Meet our team
Gretchen Daily, Ph.D.
Bing Professor of Environmental Science; Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute; Director of the Center for Conservation Biology; and Founder and Faculty Director of the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University
An ecologist by training, Daily’s research spans a wide range of topics including biodiversity conservation, agriculture, and livelihoods; the production and value of ecosystem services for human health and well-being; and policy and finance mechanisms for integrating conservation and human development. Her coauthored books include The Stork and the Plow: The Equity Solution to the Human Dilemma (1995), Nature’s Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems (1997), The New Economy of Nature: The Quest to Make Conservation Profitable (2002), The Power of Trees (2012) and, together with other NatCap co-founders, Natural Capital: Theory and Practice of Mapping Ecosystem Services (2011). Daily serves on the boards of The Nature Conservancy and the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Mary Ruckelshaus, Ph.D.
Mary Ruckelshaus oversees all work of the Natural Capital Project partnership including strategy, coordination, fundraising, communications, and hiring. She is based in Seattle, WA, where she previously led the Ecosystem Science Program at NOAA’s NW Fisheries Science Center. Prior to that, she was an Assistant Professor of biological sciences at The Florida State University (1994-1997). The main focus of her recent work is on developing ecological models including estimates of the flow of environmental services under different management regimes in marine systems worldwide. Ruckelshaus serves on the Science Council of The Nature Conservancy and is a Trustee on its Washington Board, and is a past chair of the Science Advisory Board of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). She was Chief Scientist for the Puget Sound Partnership, a public-private institution charged with achieving recovery of the Puget Sound terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. 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.
Steve Polasky, Ph.D.
Professor of Ecological/Environmental Economics, University of Minnesota, and Founder of the Natural Capital Project
Steve Polasky is one of the leaders of the Natural Capital Project’s environmental service mapping and valuation effort. At the University of Minnesota, Steve Polasky holds the Fesler-Lampert Chair in Ecological/Environmental Economics. His research interests include biodiversity conservation, environmental services, integrating ecological and economic analysis, renewable energy, and game theory. Steve Polasky was the senior staff economist for environment and resources for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1998-1999, and served as associate editor and co-editor for the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management from 1996 to 2002. Today he’s a member of the Environmental Economics Advisory Committee and the Committee on Valuing the Protection of Ecological Systems and Services for the Science Advisory Board of U.S. EPA and a member of The Nature Conservancy’s Science Council.
Perry L. McCarty Director, Stanford Woods Institute; Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies; Professor, School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; Senior Fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy
Chris Field’s research focuses on climate change, ranging from work on improving climate models, to prospects for renewable energy systems, to community organizations that can minimize the risk of a tragedy of the commons. He has been deeply involved with national and international scale efforts to advance science and assessment related to global ecology and climate change. He served as co-chair of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 2008-2015, where he led the effort on the IPCC Special Report on “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (2012) and the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (2014) on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Prior to his appointment as Woods’ Perry L. McCarty Director, Field served as director of the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology, which he founded in 2002. Field’s tenure at the Carnegie Institution dates back to 1984. His widely cited work has earned many recognitions, including election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Max Planck Research Award, the American Geophysical Union’s Roger Revelle Medal and the Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Science Communication. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Ecological Society of America. Field holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard College and earned his Ph.D. in biology from Stanford in 1981.
Jessica Hellmann, Ph.D.
Director, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota
Jessica Hellmann is the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. As director, she provides overall strategic leadership for the Institute, an internationally recognized organization working to solve grand environmental challenges, while promoting interdisciplinary research, teaching and leadership across the university and engaging external partners and stakeholders. Hellmann’s research focuses on global change ecology and climate adaptation. She was among the first to propose and study ways to reduce the impact of climate change through new techniques in conservation management. She works with governments and corporations to build investment in climate change adaptation and co-authored several climate assessment and adaptation planning efforts. Before coming to the University of Minnesota in 2015, Hellmann was on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame in the Department of Biological Sciences. Hellmann is a frequent contributor to leading scientific journals such as Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, BioScience and PLOS ONE. She serves on the editorial board of the journal Evolutionary Applications, is an associate editor with both Conservation Biology and Elementa, and serves on committees for the Ecological Society of America, the College Board and the National Academy of Sciences. Hellmann earned her Ph.D. in biology from Stanford University and served as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Biodiversity Research.
Lead Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
As a Lead Scientist for The Nature Conservancy, Jen provides thought leadership on improving society’s ability to create a more sustainable future for nature and people, including through corporate practices and policy. Jen has over 15 years of experience working to apply science to decision-making in both the private and non-profit sectors. She is the science lead for the TNC-Dow Chemical Company collaboration, work that led to Dow’s ground-breaking Valuing Nature Goal – a commitment to consider nature in all of their capital, R&D, and real estate decisions by 2020, while aiming to generate $1B in business value by 2025. Jen received a master’s degree from Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and serves as a board member of the Alumni Association. She has a B.S. in environmental engineering from Harvard and previous experience in hydrology and environmental remediation.
Hugh Possingham, DPhil (Oxford)
Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
Hugh is the Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy having recently moved from the University of Queensland. His group of 29 PhD students and 15 postdocs (embedded in three centres) work all over the world using decision science tools from economics and applied mathematics to formulate and solve conservation problems in the real world. For example, Tun Mustapha marine park, the largest in Malaysia declared in May, was a joint project with WWF Malaysia and Sabah Parks. His interests include: conservation metrics, biodiversity offsetting, population modelling, sea-sharing and sea-sparing, prioritising actions, spatial zoning with Marxan and other tools, optimal monitoring and government policy. Here you can find a link to a magazine style description of some of the group’s most recent work. You can find his papers here.
Chief External Affairs Officer, The Nature Conservancy
Glenn Prickett oversees international and U.S. government relations, corporate practices and sustainability efforts, and relationships with leading international institutions and non-governmental organizations for the Conservancy. He joined the Conservancy in January 2010 after two decades working on international environment and development policy. Prickett comes to the Conservancy after 13 years at Conservation International, where he led efforts to engage the private and public sectors in conservation and sustainability. He founded and led CI’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business, a division created to engage the private sector in developing solutions to environmental challenges. In 2009, Prickett served as a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation to help shape core elements of an effective global response to climate change. He also served in the Clinton Administration as chief environmental advisor at the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he coordinated policy and budget for U.S. environmental and energy assistance to developing nations. Prickett graduated from Yale University in 1988 with a B.A. in economics and political science.
Chief Conservation Officer at the World Wildlife Fund- US
Nik Sekhran is the Chief Conservation Officer at the World Wildlife Fund- US, overseeing work on wildlife protection, forest conservation, oceans and water resources management, food production and markets, and climate change. Prior to his appointment to the post early in 2018, he served as the Director for Sustainable Development at the United Nations Development Programme. He was responsible for providing program and policy support to countries to advance ecologically, economically and socially sustainable development and to manage tradeoffs between these three prongs of sustainable development. Over a 26 year career, he has worked on-the-ground on conservation and development in over 45 countries. His specific focus has been the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity including wildlife, fish stocks, and forests, ecosystem management, and conservation-compatible development, including nature-based tourism, sustainable agriculture and fishing.
Chief Scientist, World Wildlife Fund
In her role as Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President, Shaw works with our many staff and partners around the world to identify the most important scientific questions that challenge our mission and advance solutions to those challenges. Rebecca came to WWF from the Environmental Defense Fund, where she was responsible for developing and implementing the vision and strategy of the Land, Water & Wildlife program. Prior to joining EDF in 2011, she served first as Director of Conservation Science and then as Associate State Director at the Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter. She’s also researched the impact of climate change at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University. Rebecca has been published widely, including a number of peer-reviewed works in leading journals such as Science and Nature, and is the recipient of numerous research fellowships. She is a lead author of the section of the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report that focuses on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability, and serves as a member of the California Climate Adaptation Advisory Panel. Rebecca holds an M.A. in environmental policy and a Ph.D. in energy and resources from the University of California, Berkeley.
Katie Arkema, Ph.D.
Katie leads several efforts around the world to develop and use science about how nature benefits people to inform problems humans face in managing coastal and marine ecosystems. Katie is particularly interested in the ability of coastal ecosystems to protect vulnerable communities from sea level rise and storms, while providing other services such as nursery habitat for fisheries and tourism opportunities. Her research is informing national development planning, climate adaptation and investments in restoration and conservation in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. Katie received her Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and her B.A. in ecology with a minor in Latin American studies from Princeton University. She is a recent recipient of a Fulbright NEXUS scholarship.
Becky Chaplin-Kramer, Ph.D.
Becky is lead scientist for the Natural Capital Project, overseeing model development and application for the Freshwater and Terrestrial team. She also leads NatCap’s work with the private sector, informing sustainable sourcing decisions for commodity supply chains by assessing impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem services. Her own research investigates ecosystem services in agricultural systems, and how our working landscapes can be structured to enhance flows of benefits to and from agriculture. She serves on the Technical Service Unit for Scenarios for the IPBES Global Assessment, and on steering committees for the Ecosystem Services Partnership and Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network. Becky earned her PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from University of California, Berkeley, and an MS and BS in Earth Systems from Stanford.
James Douglass leads the Natural Capital Project’s software team which supports NatCap’s mission through ongoing tool maintenance, user support and ensuring a robust and stable software platform for the future of computation in ecosystem services and natural sciences. In his time at NatCap, James has contributed to the development of InVEST, RIOS and OPAL, a number of shared libraries and developer tools, and much of the software infrastructure that helps bring our tools to a broader audience. James’s engineering interests lie in the creative use of software to make it easier for users to tackle the real issues at hand and on the ground. He received his B.S. in Computer Science from St. Lawrence University.
Anne Guerry, Ph.D.
Chief Strategy Officer & Lead Scientist
As Chief Strategy Officer, Anne works to magnify NatCap’s impact and ensure that we are achieving our strategic goals; she oversees our communications and outreach, training and capacity building, and partner relations. As Lead Scientist, Anne leads NatCap’s marine and coastal work. Beyond nature’s benefits, her primary research interests are in community ecology, rocky intertidal systems, and ecosystem-based management. She received her PhD in Zoology from Oregon State University, her MS in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine, and her BA in Environmental Studies and English from Yale University. She has a lifelong love of the sea and believes that shining a light on nature’s benefits can lead us to smarter decisions.
Finance, Grants & Operations Manager
Gail Kaiser manages the Natural Capital Project’s finance, grants and operations, combining her Silicon Valley experience as a product manager and consultant for globally dispersed product development and marketing, and volunteer work in local natural resource preservation. She has worked for IBM, Siemens, HP, and is on the board of the Committee for Green Foothills. She received her MBA and BS in Economics from Santa Clara University.
Eric Lonsdorf, Ph.D.
Program Director and Lead Scientist
Eric Lonsdorf works as a lead scientist with the Minnesota-based NatCap team. He develops ecological models for decision-makers faced with making decisions in conservation biology and natural resource management under considerable uncertainty with limited resources. Specifically, Eric leads development and application of a model to predict crop pollination services provided by wild bees, works with government and NGOs to develop options of compensatory mitigation for incidental take of golden eagles by wind turbine facilities and is interested in applying principles of adaptive management to ecosystem service-based land management. Ultimately, he thinks of conservation management problems like a business problem where a species or community or ecosystem function of concern is a commodity to be produced with the greatest certainty and managed at the least cost. Eric earned his Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from the University of Minnesota.
Rich Sharp, Ph.D.
Rich Sharp leads the software development projects that support ecosystem service assement and planning at the Natural Capital Project. Previously he was an assistant professor of computer science at St. Lawrence University and earned his Ph.D. in computer science from The Ohio State University. His research interests include developing computational software for natural science applications, high performance computing applications, cloud computing, and scientific visualization.
Nirmal Bhagabati, Ph.D.
Senior Program Officer (Environmental Services), World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US) Conservation Science Program
Nirmal Bhagabati leads WWF’s applications of InVEST, an ecosystem services mapping and valuation software package developed by the Natural Capital Project, in priority sites in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. After completing undergraduate work in India in biology and computer science, he obtained his PhD at the State University of New York, for which he studied geographic variation in birds (Mexican Jays) in the southwestern US and northern Mexico. Subsequently, he was a visiting scientist at the Smithsonian Institution, and then worked as a bioinformatics analyst at The Institute for Genomic Research, where he developed software, analyzed data and trained biologists in data analysis. Nirmal also completed a degree in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland. Prior to joining WWF, he worked with several environmental organizations, including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Conservation International, the National Wildlife Federation and World Wildlife Fund, on diverse projects including GIS-based analyses of human dimensions of conservation, biofuels, tropical deforestation and climate change policy, and landscape-level conservation planning.
Outreach & Training Lead
Henry Borrebach leads the Natural Capital Project’s training team, overseeing the Natural Capital Symposium, and managing NatCap’s global training program. Henry has extensive experience in applied pedagogy and international education, and he is passionate about making the science behind conservation accessible to practitioners and the public. He is currently working with the team to develop online training courses that make NatCap’s approach and tools available to a wider audience. Henry holds a B.F.A. from Carnegie Mellon University and an M.F.A. from Florida International University. Before joining the project, he co-founded the O, Miami international poetry festival.
Benjamin P. Bryant, Ph.D.
Ben works as an economist and decision support modeler on the freshwater and terrestrial team. His current work involves incorporating agricultural and livelihood considerations into landscape optimization, developing and demonstrating tools and guidance to improve the treatment of uncertainty in ecosystem service modeling, land change modeling, and multi-criteria assessment. He has broader research interests in decision making under deep uncertainty, social choice processes, and sustainability issues at the intersection of environment and development. Ben earned a PhD in Policy Analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School at the RAND Corporation where he completed a dissertation modeling efficiency and equity tradeoffs groundwater markets. He also holds a BS in mathematics from Harvey Mudd College, with significant coursework in engineering as well as political and ethical philosophy. Immediately prior to joining NatCap, he was a country economist conducting cost-benefit analyses for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US government international development agency.
Kate Brauman, Ph.D.
Lead Scientist for Global Water Assessment at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment
Kate Brauman is the Lead Scientist for Global Water Assessment at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, where she studies the coupled interaction of land-use change and water resources. Kate’s focus on hydrologic ecosystem services and Payments for Watershed Services builds from her doctoral work at Stanford University in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, where she developed a framework for evaluating hydrologic services and designed and led a project on the Big Island of Hawai’i quantifying the effects of pasture and forest on groundwater recharge and calculating the associated costs of water extraction. At UMN, Kate also scales up to analyze the availability, use, and productivity of water at the global scale.
Prior to joining NatCap, Sarah worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in San Francisco. Her work at EPA focused on Superfund sites and the communities impacted by hazardous waste remediation; she specializes in environmental crisis communications and stakeholder engagement. Before EPA, Sarah served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines. There, she lived in a remote town in the Visayan Islands where she advocated for Coastal Resource Management planning through technical capacity building and environmental education campaigns. Sarah’s interests converge at the intersection of environmentalism, communications, and social impact. Her goal is to increase environmental literacy and positive social change in our global community through effective communication. She received her B.S. in Environmental Studies and Psychology with an emphasis in Communication from Santa Clara University.
Ecosystem Services Analyst
Dave Fisher is a research assistant for the Seattle-based NatCap Marine team. He supports the development and application of the InVEST Recreation model. Dave also develops data processing and visualization tools to support users of the Marine InVEST models. He holds a M.S. in Geography from the University of Oregon, with specialization in GIS, biogeography, and paleoecology, and a B.A. from the University of Rochester.
Robert Griffin, Ph.D.
Rob’s research interests are focused on how preferences and incentives relate to the values people hold for coastal and marine environmental services. Rob received a B.A. in Economics and his Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics from the University of Rhode Island. During his graduate studies, Rob was a National Science Foundation IGERT fellow with an interdisciplinary research focus on coastal ecosystems. His dissertation research focused on the use of auctions for allocating rights to offshore energy resources. At the Natural Capital Project he has worked on developing models to value the role ecosystems play in providing a variety of different ecosystem services, including coastal protection, scenic quality, carbon sequestration, and drinking water quality.
Regional Coordination Officer for Latin America
Marcelo brings several years of experience working with local stakeholders in Latin America on land use planning tools, remote sensing, geographic information systems, and data-driven decision support tools for environmental management. Marcelo will be coordinating with local stakeholders in the Amazon region the application of InVEST and RIOS tools and gather input relevant for decision-making. He will be the project liaison with government and non-government partners in the field. Before coming to Natural Capital Project, Marcelo worked for The Nature Conservancy in several positions such as science director for in-country programs, regional manager for the Andean Amazon unit, and Spatial Information Program Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean. Marcelo has trained professionals and field practitioners how to use geographic information tools, technology such as drones, and satellite imagery interpretation to apply in conservation and land use plans. Marcelo is a Geographic Engineer from the Army Polytechnic School in Quito, Ecuador. He obtained a MSc in Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems in the Spatial Research Institute (INPE) in Brazil. He also has a MSc in environmental management from the Army Polytechnic School (Ecuador). Marcelo has post-graduate studies in geographic information systems, radar, and training of trainers in remote sensing from Stockholm University, the European Space Agency (Italy), and the French Space Agency.
Maike Hamann, Ph.D.
Maike is a postdoctoral researcher with the Natural Capital Project, where she focuses on the visualization and valuation of urban ecosystem services. She is particularly interested in developing tools that bring the many different values of urban green spaces and ecological infrastructure to the fore in decision-making processes. To address this challenge, Maike applies a social-ecological systems approach to understanding the complex interactions between the various actors and stakeholders in the urban context. Before joining the Natural Capital Project team, Maike completed a PhD in Sustainability Science at the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden, and then worked at the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition in South Africa. There, she explored imaginative scenario planning processes as a way to create transformative spaces that encourage social-ecological transitions towards more sustainable future pathways for people and planet.
Perrine Hamel, Ph.D.
Ecosystem services scientist
Perrine currently co-leads the Livable Cities program with a focus on developing tools and approaches to implement nature-based solutions in cities. Perrine is part of the Freshwater and Terrestrial Environment team of the Natural Capital Project. She helps develop and improve existing water models and provides technical support in applications of those models for watershed services. Prior to joining the team, Perrine worked as an environmental engineer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and earned her PhD at Monash University in Australia in the field of urban hydrology. Her dissertation work involved both environmental monitoring and theoretical work, including modeling of stormwater systems at multiple scales. Perrine holds her Civil and Environmental Engineering diploma from Ecole Centrale Nantes, France.
Peter Hawthorne, Ph.D.
Peter Hawthorne’s work for the Natural Capital Project involves developing capabilities for optimization and trade-off analysis in InVEST, new population-based models for biodiversity, and collaborations with the Nature Conservancy, WWF, and other groups to apply these tools. As a grad student, Peter’s research interests in ecology included metapopulation theory, stochastic processes in niche and neutral models, and the effects of dispersal limitation on populations, with occasional diversions through economics and evolution. In addition to his Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from the University of Minnesota, Peter holds an A.B. in mathematics from Harvard University.
Justin Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.
Justin Andrew Johnson is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Minnesota with The Natural Capital Project at The Institute on the Environment. Justin graduated with a Ph.D. in Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota in 2014. Justin’s research explores how ecosystem services affect economic systems, and vice versa. For the Natural Capital Project, Justin is developing InVEST models for non-timber forest products, biodiversity impacts using the GLOBIO framework and methods to optimize management decisions when multiple ecosystem-service matter (and potentially conflict). In addition to ecosystem service valuation, Justin researches food security, climate change and agricultural management in developing countries, along with more traditional topics in economics such as dynamic general equilibrium modeling of economic growth. Justin’s work has led him to research areas including China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Brazil. Prior to pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, he received his B.A. in Economics and Environmental Studies at St. Olaf College.
GIS Programmer Analyst
Ginger Kowal runs a GIS Programing & Analysis business that works closely with the freshwater and terrestrial NatCap team. She works on several projects developing and applying InVEST tools. She is contributing to the development of a new InVEST tool to model grassland forage ecosystems. Ginger holds a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, an M.S. in Ecology from the University of Calgary, and a certificate in geospatial technology from Asheville-Buncombe Technical College. Prior to working with NatCap, she led the development of an agent-based spatially explicit population model to inform landscape-scale habitat management for the gopher tortoise in the Southeastern U.S.
Environmental Engineer specializing in Public Health
Laura is a researcher examining how changes in ecological services affect human health. She joins NatCap after completing her PhD at Stanford, where her dissertation work with Steve Luby (School of Medicine) and Jenna Davis (Civil & Environmental Engineering) focused on children’s exposure to fecal contamination in the domestic environment. Her prior research on child health and development encompassed a range of interventions in the build environment, including water, sanitation, hygiene, and ventilation infrastructure and behaviors. In addition to living and working in Bangladesh, Laura has also conducted research in China, Mongolia, Peru, and Kenya. Prior to graduate school, Laura worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, developing and implementing National Water Quality Standards and improving the security of American’s drinking water utilities.
Bonnie Keeler, Ph.D.
Bonnie Keeler directs the Natural Capital Project at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment where she oversees strategy, fundraising, partnership development and hiring. Keeler’s particular expertise is in better understanding the economic value of water, including the role of clean water in supporting recreation, public health and sustainable development. She also oversees the Natural Capital Project’s livable cities initiative, which aims to mainstream the value of nature in urban and regional planning. Keeler has advanced degrees in Ecology and Economics, policy, management and society, both from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Northfield, Minnesota, with her husband, son, and a rotating collection of pets.
Jan Kuiper Ph.D.
Jan is a postdoctoral researcher under the Wallenberg Foundation Research Exchange program on Natural Capital, Resilience and Biosphere Stewardship, which is jointly hosted by Stanford University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre. His research focuses on integrating scenario planning methods with ecosystem service modelling in a social-ecological context. Previously he contributed to the development of the Global Biodiversity model for policy support (GLOBIO) at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). He earned his PhD at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen where he studied resilience and regime shifts in aquatic ecosystems. In close collaboration with water quality managers and environmental consultancy companies he developed dynamic modelling tools that can be used to evaluate ecosystem services, quantify resilience and predict the occurrence of regime shifts.
Lisa Mandle, Ph.D.
Lisa Mandle is developing and improving models of terrestrial ecosystem services for InVEST and for applications in Latin America. She works with the Natural Capital Project team and its partners to assess and develop plans to mitigate the effects of development projects such as mining and transportation infrastructure on ecosystem services. Lisa is an ecologist and conservation biologist who studies the impact of land management decisions on biodiversity and the provision and distribution of ecosystem services. Her previous work combined field studies and modeling to examine trade-offs between non-timber forest product management and biodiversity conservation in India to inform local management decisions. She received a doctoral degree in botany from the University of Hawaii Manoa and holds bachelor’s degrees in biology and anthropology from Brown University.
Chris is a researcher with the Natural Capital Project team at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, where he works on modeling urban ecosystem services and habitat restoration. His primary research interests are minimizing trade-offs between ecosystem services and existing economic pressures through spatial optimization and leveraging results from these analyses into actionable policy. Prior to his work with NatCap, Chris used urban analytical models to improve building design at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates in London and New York. Specifically, he worked to minimize the impact of new buildings on light access and view quality for the surrounding urban context. Chris received his B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Carleton College.
Kelly Meza Prado
Kelly holds a bachelors of arts degree in economics and environmental studies from St. Olaf College. While in Copenhagen, Denmark, she studied environmental science of the Arctic and climate change. She has also led the implementation of a greenhouse project for climate change adaptation in rural Peru. Her experiences in the United States and overseas motivated her to build a career at the crossroad of people and nature. As a researcher with IonE’s NatCap team, she supports projects on forest landscape restoration, mapping and modeling the benefits of restoring degraded lands. She enjoys hikes to waterfalls, especially to the ones where she can practice rappelling.
Ryan Noe is an Researcher with the NatCap team at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. He is developing a model to generate realistic scenarios of land-use change in response to changing demand for commodities or other land uses. More broadly, his research interests include valuing ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes, indirect land-use change, and making data preparation for InVEST more accessible. Ryan holds an M.S. in Natural Resource Science and Management with a focus in geospatial analysis from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Carleton College.
Director, Information Science
Nasser Olwero is a conservation information systems scientist with over 16 years experience. His interest is in conservation science and technology examining and applying various information systems to aid conservation efforts around the world. He has worked on projects such as examining savannah herbivore dynamics and human elephant conflict prediction using NDVI, mapping and modeling ecosystem services and developing spatially explicit land use change scenarios. He blends the fields of conservation and technology with a long history of spatial data analysis and modeling, data management and curation, hardware and software management, database management systems, Linux server administration, networking, computer aided design, web programming, graphics and visualization. Since joining the World Wildlife Fund in 2006, he has developed deep interest in ecosystem services modeling initially leading software tool development for the Natural Capital Project’s InVEST suite of tools in python geoprocessing environment. He has been involved in various ecosystem services analysis and training in Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Indonesia, Thailand, Bhutan, Mexico, Myanmar and Cambodia. His current interests are i) developing data collation, distribution and management systems and standards for the conservation field and ii) developing spatially explicit scenarios using stakeholder driven input and using these to evaluate the potential impact on ecosystem service provision. Nasser is currently the Director of Information Science and acting lead of the Science and Innovation group at WWF US. He advises on technology application creating an interface between conservation science and Information Technology and Systems and has built various web based tools to support conservation e.g. feow.org, hydrosheds.org, mpacollaboration.net and mpamystery.org. He holds an MPhil. Degree in Environmental Information Systems from Moi University, Kenya.
Derric Pennington Ph.D.
Lead Scientist at WWF, Natural Capital and Valuing Nature
Derric Pennington is a Senior Conservation Scientist working with WWF and The Natural Capital Project. He seeks to help improve understanding on how to meaningfully integrate conservation goals, for both people and species, into larger policy decisions. His research interests include evaluating the tradeoffs of land-use change on biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services and human well-being. He works with WWF staff and external collaborators to aid our understanding of when, where, and how conservation actions can benefit both biodiversity and people. His work identifies the trade-offs informed by this science and how this information is best integrated into development and management policy decisions. He is also interested in research that expands the conservation discussion beyond protected areas to consider the places where people live, work, and play including urban and rural landscapes. He evaluates how conservation goals, when considered more holistically, can enhance the implementation of conservation initiatives. His work has focused primarily on the US, South America and Southeast Asia. Most recently he has led several collaborative multi-disciplinary research projects, including one with The Coca-Cola Company and the Luc Hoffman Institute to assess just how effective sustainability certification standards are at improving our environmental footprint taking a multi-scale approach. His work has been published in a variety of academic journals, including those focused on conservation, ecology, economics and interdisciplinary topics.
Carlos Ramirez-Reyes Ph.D.
Carlos is a postdoctoral research associate working with the Global Water Initiative and the Natural Capital Project at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment. His research in land use and spatial ecology aims to provide relevant information that can inform species and ecosystem management. In his current role, Carlos uses his ecology and remote sensing background to identify opportunities to use earth observation products in ecosystem services research. His previous work includes the analysis of forest fragmentation in Mexico, finding linkages between agricultural practices and insect diversity, and the quantification of agricultural abandonment in southern Mexico. Carlos earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, MS at the University of Poitiers, and his B.Sc. at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Rafael Schmitt Ph.D.
Geomorphologist and Hydrologist
Rafael’s research is on catchment-scale modelling of hydrologic and sediment transport processes and their integration in decision making processes. In the freshwater and terrestrial ecosystem team, Rafael works on designing catchment interventions for better hydropower outcomes in the Himalayas and on quantifying the value of natural forest cover and sustainable land management for flood risk reduction in Myanmar. Rafael holds a degrees in Environmental Science and Engineering from ETH Zurich. During his Ph.D. in information technology at Politecnico di Milano, Rafael developed the CASCADE framework for modelling network-scale sediment connectivity, for which he was awarded the Young Researcher Award of the International Hydropower Association. Before joining NatCap, Rafael was a PostDoc at UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Design, where he developed on optimization-based approaches to identify hydropower portfolios that balance hydropower production and dam impacts on river ecosystem services in the Mekong River Basin while including issues of deep uncertainty as well as trans-boundary equity.
Ecosystem Services Analyst
Jess Silver is an ecosystem services analyst for the Natural Capital Project’s marine team. Jess works closely with NatCap’s partners around the world to build capacity for and support the application of scientific approaches and tools, like InVEST, that help people better account for the value of nature in their decision making processes. Jess’ focus is on applying and supporting the development of the InVEST coastal protection tools. These tools are designed to assess vulnerability to coastal hazards and the potential for ecosystems to provide natural defenses, and are currently being applied in national development planning, climate adaptation and restoration prioritization contexts. Jess has also been working with partners in British Columbia to develop a habitat suitability index, a simple screening tool to help inform siting and restoration questions in spatial planning efforts. Jess has a master’s degree from the University of Washington and bachelors from Wellesley College.
Terry Su is the webmaster for the Natural Capital Project. She has held various roles in creating and supporting websites in Drupal and WordPress for organizations in Silicon Valley. Terry received her B.A. in economics from Stanford University.
Adrian L. Vogl, Ph.D.
Adrian is leading application of the InVEST models for watershed services, and developing decision support models for spatial planning, permitting new infrastructure projects and mitigation, and targeting investments in watershed conservation. Adrian co-led development of the RIOS tool, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the Latin American Water Funds Platform. In addition, Adrian is leading efforts to link the InVEST economic valuation approach with outputs from other hydrologic models. Before joining the Natural Capital Project, Adrian worked in central Texas developing land-use planning decision support tools that incorporate freshwater and groundwater ecosystem services, land development, and conservation planning. Adrian received her Ph.D. in Aquatic Resources from Texas State University-San Marcos, and her B.A. from the University of Arizona in Cultural Anthropology.
Charlotte is a data analyst for the Freshwater and Terrestrial Environment team, based at Stanford. Her background is in environmental engineering. For the Natural Capital Project, she develops interactive decision-support visualization tools and studies the impacts and resilience of the food system. Prior to NatCap, she worked as an environmental engineer intern in phytoremediation in Paris, France. Charlotte received her M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering with distinction of academic excellence from the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland. Her studies included a year at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition, she gained experience volunteering in Benin, Tanzania, Cambodia and Thaïland, as well as performing and teaching while a flying trapeze instructor in Guadeloupe, Turkey and Tunisia.
Mary Jane Wilder, D.M.A.
Mary Jane Wilder provides administrative support as part of the operations team. She was previously Chair of The Department of Fine and Performing Arts and Professor of Music at MidAmerica Nazarene University. Mary Jane earned her D.M.A. and M.M. from The University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, and her B.S. from William Jewell College. In addition to her interests in camping, hiking, and bird watching, she is a volunteer with Northern California Shiba Inu Rescue.
Senior GIS Analyst
Stacie Wolny develops and applies the terrestrial hydrology toolset for the Natural Capital Project and supports Stanford’s Center for Conservation Biology. After twelve years working as a system administrator and software engineer in Silicon Valley, she started studying GIS as a way to combine her computer background with a love of natural history and ecology. Stacie received a B.S. in computer science from Penn State University and studied GIS at Foothill College and San Jose State University.
Spencer Wood, Ph.D.
Spencer Wood works directly with partner organizations in Canada and Belize who are revising and evaluating their coastal management plans, using tools produced by the Natural Capital Project. His scientific research focuses on empirical and mathematical approaches to understanding interactions between humans and the environment in complex socio-ecological networks. This includes studies on patterns of tourism in Belize, ancient human settlement in the Aleutian Islands, and distributions of species interactions in New Zealand and British Columbia. Previously, Spencer participated in a variety of ecological studies on intertidal biodiversity, nearshore wave transformation, coastal sedimentation, and fire recovery. He earned his PhD from the University of British Columbia and is currently based in Seattle, WA.
Ecosystem Services Analyst
Katherine Wyatt is part of the Seattle-based Natural Capital Marine team. As part of her work, she supports the development of the recreation and marine related InVEST tools. She is also involved habitat suitability, fisheries, and climate change projects. She is particularly interested in how the intersection and synthesis of multiple disciplines can improve decision making. Katherine received a M.S. from University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences and a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Conservation Biology from Lewis and Clark College. Her previous work focused on statistical analysis, GIS, and collaborative conservation.
STUDENTS AND INTERNS
Chris is a biodiversity and remote sensing scientist working on developing predictive models of large-scale biodiversity change. His research has focused on understanding the underlying drivers of forest structural and functional diversity in the South and Central American tropics, and has worked extensively in Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Colombia. He is currently working on developing methods to integrate remote sensing measurements of biodiversity patterns into ecosystem services modeling and land cover mapping.
Graduate Student Researcher
Nfamara Dampha is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota, working as a Graduate Student Researcher with Steve Polasky, in collaboration with the Natural Capital Project at the Institute on the Environment. Nfamara’s research interests include international development, climate change, food security, environmental justice and policy, and disaster risk reduction, and he brings quantitative and qualitative skills in program evaluation, disaster risk assessment and response management, participatory engagement, and communications. Prior to his graduate studies, Nfamara was Director of Administration at the National Disaster Management Agency, under the Office of the President in The Gambia. Nfamara holds a master’s degree in International Development Practice with a focus on Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from the UMN Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from the University of The Gambia. Nfamara has been awarded the Mandela Washington Fellowship as part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, the Robert and Paula Barrie Graduate Fellowship for International Trade, Development, and Public Policy, the Gerald Mullin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship for International Peace, and the William R. & Barbara A. Pearce Family Fellowship.
Jeffrey Smith is a PhD candidate in the Biology Department at Stanford University. He works both with the Natural Capital Project and the Stanford Center for Conservation Biology on understanding the impacts of human land use on biodiversity. His empirical work focuses principally on how human land use impacts plant-insect interactions and the subsequent implications on food webs and ecosystem function. He currently studies these questions in the countryside of southern Costa Rica, but has significant field experience on similar topics in the northeastern United States. In addition to his empirical work, Jeffrey employs a variety of spatial modelling techniques to extrapolate local findings to regional and global patterns of diversity. Jeffrey holds a MESc from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a BS from the University of Delaware.
Adrian Santiago Tate
Adrian Santiago Tate is a student at Stanford working toward his Ph.D. in Geophysics. He started this June, 2017, and is working with adviser Dr. Jenny Suckale. Adrian graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. As an undergraduate, Adrian became involved with Dr. Jennifer Irish’s coastal engineering research group, where he began working with numerical models. His research focus is nature-based coastal infrastructure, which he believes will play an important role in the development of sustainable shorelines. Adrian will be cooperating with the Natural Capital Project throughout his Ph.D. program.
Eric Wilburn works with Natural Capital Project scientists to translate the outputs of scientific analyses into policy briefs to inform policy development and financial decision-making. He is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow based out of Stanford where he has an MS in Environmental Engineering and is pursuing a MA in Public Policy. In the financial space, Eric is working with impact investors and asset management groups to develop novel methods by which they can assess the natural capital and ecosystem service impact of their investments. In the policy space, his academic research focuses on developing participatory governance policies for governments to include community participants in the design of payment for ecosystem services programs. Eric is interested in environmental valuation, design of environmental policy and incorporating evidence-based environmental impact into mainstream financial investment decision-making.
Teresa served as President of American Stores Co. from 1998 to 1999. She also served as the company’s chief financial officer from 1993 to 1998. Prior to her career with American Stores, Teresa served as an audit manager for Ernst & Young and as a controller of the Steiner Financial Corp. of San Francisco. Teresa serves on Boards for Lexmark International where she is Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee; Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc where she service on the Audit Committee; and Questar Corp. where she is Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee. Teresa was named one of eight Outstanding Directors for 2004 by The Institute of Outstanding Directors, in recognition of her efforts to overhaul financial reporting at Textron, Inc. In 1998, she was included in Fortune Magazine’s first-ever list of the 50 most powerful women in American business.
Peter Kareiva, Ph.D.
Director, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA; and Founder of the Natural Capital Project
Natural Capital Project co-founder Peter Kareiva is the director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. Before joining UCLA, Kareiva was the Chief Scientist and Vice President of The Nature Conservancy. Kareiva’s interests encompass agriculture, conservation, ecology, and the interface of science and policy. In addition to a long academic career, including faculty positions at Brown University, the University of California at Santa Barbara and elsewhere, he worked for NOAA Fisheries for three years, and was Director of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Conservation Biology Division. Academically, Peter Kareiva is best known for contributions to insect ecology, landscape ecology, risk analysis, mathematical biology, and conservation. His current projects emphasize the interplay of human land-use and biodiversity, resilience in the face of global change, and evidence-based conservation.
Pamela Matson, Ph.D.
Dean of the School of Earth Sciences, Stanford University
Matson is an international leader in efforts to harness science and technology for sustainable development, serving as a member of the National Academies Board on Sustainable Development and as the founding chair of the National Academies Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability. Her research interests include ecological and biogeochemical responses to agricultural intensification, climate change, nitrogen deposition, and the impact of policy decisions on developing region’s environments. At Stanford, she is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, in addition to her post as Dean of the School of Earth Sciences. Her honors include a MacArthur Prize and being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.
Hal Mooney, Ph.D
Professor of Environmental Biology, Stanford University
Mooney has been an international leader in efforts to solve problems related to biodiversity and global warming, serving as a panel co-chair of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and organizing networks of ecologists and other scientists. His expertise ranges from measuring the adaptations of individual plants to charting the processes of ecosystems and showing how human-induced ecological disturbances modify the functioning of the earth as a whole. Research in his laboratory focuses on the study of the impact of enhanced carbon dioxide on ecosystem structure and function.
Managing Director, Environmental Markets, Goldman Sachs & Co.
Kyung-Ah is head of the Environmental Markets Group, which oversees and supports the global environmental initiatives of Goldman Sachs. She manages the Center for Environmental Markets, which partners with corporates, nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions to further marketbased solutions to environmental issues. Kyung-Ah serves on the firmwide Physical Commodity Review Committee. Previously, she was a vice president in the Industrials Group in the Investment Banking Division and an executive director of Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC, where she worked in an advisory capacity with clients across the region. Kyung-Ah joined Goldman Sachs in 1998 in the Mergers & Acquisitions Department in New York. She was named managing director in 2010. Prior to joining the firm, Kyung-Ah worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in Seoul, Korea, and Johannesburg, South Africa.
Managing Director, Spectrum Equity
Vic joined Spectrum in 1998, and has been a Managing Director of the firm since 2000. His focus areas are digital media, software, and online information services. Before joining Spectrum, Vic was with Summit Partners where he originated and completed expansion stage investments in privately held software, telecommunications services, and communications technology companies. Previously, Vic was a Product Manager at ONYX Software and Consultant at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). Vic serves on the Advisory Committee of the Natural Capital Project and on the National Council of the World Wildlife Fund.
Taylor Ricketts, Ph.D.
Professor and Director of Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, and Founder of the Natural Capital Project
Taylor Ricketts co-founded the Natural Capital Project while working at WWF. He now is Gund Professor and Director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont. Taylor’s interests focus on the overarching question: How do we meet the needs of people and nature in an increasingly crowded, changing world? He integrates natural and social sciences to address both fundamental scientific issues and real-world conservation problems. Taylor’s recent work has focused on the economic benefits provided to people by forests, wetlands, reefs, and other natural areas. He also collaborates widely to understand the impacts of ecosystem change on human health outcomes. These and other projects are part of a continuing effort to link rigorous research with practical conservation and policy efforts worldwide. Before arriving at UVM in 2011, Taylor led World Wildlife Fund’s Conservation Science Program for nine years, and he remains a senior fellow at WWF. He is the author of over 70 scientific publications, and his work has been featured in over 100 stories in more than 20 media outlets. Taylor received his B.A. in Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College and his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at Stanford University.
Barton H. (Buzz) Thompson Jr.
Senior Fellow and Founding Perry L. McCarty Director, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment; Robert E. Paradise Professor in Natural Resources Law
Buzz Thompson is one of the Natural Capital Project’s principle experts in policy and finance, while also acting as a key liaison with The Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford. A national expert in environmental and natural resources law and policy, he has contributed a large body of scholarship on environmental issues ranging from the future of endangered species and fisheries to the use of innovative economic strategies to support conservation. He is the founding director of Stanford University’s Law School’s Environmental and Natural Resources Program, the Robert E. Paradise Professor of Natural Resources Law, and a board member of the Nature Conservancy of California and the American Farmland Trust. Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 1986, Thompson was a partner at O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, a lecturer at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, and a law clerk to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.
Kelly Biedenweg, Ph.D.
Interdisciplinary Social Scientist
Leah Bremer, Ph.D.
Conservation Scientist, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa - University of Hawaiʻi Economics Research Organization (UHERO) and the Water Resources Research Center
Rebecca Goldman Benner, Ph.D.
Science Director, TNC North Carolina
Graduate Student, University of British Columbia
Data Systems Manager, Puget Sound Partnership
Seth Binder, Ph.D.
Mike Carey, Ph.D
Research Fishery Biologist, USGS, Alaska Science Center
Nicholas Chaumont, Ph.D.
Program Analyst, Business Services, National Park Service Northeast Regional Office
Marc Conte, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Environmental Economics, Fordham University
Adam P. Dixon
Jennifer Duggan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Cal State Monterey Bay
GIS Manager/Spatial Ecologist, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Driss Ennaanay, Ph.D.
Program Leader, Riverside Technology
Coastal Engineer, Stantec
Yonas Ghile, Ph.D.
Greg Guannel, Ph.D.
Urban Conservation Director, TNC Florida
Daniel Karp, Ph.D.
Choong-Ki (CK) Kim, Ph.D.
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Geneva
Suzanne Langridge, Ph.D.
MBA Candidate, University of Michigan
Shan Ma, Ph.D.
Sergio Maldonado Villanueva, Ph.D.
Matthew Marsik, Ph.D.
Geospatial Scientist, TNC Washington State
Lead - Science-Policy Interface
Guillermo Mendoza, Ph.D.
Civil Engineer, US Army Corps of Engineers
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Minnesota
Erik Nelson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Economics, Bowdoin College
Joanna Nelson, Ph.D.
Michael Papenfus, Ph.D.
Environmental Economist, US EPA
Communications Director, Elizabeth Peterson Group, Inc., Los Angeles
Brian Robinson, Ph.D.
Lauren Rogers, Ph.D.
Research Fish Biologist, Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Independent writer, editor and strategic storytelling expert based in the San Francisco Bay Area
Dave Sutherland, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Geological Sciences, University of Oregon
Heather Tallis, Ph.D.
Lead Scientist, TNC
Trade and Investment Coordinator, WWF
Senior Marine Ecologist, TNC Washington
Data Visualization Specialist, National Audubon Society
Guy Ziv, Ph.D.
Lecturer in Geography, University of Leeds