2014 ATBI/BioBlitz Team


Imagine of Sahil Chaini in front of mountains and a stream.

I am currently studying Water Resource Management at the Nicholas School and am focusing on the interface between science and policy. During my undergrad, I majored in biodiversity and conservation at McGill University, with a minor in Economics. I am originally from India but I have traveled and lived all over the world, finally settling in Canada.

I have taken a variety of courses during my undergraduate and graduate career that can be applied within this project. During undergrad, I took courses such as conservation biology, ecology of species invasions, biology of organisms, environmental hydrology, ecological dynamics, and evolution and phylogeny. In particular, I took a protected areas course and became very interested in their role in biodiversity conservation around the world. I would like to apply the skills I learn during this project in an international setting and develop ways that best practices in protected areas can be implemented in other countries. I also participated in an applied tropical ecology field course in Barbados, where we examined protected areas in the region and identified gaps that require improvement.

During graduate school, I have focused more on water and have taken courses such as ecology of streams and rivers, water cooperation and conflict, and water quality and health. I am working on developing my skills in GIS as I have taken two courses during undergrad and one during grad school. I am also comfortable working with both R and Stata for data analyses. I am familiar with resource and environmental economics as well as environmental valuation methods.

I am really interested in an ATBI project with the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation because it will provide experience with method design, community outreach, and field skills. I will be able to learn about the functions within a national park and how to conduct biological inventories within them. Another one of my passions is public outreach and communicating the importance conservation to garner public interest and support. This project will really let me apply the knowledge and skills that I have learned into real-world scenarios.


Imagine of Zhenzhen Chen next to a log.

I selected the ATBI/BioBlitz SWOT Team project because I feel my knowledge of ecology, experience of field research and identification of flora and fauna, skills of database management and visual design for reports, and interest in protecting biodiversity make me an excellent fit for this project.

My undergraduate study in environmental ecology has equipped me with a foundation in biodiversity and ecosystems. I have two fieldwork experiences concerning biodiversity, from which I have gained the experience of biodiversity inventory: one was the investigation of biodiversity at the Geevor Mine site in Cornwall County, UK; the other was the biodiversity analysis for Hengshan Mountain in Hunan, China.

From my coursework at Nicholas School, such as Energy Modeling and Modeling for Sustainability, I have developed strong Excel skills for database use/management; I am capable in handling spreadsheets with thousands of inputs. I have learned about social entrepreneurship and sustainable development from the course Sustainable System Theory and Drivers. Also, I am adept at visual design for reports/presentations aiming at a diverse audience.

I value the field experience at national parks that this project provides, not only because of my interest in protecting biodiversity, but also because it could enhance my understanding of the real-world situation which is crucial and beneficial to policymaking. Especially, given my future career plan is to work for an environmental non-profit organization, I believe this kind of experience could strengthen my background diversity and make me more competitive.


Image of Casey Johnson standing in sand near water.

I believe biodiversity is the most important cornerstone that our lives are built on. It is also the focus of my collegiate study. As an undergraduate I studied Environmental Science with a focus on sustainability at Iowa State University. My experience there fostered a desire to conserve biodiversity all over the world. During my undergraduate studies I completed research projects that focused on lake ecosystems. I took courses on Environmental Soil Science, Applied Environmental System Analysis, Natural Resource Policy, Environmental Sociology, Environmental Biology, Environmental Geography, and Global Change.

After graduation I started at the Duke University Nicholas School with a concentration of Ecosystem Science and Conservation. My work at the Duke Lemur Center introduced me to many different conservation strategies that involve community outreach and education. I have had experience in designing and administering successful Surveys, Applied Data Analysis with R, community conservation biology, and landscape ecology.

National parks pose a unique situation for researchers to gain insight into ecosystem functioning and study. As someone that grew up hiking in the Rockies, I can attest to the importance of the public experiencing our national parks first hand. I am especially proud to work on the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation BioBlitz SWOT team because I believe relating biodiversity to every person, especially the next generation of students, is extremely important in biodiversity conservation. As I have learned in my experience with this project so far, in order to conserve we must know what species are out there and where they are, making biodiversity research the first step towards developing effective management strategies.


Image of Jianyu Wu standing in front of a stream.

I am passionate about nature and the connection between people and nature. I have been an avid reader of natural writings (Thoreau, Leopold, Enos Mills, etc) and am now exploring the frontier of applying non-fictional writing to conserving the environment. In college, I majored in Environmental Science and minored in Finance at Nankai University, in the northern China. For my major I did research on pollution effects such as soil contaminations and air pollution models. A summer trip to UC, Berkeley introduced me to the green movement of the U.S. and ignited my interests in social entrepreneurship and environmental management.

My graduate study focus on Ecosystem Science and Conservation, with an interest in biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. My specialty in field skills include plant identification, bird banding, and natural photography. I am comfortable with GIS/GPS, mapping, and spatial analysis. I am familiar with experimental design, sampling techniques, and data analysis.

This project is a valuable opportunity to apply these skills to real needs of our clients and thus truly make a difference. I came to realize our lack of understanding of the biodiversity status and an urgent need to conserve habitats using an ecosystem approach. Through filling in our knowledge gap of the biodiversity infrastructure, or biodiversity inventory, we can start to understand its fundamental importance and rapid loss. My vision for this project is not only to enhance the scientific understanding of species in Rocky Mountain National Park, but also to share the journey of our learning and discovering to a broader audience. So welcome aboard!

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