Our team of world-class science advisors spans social, economic and ecological disciplines and has substantial experience in the conservation, sustainable development, humanitarian and private sectors. The Science Advisory Council:
- Reviews proposals for teams
- Makes recommendations for funding to the board of directors
- Brings us the newest approaches to rapid, high-impact science-to-solutions
Montserrat Acosta-Morel is an Applied Scientist for the Caribbean Division of The Nature Conservancy, based in the Dominican Republic (DR) where she’s from. Montse supports the Caribbean team in leading the development of science-based analyses and products including innovative academic research, managing projects and teams, monitoring and evaluation, climate adaptation, and making the economic case for coral reef restoration to abate climate-driven hazards, as well as geographic information systems (GIS). Recent accomplishments include leading the development of a portfolio of nature-based solutions for a community in Jamaica under the TNC Resilient Islands project.
Montse received a Ph.D. in the economics of climate change mitigation from Ohio State University, where she focused on the costs of carbon sequestration and potential leakage effects at a global level. Upon completing her Ph.D, she joined TNC as a Climate Change Adaptation Specialist, a role she later fulfilled at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) working with local and national government counterparts in building their capacities on climate change adaptation and local-level, urban planning. She is also an avid triathlete and marathoner, mindfulness trainer, certified yoga instructor, and amateur open water diver.
Paul is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Paul is also on the leadership team of US National Science Foundation’s National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, coordinating post-doctoral activities including professional development opportunities for the institute’s fellows.
Paul has worked in universities in Britain, Australia and the US. Paul’s research examines how ecology and economics can be integrated to inform more effective conservation and natural resource management strategies. His research group collaborates closely with partners around the world drawn from public agencies, nonprofits and for profits as well as academics from a range of disciplines. Paul has authored more than 90 peer reviewed publications and participated in relevant national and international science panels.
Samantha Cheng is a biodiversity scientist at the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History. She is an interdisciplinary conservation scientist whose research draws from the biological, social, and computer sciences, to understand connections between nature and human well-being, the drivers of marine biodiversity and evolution, and builds tools and assessments for evidence-based conservation decisions. In particular, she focuses on evidence synthesis methodologies and computational and visualization approaches for improving science communication, working in close collaboration with practitioner agencies and organizations. She has published on a number of different areas focusing on the links between conservation and human well-being, and improving knowledge on impacts of conservation.
Previously, she worked on squid fisheries and marine diversification projects in California and Southeast Asia. She is also a former SNAPP postdoctoral researcher and a member of the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence.
Molly Cross is the Climate Change Adaptation Lead for the Wildlife Conservation Society in North and South America. Her work brings together climate experts and conservation practitioners to translate climate change science into on-the-ground adaptation goals and actions for nature conservation. Molly is helping to lead climate change planning efforts involving diverse stakeholders at several landscapes across North and South America, focused on a range of targets from individual species to more complex ecosystems. She co-edited the book Climate and Conservation: Landscape and Seascape Science, Planning and Action, and co-wrote a guidebook and associated training course on Scenario Planning as a tool for climate change adaptation. Molly has contributed to several national climate change efforts including the U.S. National Climate Assessment, the Climate-Smart Conservation guide to climate adaptation, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ guidance on incorporating climate change into state wildlife action plans. She is the Director of Science for the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund, which supports applied projects demonstrating effective interventions to help wildlife and ecosystems adapt to a changing climate.
Molly got her Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied ecosystem responses to climate warming and plant diversity loss in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Jane is Senior Manager for Climate Change and Sustainability Services at Ernst and Young where she leads natural capital measurement and management strategies to support public and private sector client needs. Before joining Ernst and Young, she was the director of the Ecosystem Services program and lead of SNAPP at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). She co-led one of the first two SNAPP teams on Coastal Defenses and has participated in two other SNAPP teams in Tanzania and Rwanda.
Throughout her career, “Carter” has worked with diverse partners a to measure and value the benefits provided by nature to support decision making and to design and implement social, political and financial incentives that promote sustainable development in Costa Rica, England, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka and the United States. Carter has consulted for the Spatial Informatics Group, Environmental Defense, World Wide Fund for Nature-UK and Oxford Analytica and has taught courses on ecosystem services and poverty reduction at Columbia University and New York University. She serves on the Technical Advisory Committee for the United Nations Development Program’s Equator Initiative, the Global Advisory Board for Womensphere and is a co-leader of a Powell Center/SESYNC working group focused on developing a natural capital accounting system for the US.
She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; a Master of Science degree in Environmental Change and Management from the University of Oxford; a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford; and completed a Post-Doctoral fellowship at the Earth Institute of Columbia University in New York.
Carrie is a Research Biologist and Senior Fellow at NCEAS and member of the Center for Marine Assessment and Planning at University of California, Santa Barbara.
Carrie currently leads the multi-institution collaboration, Ocean Tipping Points project, aimed at integrating our growing understanding of tipping points in marine ecosystems into ocean management through practical tools and approaches.
She is passionate about helping diverse groups come together to solve challenging problems and provides facilitation services to SNAPP teams, drawing upon her long history leading and participating in interdisciplinary, collaborative team science projects.
Prior to beginning her research career, Carrie was an environmental educator for both Teton Science Schools and Ogden Nature Center. She has served on the board of Ecology Project International and Teton Science Schools.
Yuta is a policy scientist with TNC. His research explores the intersection of international development policy, environmental policy, and social policy, with an emphasis on gender, quantitative methods, and microeconomics. Yuta focuses on investigating the impacts and links between conservation programs, the environment, and human well-being.
Formerly, Yuta conducted research on water infrastructure, time use, and gender in Ethiopia. He also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia and worked as an Economics Research Assistant at RTI International. Yuta has published in many economic and policy journals and has experience working on projects with a range of stakeholders in Africa, Asia, and Central Europe.
Ruth Sitienei is the soil scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s Africa Region. She leads TNC’s Africa work on agriculture-soil-climate interactions, sustainable intensification, climate-smart agriculture, multifunctional landscapes, and food systems analysis and planning. She works with farmer networks for the deployment of soil condition diagnostic and leads a participatory process to identify suitable agricultural soil management recommendations and put in place appropriate monitoring frameworks. Through improvements in soil health practices, she contributes to farmers’ livelihoods resilience and helps to mitigate climate change.
Ruth helps farmers grow more food on less land under the new TNC-led soil health training program. In the upper Tana region in central Kenya, she has worked to test soils and provided tailored recommendations on treatments and practices to improve the soil health of more than 150 farmers. In the IHEMI cluster of the Iringa and Njombe regions of Southern Tanzania, she has worked with smallholder farmers to improve their land’s soil health and drive sustainable intensification.
Ruth represents the Africa region in TNC’s Science Cabinet which works to ensures that TNC is at the forefront of the science relevant to its mission.
Her training is in the management of agro-ecosystem and environment with a master of soil science from the University of Nairobi. Her previous work focused on the quality assurance program of the agriculture sector that affects the whole chain of agriculture, food, and life from soil to folk. She has published articles in scientific journals on integrated soil fertility management and soil carbon stocks.
Jin Tong works as Science Director in The Nature Conservancy China Program, where she is responsible for leading a team to provide strategic and technical supports to conservation programs to demonstrate “science-based approach” of TNC. She has over 18+ year’s research and on-site practices in biodiversity conservation and natural resources management, specialized in conservation planning, monitoring and evaluation for conservation programs, protected areas governance and management, as well as biodiversity surveys and monitoring. Her experiences also extend around analytical work, case studies and policy briefs in nature-based solutions, watershed management, urban conservation, sustainable agriculture, among others. Jin serves as China coordinator of Conservation Coaches Network (CCNet), board member of International Land Conservation Network, executive member of Chinese Alliance of Civil Protected Areas, China expert group member of Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCA) Consortium, and board member of China Primatology Society.
Jin has been with TNC for more than 11 years and initially led the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey conservation project and participated in the national park pilot project. Then she moved on to oversee the monitoring, research and conservation planning for the first land trust reserves in China and accumulated abundant experiences in protected area planning, management and monitoring & evaluation. Jin holds a Ph.D. in Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology from Peking University, studying the socio-ecology and conservation biology of a critically endangered primate species in China.
Michelle Wieland is the Socio-Economic Advisor for WCS Africa Program. A Fulbright fellow with a PhD in conservation biology, she’s worked for the last two decades in Africa at the people-biodiversity interface. Her focus is on strategic designs to reduce threats to wildlife through sound natural resource management, behavior change strategies, and the strengthening of socially and ecologically sustainable rural livelihoods. With WCS since 2009, she has designed WCS’s bushmeat portfolio, led the development of the Africa program’s institutional capacity building developing for socio-economic teams, and directed the implementation of social monitoring systems for adaptive management.