Science Advisory Panel

Gage Dayton, Ph.D., Chair
Natural Reserves Director, UC Santa Cruz

Gage Dayton has served as administrative director of the UCSC Natural Reserves since 2008. The UCSC reserves include Año Nuevo Island Reserve, Fort Ord Natural Reserve, Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve, Younger Lagoon Reserve, and the UCSC Campus Natural Reserve. The NRS is a unique assemblage of protected wildland sites throughout California encompassing more than 756,000 acres and providing undisturbed environments for research and teaching.


Anthony Ambrose, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher, Dawson Lab, UC Berkeley

Anthony Ambrose is broadly interested in understanding interactions between trees and their environment, and how drought and climate change affects forest ecosystems. His current research is focused on examining the effects of climate change on coast redwood and giant sequoia trees in California as part of the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative and through a collaborative project with scientists from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, U.S. Geological Survey, and Carnegie Airborne Observatory at Stanford.

Emily Burns, Ph.D.
Program Director, Sky Island Alliance 

Emily Burns, Ph.D. is the Program Director for Sky Island Alliance in Arizona and northern Mexico. Dr. Burns was formerly the Science Director for Save the Redwoods League in California, where she led the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative, Redwood Genome Project, multiple conservation planning efforts, and co-founded Redwoods Rising, a public-private partnership to restore more than 70,000 acres of logged coast redwood forest in Redwood National and State Parks.

Nona Chiariello, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist, Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Stanford University

Nona Chiariello has contributed groundbreaking work in grassland ecology, plant ecophysiology, and global change biology; much of it relating to the global change experiment that she has helped lead at Stanford University’s Jasper Biological Preserve over the past two decades. She was elected as fellow of the California Academy of Sciences in 2017.

Philippe S. Cohen, Ph.D.
Former Executive Director, Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Stanford University

Philippe S. Cohen is chair of the Science Advisory Panel. He served as executive director of Stanford University’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve from 1993 to 2016. He is the former Resident Director, Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center, University of California; board member, Organization of Biological Field Stations; resident of Menlo Park.

David FreybergDavid L. Freyberg, Ph.D.
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Stanford University

A hydrologist and water resources specialist, Dr. Freyberg studies reservoir sedimentation and hydrology, hydrologic ecosystem services, summer drying of Pacific coast intermittent streams, tropical rainfall and throughfall, surface water-ground water interactions, especially in reservoir/sediment systems, and scaling and spatial distribution of recycled water systems.

Alan E. Launer, Ph.D.
Land Use & Environmental Planning, Stanford University

Alan Launer was associated with Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich’s research group, the Center for Conservation Biology, in the late 1970s to early 1980s and again from 1988 to 2006. While with that research group, Dr. Launer worked on multiple projects generally focused on the population biology and conservation of butterflies and plants across the western United States. Since the mid-1990s Alan has worked with Stanford University on designing and implementing the University’s conservation planning efforts, including being part of the team that developed the Stanford Habitat Conservation Plan. His current research activities focus primarily on the conservation biology of organisms inhabiting human-modified landscapes, particularly with respect to conservation planning on the 8,180 acres of Stanford’s main campus. Other topics of field research include: the ecology and conservation of biotic diversity restricted to the serpentine soil-based grasslands of the San Francisco Bay area; land use and conservation planning for the coastal grasslands and scrub of central California; and land use planning and endangered species preservation in the north Livermore Valley (Alameda County, CA).

Virginia Matzek, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Santa Clara University

Virginia Matzek is a restoration ecologist whose research focuses on the provision of ecosystem services and preservation of natural capital. Her recent work involves quantifying the carbon sequestration that comes from restoring riparian areas and Mediterranean oak woodlands, as a strategy for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. She is also interested in deepening connections between academic researchers and local land stewards by integrating monitoring, research, and student experiential learning.

Lisa Micheli, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Pepperwood Foundation

Dr. Lisa Micheli has more than 25 years’ experience applying her technical, policy, and fundraising expertise to the design and implementation of ecological restoration, research and education programs. She completed her graduate studies at UC Berkeley as a NASA Earth Systems Research Fellow in 2000 and now focuses her research on relationships between watershed health and biodiversity. She is the co-chair of the Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Collaborative (TBC3), a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Bay Area climate adaptation research initiative. She joined Sonoma County’s Pepperwood Foundation in October of 2009 as its premiere Executive Director.

Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Middlebury Institute for International Studies; Author, Blue Mind

Wallace J. Nichols is currently Chief Evangelist for Water (CEH2O) at Buoy Labs, a Senior Fellow at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies’ Center for the Blue Economy, a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences and co-founder of Ocean Revolution, an international network of young ocean advocates, SEE the WILD, a conservation travel network, Grupo Tortuguero, an international sea turtle conservation network, and The Blue Mind Experience, a global campaign to tell the new story of water.

Scott Stephens, Ph.D.
Professor of Fire Sciences, UC Berkeley

Scott Stephens is interested in the interactions of wildland fire and ecosystems. This includes how prehistoric fires once interacted with ecosystems, how current wildland fires are affecting ecosystems, and how future fires, changing climates, and management may change this interaction. He is also interested in fire policy and how it can be improved to meet the challenges of the next decades, both in the U.S. and internationally.

Chris Wilmers, photo credit: Mathieu Anglada Chris Wilmers, Ph.D.
Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, UC Santa Cruz

Chris Wilmers’ research is focused on the impacts of land use change and global warming on wildlife communities. He and his lab use a combination of in depth field work, cutting edge technology and mathematical models to discover how humans shape and change wildlife communities over time. While his work is global in scope, his labs work is currently focused on studying carnivore communities in California and Africa. Since 2008, he has led the Santa Cruz Puma Project focused on understanding how humans influence the ecology, conservation and management of mountain lions (or pumas) in the Santa Cruz Mountains.