Introducing the 2020 David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellows

2020 Smith Fellows from left to right: Brenna Forester, Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao, Christopher Nadeau, Desiree Narango, and Kennan Oyen

The Society for Conservation Biology and the Cedar Tree Foundation announce the recipients of the 2020 David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship.

The Smith Fellowship, the nation's premier postdoctoral program in conservation science, seeks to find solutions to the most pressing conservation challenges. Each Fellow’s research is conducted in partnership with a major academic institution and an “on the ground” conservation organization to help bridge the gap between theory and application.

Emerging from an impressive pool of Ph.D. applicants from around the world who competed for the Fellowship are five outstanding scientists who will comprise the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship class of 2020:

  • Brenna Forester will complete a project titled, “Integrating genomics into Endangered Species Act listing frameworks” under the academic mentorship of Dr. W. Chris Funk at Colorado State University and Dr. Erin Landguth at University of Montana and in partnership with Dr. Robin Waples at NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service and Dr. Catherine Darst and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao will complete a project titled, “Advancing migratory shorebird conservation through transboundary governance ” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Nives Dolšak at the University of Washington and Dr. Nick Davidson of Charles Sturt University and in partnership with Dr. Brad Andres of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Spike Millington at the International Crane Foundation, and Dr. Taej Mundkur of Wetlands International.
  • Christopher Nadeau will complete a project titled, “Is Genetic Management Critical to the Success of Climate Change Adaptation or a Costly Distraction? ” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Randall Hughes at Northeastern University  and in partnership with Dr. Nick Fisichelli at Schoodic Institute and Dr. Abe Miller-Rushing of the National Park Service.
  • Desiree Narango will complete a project titled, “Investigating multi-trophic linkages between plants, insects and migratory birds to inform effective forest habitat management and restoration strategies ” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Alexander Gerson at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Dr. Jeffrey Buler of the University of Delaware and in partnership with Dr. Susannah Lerman at USDA Forest Service.
  • Kennan Oyen will complete a project titled, “Predicting continental-scale impacts of winter ticks using environment, host, and ectoparasite traits to mitigate declines of North American moose” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Joshua Benoit at the University of Cincinnati and in partnership with Dr. Paul Cross at US Geological Survey.

While the Fellows' research projects focus on urgent conservation issues, they also learn firsthand the challenges and rewards of conservation applications. The program's focus is to enlarge their professional opportunities and ensure future success by helping them build relationships in the conservation and research communities and by providing opportunities for professional development through targeted workshops and training events.

The fellowship is named after the late Dr. David H. Smith, founder of the Cedar Tree Foundation, and pediatrician, inventor and conservationist. 

The Smith Fellowship seeks to identify and support early-career scientists who will shape the growth of applied conservation science. It’s also an opportunity for scientists to develop solutions to critical environmental challenges, said Dr. Michael P. Dombeck, executive director of the Smith Fellows program and former chief of the United States Forest Service.

“The Smith Fellowship enables young scientists to improve and expand their research skills and direct their research efforts toward problems of pressing conservation concern, to bridge the gap between research and application,” Dombeck said.

Request for proposals for the 2021 Class of Smith Fellows will be announced in June 2020.  For more information see the Smith Fellows website at