NatureServe Appoints Healy Hamilton As New Chief Scientist

Healy Hamilton, Photo Credit: Dorothy DavisNatureServe today announced that Healy Hamilton, Ph.D., has accepted the position of vice president for conservation science and chief scientist, starting on November 4, 2013.

Hamilton is a leading researcher on the effects of global change on biodiversity, and her scientific interests extend to the taxonomy, evolution, and conservation genetics of seahorses and pipefish. During ten years as the founding director of the Center for Applied Biodiversity Informatics at the California Academy of Sciences, Hamilton built a highly respected and productive program focused on research, education, and outreach around conservation biogeography.

Collaboration is a consistent theme throughout Hamilton’s career. She recently participated as a core member of the NatureServe-led team developing Rapid Ecoregional Assessments for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, contributing methods to analyze and map a range of stressors including invasive species and climate change. She is committed to community service and currently sits on the board of the Society for Conservation GIS and the Science Committee of the National Park Service Advisory Board. Her career-long engagement in understanding and conserving biodiversity in Latin America will strengthen connections across the NatureServe network.

As chief scientist of NatureServe, Hamilton will lead a staff of 34 scientists and foster cooperative programs with several hundred staff across the NatureServe network, including research botanists and zoologists, terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecologists, and science information specialists.

“I am proud to welcome such a creative, collaborative, and accomplished biologist to lead our scientific team,” said Mary Klein, president and CEO of NatureServe. “Healy has established an original and broad-ranging research agenda, and is committed to deploying the scientific tools needed to address challenges to biodiversity conservation.”

Hamilton notes, “It’s imperative that people focused on conservation and resource management have accurate information on where species and habitats occur—even more so as the speed of global change and its impacts increase. I’m honored to have the chance to advance NatureServe’s critical mission and further develop the knowledge required for effective continental conservation.”

In addition to her research, Hamilton is dedicated to creative and compelling communication about biodiversity science. She is one of the leaders of the NOAA-funded Worldviews Network—a diverse team of artists, scientists, and educators using immersive visualization technologies to convey the biological impacts of global change and to increase public ecological literacy. Hamilton has also encouraged young Latino students across the Americas to pursue careers in science.

Hamilton received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation focused on the molecular phylogeny and evolution of river dolphins, which she first encountered as an eco-tour guide in the Peruvian Amazon, followed by a year of study as a Fulbright Scholar in Cali, Colombia. She had previously earned a B.A. from University of California, San Diego, and a M.Sc. from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where her master’s thesis sought solutions to tropical deforestation through an investigation of the ecological roles of native, economically valuable tree species in northeastern Argentina.