Dr. Eric VanderWerf
Director of Science
Eric VanderWerf earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University in 1988 and Master of Science degree from the University of Florida in 1992. In 1999, he completed a Ph.D. at the University of Hawai`i, where his research focused on plumage variation and effects of habitat disturbance and diseases on population biology of the Hawaii Elepaio.
He has worked on a variety of conservation and ornithological projects in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific since 1991 during stints with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife. He has continued and expanded upon that work since founding Pacific Rim Conservation in 2007.
Eric has authored over 100 scientific papers, book chapters, government documents, and technical reports, serves as the leader of the Hawaiian Forest Bird Recovery Team for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on the Endangered Species Recovery Committee for State of Hawaii, as an associate editor for the Condor, and as an associate editor of the Birds of North America.
Eric was also one of the 2011 recipients of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Recovery Champion Awards for his work on the Nihoa Millerbird Translocation.
Dr. Lindsay Young
Lindsay Young earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Science from the University of Hawai`i. In 2009, she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Hawai`i where her research focused on the population genetics, at sea foraging ecology, and conservation needs of Laysan Albatross.
Lindsay has worked on numerous conservation projects in Hawai`i and the Pacific region since 2003 with a variety of state, federal, and private partners.
Lindsay has authored several dozen scientific papers, served as the treasurer for the Pacific Seabird Group, the chair of the North Pacific Albatross Working Group, is the former North Pacific correspondent for ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels), and as a reviewer for multiple refereed journals. Lindsay was one of the 2011 recipients of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Recovery Champion Awards for her work on the Nihoa Millerbird Translocation, and in 2016 she was awarded a special achievement award from the Pacific Seabird Group for her work with Hawaiian seabirds. She currently serves as an affiliate graduate faculty member at the University of Hawai`i Natural Resources and Environmental Management Department and was a faculty member on the Fall 2018 voyage of Semester at Sea through Colorado State University
Director of Aviculture
Robby Kohley earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Walla Walla College in 2000. He has extensive experience in avian ecology and aviculture in particular. Robby was the Research Coordinator and Facility Manager for the San Diego Zoo’s Hawai’i Endangered Bird Conservation Program at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center from 2007-2009, and also has worked for State of Hawai`i on the Maui and Kaua`i Forest Bird Recovery Projects, for the American Bird Conservancy on translocation of the Millerbird from Nihoa to Laysan, for the Institute for Wildlife Studies, and for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge as a seabird monitoring crew leader on Buldir Island. He joined Pacific Rim Conservation in 2015 to oversee all aspects of PRC's aviculture and captive rearing program.
Megan Dalton is from Salt Lake City, Utah, and earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Westminster College. She worked as an avian field biologist for several years in Hawai`i, on the mainland and most recently in the Marianas, primarily with endangered bird species. She has been involved in Albatross counting on Midway, Millerbird monitoring on Laysan and Megapode monitoring in the Marianas. Her favorite place in the world is the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands where seabirds abound. Megan has been with PRC since 2016 and is a biologist on both the Albatross translocation project at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge and the Newell's Shearwater and Hawaiian Petrel projects at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kaua`i.
Erika Dittmar earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Ferris State University in 2008 and a Master of Science degree from University of Illinois in 2012. She has extensive experience in avian ecology with a focus on endangered species management. Erika has worked on various projects across the US assisting with management of endangered songbirds, woodpeckers, hawks, sea lions, salmon, trout, turtles, butterflies, and grasshoppers. She also has extensive experience with restoration of numerous native plant species and research focused on migratory bird habitat conservation. She joined Pacific Rim Conservation in 2018. Erika assists with several projects, but her primary responsibilities are monitoring O`ahu 'Elepaio, Laysan Albatross, and surveying for Hawaiian Petrel and Newell's Shearwater.
Leilani earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Marine Biology from Brigham Young University – Hawai`i in 2016. With a focus in animal care and rehabilitation, Leilani has worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with their Sea Otter Research and Conservation team, at the Alaska SeaLife Center assisting in researching and rehabilitating marine mammals and as a Research Assistant with One Ocean Diving studying shark communication and behavior. In her free time Leilani runs Kaikoa Conservation, a non-profit research and conservation organization but you will also find her freediving, SCUBA diving, running or designing art for various conservation organizations. If you would like to set up a school tour to the albatross translocation site, Leilani can be contacted below.
Dr. Dena Spatz
Senior Conservation Scientist
Dena earned her bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies and Anthropology in 2006 and her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2016 from UC Santa Cruz. Her dissertation examined the biogeography of globally threatened birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians from islands and their conservation opportunities. As a Conservation Biologist at Island Conservation, Dena managed conservation databases and disseminated results to inform invasive species management decisions, monitored ecosystem recovery before and after invasive species removal, and wrote scientific and popular media articles about biodiversity benefits through invasive species management. Dena’s other relevant field experiences and interests include teaching, guiding naturalist cruises on Monterey Bay, conducting field studies on seabird foraging ecology and ecotoxicology, and monitoring and evaluating seagrass ecosystem services in the Philippines and Mexico.
Sarah Donahue is from Phoenix, Arizona and has a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and as MS in Marine Science, both from Hawai`i Pacific University. Her thesis research focused on the diet and foraging ecology of Red-footed Boobies on O`ahu, using genetics and GPS tracking techniques. She has conducted various field research from shark & mangrove conservation in Panama, to salt farm impacts on mangal forest & crabs on Pemba Island, Tanzania, necropsying beached cetaceans, counting albatross on Midway Atoll, to working with several different seabird conservation & habitat restoration groups on O`ahu, Hawai`i. In 2015, Sarah began volunteering with Pacific Rim Conservation for the Laysan Albatross relocation project and joined the team officially in 2017.
Daniela is pursuing her Bachelors of Science degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is expected to graduate Spring 2019. She has had experience working with NOAA as an Ocean Count Intern where she led groups in humpback whale surveys.
Molly is originally from New Hampshire and graduated from the University of Oregon in 2018 with BS in Marine Biology. Her interest in seabirds began at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology while studying and working as a teaching assistant for "Marine Birds and Mammals" class.
Hollyann is from Oahu and graduated with a BS in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University in 2010, received training in Marine Biology through the University of Hawaii’s Marine Option Program and also completed a course in Bird Biology from Cornell University. Hollyann currently works as an at-sea Biologist with NOAA, and as an Electronic Monitoring Technician for Lynker Technologies.
Tia earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Wildlife & Conservation Biology from the University of Rhode Island in 2018. She has worked with a number of different agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency - Atlantic Ecology Division, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Save the Bay, University of Rhode Island - Coastal Fellows Program, and AmeriCorps.