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.
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!
Margaret grew up in Dallas, Texas. She graduated in 2020 from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. A highlight of her studies was studying abroad in Brazil, where she spent ten days on a boat on the Amazon River with several ichthyologists. During her undergraduate studies, she also worked as a research assistant and wrote a thesis on the never-before-researched effects of tourists with hand-held lights on nesting and hatchling sea turtles. She received funding for this research from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Undergraduate Research Funding Award and the Texas Sea Grant Scholars Program. After graduation, she served in AmeriCorps with American Conservation Experience (ACE), where she worked on a trail crew constructing sustainable hiking trails in the mountains surrounding Boulder, Colorado. From an early age, Margaret has loved the outdoors and has strived to pursue a career as a wildlife biologist. She loves and is fascinated by all animals, even the creepy crawly and slimy ones. Margaret is thrilled to work as a Cape Sable seaside sparrow field technician and to learn about and help protect these endangered birds.
Sam graduated from Missouri State University with a MS in Biology in 2018. Her love for birds was cultivated by her ornithology professor who took her out to band songbirds in the summer and to band Northern Saw-Whet Owls in the winter. Since graduating, Sam has seized any opportunity to work with birds. She spent time at the Saint Louis Zoo caring for the wide range of birds in the Bird House as well as at Penguin and Puffin Coast, where she befriended a fan-favorite King penguin named Elliot. While working at World Bird Sanctuary, Sam trained a variety of raptors to perform at zoo shows across the country (which was subsequently canceled due to COVID). During her hiatus between jobs because of the pandemic, she volunteered at the raptor rehabilitation hospital at World Bird Sanctuary and picked up the basics of exotic animal care. Between her stints in animal husbandry, she found herself in Mark Twain National Forest working with MOFEP, conducting point count surveys and nest monitoring with a focus split between mature-forest and early-successional birds. When Sam isn’t volunteering at World Bird Sanctuary or out birding, she can be found at home knitting or crocheting because she is an 80-year-old woman trapped in a younger person’s body.
Tera joined Conservation InSight in 2019 to work on our newest research project studying the effects of habitat restoration on grassland bird populations at Powell Butte Nature Park in Portland, OR. Recently, Tera shifted over to conducting lab work for Conservation InSight as part of a study examining mercury contamination in Cape Sable Seaside Sparrows. Tera is attending Oregon State University (Go Beavers!) obtaining a degree in Fish and Wildlife Science, specializing in Wildlife Conservation Ecology. She has a true passion for learning and an appreciation for the outdoors. She was born and raised in California and found her way to Oregon where she loves hiking, camping, and shooting landscape and wildlife photography.