New Society for Conservation Biology President Michael B. Mascia, Ph.D., delivered his inaugural message to SCB members via video feed at the Society's annual Members Meeting last month at the 2017 International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB 2017) in Cartagena, Colombia.
The senior director for social science at Conservation International discussed opportunities for the Society to demonstrate the value and increase the impact of science. He highlighted four priorities that he will focus on as president with SCB members and staff:
- Take a forward-leaning approach in shaping the science agenda by capitalizing on opportunities, strategic partnerships, and existing global policy frameworks to drive science forward.
- Connect the science and insights of SCB members to sustain life on Earth to the work and the decisions being made around the world that impact conservation.
- Empower the next generation of conservation scholars and practitioners to lead.
- Engage, expand and diversify the membership to better meet conservation challenges.
"Conservation is a marathon not a sprint and we need to give the next generation of conservation scholars and practitioners the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to lead, particularly individuals from underrepresented groups," he said.
More than 350 people attended the SCB Members Meeting, which included a presentation on the work of the Society's Latin America and Caribbean Section and the unveiling of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as the host city of ICCB 2019 (July 2019).
Mike started his two-year term as president of SCB on 1 July 2017. He succeeds James Watson, who led the Society since July 2015. A 2011 recipient of the Society's Early Career Conservationist Award, Mike is the first social scientist to lead SCB.
Mike has engaged with SCB on nearly every level since he joined the Society as a graduate student in 1997. A member of the Society's North America and Marine Sections, he served a three-year term on the board of governors between 2007 - 2010 where he worked on the Board's Development, Membership, Publications, and Science committees. Mike re-joined the SCB Board of Governors in 2015 as SCB president-elect and served as chair of the Conference Committee and a co-chair of the 2017 ICCB Steering Committee.
In 2002-2003, Mike helped to found the Society's Social Science Working Group and served as its first president. From 2004-2007 Mike served as an associate editor for SCB's flagship journal Conservation Biology. He helped to launch the SCB journal Conservation Letters and served as a founding co-editor-in-chief of the journal from 2007-2012. He is published in both journals as well as Biological Conservation.
Mike's professional background is rooted in science and policy and covers social science and biology in the government and nonprofit sectors, including research and programs and community conservation and impact evaluation. As president he hopes to draw on his experience and networks to help SCB build strategic partnerships to amplify the Society's impact in shaping the conservation agenda and informing government, corporate, and nonprofit decision-makers. Prior to joining Conservation International, Mike worked for the World Wildlife Fund, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and NatureServe. He has a Ph.D. in environmental politics and policy from Duke University.
Find more on Mike in this Q&A with Conservation International on the role of social science in conservation.