Smith Fellows

Executive Director
David H. Smith Conservation Fellowship Program

Nicole Crane is a Senior Conservation Scientist and Faculty whose areas of expertise are in international ocean conservation and management, program development, ocean research, and education. Nicole has more than 25 years of experience working with communities and conducting ecological assessments of reefs, and has worked to enhance citizen science across cultures and disciplines. She is dedicated to linking rigorous science with cultural knowledge and community leadership in conservation. Nicole is a founding member and Co-Director, with John Rulmal, of One People One Reef, a non-profit focused on applied conservation with Pacific Island communities. Through her faculty positions in the California Community College system (currently on leave from Cabrillo College) Nicole has established several science education programs in the United States, with a focus on serving underrepresented students and enhancing DEI in STEM. She was the founder and Director of the National Science Foundation Center for Excellence in Marine Advanced Technology Education, Executive Director for Camp SEA Lab (California State University Monterey Bay), and co-developer of the NSF IScS integrated science program for at risk college youth.  She is committed to mentorship and career development, and to creating supportive, welcoming and inclusive communities. Nicole is an associate at the California Academy of Sciences, a National Geographic Explorer, and is a Fellow National at the Explorers Club. 


Program Manager
David H. Smith Conservation Fellowship Program

Laura designs dynamic systems, programs, and experiences that support people in connecting, learning, and pursuing their purpose. In June 2024, Laura joined Smith Fellows and the Society for Conservation Biology as the Smith Fellows Program Manager. As co-founder and consultant with Mobius Method, Laura focused on strategy, operations, and designing learning and development trainings to meet the emerging needs of purpose-driven leaders and teams. As an independent consultant, Laura partnered with a variety of nonprofits and businesses working for a better world, providing specialized support in project management, learning experience design, and organizational development. Laura has also served as Program Director for the Byron Fellowship Educational Foundation, managing the annual fellowship program while developing ongoing educational offerings to support a robust global community of alumni. Laura is a certified practitioner of the Systemic Leadership Coaching & Organizational Constellation methodology (dual-certified by the International Coaching Federation & the Center for Systemic Constellations). She holds a Bachelor’s (BS) in Economics from Bentley University, and a Master’s in Environmental Science (MSES) and Public Affairs (MPA) from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.


Program Associate
David H. Smith Conservation Fellowship Program 

Jessica May joined the Smith Fellows Program and Society for Conservation Biology in June 2023. Prior to working with SCB, Jessica gathered a blend of experience from on-the-ground field research to conservation communications in the nonprofit sector. With a BS in Environmental Science and an AA in Social Science, she is passionate about engaging communities in conservation matters. Her work is dedicated to serving global issues by supporting teams and inspiring action.