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 nearly two decades 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.
Kristen Faust, our Board President, has been part of Conservation InSight since the organization was founded in 2017. As the President, she helps ensure that all of our activities are aligned with the vision and mission of Conservation InSight. With a background in math education, Kristen has always been dedicated to bringing knowledge of the outdoors to others, using data to make smart decisions, and building an appreciation for our connection to nature. She enjoys teaching middle school students about birds and birding to spark their interest not only in a joyful hobby, but in protecting our shared environment. In her spare time Kristen enjoys working out, birding, hiking/backpacking, paddlesports, and spending time with her adorable dog Evie.
As our Board Secretary, Joe has helped to carry out the mission and philosophy of Conservation InSight since its founding in 2017. As a naturopath, acupuncturist, plant based nutritionist, and master herbalist, Joe has spent over two decades helping others reach their wellness goals by teaching the ways of nature as it relates to health and life as a whole. In academia, he has been a university lecturer, clinic professor, and clinic dean committed to imparting the science and principles of natural medicine to healthcare providers in training since 1999. Along with Dr. Virzi, Joe is presently in active development of an immersive nature walk learning experience that incorporates the practice of birding to promote greater understanding of humanity’s place in nature as a whole, as well as to promote physical and mental health, peace, and longevity. In addition to his hobbies of longboard surfing, cross country skiing, and playing acoustic guitar, Joe enjoys spending daily time in the garden and kitchen creating and sharing simple vegan meals with organic, seasonal, wholesome ingredients.