Working Land & Seascapes

Science serving people and nature

Working Land & Seascapes

Science serving people and nature

Working Land & Seascapes

Science serving people and nature

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What We Do

The environment provides all of us with the natural resources we need to live and make a living. To inspire action that ensures the health and safety of both people and planet, we provide seed funding for big ideas, conduct interdisciplinary research, and share successes. 

We partner with communities, decision-makers, and other national and international actors across the globe to inform game-changing environmental policies and improve conservation practices. Our projects work to protect and restore ecosystems ranging from coral reefs to grasslands to tropical forests.

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Where We Work

We support over 14 projects that span 12 countries. Click the map below to visit an interactive Storymap page where you can explore a selection of our projects in more detail!

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Who We Are

Working Land and Seascapes is a collection of terrestrial and marine ecologists. We work with partners and stakeholders around the globe to understand the complex processes that underpin the function and health of our landscapes and seascapes.

Tom Akre

Program Scientist

Working Land and Seascapes

Tom Akre is the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Working Land and Seascapes Scholar. Akre launched the Changing Landscapes Initiative (CLI), which compiles ecological data to predict long-term landscape scenarios and inform policy decisions. He is an expert in amphibian and reptile conservation, notably researching endangered turtle populations in Virginia and Mexico.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Front Royal, VA 22630

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Melanie McField

Program Scientist

Healthy Reefs for Healthy People

Melanie McField is the founder and Director of the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) – a multi-institutional effort to track the health of the Mesoamerican Reef ecosystem and ensure its long-term integrity. Her research interests include coral reef community ecology, coral bleaching, chemical contamination, and management effectiveness evaluations.

Smithsonian Marine Station
Fort Pierce, FL 34949

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Molly Dodge

Program Manager

Working Land and Seascapes

Molly Dodge is the Program Manager for the Smithsonian’s Conservation Commons Working Land and Seascapes Action Area. As Program Manager she leverages the resources of the Smithsonian to foster collaboration and increase the impact of global conservation efforts. She has almost a decade of experience in conservation fundraising and communications and program development, with degrees in Communications, Psychology and Animal Behavior.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Front Royal, VA 22630

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Matt Lutkenhouse

Deputy Director

Smithsonian Conservation Commons

Matthew Lutkenhouse is the Deputy Director for the Office of International Relations and Global Programs. He has over 20 years of experience working in conservation and international development, focusing on marine conservation in tropical ecosystems. He works closely with the Smithsonian’s science units on strategy and implementation of applied research around the world.

Office of International Relations
Washington DC, 20560

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Jessica Deichmann

Program Scientist

Center for Conservation and Sustainability

Jessica Deichmann is a Conservation Biologist at the Smithsonian Center for Conservation and Sustainability. She conducts research to quantify the impacts of industrial operations on highly biodiverse tropical environments, then develops mitigation strategies to share with local communities, industrial partners, and government agencies.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Washington, DC 20560

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Steve Canty

Program Coordinator

Marine Conservation Program

Steve Canty is the Coordinator of the Marine Conservation Program, which focuses on the design and implementation of marine reserves in Latin America and the Caribbean. He uses genetic tools to research populations of key fisheries species and habitats, notably mangroves, and helps design tools that aid management decision-making and action.

Smithsonian Marine Station
Fort Pierce, FL 34949

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Andrea Santy

Director of Program Development

Smithsonian Conservation Commons

Andrea Santy is the Director of Program Development for the Smithsonian Conservation Commons – an action network that applies cultural and scientific expertise to sustaining Earth’s biodiversity and ecosystems. She is the major fundraising officer for Earth Optimism and Working Land and Seascapes, lending her expertise in conservation and capacity building to strengthen and develop partnerships.

Smithsonian Conservation Commons
Washington, DC, 20560

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Grant Connette

Research Ecologist

Conservation Ecology Center

Grant Connette is a Research Ecologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Ecology Center. He uses innovative spatial planning tools to understand wildlife populations and human land uses in landscapes from Kenya to Myanmar to aid in conservation planning. Working with local partners, he shares that valuable knowledge with communities and trains others on scientific data collection and analysis to build capacity for sustainable management.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Front Royal, VA 22630

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Kim Komatsu

Senior Scientist

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Kim Komatsu is a Senior Scientist and Community Ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. She studies biodiversity interactions in ecosystems ranging from grasslands to farmlands to wetlands, and examines how human activities and global environmental changes, such as shifts in climate and nutrient availability, impact these regional communities.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Edgewater, MD 21037

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Matt Ogburn

Program Scientist

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Matthew Ogburn is a Marine Ecologist and Program Scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. His research interests range from ecosystem-based fisheries management to movement ecology and global change, with focuses on estuaries, coastal ocean habitat, blue crabs, river herring, elasmobranchs, non-native fish, and striped bass.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Edgewater, MD 21037

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Sarah Wheedleton

Communications Specialist

Working Land and Seascapes

Sarah Wheedleton is the Communications Specialist for Working Land and Seascapes. She helps members of the WLS network translate and communicate their stories of conservation research and action through social media and other outreach efforts.

Office of International Relations
Washington, DC 20560

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Iara Lacher

Landscape Ecologist

Changing Landscapes Initiative

Iara Lacher is a Landscape Ecologist with the Smithsonian Changing Landscapes Initiative. She has an interdisciplinary background in policy and environmental management, which she leverages into applied biodiversity and conservation research on the factors that influence the distribution and diversity of species across landscapes.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Front Royal, VA 22630

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Craig Fergus

Lab Manager and Spatial Analyst

Changing Landscapes Initiative

Craig Fergus is a Spatial Analyst at the Smithsonian Conservation Ecology Center and Lab Manager for Working Land and Seascapes. He models land use change and potential impacts with the Changing Landscapes Initiative, as well as provides GIS support for local field surveys and investigations on the relationships between forest patch configurations and invasive plant species.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Front Royal, VA 22630

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Fellows 

Amy Hruska

Post-doctoral Fellow

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Amy Hruska is a postdoctoral fellow with the Chesapeake Working Land and Seascapes project at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. She studies forest ecosystem change in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and evaluates their implications for conservation and restoration efforts.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Edgewater, MD 21037

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Justin Nowakowski

Post-doctoral Fellow

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Justin Nowakowski is a joint postdoctoral fellow with the Smithsonian Conservation Commons and Conservation International. His research aims to synthesize existing data and generate new data to evaluate the potential biodiversity and human co-benefits of conservation interventions in working landscapes and seascapes, with the larger goal of identifying strategies for supporting both biodiversity and human livelihoods that can be replicated across systems.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Front Royal, VA 22630

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Allison Tracy

Post-doctoral Fellow

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Allison Tracy is a postdoctoral fellow with the Chesapeake Working Land and Seascapes project at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Her work explores the ways that environmental conditions, species interactions, and management strategies influence oyster reef health in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Edgewater,MD 21037

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Katherine Sinacore

Post-doctoral Fellow

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Panama

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Rafael Morais Chiaravalloti

Post-doctoral Fellow

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Rafael is a postdoctoral fellow with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. He works to bridge social and conservation science in Brazil, notably in the Pantanal, where he is collaborating with local communities and ranchers to understand their perspectives and experiences with private land conservation programs.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Front Royal, VA 22630

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Rachael Green

Graduate Fellow

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Rachael Green is a graduate fellow with Virginia Tech’s Dayer Human Dimensions Lab and the Virginia Working Landscapes Initiative. She works with private landowners and citizen scientists to better understand their experiences with conservation research programs, applying social science to better understand the human dimensions of private land conservation.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Front Royal, VA 22630

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Nicolas Gatti

Post-doctoral Fellow

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

Nicolas Gatti is a postdoctoral fellow with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. To better understand and support the Smithsonian Bird-Friendly Certification program, he is applying his background in agricultural production and development economics to investigate the economics of coffee supply chains and improve market access for small farmers to produce Bird-Friendly Coffee.

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
Washington, DC 20013

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underwater view of a reef
Myanmar river
testing water

Our Network

Together we can achieve more—deploying diverse skills and perspectives to tackle challenging conservation issues. Join our network and help us create and share knowledge to protect and preserve our precious landscapes and seascapes.

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