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Oceania Board of Directors

The Oceania Section of the Society for Conservation has an international following of members that support conservation in the Oceania Region. The Board of Directors is an elected body that facilitates the goals and activities of the Section.

Current Members

Richard Kingsford, President
University of New South Wales 
Sydney, Australia
Vanessa Adams, President Elect
Charles Darwin University
Darwin, Australia 
Stacy Jupiter, Board Member
Wildlife Conservation Society
Suva, Fiji
Megan Evans, Board Member
The Australian National University
Roz Anderson-Lederer, Board Member
Victoria University of Wellington
New Zealand
Oliver Manlik, Board Member
University of New South Wales
Sydney, Australia 
Kerry Charles, VUW Chapter Lead
Victoria University of Wellington
New Zealand
Gary Howling, Board Member
Office of Environment & Heritage
New South Wales, Australia

Emily Weiser, Secretarty, Student Representative
University of Otago
Dunedin, New Zealand
Rebecca Spindler, Board Member
Taronga Conservation Society
Rebecca Weeks, Board Member
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University
Emily S. Weeks, Board Member
National Land Resource Centre
New Zealand
Carina Wyborn, Board Member
University of Montana
Montana, USA
Adjunct Members
Wendy Jackson, Treasurer 
Department of Conservation
Wellington, New Zealand
Megan Barnes
University of Queensland
James Watson, Past President
Wildlife Conservation Society
New York, USA

Future Members

If you are interested in being a member of the Oceania Board you must be a member of SCB and a member of the Section. Generally 2 to 4 board members are elected annually. The Call for Nominations goes out in September or October and the election runs in October or November. Each year section members receive an email about the open positions and the start of the election process. For more information about getting involved with this board, please contact a board member or

Current Board Profiles

Vanessa Adams
Board Member
University of Queensland

Vanessa is a conservation biologist and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Queensland. A key theme in her research is applying economic concepts and social consultation to make on-ground conservation action more effective and equitable between groups of stakeholders. Vanessa was raised in New Mexico (USA) but currently calls Australia home.  She has worked in a variety roles ranging from actuarial analyst for global consulting firm Mercer HR to research scientist at universities.  She spent a year as a Fulbright scholar conducting research at University of Queensland and recently completed her PhD at James Cook University in 2011. During her PhD, she was awarded a Sir Keith Murdoch fellowship through the American Australian Association to support a component of her research conducted in Fiji modelling costs of conservation actions to local fishermen.  Her research explores how to plan for development and conservation goals conjointly with a focus on how new market mechanisms, such as carbon offsets, may be leveraged for dual objectives such as livelihood provisioning and biodiversity conservation. Vanessa partners with relevant government agencies and NGOs to ensure that her research is relevant to policy makers and is positioned to influence on-ground conservation.  
Rosalynn Anderson-Lederer
Board Member
PhD Candidate, Victoria University of Wellington

I’m in the last year of my PhD where I am examining the population genetics and management of black rhinoceros in South Africa. I have a broad interest in applied biology and how we as practitioners can transfer knowledge gained from the field and lab to create practical solutions on the ground. From restoration projects, wildlife management, policy implementation to human-animal conflict, these (as well as other conservation areas) benefit when scientists, resource managers and those who put plans into action are able to collaborate.

I’m an Oceania Section Board Member, on the SCB Chapters Committee, am the Oceania Chapters Policy Point Person and was a founding member of the first Chapter in the Oceania Section.
Richard Kingsford Richard Kingsford
University of New South Wales 

Conservation Interests:
At the age of six, a pair of binoculars was hung around my neck when my grandmother took me bird watching around her garden in Kenya. She taught me how to identify birds which she meticulously ticked off on her long-term bird list. It engrained in me a long lasting love and appreciation of the environment. East Africa was a spectacular place to learn about the environment, with more than a thousand bird species. At the age of 12, my family emigrated to Australia and after completing my Phd on the ecology of the Australian wood duck, I joined the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service as a research scientist. Here I worked for the next 18 years, initially running one of the longest running aerial surveys in the world, the Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey, which I continue to run. This drew me to looking at the magnificent wetlands of arid Australia and the importance of variable flow regimes in providing habitats not just for waterbirds but all organisms. Increasingly, I became aware from our long-term waterbird survey data that the status of waterbirds and wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin was grim. Decreasing flows meant less extensive inundation and lower flood frequencies. My attention became equally focused on the long-term sustainability of the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin and the effects of building dams, floodplain developments and extractions on the long-term viability of magnificent wetland ecosystems. These are global challenges as human populations increase and demand more of the products of water resource development (food and fibre). Determining environmental flows, protecting wetlands and designing policies for protection of free-flowing rivers remain the critical challenges for me and my research.
Oliver Manlik
Board member
PhD candidate, Evolution & Ecology Research Centre , School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, NSW 2052, Australia

Conservation interest:
I am interested in various aspects of conservation biology, specifically conservation genetics, population dynamics and population viability of large vertebrates. My current research is on the population viability and genetics of two bottlenose dolphin populations in Western Australia with the aim to guide wildlife management. The first part of my project is to forecast and compare the viability of the two dolphin populations, and to identify factors that are particularly important for the persistence of these populations. The second aim of my research is to identify immune genes (“major histocompatibility complex” genes) that may be important for reproductive success and survival of the dolphins. Essentially, my research is a search for gene variants that matter for the conservation of dolphins and other vertebrate populations.

I am originally from Germany, but I have been living abroad—including the U.S. (California, Hawaii and Arizona), Japan, Switzerland and now Australia—half of my life. Having worked as a science teacher at a high school in Japan, I also have a general interest in science education. With SCB Oceania, I would thus like to contribute to conservation education in the region. As the president and one of the founding members, I also represent the newly formed Sydney-SCB chapter—currently one out of three SCB chapters in Oceania (
Kerry Charles
Victoria University Chapter representative
President, Victoria University Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology;
MSc Graduate, Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, NZ

I am particularly interested in the interface between ecology and the social sciences in biodiversity conservation, including urban ecology, human-wildlife interactions/conflict, and community-based and participatory approaches to conservation. I have a strong interest in communicating conservation issues and science to the public and engaging people in participatory approaches to conservation. I have recently completed an MSc in Conservation Biology at Victoria University of Wellington. My research focused on kaka in Wellington City, the only urban population of this threatened endemic parrot. Conflict with Wellington residents is beginning to emerge due to tree damage resulting from kaka sap feeding. I am using ecological, behavioural and social science approaches to understand sap feeding and people’s attitudes towards kaka, and to provide recommendations to mitigate the emerging conflict.  I am currently the president of the Victoria University chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology. Started in 2010, the chapter is going from strength to strength and is involved in a wide variety of activities, including habitat restoration, wildlife monitoring, policy submissions and awareness raising, fieldtrips and networking.
Edward Narayan Emily Weiser
Board Member
University of Otago

Emily works in avian ecology and conservation. After completing her bachelor's in biology (in Maine, USA), she spent a few years working a variety of field jobs, mostly with birds in the US. One job took her to the Northern Mariana Islands to work with crows, which was her first experience in Oceania. She then spent three years in Alaska, working toward her MSc on the implications of human development for Glaucous Gulls and their prey on the Arctic tundra. She is now in Dunedin, NZ, in her second year of a PhD on genetic viability and management of threatened NZ forest birds. After finishing her degree, she plans to continue working toward conservation of birds and other wildlife by conducting research that can be directly applied to management efforts.
Rebecca Spindler
Board Member
Manager, Research and Conservation, Taronga Conservation Society Australia

I grew up in Melbourne, apart from a couple of years in Alice Springs when I was allowed to go completely feral – no shoes! I learned a lot in those years - mostly about myself. I gained a deep love and respect for nature and wildlife, big and small. We returned to Melbourne and I resumed a relatively standard educational experience. I completed a PhD on embryonic diapause at the University of Melbourne, and then left almost immediately for a position at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute. I developed novel embryo culture systems for rare and endangered species and ran two international programs for the Smithsonian – one in China and one in Brazil. I spent 5 giant panda breeding seasons in the Wolong Nature Reserve and helped establish reproductive management and the Giant Panda Genome Resource Bank. During this same period I established the Smithsonian’s Neotropical Carnivore Initiative with Dr Nucharin Songsasen and with colleagues throughout the Americas, and spearheaded a multidisciplinary project aimed at improving the health, reproduction and conservation of jaguars. I moved to Toronto Zoo in 2004 to head up the reproductive department and initiated investigations into the role of genetic makeup on breeding strategies of wildlife species.

In 2007, I joined the team at the Taronga Conservation Society Australia as Manager of Research and Conservation Programs focusing and facilitating the research of Zoo scientists to answer key environmental questions through the disciplines of wildlife ecology, behaviour, reproduction and health. I also head up the Field Conservation Grants and community based Green Grants programs. I enjoy collaborative work and for the last few years have been working with collaborators from the IUCN to develop a new matrix to prioritise conservation and research efforts.


Rebecca Weeks
Board Member
James Cook University

Rebecca is a Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University.

After completing a Masters degree in Zoology at the University in Sheffield (UK), Rebecca moved to Australia to pursue her interest in marine conservation in warmer climes. Her PhD, undertaken at James Cook University, explored approaches to developing marine protected area networks in the Philippines. Following an 18-month fellowship with the Wildlife Conservation Society in Fiji, Rebecca took up a postdoctoral position in the conservation planning research group at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Although based in Australia, her research focuses on science to support marine conservation planning and management in the Coral Triangle and Western Pacific. Rebecca’s current research explores how to integrate advances in understanding of ecological connectivity processes into conservation planning, the need to resolve social-ecological scale mismatches to effectively scale up local management actions, and the need for conservation planning strategies to be adaptive. Rebecca’s research questions are defined through collaboration with conservation practitioners and stakeholders, from fishermen to policy makers at the highest level. She has been actively involved with the marine protected areas working group of the Coral Triangle Initiative, and has assisted with the development of conservation plans in the Philippines, Fiji and Palau.


Megan Barnes
Adjuct Board member
University of Queensland
Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science

Conservation interests: 
I am interested in strategic environmental decision-making, and evaluating the effectiveness of conservation actions. In particular, the monitoring and evaluation of biological outcomes in response to conservation actions, specifically protected areas. I am also really interested in how volunteer collected citizen science data can augment our currently limited understanding.  I feel that the section has an important role to play in promoting science-based decision-making across the region and hope that we will advance this in the near future.

James Watson

James Watson
Adjuct Board member
Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, USA
School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management 

Conservation interests:
As far back as I can remember, I have always loved the environment. As a young boy, I developed a life-long passion for birdwatching and spent many of my days exploring remote Australia for rare birds and I think it was these times that made me aspire to be an active conservation scientist. Since my undergraduate days I have had a special interest in conducting applied research that can be incorporated into conservation oriented policy. In 2001, I was fortunate enough to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and I spent three years conducting conservation research in Madagascar. This experience taught me the importance of the nexus between conservation planning and sustainable development. Since completing my phd, all my research has been focussed on assessing the impacts of human-induced environmental change on biodiversity and developing informed plans to ameliorate these impacts. I have attempted to vary the research I have conducted to ensure that I have a wide range of knowledge and experience to apply across the conservation research realm. I have also always endeavoured to make my research count by always engaging local stakeholders in the research process and ensuring the conservation management options that are developed, are taken up.

In 2007, I moved into the environmental NGO sector to take a senior campaigner position. I was responsible for developing the scientific framework which underpins all of The Wilderness Society’s conservation campaigns. In this role, I was able to observe the varying roles government, community and other important stakeholders play in gaining conservation outcomes and the best ways applied science can inform these processes. I believe this was a very valuable experience away from the academic world and allowed me to experience how conservation policies are developed in Australia.

I am now a post doctoral fellow at the University of Queensland and conducting research on designing tools for optimal decision making for the conservation of biodiversity. I have been a board member of the SCB since the beginning of 2008. My aim is to help contribute to conservation policy development in the region and also get SCB-O more involved with generating real conservation outcomes in the region. I aim to work with government, NGOs and other stakeholders to achieve this. Another aim is to continue to build capacity and involvement in the countries of Micronesia, Polynesia, and Macronesia. I can see that that due to the large numbers of members in New Zealand and Australia, there is often a focus on these two countries and I am keen to address this imbalance.

Wendy Jackson Wendy Jackson
Adjunct Board Member
Strategic Partnerships: International Liaison - Department of Conservation, New Zealand

My role at the NZ Department of Conservation entails taking New Zealand's good conservation stories to the international arena, and ensuring that international commitments are met at home. Most of my engagement is with the UN biodiversity conventions: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES); and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). I also do a lot of capacity building work in the region, assisting our Pacific Island neighbours with implementation of CITES. This reflects my area of conservation interest: the effectiveness of international environmental agreements. Do international agreements actually have a positive impact on biodiversity, and what can we do to ensure they do? I have previously worked for the United Nations Environment Programme (Kenya), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (New York and around the world), Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (a research and policy thinktank in South Africa), and Environment Canada.