NGC staff donate their time so 100% of your contributions can go directly to grassland conservation projects.
Gary Langham, Ph.D.
Gary is Vice President and Chief Scientist at National Audubon Society. Gary holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University and studied Rufous-tailed Jacamars — insect eating birds — and Heliconius butterflies in the grasslands of Venezuela and Bolivia during his dissertation work. As a traveler and tour guide, he witnessed the yearly destruction of pristine habitat and the clear need to conserve it. As a scientist and researcher, he experienced first hand the dedication of local scientists and museums throughout Latin America. That some of these talented naturalists lacked basic research equipment or funding for their fieldwork has motivated him to help these young researchers launch careers in grassland conservation.
Mary Anne Smith
Mary Anne grew up in the oil camps of Venezuela, where her love for unspoiled nature and wildlife began. She is passionate about conservation, having seen first-hand the dramatic loss of habitat and the tragic resulting reduction in bird and wildlife populations worldwide. She lives on the edge of the Sam Houston National Forest close to Huntsville, Texas, where she still enjoys daily contact with birds and wildlife. Mary Anne has a Master’s of Science in Accountancy from the University of Houston and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Kam graduated from high school in Guatemala, and she spent part of her college senior year in Costa Rica on a National Science Foundation fellowship. She worked for two higher education non-profit organizations where she learned to write proposals and to administer contracts. Her involvement with the NGC combines her interests in helping students and preserving habitat. Kam is currently an administrative analyst for the State of California.
Jeffrey M. DaCosta, M.Sc.
Research Equipment Chairperson
Jeff is a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University, where he is studying the evolutionary history of African parasitic finches. His M.S. research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas was on the systematics and biogeography of the Neotropical avian genus Trogon. While working in the Neotropics, Jeff witnessed the need for habitat conservation and improved resources for Latin American researchers. His work in the Research Equipment Program helps the NGC provide the basic tools needed to conduct important research that can be applied in habitat conservation and management.
Marita Davison, M.Sc
Student Grant Chairperson
Marita was raised in Bolivia and it was there in the Amazon jungle that she discovered her love for the natural world. She completed her M.Sc. at Cornell University where she studied how land use change influences feeding behavior of endangered Florida Scrub Jays and the impact of threatened flamingoes on high-elevation lakes in the Andes Mountains. She has mentored Bolivian ecology students at the Instituto de Ecología in La Paz and is now focused on creating effective science-based media through her work at Habitat Seven and Caravan Lab. She is also a correspondent for the nationally televised science and technology show, TechKnow.
Jeri M. Langham, Ph.D.
Jeri was born and raised in Venezuela, and his involvement in the NGC complements his passion for teaching and commitment to conservation. Jeri earned his Doctorate in Plant Ecology from Washington State University in 1970 and until his retirement in May 2008 was a Professor of Biological Sciences at California State University in Sacramento. He was recognized with the Outstanding Teacher Award in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the CSUS Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service. Known for enthusiasm and boundless energy, Jeri thoroughly enjoys searching for birds and sharing them with others while leading tours since 1986 for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (http://ventbird.com/people/jeri-langham).
Valentina Ferretti, Ph.D.
Memorial Grant Chairperson
Valentina is currently a researcher at the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia and CONICET in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University in 2010. For her dissertation she studied spatial and temporal variation in breeding systems in Tachycineta swallows, a genus distributed throughout the Americas. She has done extensive field research on the evolution of avian life history traits in Ecuador, Venezuela, Arizona, New York, Belize and Argentina, looking at how differences in survival, predation and food availability affect species fecundity and mating systems. In Argentina, Valentina has been involved in several projects that address the importance of human changes in the environment on the breeding behavior of birds.