Meet the Team

The Wilcove Team

(aka The Drongos)

David S. Wilcove

Members of my research group use a combination of ecology, economics, and policy research to find innovative ways to protect biodiversity around the world. Recent or ongoing projects include: conservation of migratory animals in North America and Asia; impacts of hunting and the wildlife trade on biodiversity; effects of land-use change and climate change on biodiversity in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Amazon; conservation of coral reefs; and nature-based climate solutions. Although many people in my research group have studied birds, we study all sorts of plants and animals, including reptiles, mammals, fish, dung beetles, and butterflies (but nothing too small to be seen with the naked eye). Prior to joining the Princeton faculty in 2001, I served as senior ecologist with the Environmental Defense Fund (1991-2001) and The Wilderness Society (1986-1991). I am an avid birdwatcher who has shamelessly used his students’ and postdocs’ research projects as a justification to chase rare birds from Brazil to Brunei and from China to Costa Rica.

Renato Bolson Dala Corte
Associate Research Scholar, C-PREE

I am an ecologist with a primary focus on the conservation of freshwater ecosystems. My ongoing research at C-PREE addresses how riparian vegetation can be managed to enhance its buffering potential against the impacts of land use on freshwater systems, while also supporting terrestrial biodiversity in tropical regions. I obtained my PhD in Ecology from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS - Brazil), enriched by a split tenure in the University of Washington (School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences - Julian Olden’s lab). In the last few years, I was a visiting Professor in the Ecology and Evolution program of the Federal University of Goias (UFG) and before that I was a postdoc at the same University.

Freda Fengyi Guo
Graduate Student, EEB

I’m a conservation ecologist interested in ecological principles and applying them to conservation practices. My research interests cover a wide range of conservation-related topics including the stopover ecology of migratory birds and the conservation implications, species’ regional movement patterns and community structures in fragmented habitats, as well as impacts of China’s emerging ecotourism on conservation.

Prior to Princeton, I completed my BSc and MPhil degrees at the University of Hong Kong. For my MPhil, I studied interactive effects between climate and land-use change on species elevational range shifts, and behavioral thermal constraints on global ants’ distributions. I enjoy reading, hiking, photography, and Chinese calligraphy. I’m also a Spurs fan in case you want to talk about basketball :)

Brian Lee
Graduate Student, SPIA

My research interests lie at the intersection of agricultural economics and conservation science. Specifically, I hope to apply methods from agricultural economics to answer questions related to biodiversity. Some of my previous work examined the causal impact of afforestation programs on income inequality among forest farm households in Taiwan. I have also examined the causal impact of COVID-19 on metro use in Taiwan. In the future, the research questions that I hope to answer include how conservation policies affect farmland and farm households. I am also interested in studying the impact of agricultural production on biodiversity.

I completed a M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics on a Fulbright Grant at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan. I also have a B.S. in Economics from the University of California, Davis.

Dan Liang
Associate Research Scholar, C-PREE

I am a field ecologist with broad interests in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology. My main research aims to understand how human-induced disturbances impact biodiversity. My PhD work looked at how urbanization affects stress responses and various levels of niche characteristics of passerine birds in subtropical environments in Southwest China. For my postdoc, I am working with Prof. David Wilcove to try to understand the effects of hunting or trapping on populations of birds, especially those birds migrate along the East Asian- Australasia Flyway.

Prior to Princeton, I received my PhD degree in Zoology from Sun Yat-sen University (2018), and received my master degree in Zoology (2015) and my bachelor degree in Wildlife and Nature Reserve Management (2012) from Southwest Forestry University in China. Read more about my research on my website:

Bing Lin
Graduate Student, SPIA

Broadly speaking, I am interested in the areas of overlap between conservation ecology, behavioral economics, and public policy. Using insights from the behavioral sciences, I want to conduct research on the manifold ways science (and policy) can provide simple yet effective solutions to problems in ecology, biology, and the environment. From fishermen to college freshmen to you and me, we all stand to gain from our planet's well-being and suffer in its deterioration. As such, my research will hopefully tackle the alignment issue of how we can make the right thing to do the easy thing to do in our lives.

I obtained an undergraduate degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton in 2016, where I conducted research assessing the relative roles of fish assemblages and sea urchins (Diadema antillarum) on Caribbean coral reef health for my Senior Thesis. In the time following, I spent a year on a Princeton in Asia fellowship teaching at a boarding school in Thailand, a year conducting behavioral research on gelada monkeys (Theropithecus gelada) in the highlands of Ethiopia, and several months surveying coral reefs in Dominica and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in western North America. In my spare time, you can find me scuba diving, snowboarding, hiking, taking pictures of wildlife, or playing pretty much any sport.

Tong Mu
Postdoctoral Research Associate, C-PREE

My research interests lie in the field of avian ecology and conservation, especially that of shorebirds migrating along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Combining field study, individual tracking and mathematical modeling, I plan to identify the factors affecting their selections of migration routes and stopover sites, and to see whether the understanding of shorebirds migration patterns can be extended to that of other migratory birds.

Prior to joining the Drongos, I received my B.S. from Peking University in 2014, and during my time there, I became an avid birdwatcher and also became aware of the conservation issues pertaining to birds and other organisms.

Christian Rivera
Postdoctoral Research Associate, HMEI

My interdisciplinary research program draws on my training in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology and the human dimensions of conservation. I hold a PhD from the University of Florida, an MA from Columbia University, and a BA from Princeton University. My work aims to advance theory and practice under three broad themes: human-wildlife interactions, dynamics of social-ecological systems, and conservation science. I have worked on issues of endangered species conservation, hunting and wildlife trade, natural resource management, biocultural conservation, environmental sustainability, and ethnoecology in the U.S., Southeast Asia, and Latin America. As a postdoctoral fellow, my research integrates approaches in ecology and the human dimensions of conservation to understand issues of wildlife utilization, consumption, and trade in the urbanizing Amazon. I work closely with colleagues in the High Meadows Environmental Institute, the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the Department of Anthropology, and the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment to develop creative solutions towards the conservation of biological and cultural diversity in a rapidly changing, interconnected, and urbanizing world. 

Megan Verner-Crist
Graduate Student, SPIA

I am a PhD student advised by David Wilcove in the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) program at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. My work focuses on the intersection of land use, climate impacts, and conservation ecology, with a particular focus on plant communities. I’m interested in understanding the interaction between climate change, development pressures, and conservation outcomes, and how policy implementation impacts the effectiveness of conservation mechanisms at different scales under climate change.

I graduated from the University of Chicago with bachelors in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies in 2018 and spent a year doing ecological field research focused on the impact of climate change on plant community phenology in central Florida scrub ecosystems. Prior to coming to Princeton, I spent three years working in local government in California, developing more data-driven, comprehensive approaches to flood resilience and endangered species management for a community in the Bay Area. I also worked as a Carbon Farm Planner for the Alameda County Resource Conservation District, helping local ranches and vineyards integrate carbon sequestration practices into their farming.

Alex Wiebe
Graduate Student, EEB

I am a biologist interested in global changes in biodiversity. I study how biodiversity loss is tied to global development across scales, from mechanisms of gradual species loss under local reductions in habitat area to patterns of biodiversity loss associated with trade globalization.

My research is split between field ecology and modeling and involves experimental systems in bird communities in the Brazilian Amazon. Before joining the Drongos, I graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Biology.

Drongo Alumni

Bethany Bradley (former postdoc): Bethany studied the impact of climate change on invasive plants for the Western USA from 2006-2006. She is now a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Zuzana Burivalova (former postdoc): Zuzana focused on innovative ways to prioritize sites for conservation in Southeast Asia and New Guinea using a combination of fieldwork and data-mining. She is now a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Charlotte Chang (former graduate student): Charlotte studied the ecological and social dynamics of hunting in Yunnan. She is now a faculty member at Pomona College.

Willandia Chaves (former postdoc): Willa studied how urbanization affects the consumption of wild animals as food for people in the Brazilian Amazon from 2017-2020. She is now a faculty member at Virginia Tech.

Christopher Crawford (former graduate student): Chris explored the potential for rural land abandonment around the world to produce lasting benefits for biodiversity. He is now working for the Chief Scientist at the US Department of Agriculture.

David Edwards (former postdoc): David studied patterns of biodiversity in primary once-logged and twice logged forests in Southeast Asia. He is now a faculty member at the University of Cambridge.

Michael Esbach (former postdoc): Michael studied how natural resource management by indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon affected biodiversity and community welfare. He is now at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Paul Elsen (former graduate student): Paul studied the ecology and conservation of bird communities in the Himalayas. He is now at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Lyndon Estes (former postdoc): Lyndon modeled how climate change is likely to shift maize and wheat cultivation in South Africa, as well the implications of those shifts to biodiversity. He is now a faculty member at Clark University.

Brendan Fisher (former postdoc): Brendan studied the economics of logging and oil palm agriculture in Southeast Asia. His is now a faculty member at the University of Vermont.

Eyal Frank (former postdoc): Eyal studied the protection of wildlife threatened by international trade. He is now a faculty member at the University of Chicago.

Xingli Giam (former graduate student): studied the conservation of freshwater biodiversity in Southeast Asia from 2009-2014. He is now a faculty member at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville.

Jonathan Green (former postdoc): studied the ecological and socioeconomic issues related to the conservation of shorebirds (e.g. spoon-billed sandpiper) wintering in Southeast Asia during 2012-2014. He is now at the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Nathan Gregory (former graduate student): Nathan studied how prescribed fire and Massai pastoralism affected bird diversity in the Sayannas of East Africa. He is now at the Irvine Ranch Conservancy.

Bert Harris (former postdoc): studied the impact of the bird trade in populations of wild birds in Indonesia from 2012-2015. He is now at the Clifton Institute.

Josh Hooker (former postdoc): From 2005-2008, Josh studied the impacts of climate change on bird communities in North America. He is now at the European Commission Joint Research Center.

Fangyuan Hua (former postdoc): Fangyuan studied the biodiversity impacts of China's reforestation programs. She is now a faculty member at Peking University.

Lian Pin Koh (former graduate student): Pin was a graduate student from 2004-2008, studying the impacts of oil-palm agriculture on biodiversity in Southeast Asia. He is now a faculty member at the National University of Singapore.

Trond Larsen (former postdoc): Trond was a WWF Fuller Postdoctoral Fellow from 2008-2010. He used dung beetles as a model system for developing conservation strategies in the Andes-Amazonia region. He is now at Conservation International.

Janice Ser Huay Lee (former postdoc): Janice studied the expansion of oil palm agriculture in Southeast Asia and its impacts on biodiversity. She is now a faculty member at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Tien Ming Lee (former postdoc): Ming studied the social drivers of the wild bird trade in Indonesia. He is now a faculty member at Sun Yet-sen University.

Liang Ma (former postdoc): Liang developed physiologically-based models that can identify the climate refugia where desert-dwelling birds and reptiles around the world are likely to persist in the wake of climate change. He is now a faculty member at Sun Yat-sen University.

Dave Marvin (former research assistant): From 2006-2008, Dave created a novel web-mapping system to collect data on the distribution and abundance of invasive plants in the Southeast U.S. He is now co-founder and CEO of Salo Sciences.

Emily Nicholson (former postdoc): Emily was a postdoc from 2006-2007. Working in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and the Florida Natural Areas Inventory, she developed new quantitative methods for assessing progress in biodiversity conservation. She is now a faculty member at Deakin University.

David Pattemore (former graduate student): David studied how the loss of native vertebrates in New Zealand has affected the pollination ecology of the native plants there; he also studied the degree to which non-native vertebrates are assuming the pollination roles of the missing natives. He is now with Plant & Food Research in New Zealand.

Rebecca Senior (former postdoc): Rebecca's main project analyzed data from the IUCN Red List to understand which conservation actions have been successful in recovering threatened species. She is now a faculty member at Durham University.

Jacob Socolar (former graduate student): Jacob studied the impacts of land-use change on Amazonian birds. He is now at NCX.

Umesh Srinivasan (former postdoc): Umesh studied the ecology and conservation of Himalayan birds. He is now a faculty member at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science.

Morgan Tingley (former postdoc): explored the factors driving long-term changes in the avifauna of the Great Smokies Mountains from 2012-2014 with support from David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship Program. He is now a faculty member at UCLA.

Tim Treuer (former graduate student): Time studied the factors affecting natural forest restoration in Costa Rica. He is now at the University of Vermont.

Will Turner (former postdoc): Will was a post-doctoral fellow from 2003-2006, working on issues pertaining to reserve design and management. He is now a writer and researcher living in his home state of Alaska.

Charles Yackulic (former postdoc): Charles modeled the spatial and population dynamics of spotted owls and barred owls in the Pacific Northwest. He is now with the USGS Biological Resources Division.

Yiwen Zeng (former postdoc): Yiwen focused on quantifying the effectiveness of the world’s protected areas in safeguarding species.  He also studied how the degradation or downsizing of protected areas increases the risk of extinction for species. He is now a faculty member at the National University of Singapore.