WCS North America

Staff

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Justina Ray
President & Senior Scientist
Dr. Justina Ray has led the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada since its incorporation in 2004. In addition to overseeing the operations of WCS Canada, Justina is involved in research and policy activities in associated with conservation planning in northern landscapes, with a particular focus on wolverine and caribou. Although Justina worked for years in African and Asian tropical forests, North America has been her predominant geographic focus over the past decade. The questions that drive her research are rooted in evaluating the role of shifting landscapes in biodiversity decline and/or change in forested ecosystems. These issues include quantifying the impacts of development activities on biodiversity, including effects of forest changes on mammal population and community structure, and monitoring of species at risk. In Canada, Justina has been appointed to numerous government-led advisory panels, including: Ontario Wolverine Recovery Team, the Nova Scotia Marten and Lynx Recovery Team, the Ontario Caribou Science Advisory Panel, the federal Boreal Caribou Science Advisory Group for the Critical Habitat Science Review, Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO), the Lake Simcoe Science Advisory Committee, and the Ontario Far North Science Advisory Panel. In 2006-7, she served on the Endangered Species Act Review Advisory Panel for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources through to the passage of a new Act in May 2007. Since 2009, she has served as co-chair of the Terrestrial Mammal Subcommittee of The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Justina graduated from University of Florida with a Ph.D. in 1996; her dissertation subject was on the community ecology of forest carnivores in Central Africa. She has authored or co-authored more than thirty book chapter, journal, or popular articles, and is lead editor of the book Large Carnivores and the Conservation of Biodiversity (Island Press; March, 2005), co-editor of Noninvasive Survey Techniques for North American Carnivores (Island Press, 2008), and co-author of Caribou and the North: A Shared Future (Dundurn Press, 2008). She is Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto (Faculty of Forestry) and Trent University (Biology Department), and Research Associate at the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the Royal Ontario Museum. She is co-chair of the Board of Directors of Two Countries, One Forest (a Northern Appalachians conservation network).
Biz Agnew
Director of Philanthropy
As the Director of Philanthropy, Biz leads fundraising and development for WCS Canada. Biz joined WCS Canada in December 2007. Prior to arriving at WCS Canada in 2007, she worked at Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) as Director of US Programmes and at WWF Canada focusing on several conservation portfolios: Eastern Arctic marine mammals, Canadian Prairie wildlife, WWF Canadian endangered species and the Latin American Programme focussing on Central America, Brazil, Guyana and Cuba. Biz has a BA from Queen’s University at Kingston and a Masters of Environmental Studies (Biological Conservation) from York University, Toronto.
Bryan Aber
Carnivore Conservation Specialist
Involved with WCS wolverine program since 2000, Bryan is currently filling a collaborative carnivore biologist position between WCS, Idaho Fish & Game and the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Bryan was previously employed by the Caribou-Targhee National Forest as the District Biologist for the Ashton/Island Park Ranger District. He has a 27-plus year tenure with the US Forest Service. Bryan grew up in the Catskill Mountains of New York, but has lived in the Yellowstone Ecosystem since 1981.
Cheryl Chetkiewicz
Associate Conservation Scientist
Cheryl Chetkiewicz is a Conservation Scientist. Her current program of work includes cumulative effects, environmental assessment, land use planning and policy, monitoring at community and regional scales, and engagement with Indigenous Peoples across our programs in Canada. More recently, Cheryl led Ontario's Northern Boreal program where her work focused on conserving the boreal region in the far north in Ontario through applied and field research on fish and wildlife. Cheryl has a PhD in Ecology from the University of Alberta where she developed models to design wildlife corridors to conserve grizzly bears and cougars. Cheryl is a board member of the Ontario Association for Impact Assessment. In addition to her current work with WCS Canada, she has worked with governments, Indigenous Peoples, and interested stakeholders on wildlife management and conservation in Alaska, the Northwest Territories, and Peru.
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Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle
Conservation Planning Biologist
Dr. Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle specializes in understanding the impacts and interactions of climate and land-use change on biodiversity, and translating the implications into conservation planning. Much of her work is focused on developing systematic landscape planning approaches for conserving biodiversity, and working with expert/Indigenous traditional knowledge and empirical data to achieve science-based decisions. She is dedicated to working with First Nations, Governments and NGOs to provide the best available conservation science for policy approaches, land-use planning, and protected area management throughout the northern boreal mountains. Dr. Mantyka-Pringle holds a PhD from the University of Queensland’s Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions in Australia. She has worked for the Queensland State Government as a Research Projects Officer, managing water quality and aquatic ecosystem health. In Canada, she worked on the University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) Indigenous-community led research programs on the impacts of multiple stressors on River Deltas, and on informing policy and planning processes around species at risk and climate change mitigation. Chrystal received a 2017 Mitacs Research Fellowship and the 2015 Thomson Reuters Citation & Innovation Award for her work. She is an Adjunct Professor of Conservation Biology with the School of Environment and Sustainability at U of S.
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Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne
Canada KBA Coordinator
Dr. Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne supports the Canadian Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) Coalition to identify and map KBAs in Canada. Prior to joining WCS, Ciara worked as a researcher and consultant focused on understanding the different ways that people value and benefit from nature. Based in Montreal and affiliated with McGill University, she has engaged in research with colleagues in Canada and internationally on environmental management, system resilience, and futures thinking, and has authored over 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on these themes. Over the past decade, Ciara has also led the development of tools and methods to link science to the needs of decision-makers, with products that include an ecosystem services Toolkit for the Canadian government, and a mechanism for Technical and Scientific Cooperation for parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, developed in partnership with the Quebec Center for Biodiversity Science. Ciara completed her Ph.D in 2010 on the spatial analysis of ecosystem services and biodiversity across landscapes. This work was inspired by gaps identified in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, for which Ciara served as the coordinator of the Subglobal Assessment Working Group. Ciara also holds a graduate degree in tropical biology from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
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Constance O'Connor
Associate Conservation Scientist
Connie O’Connor is a freshwater ecologist and conservation biologist dedicated to finding conservation solutions for the globally important freshwater ecosystems of Canada’s boreal forests, and the people and the wildlife that rely on them. Connie leads WCS Canada’s research and conservation program in the Ontario Northern Boreal landscape. Some of her current program highlights include leading a lake sturgeon monitoring program in collaboration with Moose Cree First Nation; identifying priority areas for freshwater fish biodiversity using conservation planning tools; and applying research results to improve planning, management, and policy. Connie is also a member of the Freshwater Fish Specialist Subcommittee of COSEWIC, and an Adjunct Professor at Lakehead University. Before joining WCS Canada, Connie completed her PhD at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, where she used advanced telemetry and field physiology techniques to study how environmental stressors impact fish. Next Connie completed a postdoctoral fellowship at McMaster University, where she was awarded the prestigious Alice Wilson Medal from the Royal Society of Canada for outstanding academic qualifications in science.
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Cori Lausen
Associate Conservation Scientist
Cori is a bat research and conservation biologist. She completed her PhD in Ecology at the University of Calgary in 2007. Both her Masters and PhD research were on bats, with the former focussing on behaviour and physiology, and the latter on landscape genetics. Cori Lausen joined WCS Canada in 2011 as part of her NSERC Industrial Research and Development Fellowship, investigating winter bat activity and hibernation in western Canada. Her program focuses largely on a science-based response to white-nose syndrome, a catastrophic disease impacting bats in North America, with 3 main tools: inventory and monitoring, disease prevention, and mitigation research.
Dana Blouin
Program Coordinator
As Program Coordinator with the WCS Canada Western Bat Research Program, Dana provides research and logistical support to our bat team. Dana has a B.Sc in Environmental Science from the University of Manitoba specializing in applied ecology and over 20 years experience in non-profit conservation biology work in Canada. Most recently, Dana worked as Manager of Science and Conservation Planning for the Nature Conservancy of Canada-Alberta Region implementing the Nature Area Conservation Plan program.
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.
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