Science Advisory Panel


In 2011, NatureServe convened a blue-ribbon Science Advisory Panel to advise the organization on issues of data and methodology, analysis and application, and partnerships, funding, and communication of science.

Current Members

Kamal Bawa

Kamal Bawa, a conservation biologist, obtained his doctoral degree from Panjab University, India. He has held Bullard and Cabot Fellowships at Harvard University and has also been named a Guggenheim Fellow as well as a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment.

Currently a distinguished professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Giorgio Ruffolo Fellow in Sustainability Science at Harvard University, Dr. Bawa has published more than 180 papers and edited eight books, monographs, and special issues of journals. He is the editor-in-chief of Conservation and Society, an interdisciplinary journal in conservation, and also serves on the editorial boards of several other journals. He has served on many national and international advisory panels. He has been the president of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation and a member of the governing board of several foundations and non-government organizations.

Dr. Bawa is the founder-president of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, a non-governmental organization devoted to research, policy analysis, and education in India. He is a recipient of the highest awards from the two main professional societies in his field: in 2003, the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation bestowed on him its highest honor by electing him as an honorary fellow; the Society for Conservation Biology awarded him its Distinguished Service Award in 2009.

Thomas Brooks

Thomas Brooks heads science and knowledge at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), based in Gland, Switzerland. Originally from Brighton, U.K., he holds a B.A. (Hons) in Geography from the University of Cambridge (1993) and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Tennessee (1998). He has previously worked for The Nature Conservancy (1998–1999), Conservation International (1999–2010), and, most recently, NatureServe (2010–2012), where he was Vice President for Science and Chief Scientist.

Dr. Brooks holds visiting positions at ICRAF-the World Agroforestry Center in the University of the Philippines Los Baños and in the Department of Geography of the University of Tasmania. He is an ornithologist by training, with extensive field experience in tropical forests of Asia, South America and Africa. His interests lie in threatened species conservation (especially of birds) and in biodiversity hotspots (especially in tropical forests). He has been a member of the IUCN Red List Committee since 2001, the Steering Committee of its Species Survival Commission since 2004, and co-chair of its joint taskforce on ‘Biodiversity and Protected Areas’ since 2009. He has authored 198 scientific and popular articles, including 84 indexed in the ISI Web of Science, of which 22 have been in Nature or Science.

Larry Master

After doctoral and post-doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, Larry Master began working for The Nature Conservancy as coordinator/zoologist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory. Subsequently, Larry directed the first "Regional Heritage Task Force,” coordinating the Vermont and New Hampshire natural heritage programs and initiating and supporting other natural heritage programs in the Conservancy’s 13-state Northeast region. Larry also served as chief zoologist for The Nature Conservancy and NatureServe for 19 years, overseeing the development of the network’s central zoological databases.

Larry served on EPA’s Science Advisory Board from 2000 to 2007 and participated in multi-year projects at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and at the Heinz Center. He conceived and co-authored Rivers of Life: Critical Watersheds for Protecting Freshwater Biodiversity, and he has authored numerous other publications as well as chapters in Precious Heritage, Our Living Resources, and Conservation and Management of Freshwater Mussels.

Most recently Larry co-led a successful effort to put NatureServe’s ranking on a more solid foundation through the development of a rank calculator and integration with IUCN methodology. Larry serves on NatureServe's board of directors as well as the local boards of several national and regional conservation organizations (including TNC and Audubon) and is active in local (Adirondack) efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Debra Peters

Debra Peters is a research scientist for the USDA Jornada Experimental Range and is the lead principal investigator for the Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research Program in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She is also the director of the EcoTrends Project that is synthesizing and making web-accessible long-term data from a large number of state- and federally funded research sites in the United States.

Dr. Peters received her master’s degree in biology from San Diego State University and Ph.D. in range science from Colorado State University. She is a landscape ecologist with interests in state changes within the context of desertification, and pattern-process relationships interacting across scales to create surprising system dynamics. She is also interested in comparative analyses of long-term studies across ecosystem types. She has edited several special issues in journals on linking local- and landscape-scale processes to continental-scale patterns.

Dr. Peters is the first editor-in-chief of Ecosphere, the online, open-access journal of the Ecological Society of America. She previously served on the board of directors of the National Ecological Observatory Network (2008–2010) and the Ecological Society of America as a member-at-large (2009–2010). She currently serves on the Advisory Board for the USGS John Wesley Powell Center for Earth System Science Analysis and Synthesis (2010–present).

Hilary Swain

Hilary Swain is the executive director of Archbold Biological Station, a non-profit research facility with extensive ecological research and environmental monitoring in south-central Florida. Her research interests focus on the application of conservation biology to reserve design and management. She served as a member of the Acquisition and Restoration Council, which oversees Florida's land acquisition program and management of state lands.

As past president of the Organization of Biological Field Stations (1999–2001), Hilary has a good understanding of field stations and their role in networks of biological observatory systems, and she has been instrumental in OBFS data management initiatives. She has a broad knowledge of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network and served on NSF's 20-year LTER review panel. She has been involved in planning for NEON: organizing the first NEON planning workshop at Archbold in January 2000 and subsequently participated in the NEON Design Consortium as Co-Chair of the Research Infrastructure Subcommittee of the Facilities and Infrastructure Committee.

Peter White

Peter White completed a bachelor of arts at Bennington College and a Ph.D. in ecology at Dartmouth College. After a year as assistant professor at Dartmouth, he became a NEA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Missouri Botanical Garden, after which he was appointed a research biologist with the National Park Service in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In 1982 he became the first director of the Cooperative Park Studies Unit at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986 to the position of professor in biology and director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, an ecology-, evolution-, and conservation-focused garden.

Dr. White is the author of papers on disturbance ecology, species diversity, and conservation topics. He is a member of the boards of the Center for Plant Conservation and the North Carolina Plant Conservation Program. As part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s focus on conservation, he is involved in international efforts to promote sustainability and conservation issues in botanical gardens. He received a First Prize for Natural History Books, 1998 Excellence in Interpretation competition, sponsored by the National Park Service, for Wildflowers of the Smokies, and the Award of Excellence from the National Garden Clubs, Inc., in 2004.

Emeritus Members

Claude Gascon

Claude Gascon is executive vice president and chief science officer at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. In this role, he leads the development of conservation goals and priorities for the Foundation and its investment strategy to achieve concrete conservation outcomes. Dr. Gascon manages a team of science and monitoring experts as well as a team of conservation program officers in four regional offices around the United States. From 1999 to 2010, Dr. Gascon worked in a variety of positions at Conservation International. As executive vice president for field programs at Conservation International, he managed four field divisions and two headquarters technical divisions. The Field Programs Unit was responsible for developing CI’s institutional conservation and science strategies as well as their implementation. The unit comprised more than 700 people in more than 30 countries around the world. Prior to becoming VP, Dr. Gascon was deputy director of the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science. He completed a master’s degree in ecology at Université du Québec à Montréal in Canada and his doctorate in ecology at Florida State University.

Dr. Gascon’s areas of research include biodiversity patterns and causes and Amazonian biodiversity, especially amphibians. His research has resulted in more than 70 publications and three books emphasizing conservation and forest fragmentation in the Amazon, amphibians, and wildlife management. Dr. Gascon has appeared in public broadcasting television films on the Amazon ecosystem as well as in interactive environmental education television programs for U.S. and Brazilian schools. He started his professional career in the Brazilian Amazon as project director and scientific coordinator for the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project for six years. He also directed a large-scale research and conservation project investigating the distribution and abundance of vertebrate species in the southwestern Amazon region. This project was the single-largest scientific expedition in the Amazon since the last century. Dr. Gascon is also a visiting professor with the department of ecology at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia (National Amazon Research Institute) and a research associate with biodiversity programs at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution.

Dr. Gascon has trained many young graduate students in the Amazon through master’s and Ph.D. programs as well as during intensive field courses. Dr. Gascon also acts as co-chair of the Amphibian Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission at IUCN. In this capacity, he has been responsible for developing the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan, which defines a global strategy for conservation amphibians worldwide. To date, more than 50 critically endangered species of frogs have been protected in key areas in the tropics.