Opening Plenary

Monday, July 27, 2020: 2pm – 4pm

Welcome Address:

Karen Root, SCB North America President, NACCB 2020 Co-Chair, Bowling Green State University

Dr. Karen Root is the President of SCB North America and a faculty member of the Department of Biological Sciences at Bowling Green State University leading the Conservation Biology and Population Ecology Lab ( Her research over the last 24 years has focused on the conservation of native biodiversity, including ecological surveys, habitat and population modeling, and conservation planning and management. Combining ecological fieldwork with the application of quantitative techniques, such as G.I.S., habitat modeling, and risk assessment, she addresses conservation issues across many scales, temporal and spatial. In collaboration with the Green Ribbon Initiative (, much of her recent research focuses on ecology and conservation in the biodiversity hotspot of the Oak Openings Region of Northwest Ohio.

Rebecca Hufft, NACCB 2020 Co-chair, Denver Botanic Gardens

Dr. Hufft is the Associate Director of Applied Conservation at Denver Botanic Gardens, where she has overseen plant conservation projects since 2011. She is a broadly trained conservation biologist whose research interests include restoration, ex situ conservation, long-term monitoring and phenology. She supports the Gardens’ efforts to conserve Colorado’s rare plants by incorporating the ecology and demography of rare plant species and studies of biodiversity, invasive species and phenology into the conservation program.

Plenary: A New Paradigm of ‘High Impact’ Research: Why Conservation Science Needs to Prioritize Racial and Social Justice


Dr. Chris Schell is an urban ecologist whose research integrates evolutionary theory with ecological application to disentangle the processes accentuating human-carnivore conflict. Specifically, Chris’ interests lie in understanding how social determinants of the urban landscape (e.g., socioeconomics and residential segregation, specifically) contribute to shaping adaptive phenotypic traits in urban carnivores at the organismal level, and mammalian biodiversity at the community level. His work also leverages inferences from social-ecological-evolutionary feedbacks to build applied solutions that promote sustainability, conservation, and environmental justice across cities. Hence, his research is uniquely tied to the community: he often works closely with nondominant communities (e.g. ethnic and racial minorities), wildlife managers, cultural institutions, and philanthropic organizations to help foster mutually enriching relationships among people and wildlife.

Dr. Sean Watts is the owner of SM Watts Consulting, LLC – empowering communities to drive environmental and land use policy and helping traditional conservation and environmental organizations move from awareness to action on diversity, equity and inclusion. He has spent his career seeking environmental solutions that yield the greatest human and ecological benefits. Most recently, as Director of Community Partnerships for the Seattle Parks Foundation, he created programs to advocate for and build capacity among resident-led groups to enhance open space in Seattle. He has worked to bridge gaps between science, policy and society as faculty at Santa Clara University; as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation and as founding Director of the University of Washington, Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program. Sean received his BA in Biology from the University of Virginia; and PhD in Ecology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Dr. Max Lambert is a conservation biologist who studies the organisms and environments where people live and work. Much of his work is focused on co-producing conservation knowledge and outcomes with diverse community members and practitioners in urban areas. This research and practice increasingly recognizes and integrates human social variation, particularly social inequality, as a dominant force shaping landscapes, ecological crises, and conservation outcomes.