SCB Welcomes the Class of 2023 Smith Fellows!

2023 Smith Fellows from Left to Right: Kendall Calhoun, Amber Datta, Caroline Kisielinski, Meixi Lin, Vaughn Shirey

​The Society for Conservation Biology and the Cedar Tree Foundation announce the recipients of the 2023 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 2023:

  • Kendall Calhoun (he/him) will conduct a research project titled, “Conserving California’s Wildlife Communities in the Age of Megafires” with academic mentorship from Dr. Justine Smith at University of California, Davis and in partnership with Dr. Brett Furnas at California Department of Fish and Wildlife

  • Amber Datta (she/her) will conduct a research project titled, “Pathways to power: supporting Indigenous peoples and local communities to achieve local and global conservation goals” with academic mentorship from Dr. Jack Kittinger at Arizona State University and Conservation International and in partnership with Luna Kekoa at the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources and Kevin Chang of Kua'āina Ulu 'Auamo (KUA)

  • Caroline Kisielinski (they/them) will conduct a research project titled, “Reconstructing Lahontan cutthroat trout population history to inform future management strategies in Summit Lake, NV” with academic mentorship from Dr. Jocelyn Colella at the University of Kansas, Dr. Paula Noble at the University of Nevada, Dr. Darren Larsen at Occidental College and in partnership with James Simmons, Natural Resources Director, Summit Lake Paiute Tribe

  • Meixi Lin (she/her) will conduct a research project titled, “Genomics informed Biodiversity Forecasting in the Anthropocene” with academic mentorship from Dr. Moisés Expósito Alonso at Carnegie Institution of Science and in partnership with Dr. Bridget Baumgartner at Revive & Restore and Dr. Jamison Ervin at United Nations Development Programme

  • Vaughn Shirey (any/all/none) will conduct a research project titled, “Towards a Novel Integrative Framework for Rapid Conservation Assessments of Insect Decline in the Anthropocene” with academic mentorship from Dr. Laura Melissa Guzman at University of Southern California and Dr. Rob Guralnick at University of Florida - Florida Museum of Natural History  and in partnership with Dr. Pedro Cardoso at the Finnish Museum of Natural History - University of Helsinki and Dr. Kevin Burls and Scott Black at Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

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 2024 Class of Smith Fellows will be announced in June 2023.  For more information see the Smith Fellows website at