Welcome to the Conservation Science & Solutions Lab

We pursue research to enhance the stewardship, understanding and appreciation of wild ecosystems. Our projects focus on terrestrial ecosystems and communities, links between biodiversity and human well-being, and the implications of interacting global and regional environmental changes.


The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at UCSC exposes early-career college students to the field of environmental conservation through field research, leadership and professional training. Learn More:

The Center to Advance Mentored, Inquiry-Based Opportunities (CAMINO) is an inclusive community that aims to propel excellence by diverse undergraduates in ecology and conservation. Learn More:

Spring 2021:

First authorship! Lab member Sushmita Poudel publishes in Ethnobotany of the Himalayas and also receives the “STARS Re-entry” fellowship

Conservation and policy impact! Erika Zavaleta named newest commissioner for California Fish and Game

Diversity recognition! The Ecological Society of America honors Erika Zavaleta with the 2021 “Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology” award

Fall 2020:

Welcome! Lab member Kat Bernier and partner Eric Stoorza welcome their tiny addition to the Conservation Science and Solutions Lab.  Their son, Taiga, was born October 24.

Spring 2020:

Congratulations! Lab member Kyle Reid has been awarded the NSF: Graduate Research Fellowship Program. This program provides a five-year fellowship, includes three years of financial support including an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost of education allowance of $12,000 to the institution.

Winter 2020:

Welcome! Dr. Abe Borker is the new director for the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program, as founding director, Dr. Justin Cummings, transitions his focus to Mayor of the City of Santa Cruz. Congratulations to both!

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has awarded renewed funding for the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at UC Santa Cruz with a grant of $2.63 million over the next four years.

Fall 2019:

Lab member Tim Brown received the Mildred E. Mathias Graduate Student Research grant from the UC Natural Reserve System for his work on Gray-Crowned Rosy-finch species in The Sierra Nevada mountain range

Lab member Kyle Reid successfully passes the Comprehensive Exam

New UCSC Coastal Science and Policy M.S. Program

Spring 2019:

Lab member Tim Brown received a Sequoia Science Learning Center Research Grant ,
Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve graduate student research grant and 2019 Bloom Hays Ecological Research Grant
Lab member Sushmita Poudel awarded P.E.O International Peace Scholarship.

Spring 2018:
Learn more about Bronwen Stanford’s research on the uneven distribution of coastal stream restoration projects in California.

Fall 2017:
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has named Erika Zavaleta an HHMI Professor!

“The land from which we base our work is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.”