Director, NatureNet Science Fellowship Program and Science Professional Development Program
Dawn O’Neal’s research has given her expertise in the fields of climate change biology, life history evolution, disease ecology, and eco-physiology but she credits her tenure as the Executive Director of the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research station for helping to crystalize her commitment to connecting a diversity of people to nature.
Her current role as the Director of the NatureNet Science Fellowship Program and the Nature Conservancy’s Science Professional Development Initiative is the culmination of these experiences and her passion for broadening diversity in conservation science.
As the Director of NatureNet, Dawn actively engages, through the postdoctoral experience, Ph.D. level scientists from diverse backgrounds, beliefs and cultures who may not be aware of their options in conservation. Annually, NatureNet Fellows provide the Conservancy with dynamic and emerging expertise and allow us to evaluate the relevance of new tools, methods, and ideas for high impact conservation science. I
In exchange, Fellows receive access to and guidance in developing research projects with real-world application and relevance. NatureNet also offers professional development and networking opportunities that directly relate to career and research advancement. Even Fellows who continue into academia will leave with better understanding of the impact of applied science and how to incorporate conservation into their future research.
Similarly, to fully realize our Shared Conservation Agenda, the Conservancy’s scientists must be equipped with the best biology, economics, and social science to make evidence-based investments to achieve our organizational goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. As the Director of the Science Professional Development Initiative, Dawn has developed a program tailored to Conservancy scientist that promotes and fosters increased effectiveness though opportunities designed to increase productivity, enhance knowledge, and develop skills to better enrich Conservancy’s science priorities.
Dawn holds a BA in environmental studies from Washington University; a PhD in ecology, evolution, and behavior from Indiana University; and was a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Georgia. In addition to her Directorships at the Conservancy, Dawn is also an Adjunct Professor at the University at Albany – State University of New York.