked at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens (NTBG) where she did invasive species control of animals and plants within the Limahuli Preserve on Kaua’i. She is a trained native plant botanist and has worked with many rare and endangered species on forest restoration projects. She was raised camping and backpacking on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast where she gained a profound appreciation for native ecosystems, and particularly the plants and birds of Hawai’i. Prior to her time at the NTBG, Mele worked for the State of Hawaii doing predator control within Hono O NaPali Natural Area Reserve seabird nesting colonies. Mele is also skilled in GIS mapping and data management, which helps fulfil her deep-down nerdiness. Mele is based on Kauai where, in her free time, she enjoys extreme sports such as roller derby, kite surfing, and rugby.
Christian brings to Island Conservation an extensive background in conservation efforts in Chile. Prior to his position with IC as a Field Manager he worked for the Conservation non-profit Oikonos as Chile Local Program Coordinator and served as a Town Council member for the Valparaiso Regional Government. During this time some of his contributions included creating and leading the community’s environmental commission, participatingd in in international exchanges and education commissions, and developing and hosting a weekly radio program: Juan Fernández Sostenible. For Island Conservation Christian has coordinated, managed and implemented field operations for island restoration programs in Chile.
Rochelle has been working in the environmental field for more than 15 years. She has worked as an Environmental Project Manager for various public and Private sector developments in The Bahamas. She has also managed United Nations and regionally funded projects. Rochelle holds a Masters of Environmental Management degree from Duke University in Coastal Environmental Management and a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Marine Biology. She has represented The Bahamas at numerous international and regional environmental conferences and has authored and contributed to various national environmental policies, handbooks and plans.
Heath earned an MA in philosophy and social policy from American University in Washington, DC, and holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and philosophy from State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego. Heath brings fifteen years of strategic communications, policy, campaign, and government and external relations experience to Island Conservation. Heath has served as field director for the National Wildlife Refuge Association; a groundfish observer in the Bering Sea, Alaska, collecting and reporting fisheries data to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries; the Washington state policy director for National Audubon Society; and director of legislative and external affairs for the Washington state Dept. of Natural Resources and the independently elected Washington state Commissioner of Public Lands. He has worked on both endangered species and invasive species issues for most of his career, and as a result is an “accidental birder.” When he’s not busy finding new and compelling ways to tell the island conservation story, Heath can be found running, biking, hiking, camping, sailing, writing, playing music, gardening, or winding down the day with good food and drink.
Karen Poiani, PhD was appointed as Island Conservation’s CEO in July, 2016. Karen came to IC with 25 years of experience in conservation organization management, fundraising, board engagement, international and local partnership development, and conservation science research.
Karen’s diverse leadership and management experience includes roles as chief conservation strategy officer, director of science, evaluation and learning director, conservation program director, gender and diversity leader, and courtesy assistant professor. She spent 17 years with The Nature Conservancy and served with the organization’s global executive team. Most recently, Karen served as director of evaluation and learning at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, where she gained invaluable understanding of the philanthropic giving sector.
Karen earned a BS in Environmental Science from Stockton State College, New Jersey, an MS in Botany, and a PhD in Ecology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. She has dozens of peer-reviewed publications and has been a big fan of Island Conservation for many years. Karen is proud to be leading the organization’s next phase of growth in preventing extinctions.
Maddy received her AB cum laude in biology and Romance languages from Bowdoin College. After graduating, she taught English at an engineering school in Nantes, France. Maddy spent her summers working seasonal field jobs in remote areas of Mexico, Maine, and the Canadian Maritimes. After deciding to pursue ecology full time, she spent a number of months working in Mauritius to protect the Endangered Pink Pigeon from the threat of invasive species. Maddy’s combined passions for unique species, islands, and foreign languages make her an invaluable component of the Island Conservation team. Maddy loves to get out and observe plants and animals in the wild while camping, hiking, or kayaking. When confined to more urban settings, she enjoys biking, baking, and making a strong cup of tea.
Royden joined Island Conservation in 2016 as part of our Innovation Program, which explores advanced technologies to increase efficiency in rodent removal projects. Royden brings a dozen years of scientific management experience in highly regulated arenas to lead us to new methods of island restoration using the best available technology. Royden is based out of North Carolina State University, where he earned a BS in Zoology and an MS in Microbiology. Prior to Island Conservation, Royden worked in food protection and public health, including biosecurity and international emergency response. These experiences help inform our Innovation Program in an effort to bring awareness to the public, scientific, and regulatory communities on the issue of biodiversity loss and emerging technologies that may help to mitigate this crisis. In his time outside of conservation work, Royden plays what some generously call music, climbs rocks because of a fear of heights, and delights in edible wild plants he stumbles upon.
Sara was born and raised in the Juan Fernández archipelago. Since 2001, Sara has spent much of her free time working in the field on Robinson Crusoe Island in invasive plant control, endemic Juan Fernández Firecrown conservation and restoration, and hummingbird nest sighting and monitoring. After witnessing firsthand the problem of invasive species in the archipelago and seeing that it is possible to protect endemic island species, Sara realized that she could better benefit threatened species by fully dedicating her time, skills, and experience to field work in the archipelago, the land of her birth. Since joining Island Conservation in 2013, she has been working on the control of invasive species and monitoring of native and endemic species in the archipelago, recently participating in a monitoring trip to the Galápagos. When Sara is not looking for hummingbird nests, she enjoys playing volleyball and running and looks forward to the rare occasions when her son—a member of the Chilean navy—can return to the island for a visit.
Dena earned her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Anthropology and her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. Her dissertation examined the biogeography and conservation of globally threatened island species and she is using the results of this work to identify invasive species eradication opportunities. The global scope of the project led to strong partnerships with the IUCN, UN, and BirdLife International and the creation of the Threatened Island Biodiversity Database, a global database of threatened island species at risk from invasive species. The database is being used worldwide for both island-species conservation and academic research. Dena’s previous work focused mainly on seabird breeding and foraging ecology along the U.S. West coast and she has also participated in a diversity of other projects such as searching for rare species on the California Channel Islands and monitoring seagrass ecosystems in the Philippines and Mexico. Dena continues to be passionate about nature, science and conservation and is excited to be working as a Conservation Biologist for Island Conservation where she can be a part of a global effort to prevent island extinctions.
Paulina is a Chilean veterinarian with a background in Human-Wildlife conflict research and conservation planning. Her undergrad thesis from the Universidad Mayor in Chile analyzed the conflict between wild carnivores and rural farmers. Paulina went on to complement this line of research with a Master’s in Environmental Conservation. She focused on facilitation and conflict management in conservation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, developing her final project in analyzing Wildlife Presence in Agroecosystems in Coastal Ecuador. Paulina comes to IC with experience on invasive mink work from southern Chile, and stakeholder facilitation and consensus building on a variety of conservation projects in marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
Carolina is an attorney at law, with a minor in litigant, financial and corporate law, from Universidad de los Hemisferios. She has over six years experience managing cases that link administrative law with environmental law. She is a member of the Assembly of the Ecuadorian Center for Environmental Law (CEDA) and the International Trans-disciplinary Academy of Environment (ATINA). In the conservation field, she has been the lead attorney of the Galápagos National Park Directorate (GNPD). During her period at the GNPD, she managed environmental issues regarding recent vessel wrecks on San Cristobl Island as well as environmental cases in the Galápagos.
Claudio has a degree in communication sciences specializing in marketing and design, but he is a marine biologist at heart. Claudio has contributed to projects involving marine trophic chains and biodiversity in Mexico, turtle conservancy in Mexico and Sri Lanka, coral reef conservation programs in Thailand, and biodiversity conservation projects in the Peruvian rainforest. He implemented a GIS project for the Raimundi-Carr lab at University of the California, Santa Cruz, to track scientific activities in the Baja California peninsula. Claudio has collaborated with various NGOs in Mexico as a consultant for their communication and fundraising campaigns. He is passionate about photography and downhill skateboarding.
María José holds a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary and Animal Sciences from Universidad de Chile. After graduating, she completed two diploma programs in Veterinary Environmental Management and Wildlife Conservation and Management, also from Universidad de Chile. Since 2013 she has participated as a volunteer in Universidad de Chile’s Environmental Management Center, applying environmental management models and tools. María José has been working with Island Conservation since 2016, supporting the Chañaral Island program since its inception and also supporting monitoring on Choros Island. When not working to protect the environment and at-risk wildlife, she enjoys cycling and a good game of volleyball.
Rachel received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Middle Eastern Studies from Wellesley College and a Master’s Degree in Art History from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to joining Island Conservation Rachel served as the Director of Resources for The Nature Conservancy’s India Program and as Associate Director of Philanthropy for the California Chapter. Rachel’s passion for the natural world fits perfectly with her love for trail running. In addition to covering long distances by foot as an ultramarathon runner, Rachel enjoys road trips, particularly through the West and Southwest.
David received a BS in bioinformatics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. During his tenure, David worked with the Site Stewardship Program, as part of the Chancellors Undergraduate Internship Program, to restore and maintain the campus’s numerous sensitive natural areas. Over the course of the internship he developed an internal wiki to store mitigation documents, survey data, and maps relevant to campus restoration efforts. David has a strong background in computer science and a keen interest in using computer applications and GIS as a tool to aid conservation and restoration efforts. He is currently developing a database and integrated data-collection system for monitoring, analyzing, and displaying field data.
Coral earned her BS at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and her MS in conservation biology from the University of Michigan. Her graduate research on the Juan Fernández Islands focused on the foraging behavior of an endangered, endemic hummingbird, the Juan Fernández Firecrown. Before joining IC in 2013, Coral spent several years working with the Coastal Conservation Action Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. There, she monitored the impact of invasive vertebrate removal on islands’ native and non-native flora and fauna. Coral has conducted research on islands in North and South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific and possesses more than ten years of island ecology and science writing experience.
Jason received a BS in Wildlife Management and Conservation from Humboldt State University. Prior to, during, and after earning his degree, Jason worked a variety of field jobs ranging from oyster farming to duck club grounds maintenance. The bulk of his experience has been in the field of invasive species control—the latest of which consisted of six years of multispecies vertebrate pest removal throughout the island of Kaua‘i, mostly to mitigate for native bird depredation by introduced predators. Jason has a strong background in conservation fieldwork as well as project coordination and management, including cultivating productive relationships with a variety of collaborating partners. When not working, Jason enjoys the outdoors, cooking, self-subsistence, and most other good times in general.