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Cabinet of Lead Scientists

The Nature Conservancy’s Cabinet of Lead Scientists brings together the Conservancy’s top scientists into a forum for horizon scanning, identifying critical research needs, and to serve as a review board for major scientific issues, analyses or tools that rise to the level of the Conservancy’s executive team.  

The Cabinet of Lead Scientists will collaborate with other scientists inside and outside the Conservancy and is responsible for leading analyses and research projects that the Conservancy’s president deems essential. The cabinet reports to the Conservancy’s chief scientist and is chaired by Hugh Possingham, Chief Scientist.  

The Cabinet of Lead Scientists is expected to make sure the Conservancy is at the forefront of the science relevant to the organization’s mission. Its members are also expected to help recruit top scientific talent to the Conservancy and to themselves be recognized externally as globally significant scientists. 

Why a Cabinet of Lead Scientists? 

There is tremendous scientific talent and work across the Conservancy, but no formal high-level vehicle to catalyze scientific collaboration and bring that talent together to inform decision-making at TNC. The Cabinet will collaborate with the Conservancy’s chief scientist to foster the culture of science and evidence essential to advancing the broader fields of science relevant to conservation, and to keeping the Conservancy ahead of the curve as it tackles present and future global challenges.   

What the Cabinet Does 

  • Constitutes a cadre of externally recognized thought leaders on key conservation science issues;
  • Provides scientific guidance on strategic and horizon-scanning questions to the Conservancy’s chief scientist, executive team and Board of Directors;
  • Undertakes as a body select, short-term scientific efforts to advance cutting-edge research whose findings and impact touch on multiple organizational strategies and/or regions;
  • Provides a mechanism for high-level science coordination and collaboration across regions and priority topics — creating or highlighting science innovation ripe for replication;
  • Provides scientific thought leadership to major science-focused fundraising opportunities at the Conservancy;
  • Seeks to expand the Conservancy’s scientific partnerships with government agencies and premier universities.
  • Advises on recruitment and retention of top-notch scientific talent for the Conservancy.
  • Contributes to an internal scientific peer network that stimulates collaboration and elevates scientific advances of key relevance to strategies.
  • Collectively serves as a symbol of the Conservancy’s commitment to rigorous science via members’ regular scientific publication in high-level journals, conference appearances and public communications.

Who Is on the Cabinet of Lead Scientists?

Cabinet members are nominated by their respective regional or priority directors in consultation with the chief scientist. Their nominations and publication records are then reviewed by the Conservancy’s Science Advisory Council to insure excellence. It is expected that the Cabinet of Lead Scientists will eventually grow in number to 12 or 13 with an immediate effort to recruit experts in the areas of energy and climate.

The Cabinet of Lead Scientists currently includes:

Hugh Possingham, Chief Scientist and Chair of the Cabinet of Lead Scientists
Heather Tallis, Global Managing Director and Lead Scientist for Strategy Innovation
Mike Beck, Lead Scientist, Global Marine Team
Deborah Bossio, Lead Soil Scientist
Joe Fargione, Lead Scientist, North America Region
Eddie Game, Lead Scientist, Asia Pacific Region
Joe Kiesecker, Lead Scientist, Development by Design
Rob McDonald, Lead Scientist, Global Cities
Jennifer Molnar, Lead Scientist, Sustainability Science
Carmen Revenga, Fisheries Global Priority Lead
Priya Shyamsundar, Lead Economist

Priya Shyamsundar


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