Introducing the 2021 David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellows

2021 Smith Fellows from Left to Right: Miranda Bernard, Israel Borokini, Shayle Matsuda, Maia Raymundo, and Rachel Scarlett

The Society for Conservation Biology and the Cedar Tree Foundation announce the recipients of the 2021 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 2021:

  • Miranda Bernard will complete a project titled, “Justice and equity in marine protected areas: understanding the differential impacts of marine threats and management actions within coastal communities” under the academic mentorship of Dr. David Gill at Duke University and in partnership with Dr. Mary Allen at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Israel Borokini will complete a project titled, “Conservation prioritization of the United States flora using metrics of phylodiversity, land management, and vulnerability to climate change” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Brent Mishler at the University of California, Berkeley and in partnership with Dr. Samuel Cushman of at the USDA Forest Service.
  • Shayle Matsuda will complete a project titled, “Microbial consequences of translocation for coral reef conservation” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Andrew Baker at the University of Miami and in partnership with Dr.  Ross Cunning at the Shedd Aquarium. Additional  mentor team members include Dr. Rebecca Albright, California Academy of Sciences, Dr. Crawford Drury, University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa, Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology, Dr. Jennifer Koss, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration: Coral Reef Conservation Program.
  • Maia Raymundo will complete a project titled, “Loss of a key frugivore disperser: assessing effects on ecosystem structure and identifying priority areas for restoration” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Robert Pringle at Princeton University and in partnership with Dr. Susan Cordell at USDA Forest Service and Guam Department of Agriculture, Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources.  
  • Rachel Scarlett will complete a project titled, “Social Equity and Freshwater Conservation: A Case Study of the Chicago Region” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Anderson at Florida International University and in partnership with Dr. Mark Bouman at the Field Museum.

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. 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.

Dr. Michael P. Dombeck, Executive Director of the Smith Fellows Program and former chief of the United States Forest Service, said “The Smith Fellowship supports early career scientists to improve and expand their research skills directing their efforts toward problems of pressing conservation concern.” The Fellowship encourages high potential individuals “to be leaders, to build partnerships, to accept risk as a component of change, and to focus on bridging the gap between research and application of cutting edge science."

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

Request for proposals for the 2022 Class of Smith Fellows will be announced in June 2021.  For more information see the Smith Fellows website at