SCB Welcomes the Class of 2022 Smith Fellows!

Class of 2022 Smith Fellows left to right: Melissa Cronin, Michelle María Early Capistrán, Ann Marie Gawel, Rebecca Gooley, Ezra Kottler

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 2022:

  • Melissa Cronin (she/her) will complete a project titled, “Conservation and Food Security Implications of Large- and Small-Scale Fisheries Interactions” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Xavier Basurto at Duke University and in partnership with Global Fishing Watch, Dr. Elena Finkbeiner at Conservation International, and Dr. Jordan Watson at NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Michelle María Early Capistrán (she/her) will complete a project titled, “Going coastal: Integrating diverse knowledge sources to generate species distribution models for endangered green turtles (Chelonia mydas)” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Larry Crowder at Stanford University and in partnership with Dr. Jeffrey Seminoff at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center
  • Ann Marie Gawel (she/her) will complete a project titled, “Ecology, conservation, and recovery of endangered Pacific Island land snails” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Rebecca Rundell at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and in partnership with Noah Greenwald at Center for Biological Diversity
  • Rebecca Gooley (she/her) will complete a project titled, “Is rat poison raptor poison? Investigating the sublethal effects of anticoagulant rodenticide exposure in burrowing owls and golden eagles.” under the academic mentorship of Drs. Elisha Marie Hull and Amanda Finger at University of California, Davis and in partnership with Krysta Rogers at California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Lisa Owens at Raptors are the Solution (RATS), Allen Fish at Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, and Doug Bell at East Bay Regional Park District
  • Ezra Kottler (they/them) will complete a project titled, “Restoration genomics of endangered vernal pool annuals: sourcing seeds through space and time to maximize adaptive variation” under the academic mentorship of Dr. Nancy Emery at University of Colorado – Boulder and in partnership with Jennifer Buck-Diaz at the California Native Plant Society

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.

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 2023 Class of Smith Fellows will be announced in June 2022.  For more information see the Smith Fellows website at