WCS North America

Staff

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Darren Long
Progam Director, Climate Adaptation Fund
As Director of the Climate Adaptation Fund at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Darren is responsible for all management, administration, communications and grantmaking activities for a program which has invested more than $10 million to support nonprofit conservation organizations working to implement applied on-the-ground climate adaptation projects. The Fund is designed to promote the resilience of ecosystems and wildlife to climate change impacts, incentivize the development of a new field of conservation for wildlife adaptation, and to catalyze broad integration of adaptation principles amongst public management agencies and nonprofit conservation organizations. Before joining WCS in 2006, Darren spent four years at The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia, where his work focused on green space preservation and the expansion and improvement of urban parks through the Foundation’s Environmental Initiative. Also in Georgia, Darren served as the Program Associate for Habitat at the Turner Foundation. There, his principal focus was the funding of public policy advocacy, litigation and local grassroots efforts to preserve terrestrial and marine biodiversity through landscape-scale habitat protection. Prior to his work at the Turner Foundation, Darren studied social behavior and cognition with apes and monkeys while managing research, conservation and education programs for the Living Links Center - Emory University's institute for the study of human and ape evolution.
Donald Reid
Conservation Zoologist
Don Reid leads our Northern Boreal Mountains landscape program in northwest Canada, having helped establish Wildlife Conservation Society Canada by opening our Whitehorse office in 2004. He coordinates a team of biologists who are pursuing new protected areas through land use planning, improved land and wildlife habitat management policies, collaborations with indigenous governments on mutual conservation interests, and research on focal conservation issues including climate overheating and new road developments. His own field research involves river otters as indicators of aquatic ecosystem health, beavers as agents of change in riparian ecosystems, and spatial scale of forest disturbance as an influence on food webs where snowshoe hares are the dominant trophic species. Don has spent 40 years working as a wildlife biologist in academic, government, and non-government sectors, with an MSc (University of Calgary) and PhD (University of British Columbia). His experiences include Arctic trophic ecology (terrestrial food webs, seabird reproduction), boreal aquatic ecosystems (otter and beaver ecology), trophic ecology of temperate montane forests (eastern Himalaya), integrating wildlife in boreal forest management (numerous species), integrating wildlife conservation in land use planning (coastal rain forests, taiga cordillera, boreal cordillera), and protected areas management (British Columbia, Yukon, China).
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Emily Darling
Research associate
Emily Darling is a marine ecologist and conservation biologist motivated to find conservation solutions for coral reef ecosystems and the societies they support. Emily is currently a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow at the University of North Carolina where she is leading a large collaboration of scientists to identify climate refuges for coral diversity in the Indo-Pacific. She also leads a global coral reef fisheries monitoring initiative with WCS Marine to promote shared monitoring tools and data management for improved fisheries outcomes. Emily completed her PhD at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada where she won the Governor General's Gold Medal for distinction in doctoral research. She was a recent plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress and will be featured in the journal Nature on moving towards effective protected areas at the World Parks Congress. Find out more by following her on Twitter @emilysdarling or at her website www.emilysdarling.com.
Erika Rowland
Climate Change Ecologist
Erika Rowland is a conservation scientist working for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s North America Program with a background in forest resources, palaeoecology, and applied conservation. For several years she has focused on climate change adaptation for natural resource conservation in sites across North America, applying both vulnerability assessment and other climate impact science and engaged in the decision-making and approaches that support it. She has also been involved in developing adaptation-oriented guidance and trainings with the many partners, including the USFWS National Conservation Training Center. Erika earned degrees from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (MS) and University of Maine (PhD).
Gillian Woolmer
Director of Finance and Operations
While WCS Canada’s scientists focus on delivering conservation outcomes Gillian is responsible for ensuring WCS Canada is operating effectively, efficiently and sustainably, from financial management to human resources to regulatory compliance. Gillian comes to this role with a strong background in conservation with WCS. Since joining WCS in 2000, Gillian has led and collaborated on a diversity of projects, including; mapping the global Human Footprint, and rescaling this methodology to the Northern Appalachian Ecoregion, developing web-based conservation mapping tools, estimating rates of deforestation in Sumatra, mapping mandrill habitat use in Gabon, and the identification of wolverine range and caribou wintering grounds in Ontario. Gillian has a Masters degree in Geology and Mineral Exploration with extensive field experience ranging from the Highlands of Scotland and the mines of central Queensland, Australia, to the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile and a variety of gold exploration projects in Ghana, Mali and Eritrea. In addition, Gillian holds a Certificate in Conservation Biology from Columbia University, New York, an Advanced Diploma in GIS from the College of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Nova Scotia, and a certificate in Human Resource Management from the Social Economy Centre of the University of Toronto. Gillian has a Masters degree in Geology and Mineral Exploration with extensive field experience ranging from the Highlands of Scotland and the mines of central Queensland, Australia to the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile and a variety of gold exploration projects in Ghana, Mali and Eritrea. In addition, Gillian holds, and a Certificate in Conservation Biology from Columbia University, an Advanced Diploma in GIS from the College of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Nova Scotia, and a certificate in Human Resource Management for Not-For-Profits.
Gretchen Lescord
Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Gretchen Lescord is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the WCS Canada's Ontario Northern Boreal program examining contaminants in food fishes in the far north. Dr. Lescord's postdoctoral fellowship, co-supervised by Drs. John Gunn and Al Lock at Laurentian University, focuses on chromium which is a contaminant expected to be a growing concern in the far north of Ontario, as mining begins in the "Ring of Fire". This region is a crescent-shaped area of the far north that is rich in chromium and other valuable metals. However, monitoring chromium is a challenge because multiple forms naturally exist, including both nutritionally-essential (you'll find chromium in most multivitamins!) and toxic species. Dr. Lescord's project will focus on developing a laboratory method to differentiate these different types of chromium in food fish, which will enable monitoring of whether industrial activity increases the toxic forms, and will allow us to better understand impacts of chromium mining and smelting on the environment and human health. Dr. Lescord recently completed her PhD at Laurentian University, where she examined patterns of mercury contamination in food fishes from the Far North in Ontario. Her doctoral research was partly supported by a WCS Garfield Weston Fellowship.
Heather Gates
Conservation Assistant
As the Conservation Assistant with the Bat Program, Heather works with Dr. Cori Lausen to understand the distribution and winter ecology of bats in Alberta and British Columbia. Heather holds a BSc in Biology from the University of Victoria. Before joining WCS Canada in 2014, Heather worked for several years as the head grower for a leading forest nursery.
Heidi Kretser
Livelihoods and Conservation Coordinator
As the Livelihoods and Conservation Coordinator for WCS’s North America Program, Dr. Heidi Kretser uses tools and perspectives from the social sciences to achieve greater conservation impact by understanding the human dimensions of natural resource policy and management issues. She is using this approach to understand and resolve complex conservation questions pertaining to human-wildlife conflicts, the impacts of low-density rural development on wildlife, best practices for engaging local people in conservation projects across North America, effective communication strategies to reduce demand for and purchase of wildlife trade items by the U.S. military serving abroad, aligning state wildlife and public health messaging on bats and collaborative approaches to build capacity and achieve conservation outcomes across diverse constituents. Dr. Kretser serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor at Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources. Dr. Kretser is widely published and her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and a variety of regional media outlets. She completed her Ph.D. in the Human Dimensions Research Unit at Cornell University and holds a master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry.
Hilary Cooke
Associate Conservation Scientist
Hilary Cooke joined WCS Canada in 2010 as Associate Conservation Scientist for the Northern Boreal Mountains landscape of Yukon and northern British Columbia. Here she works with a range of partners, including First Nation, territorial, and federal governments, to enhance conservation of wildlife and wild places through regional planning, environmental assessments, and land, resource, and wildlife management. Hilary specializes in boreal ecology, forest management, avian conservation, and conservation planning. Since 2010, she has led several field and applied studies aimed at improving conservation and management of Yukon’s valley bottoms for key ecosystems, migratory birds, and species of conservation concern. Through relevant government initiatives Hilary continues to promote science-based solutions to improve conservation for wildlife and wild places across Yukon’s boreal mountains. Hilary began her career with WCS as a member of the North America Program in 1998, where she conducted field studies to inform riparian conservation on public and private lands in semi-arid regions of the western United States. After earning a MSc in Wildlife Management at Humboldt State University in 2002, Hilary returned to her native Canada in 2003 to complete a PhD in Ecology at the University of Alberta. Her PhD research aimed to improve forest management for woodpeckers and other cavity users of old boreal forest. Hilary’s passion for birds and conservation can be found in her blogs published on Muddy Boots, Huffington Post, and Medium.
Jacob Seguin
Ontario Northern Boreal Field Technician
Jacob is the Field Technician for WCS’s Ontario Northern Boreal Landscape Program. He works closely with members of the lake sturgeon and wolverine research teams as he uses his field skills and scientific background to make science work in remote settings. This includes working side-by-side with First Nations collaborators and local trappers at the various field sites, equipment troubleshooting, contributing to scientific design, and downright getting dirty. Jacob completed a BSc Honours in Environmental Science and Biology at Trent University in 2015, and completed his MSc in Environmental Life Sciences at Trent University in 2019. His thesis research used simulated predation attempts to quantify transgenerational effects of perceived risk in hares. Jacob has worked over seven years in collaboration with Canadian and American universities as an assistant and field coordinator for field-based research. He has extensive experience in the southwestern boreal forest of the Yukon Territory, where he led field crews in the live trapping, biologging, and telemetry tracking of snowshoe hares and Canada lynx. He has also worked in boreal forest field sites across the geographic range of snowshoe hares from Maine to Washington.
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