Dr. Tom Virzi ~ Executive Director

Tom has conducted ecological research since earning his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University in 2008, working in academia and the nonprofit sector. In 2017, Tom decided it was time to start a new nonprofit organization that would not only conduct valuable scientific research, but would also seek innovative ways to share this research with the public to foster a better connection between people and nature. As Executive Director of Conservation InSight, Tom brings more than a decade of experience leading avian research projects throughout the U.S., along with an extensive background in business and finance from his previous career.

Tom’s research interests focus on avian ecology, with a strong interest in understanding the effects of ecological restoration projects on bird populations. Past avian research projects include studies of the effects of urbanization on American oystercatchers in coastal New Jersey, the effects of salmon estuary restoration projects on bird populations in north Puget Sound, Washington, and the use of artificial conspecific attraction to influence the settlement of endangered Florida grasshopper sparrows into restored habitat in the dry prairies of central Florida. Tom’s largest and longest-term project is a demographic study of the federally endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow in the Florida Everglades – this work is ongoing with Tom acting as the principal investigator on this project for Conservation InSight.

Tom was previously the instructor of ornithology at Rutgers University and always enjoyed bringing his passion for birds into the classroom. He maintains a philosophy that education is a critical component of scientific research that is often undervalued in its importance towards achieving conservation goals. Our organization shares Tom’s conservation philosophy that to make lasting changes in our society we need the public to actively participate in conservation efforts, and education is the best way to engage people and keep them connected with nature.


Dr. Sean Murphy ~ Research Ecologist

Prior to coming to Conservation InSight, Sean spent six years working as a Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey-Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center. He received a B.S. in Biology from Penn State University and a Ph.D. in Biology from the City University of New York in 2010.

Sean’s research interests focus on the interactions between avian populations and their environment. He has studied bird populations along the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts as well as the Interior West. At Conservation InSight, he is helping develop a spatially-explicit population estimator for the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow using long-term survey data and new survey protocols to be recommended to agency partners to modify and improve current methods.

Sean is based out of central Pennsylvania and spends most of his free time with his wife and two young daughters. He enjoys hiking, biking, and birding.


David Tafoya ~ Wildlife Biologist

David grew up in southern California and received a B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology & Evolution from California State University, San Bernardino in 2011. He has since worked as a field biologist all over the U.S. and abroad, but Florida remains his favorite place. He has previously worked on Everglades restoration for the U.S. Geological Survey, where the research focused on birds as an indicator of restoration success. 

The 2019 field season will be David’s third season working with the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow, and first as a staff Wildlife Biologist with Conservation InSight. He is now the CSSS crew leader and feels personally invested in the fate of this species. David will also be helping Conservation InSight develop new avian research projects and establish an outreach program in south Florida.

David is happiest when he is in the field, getting his hands dirty and directly helping to conserve imperiled species. He loves birding, herping, and practicing primitive survival. He is also currently obsessed with Japanese culture and learning the language! 


Nice to meet you!

Return to Home Page