Society for Conservation Biology

A global community of conservation professionals

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Current Board Members​

Fabrizio Frascaroli is a conservation ecologist working on the linkages between cultural and biological diversity. Fabrizio earned a BA and MA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Iceland, and an MSc in Environmental Sciences and PhD in Ecology from the University of Zurich. He is currently research associate at the Universities of Zurich and Bologna, and visiting scholar in the Religion & Nature Group at the University of Florida thanks to a generous grant from the Cogito Foundation (Switzerland). Fabrizio has worked extensively on sacred natural sites in Central Italy, highlighting their important role as biocultural refugia. His other research interests include traditional knowledge, common property, pastoralism, food sovereignty, and the relation that all these have with biocultural diversity. Fabrizio has served as vice-president of the RCBWG since 2013, and is founding co-editor of the Sacred Sites Research Newsletter (SSIREN).

Giulia Sajeva is a doctor in human rights from the Università degli Studi di Palermo, with training in Political Science and International Relations, Conservation Science and Theory of Law and Constitutional Democracy. She conducted research, among the others, on indigenous peoples’ practices concerning the conservation of the environment, she is currently working on the writing of a book on biocultural rights while collaborating with undergraduate and post-graduate courses on environmental law, legal theory and human rights. 

Dekila Chungyalpa is currently Associate Research Scientist at Yale University as well as the director of Sacred Earth, a faith and conservation program that she created at the World Wildlife Fund and continues to manage today. Between 2005 and 2011, she was the WWF US Director for the Greater Mekong Program. Prior to that, she worked for WWF in the Eastern Himalayas for 5 years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Environmental Policy from the College of Wooster, Ohio and a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development from American University, Washington DC. Dekila – who speaks Sikkimese, Tibetan, Hindi and Nepali – has extensive experience working with local communities in the Himalayan region and established several projects that benefit both communities and wildlife in tiger landscapes. In the Mekong, Dekila led the development of environmental solutions at a larger scale; in particular, regional climate change adaptation and sustainable solutions for hydropower for the Mekong river basin. In 2009, Dekila launched the Sacred Earth initiative, a pilot program at WWF that built partnerships with religious institutions and leaders towards concrete conservation results in the Amazon, East Africa, Himalayas, Mekong, and the United States. Dekila also serves as the environmental advisor for His Holiness, the 17th Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. Under his auspices, she advises over fifty-five monasteries in the Himalayas on environmental projects ranging from source water conservation to green monastery design. More information on these projects can be found at For her work with religious leaders, Dekila was awarded the prestigious McCluskey Fellowship award by Yale University in 2014. 

Susan Higgins has a 35-year background in water resources management and policy in Montana and internationally. She cut her teeth as water planner for the State of Montana and most recently finished eight years of program management with The Tributary Fund (now the Taimen Fund, which she currently manages), where she facilitated research activities, leadership exchanges and species protection planning in Mongolia, Bhutan and Montana -- with special projects engaging with religious leaders on conservation initiatives. She was director for water research communications at Montana State University and a founding director for the Montana Watercourse. A trained facilitator, Sue has been actively engaged in water planning and education, including serving recently as facilitator for the Upper Missouri Basin Plan (DNRC) and for Wildlife Crossing Design Parameters (Western Transportation Institute). She has authored guides for practitioners, educators and landowners on topics such as wetlands management, streambank stabilization, and river basin protection. Sue is the producer of a handbook and documentary film with the same title: “Headwaters to a Continent.” Currently, for the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, Sue is working on a project that studies connections made by religious and spiritual leaders to landscape protection in the "Crown of the Continent" Northern Rockies landscape. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology (St. Lawrence) and a Master’s in natural resources management (University of New Hampshire). Sue lives in Bozeman, Montana with her family.

Jame Schaefer, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Systematic Theology/Ethics and Director of Interdisciplinary Environmental Ethics, Marquette University focuses on the constructive relationship of theology, the natural and social sciences, and technology with special attention to religious foundations for ecological ethics. Her publications include Theological Foundations for Environmental Ethics (Georgetown University Press, 2009), Confronting the Climate Crisis (Marquette University Press, 2011), Environmental Justice and Climate Change (Lexington, 2013), essays in several edited volumes, articles in academic journals, and encyclopedia entries. She developed with faculty of other disciplines the Interdisciplinary Minor in Environmental Ethics for which she serves as Director on behalf of the College of Arts and Sciences and advises Students for an Environmentally Active Campus. She has been a member of the SCB and its Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group since 2012, developed and moderated with Stephen Awoyemi symposia for the ICCB in Baltimore in 2013 and in Montpellier in 2015, presented at each, and conducted a secular and religious ethics workshop at the 2015 ICCB. She has had extensive experience coordinating constructive efforts of religious communities and environmental scientists at county, state, federal, and bi-national levels of governance. She also served on the SCB’s Awards Committee in 2015.

As a freelance researcher and adviser Bas Verschuuren works on conservation and rural development issues in protected areas, World Heritage sites as well as in indigenous and community conserved areas. He links practical conservation experience and applied multidisciplinary conservation-research in order to strengthen community well-being and support sound management and policy solutions. His academic work includes teaching, education and applied scientific research undertaken on the conservation projects he is involved with. Through his associate research position at Wageningen University this work increasingly results in peer reviewed journal articles that offer historical, political and ontological perspectives on the global development of conservation. He is currently working on his third edited volume bringing together 50+ authors on the philosophy and practice of conservation in Asia. His freelance work involves advising conservation NGOs, government actors and conventions. He serve as a co-chair for IUCN Specialist group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas and a founder of the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative. As initiator, chair or programme coordinator and adviser he also supports non-profit initiatives that help create positive social and environmental change. He offers continued strategic support and assistance with network coordination, project acquisition, fund raising, programme management, evaluation and the facilitation of planning processes, meetings and international symposia and workshops.

See Bas' publications on Academia and Researchgate.

  • Stephen Awoyemi

Stephen is the founder of the Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group.