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 Advisory Council.
Since 2005, the Science Advisory 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 Advisory 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 Advisory Council Members
Current Science Advisory Council members include:
Mark Burgman, Imperial College London
James C. Carrington, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Gretchen Daily, Stanford University
Ana Parma, CONICET, the Argentine Council for Science and Technology
Steve Polasky, University of Minnesota
Hugh Possingham, The Nature Conservancy
Mary Ruckelshaus, Stanford University
Jorge Soberon, University of Kansas
Frances A. Ulmer, Alaska (Former Trustee for The Nature Conservancy in Alaska)
Mark A. Burgman is Director of the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Conservation Biology. Previously, he was Adrienne Clarke Chair of Botany at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He works on expert judgment, ecological modelling, conservation biology and risk assessment. He has written models for biosecurity, medicine regulation, marine fisheries, forestry, irrigation, electrical power utilities, mining, and national park planning. He received a BSc from the University of New South Wales (1974), an MSc from Macquarie University, Sydney (1981), and a PhD from the State University of New York at Stonybrook (1987). He worked as a consultant ecologist and research scientist in Australia, the United States and Switzerland during the 1980’s before joining the University of Melbourne in 1990. He joined CEP in February, 2017. He has published over two hundred and fifty refereed papers and book chapters and seven authored books. He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2006.
Dr. James C. Carrington, President of the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, MO, is internationally recognized for his research on gene silencing, the functions of small RNA, and virus-host interactions. His work in the small RNA field has focused on mechanisms through which plants and other organisms use non-coding RNA to control growth and development and to defend against viruses. His awards include the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, the Ruth Allen Award from the American Society for Phytopathology, and the Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He was elected as a Member of the National Academy of Science in 2008, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Phytopathological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Carrington earned his B.S. in Plant Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. After receiving his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, he served on the faculties at Texas A & M and Washington State universities. Prior to joining the Danforth Center, he served as Director of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing (CGRB), the Stewart Professor for Gene Research, and Distinguished Professor of Botany and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University.
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.
Hugh is The Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental non-government organization. He has a variety of broader public roles advising policy makers, conservation groups and managers by sitting on committees and boards including: The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists (founding member), founding editor of Conservation Letters (an international scientific journal), The Myer Foundation Environment committee and several Environmental NGO scientific advisory committees. In 2016, Hugh was elected a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious science academy in the world. The Possingham lab uses mathematics to formulate and solve problems for saving plants, animals and ecosystems. They developed Marxan, the most widely used conservation planning software in the world.
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.
Fran Ulmer is currently serving as the Cox Visiting Professor at Stanford University and is Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, where she has served since being appointed by President Obama in March 2011. In June 2010, President Obama appointed her to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. From 2007 to 2011, Ms. Ulmer was Chancellor of Alaska’s largest public university, the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). Before that, she was a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at UAA. She is a member of the Global Board of the Nature Conservancy and on the Board of the National Parks Conservation Association. Ms. Ulmer served as an elected official for 18 years as the mayor of Juneau, a state representative and as Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. She previously worked as legal counsel to the Alaska Legislature, legislative assistant to Governor Jay Hammond and Director of Policy Development for the state. In addition, she was the first Chair of the Alaska Coastal Policy Council and served for more than 10 years on the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. She has served on numerous local, state and federal advisory committees and boards. Ulmer earned a JD cum laude from the University of Wisconsin Law School, and has been a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government.