The Nature Conservancy uses a science-based conservation approach to achieve our mission. As such, the Conservancy relies on insights and knowledge from the world of science to make our conservation work more effective. To ensure that The Nature Conservancy’s Board of Directors has access to good scientific advice, the Board membership includes several highly regarded scientists. In addition, to strengthen our ties to academic and public agency scientists globally, in September of 2005 the Board created the Science Council.
Since 2005, the Science Council has included Board scientists as well as other external experts from diverse disciplines, perspectives, experiences, and geographies. Their expertise has included marine conservation, ecology, economics, U.S. federal conservation policy, global climate change, and ecological genetics, among other research topics.
The creation of and continued support for the Science Council reflects the desire of the Board and Conservancy leadership to have access to the best science and scientists in areas critical to future conservation efforts. It also emphasizes the important role science plays in the Conservancy’s conservation approach.
Science Council Members
Current Science Council members include:
Gretchen Daily, Stanford University
Ana Parma, CONICET, the Argentine Council for Science and Technology
Steve Polasky, University of Minnesota
Mary Ruckelshaus, Stanford University
Jorge Soberon, University of Kansas
P. Roy Vagelos, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
Gretchen Daily is Bing Professor of Environmental Science at Stanford University, Director of the Center for Conservation Biology, and co-founder and faculty director of The Natural Capital Project, an international partnership whose goal is to improve well-being of people and the environment by mainstreaming the values of nature into major resource decisions globally. Daily's work spans scientific research, teaching, public education, and working with leaders to create innovative and practical approaches to environmental challenges. Her scientific research is on biodiversity change; harmonizing biodiversity conservation and agriculture; quantifying the production and value of ecosystem services; and new policy and finance mechanisms, and governance systems, for integrating conservation and human development. Daily is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.
Ana Parma is an expert in fisheries modeling, assessment and management. Her research interests center on the study of fisheries from different angles, ranging from technical aspects of fish stock assessments, modeling and the design of robust management procedures, to institutional aspects of decision-making and fisheries governance. After working for 15 years at the International Pacific Halibut Commission in Seattle, she returned to Argentina in 2000 to become a research scientist with CONICET, the Argentine Council for Science and Technology. With that move, the scope of her work broadened to include coastal reef and shellfish fisheries, with a focus on spatially explicit management approaches and the evaluation of formal and informal rules to regulate fishing access privileges. She has been involved in several technical and policy advisory boards, including various US National Research Council committees. She currently leads a project aimed at providing technical support for the development of a management plan for a multiple-use coastal marine protected area in Patagonia.
Steve Polasky is a professor of ecological and environmental economics at the University of Minnesota. His research interests span a range of topics including biodiversity conservation, integrating ecological and economic analysis, ecosystem services, renewable energy, environmental regulation, endangered species, and common property resources. He also uses game-theoretic models to study resource extraction. Dr. Polasky also teaches are range of courses including ones on applied game theory, natural resource economics, science and policy of global environmental change, economics of the environment, environment and development economics, among others. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Mary Ruckelshaus is managing director of the Natural Capital Project, a partnership of The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Stanford and the University of Minnesota to develop and apply tools quantifying the diverse values of nature. She is based in Seattle, WA, where she was a staff scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service for 13 years. Prior to that, she was an assistant professor of biological sciences at The Florida State University (1994-1997). She is also a trustee on The Nature Conservancy's Washington Board and is a past chair of the Science Advisory Board of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Ruckelshaus has a bachelor's degree in human biology from Stanford University, a master's degree in fisheries from the University of Washington, and a doctoral degree in botany, also from Washington.
Jorge Soberon has BSc and MSc degrees in biology from the National University of Mexico (UNAM) and a PhD from Imperial College, University of London, in 1982. He was a researcher at the Institute of Ecology of UNAM, and from 1992 to 2005 he was seconded as Executive Secretary of the National Commission on Biodiversity (CONABIO). He is currently professor in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Senior Scientist at the Natural History Museum of the University of Kansas. He has published more than 90 papers, chapters in books and books, and popular science articles. In his capacity as executive secretary of Conabio he attended all the Conferences of the Parties of the Convention on Biodiversity and many peripheral meetings, often as head of the Mexican delegation.
Dr. Vagelos is chairman of the Board of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and previously served as chief executive officer of Merck & Co., Inc. from July 1985 to June 1994 and as its chairman from April 1986 until his retirement in November 1994. Previously, he was executive vice president of the worldwide health products company and, before that, president of its Research Division. Earlier, he served as chairman of the Department of Biological Chemistry of the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis and as Founding Director of the University's Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (1966-75). His internship and residency was at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by senior positions in cellular physiology and biochemistry at the National Heart Institute (1956-66). The author of more than 100 scientific papers, Dr. Vagelos is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is chairman of the Board of Advisors of Columbia University Medical Center and serves on the boards of the National Math and Science Initiative and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Chemistry Department of the University of Pennsylvania.