UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series – Fall 2020

Presented by the Species in Peril project with U.S. Senator Tom Udall as honorary co-host


Adrian Treves

Adrian Treves is a Professor and Founder of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab 2007 at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his B.A. in 1990 in Biology and Anthropology from Rice University and his PhD in 1997 in Behavioral Ecology and Biological Anthropology from Harvard University. After six years working for international wildlife conservation organizations, he returned to applied research. He conducts independent research and advocates for future generations of all life, for scientific integrity, and for sovereign publics worldwide. He studies and speaks about the public trust doctrine and intergenerational equity around the world. For the past 27 years, his research focuses on ecology, law, and human dimensions of ecosystems in which crop and livestock ownership overlaps the habitat of large carnivores from coyotes up to grizzly bears. He has authored more than 133 scientific papers on predator-prey ecology or conservation.

Clayton Meredith 

Clayton Meredith is the Species Survival Officer for Plants at the New Mexico BioPark Society. His current role is focused on assessing conservation status of medicinal plants, developing conservation strategies for rare relatives of medicinal plants, and engaging the public to contribute to citizen science initiatives. With a background in archaeology, and human ecology, his previous research projects ranged from examinations of ancient Maya cooking in ritual contexts, to interactions between forest ecology and the earliest inhabitants of Central America.

Congresswoman Deb Haaland

Congresswoman Haaland grew up in a military family; her father was a 30-year combat Marine who was awarded the Silver Star Medal for saving six lives during Vietnam, and her mother is a Navy veteran who was a federal employee for 25 years in Indian education. As a single mother, she volunteered at her daughter’s pre-school in order to afford an early childhood education. Like many New Mexicans, she had to rely on food stamps at times as a single parent, has lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and struggled to put herself through college. Through hard work and determination, she earned degrees from the University of New Mexico and UNM Law School. For several years, she ran her own small business producing and canning Pueblo Salsa and later became the first Chairwoman elected to the Laguna Development Corporation Board of Directors. She is a 35th generation New Mexican who is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, and has Jemez Pueblo heritage. After a lifetime of organizing communities to stand up for New Mexico families, Congresswoman Deb Haaland was elected in 2018 as one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress.

Elspeth Iralu

Elspeth Iralu (Angami Naga) is a cultural studies scholar whose work brings transnational American studies into critical dialogue with Indigenous geographies. Iralu is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Indigenous Planning at the University of New Mexico. Her research interests include the study of colonialism and decolonization, critical race and Indigenous studies, violence and visual culture, and social and political theory. Iralu’s current work examines the spatial surveillance of Indigenous peoples, nations, and territories in the twenty-first century to interrogate how spatial methods of counterinsurgent warfare operate as technologies of territoriality against Indigenous nations. Her writing has appeared in The New Americanist, the Journal of Native American and Indigenous Studies, And the American Association of Geographers Review of Books. She has worked on community projects for environment, health, and sovereignty with Indigenous nations in India and the United States.

Enric Sala

Dr. Enric Sala is a former university professor who saw himself writing the obituary of ocean life, and quit academia to become a full-time conservationist as a National Geographic Explorer-in- Residence. He founded and leads Pristine Seas, a project that combines exploration, research, and media to inspire country leaders to protect the last wild places in the ocean. To date, Pristine Seas has helped to create 22 of the largest marine reserves on the planet, covering an area of 5.8 million square km. His conservation efforts have been recognized with many awards, including 2008 World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader, 2013 Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award, 2013 Environmental Media Association Hero Award, 2016 Russian Geographical Society Award, and 2018 Heinz Award in Public Policy. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He is the author of several books, including the just-published The Nature of Nature: Why We Need the Wild (National Geographic, August 25, 2020).

President Fawn R. Sharp

Fawn Sharp, a member of the Quinault Indian Nation, received her Juris Doctorate from the
University of Washington, School of Law. She also holds an advanced certificate in International Human Rights Law from Oxford University. President Sharp attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice.

Fawn Sharp is serving her fifth term as President of the Quinault Indian Nation (2006-present); the President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI), an organization established in 1953 that represents 57 Northwest Tribal Governments (2011-2017); and the President for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), an organization established in 1944 representing 566 Tribal Nations (2016-2017); We are Still In Leaders Circle (WASI) member(2018-present).

President Sharp was selected by United States Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar to chair the Secretarial Commission on Trust Administration and Reform (2011-2013). She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Washington.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee appointed President Sharp to the Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce (CERT) in 2014 to consider measures to offset costs to consumers and businesses, and to design strategies to help energy-intensive industries transition from carbon-based energy sources.

Prior positions include Managing Attorney/Lead Counsel for the Quinault Indian Nation, Quinault Tribal Court Associate Judge; Administrative Law Judge for the Washington State Department of Revenue Tax Appeals Division, and practiced law with the law firm of Phillips, Krause & Brown. Prior to becoming an attorney, Fawn held positions at the US Central Intelligence Agency and the Washington State Department of Corrections.

President Sharp resides on the Quinault Indian Reservation at Lake Quinault with her three sons, Daniel, Alijah, Jonas, and daughter, Chiara.

Fred W. Koontz

Dr. Koontz retired in 2017 after a 35-year wildlife conservation career working in zoo, field and university settings at the Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Trust (now “EcoHealth Alliance”), Columbia University and Woodland Park Zoo. As a Bronx Zoo mammal curator and research director, Fred served on many Association of Zoos & Aquariums endangered species and science programs. His field work at Wildlife Trust and Woodland Park Zoo included consulting on endangered species projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Dr. Koontz co- directed, 1991-1997, a successful howler monkey reintroduction into the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize. Dr. Koontz was an adjunct professor and founding member of the Executive Management Committee of Columbia University’s Center for Environmental Research and Conservation. In recent years, Fred has served on several advisory committees for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, which has sparked his passion for transforming state wildlife agencies.

Kevin Bixby

Kevin is the founder and executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center where he has advocated for wildlife and wild places for nearly 30 years, including campaigns to reintroduce Mexican wolves, restore the Rio Grande, protect desert grasslands and end wildlife killing contests. Born in San Diego and raised in northern California (mostly), he earned a BA from Dartmouth College in Biology and a MS in Natural Resources Policy from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources. He was the lead organizer of the first national conference on the topic of Reenvisioning State Wildlife Governance, held in Albuquerque in 2018. He has lived in New Mexico since 1988.

Kira Mileham

Kira Mileham is a science communicator with a focus on collaborative partnerships, human behavior change, and species conservation. Kira specializes in working with diverse global communities to identify shared visions, develop systems and unite action towards a more positive future for wildlife, wild places and people. As the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, Kira is globally responsible for strengthening collaborative species conservation efforts of IUCN SSC’s extensive network of 9,000 scientific experts with NGOs, Corporate partners and Government Agencies. This match-making role leads her to sometimes be referred to as the “dating app” for species conservationists. Kira is also a formal adviser on the Global Council of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums as well as the Field Conservation Committees of most of the world’s regional Zoo and Aquarium Associations. Kira holds degrees in Conservation Ecology, Public Relations and a PhD in human behavior change and impact evaluation.

Louisa Willcox

Working for Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Louisa has advocated for preservation of wilderness and wild animals of the Northern Rockies for over 40 years. Louisa specializes in developing comprehensive strategies that succeed because they work on multiple scales using various approaches, including grassroots organizing and outreach, education, media and communication, policy analysis, lobbying, coalition development, and public protest. She is especially passionate about grizzlies, wolves and other large carnivores. In 2015, Louisa and her husband Dr. David Mattson started Grizzly Times, www.grizzlytimes.org, and a podcast, www.grizzlytimespodcast.org, to provide a voice for grizzly bears and the wild. Louisa has a BA from Williams College and a Masters of Forest Policy from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Norma Kassi

Norma Kassi was raised and educated in Old Crow, the most northerly community in the Yukon. She is a citizen of the Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation (People of the Lakes) and a member of the Wolf Clan. It was in Old Crow flats where Norma gained her depth of traditional, scientific and ecological knowledge. Her grandfather, mother and the land were the bearers of this invaluable, ancient knowledge, which was passed on to Norma at a very young age.

In 1985, Norma was elected into Yukon’s Legislative Assembly as Member for Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation, a position she held until 1992. During this time, Norma was selected by the Elders of the Gwich’in Nation to act as a spokesperson on behalf of the Gwich’in people for the preservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd.

Norma traveled extensively throughout the world educating many people about the critical and
inseparable relationship of the Gwich’in people and the Porcupine Caribou Herd, and the
devastating effects of the proposed industrial development. Today Norma still finds herself
educating people about the critical and inseparable relationship between the Gwich’in and the land.

In 1991 Norma was awarded the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Achievement Award, and the Goldman Prize in 2002, one of the world’s highest profile awards for Conservation. In 2016 Norma was honored to receive the biennial Cathleen Kneen Award from Food Secure Canada, recognizing her vision, leadership and commitment to grassroots activism in building a more just and ecological food system.

In 2016, Norma joined the Canadian Mountain Network as a co-Research Director. In addition to her role at CMN, Norma also serves as Senior Advisor to the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, which advocates for Indigenous-led land use planning, Guardians programs, and the creation of Indigenous Protected Areas.

Robin W. Kimmerer

Dr. Kimmerer is a mother, plant ecologist, writer and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. She serves as the founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability. Her research interests include the role of traditional ecological knowledge in ecological restoration and the ecology of mosses. In collaboration with tribal partners, she and her students have an active research program in the ecology and restoration of plants of cultural significance to Native people. She is active in efforts to broaden access to environmental science education for Native students, and to create new models for integration of indigenous philosophy and scientific tools on behalf of land and culture. She is engaged in programs which introduce the benefits of traditional ecological knowledge to the scientific community, in a way that respects and protects indigenous knowledge.

Dr. Kimmerer has taught courses in botany, ecology, ethnobotany, indigenous environmental issues as well as a seminar in application of traditional ecological knowledge to conservation. She is the co-founder and past president of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge section of the Ecological Society of America.  Dr. Kimmerer serves as a Senior Fellow for the Center for Nature and Humans. Of European and Anishinaabe ancestry, Robin is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. As a writer and a scientist, her interests in restoration include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. Dr. Kimmerer is the author of numerous scientific papers on the ecology of mosses and restoration ecology and on the contributions of traditional ecological knowledge to our understanding of the natural world. She is also active in literary biology. Her essays appear in Whole Terrain, Adirondack Life, Orion and several anthologies. She is the author of Gathering Moss which incorporates both traditional indigenous knowledge and scientific perspectives and was awarded the prestigious John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing in 2005. Her latest book Braiding Sweetgrass: indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants was released in 2013 and was awarded the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. She has served as writer in residence at the Andrews Experimental Forest, Blue Mountain Center, the Sitka Center and the Mesa Refuge.  

She holds a BS in Botany from SUNY ESF, an MS and PhD in Botany from the University 
of Wisconsin and is the author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, bryophyte ecology, traditional knowledge and restoration ecology. As a writer and a scientist, her interests in restoration include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild.

Sara Lewis

Sara Lewis is Professor of Biology at Tufts University in Boston, and co-chair of the IUCN-SSC Firefly Specialist Group. An evolutionary ecologist, she has spent the past thirty years delving into the luminous lives of fireflies. Her current work focuses on science communication and conservation, including the impact of artificial light on firefly courtship. In addition to writing numerous scientific articles on firefly ecology and evolution, Lewis has given a TED talk and has written popular articles for Scientific American, Undark, CNN, The Guardian, and Natural History. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and BBC, along with numerous radio shows. She is also the author of Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies, a highly accessible and entertaining journey into the world of fireflies.

Subhankar Banerjee

Subhankar Banerjee is an artist, writer, conservationist and public scholar. He works closely with Indigenous Gwich’in and Iñupiat community members and environmental organizations to protect significant biological nurseries in Arctic Alaska, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and to defend human rights of the Indigenous peoples in the Arctic. Author of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land (Mountaineers Books, 2003), and editor of Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (Seven Stories Press, 2013), Subhankar is currently completing two books: coeditor (with T.J. Demos and Emily Eliza Scott) of Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture and Climate Change (Routledge, Spring 2021), and coauthor (with Ananda Banerjee) of Biological Annihilation (Seven Stories Press, Spring 2022). He was convener of Decolonizing Natureresistance | resilience | revitalization (2017), and the last oil: a multispecies justice symposium (2018); and was cocurator (with Josie Lopez) of Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande (2019). Subhankar received a Greenleaf Artist Award from UNEP, a Cultural Freedom Award from Lannan Foundation, a National Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation, a Special Achievement Award from the Sierra Club, and was named an Arctic Hero by the Alaska Wilderness League. Subhankar is Lannan Foundation Endowed Chair and a professor of Art & Ecology at the University of New Mexico (UNM). He serves as the founding Director of the Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities in the Department of Art, and the founding Director of the Species in Peril project at UNM. Subhankar is cohost (with Senator Tom Udall) of the UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series—Fall 2020.

Senator Tom Udall

U.S. Senator Tom Udall has earned a reputation as a principled leader who has the integrity to do what is right for New Mexico and our nation. Tom began serving in the Senate in 2009, after two decades of public service in the U.S. House of Representatives and as New Mexico’s Attorney General.

Tom is one of the foremost conservation and environmental leaders in Congress and in our nation. He has championed our public lands and protecting our natural and cultural resources throughout his time in office. Tom has been a leading champion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Congress recently fully and permanently funded at $900 million per year. He’s working hard to pass his bold Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature – to save our nation’s biodiversity by protecting at least 30% of the country’s lands and waters by 2030 – and his Wildlife Corridors Conservation Acts to establish wildlife corridors on federal and Tribal lands. Tom has fought to establish, expand, and protect national monuments and wilderness areas in New Mexico and across the nation, and has fought against dismantling our nation’s bedrock conservation and environmental laws. 

A long-time advocate for climate action and renewable energy, he is tackling the most pressing 
issue of our time – climate change – with legislation that would get us to a zero carbon power sector by mid-century.  And he’s calling for our nation’s public lands to become sustainable and carbon neutral. Tom led the Senate fight to defeat a 2017 bill that would have permanently blocked 2016 methane pollution rules for oil and gas production on public lands.  A federal court just restated those rules after finding the regulatory effort to replace failed to comply with the law, siding with an amicus brief that Tom led in that case. 

As the lead Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing the Department 
of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, he has successfully fought for increases for those agencies in the face of inadequate budgets and proposed cuts. 

Tom is a strong advocate for protecting the sovereign rights, sacred lands, and cultural heritage 
of Native American tribes. He’s served as Vice-Chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for the last four years, and has successfully fought for increased funding and protections for Tribes. 

Senator Udall is not seeking another term in the Senate this year, but he is not retiring from 
public life and intends to continue to fight for the issues he cares about.

Topiltzin Contreras-MacBeath

Topiltzin Contreras-MacBeath is a former Minister of Sustainable Development for the 
Government of the State of Morelos in Central Mexico. For the past 35 years he has been Professor of ichthyology at the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos, in central Mexico, where he is head of the Conservation Biology work group. His main research interests are thus related to freshwater ecosystems and endangered fish species conservation. He is involved in many international organizations: he serves as Co-Chair of the IUCN/SSC Freshwater Conservation Committee, and as a member of the Steering Committee of the Species Survival Commission at IUCN. He is also representative for Latin America of the International Association of Protected Areas (IAPA) based in China.

Banner Image: Ruben Olguin, Evaporation (detail) from the exhibition Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande, 516 ARTS, 2019, hand-foraged clay and soil on wall (courtesy of the artist).

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