Skip to Content


Conservation, public management scholars collaborate to enhance science outcomes

Biodiversity News

May 23, 2017

close up of monarch butterfly standing in leafy branchArizona State University researchers are working to enhance the public value outcomes of conservation science research. Leah Gerber, a professor in the School of Life Sciences, will work with Derrick Anderson, a faculty member in the School of Public Affairs, to study the ways in which researchers and organizations create public value knowledge outcomes from conservation science research.

This unlikely collaboration between an ecologist and a public management researcher is a result of ASU’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) and Center for Organization Research and Design (CORD) which were created in part to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration at the frontiers of biodiversity and organizational design research. As leaders of the two centers, Gerber and Anderson are now teaming up with a joint grant from the National Science Foundation’s Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) program.

With the aid of graduate students in their research centers, Gerber and Anderson will study the information exchange between research labs and public decision makers. “The core of this research is developing an understanding of what types of scientific strategies and organizational structures best translate conservation science research into useful, socially beneficial outcomes,” said Anderson.

“CBO was founded to translate biodiversity research into practical outcomes, and partnering with an organizational design expert will give us some great insight into how the structure of institutions can facilitate that process,” said Gerber.

As part of their study, Gerber and Anderson will be identifying and conducting interviews with scientists who have proven successful at creating public value from their research. Using data collected from these interviews, the team will create a map of knowledge partnerships that translate scientific discovery into public value. Planned research has broad applications within the conservation and wider public policy space. Perhaps most importantly, it will serve as a model for other collaborative efforts bridging scientific research to public action.

“I could not be more thrilled to have the opportunity to document and diagnose the efficacy of CBO as a boundary organization,” said Gerber. “In addition to paving the way from knowledge to action, we hope to establish a replicable model that could be broadly employed beyond ASU.”

Code of conduct for marine conservation

Biodiversity News

May 17, 2017

close up of sea turtle under water surrounded by tropical yellow fishJack Kittinger, one of the ASU-Conservation International new Professors of Practice, recently published a paper titled “An appeal for a code of conduct for marine conservation” in Marine Policy.

The journal argues that a comprehensive set of social standards is necessary for effective and lasting conservation actions. Key principles and action steps are recommended to create socially acceptable and ecologically effective marine conservation programs.


ASU alumni joins Conservation International

Biodiversity News

May 12, 2017

Jorge Ramos next to President Michael Crow during graduation greets audienceRecently graduated ASU student and Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) GRA, Jorge Ramos-Holguín, is the new Manager for the Oceans and Climate team inside Conservation International in Washington, D.C.

Jorge graduated from the Environmental Life Sciences Ph.D. program in May, 2017, where he also worked in the Wetland Ecosystem Ecology Lab with Dr. Dan Childers. His investigation focused on quantifying the greenhouse gas emissions (methane and nitrous oxide) from a newly constructed treatment wetland in Phoenix, AZ.

In his own words, Jorge shared an open letter about his experience working with CBO:

You really never know what a new door that opens up in your life might lead to. Literally, that was the case with me and School of Life Sciences professor, Dr. Leah Gerber. Our office shared a hallway in LSA and we would always say hi to each other, sometimes even in Spanish. When the new Center for Biodiversity Outcomes started, their door opened literally next to my door. Within a year, I was walking through that same door as a CBO team member as a research assistant to help the center with outreach and education activities, and preparing scientific background for proposals.

The short amount of time I worked with CBO was for sure an eye opening and incredible experience! Compared to the traditional (or I guess expected?) track of a PhD student, I had to be present in staff meetings that had to do deal with the strategy of the Center (e.g. developing mission and vision statements), setting up work plans, contributing to many proposals of up to $100 million, acquiring knowledge on current topics such as Sustainable Development Goals, Natural Capital, etc. I got to work with partners such as International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the United Nations. Even the use of my social media skills turned out to be a key component of promoting and communicating CBO's many accomplishments.

In addition to my scientific background in wetland ecosystem ecology, greenhouse gas emissions and the outreach experience I acquired during my PhD years, my time with CBO enhanced my job prospects in many ways. To my new employer, my time with CBO probably showed that I was not only able to work individually and independently, but also as part of a team. It showed that I would not have to create and design every idea or project, but that I could contribute to others’ ideas and projects with my own strength and skills. It also showed that I am able to respect and work with colleagues from diverse scientific and cultural backgrounds, personalities, and time availability—just like in the real world. Lastly, it was through this job that I had to interact with many people from many different places. One of those people happened to be one of the first contacts that encouraged me to apply to my current job at Conservation International. 

Now, I serve as the new manager of the Oceans and Climate team inside the Center for Oceans at Conservation International in Washington, D.C. I am in charge of managing the Blue Carbon Initiative, leading the International Blue Carbon Scientific Working Group, and globally supporting both coastal adaptation and mitigation projects in the Americas division. This job combines both my technical and scientific expertise with my passion to communicate science, especially in Latin America! 

So, next time a door opens in your life, literally or figuratively, walk through it and at least say hi to the person on the other side. The door won’t shut behind you, feel free to walk out if you don’t feel comfortable. Just remember, you never know, it might lead you in the next awesome chapter of your life. 

Thanks Linda, Anahi, Amy, Anita, Beth, Abby, and Leah for the valuable experience at CBO and wish you much success!

Jorge will be greatly missed at ASU. Yet, the CBO team couldn’t be more excited to see him launch his career with CI and look forward to many great collaborations to come!


Photo credits: Sandra Leander


CBO Distinguished Professor of Practice named new CEO of Conservation International

Biodiversity News

May 10, 2017

Headshot of M. Sanjayan against green leafy backgroundASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and Conservation International (CI) Distinguished Professor of Practice, M. Sanjayan, was named new CI Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The new CI executive team was announced in May 4, 2017 and it will become effective July 1, 2017.

“It is both a privilege and deeply humbling to step into the role of chief executive officer,” said Sanjayan. “Peter Seligmann’s founding vision, that people need nature to thrive, created a global movement that has helped change the trajectory of our planet. I’m honored to partner with Jennifer Morris, our new president, Sebastian Troëng, our new executive vice president, and all of CI’s talented staff on the journey ahead.”

Prior to his new role, Sanjayan has served CI as Executive Vice President and Senior Scientist, leading a variety of divisions from scientific and ocean conservation projects to brand, communications and strategic planning.

In September, 2016, ASU and CI teamed up to advance a series of biodiversity conservation projects, including onboarding six of CI’s scientists as ASU Professors of Practice.

The CBO team congratulates Sanjayan for his new role as CI’s CEO and looks forward to many great collaborations to come!


Center for Biodiversity Outcomes among MacArthur’s Top 200 problem solvers

Biodiversity News

May 5, 2017

Man in supermarket aisle reaching out to grab a product on the shelfThe John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently unveiled their 100&Change Top 200 proposals, a philanthropic initiative committed to funding $100 million to an initiative or organization willing to fix a world problem forever. The ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) was among the 25 percent of submissions that received the highest scores.

CBO proposed a market-based approach to sustaining natural capital. This approach suggests informing consumers via product labels about the impact production has in biodiversity conservation. Derived from the notion that people love nature, better informed consumers can drive market demand for products and services created with minimal impact on the environment.

Proposals were assessed on four criteria: meaningful, verifiable, feasible, and durable. CBO is proud to join the list of creative problem solvers via this recognition and will work to incorporate the feedback received from MacArthur’s Board of Directors to develop this proposal for future funding opportunities.

The eight semi-finalists selected offer bold solutions to a variety of humanitarian issues, including health, hunger, and refugee crises.


2017 International Congress for Conservation Biology

Uncategorized Biodiversity News

May 4, 2017

ICCB 2017 logo showing clown frogFrom July 23-27, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) Founding Director Leah Gerber will join leading sustainability experts at the 28th International Congress for Conservation Biology in Cartagena, Colombia. The theme of this year’s conference is Insights for Sustaining Life on Earth, which the website describes as “a response to the need for conservation science to help create a better tomorrow for both biodiversity and the people who depend on it.”

Following a competitive application, the proposal titled “Partnership for Conservation: The importance of government, private sector, donor, community, academic and NGO collaboration” was selected. The workshop will consist of a panel discussion on opportunities and challenges inherent to cross-sector collaboration.

CBO will join panelists from a variety of sectors, including representatives from the Government of Mexico (SAGARPA), Cerrajon, The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a local community organization and The Moore Foundation. The 60-minute workshop will be moderated by Daniela Raik, Senior Vice President of the Moore Center for Science and the Oceans at Conservation International.

CBO looks forward to continuing to support the need for cross-sector partnership for biodiversity conservation and is especially excited to engage with private and public actors in Latin America.

Breaking the code in social-ecological systems research

Biodiversity News

May 3, 2017

Group photo of people participating in conferenceA collaboration between the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) and the Center for Behavior, Institutions, and the Environment (CBIE) at ASU aims to unify social and biological science research and provide a more unified methodology to analyze and code coupled social-ecological systems (SES) in order to mitigate biodiversity declines.

Two CBO- and CBIE-affiliated graduate students, Maria del Mar Mancha-Cisneros and Ute Brady, are working with other graduate students and postdoctoral research associates at ASU and other U.S. and Canadian universities to begin standardizing analytical practices for SES in order to attain more successful conservation outcomes.

The team is working on a Wiki-site that will provide scholars with a portal to learn about common pool resource (CPR) methodologies, as well as the identification of CPR variables that are of importance in a variety of coupled SES.

By advancing common sets of variables, the teams aim to encourage the adoption of more unified methods of analysis to foster better cross-comparisons of case studies involving natural resources and biodiversity preservation efforts.

CBO and CBIE students will travel to the 2017 Biennial Conference of The International Association for the Study of the Commons titled “Breaking the Code,” in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where the team will be presenting findings of their research efforts.

Future collaborations between CBO and CBIE will aim to further strengthen the interactions and collaborations between the centers, with a particular focus on broadening the interdisciplinary examination of complex coupled infrastructure systems

Enhanced categorization of species aiding conservation efforts

Biodiversity News

April 25, 2017

Lar gibbon in Laos resting on a tree branchThe King’s College of London, on behalf of the PLuS Alliance organization, hosted a workshop to develop ecosystem typologies for the new Global Red List of Ecosystems in April 2017. This initiative was born from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Although many typologies of species already exist in the world, most are based on biogeographic and bioclimatic data. These are useful features, but they present limitations to endangered species conservation efforts by lacking representation of “ecological processes, especially those that operate at the scales of landscapes and seascapes,” explained Professor David Keith from the Center of Ecosystem Science at the University of New South Wales.

The ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) has been supporting enhanced categorization efforts as part of its partnership with IUCN. In September 2016, CBO joined the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as one of its eleven global partners.

CBO Associate Director of Research, Beth Polidoro, has been spearheading the IUCN collaboration and was present during the recent workshop in London. “As this is a unique global collaboration between ASU, Kings College, the University of New South Wales and IUCN, we are hoping for more PLuS Alliance opportunities in the future to support this initiative” said Polidoro, "the results of which will produce a number of high-impact publications and partnerships, as well as a new classification system to assess the risk of collapse for the world's terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems."

Which endangered species are most important to protect

Biodiversity News

April 25, 2017

Close up of young panda bearScientists argue that funding allocation for saving endangered species is failing, costing many more species to go extinct. Dr. Leah Gerber, Founding Director of ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, makes that case in a recently published article in Outside.

Although the idea of prioritizing species conservation efforts might seem controversial, decisions need to be made during this time of rapid biophysical, institutional, and cultural change. “There’s a level of discomfort with this, but we have to face hard choices,” explains Gerber.

For the last couple of years, Dr. Gerber has been working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help develop a decision-making tool to assist with effective funding allocation for rescuing endangered species.


Myanmar at a turning point for natural capital and human wellbeing

Thought Leader Series Biodiversity News

April 24, 2017

A Thought Leader Series Piece

by Leah Gerber & Penny Langhammer

After a half-century of isolation, the Republic of Myanmar has reengaged with the international community following democratic elections in 2015. The country is experiencing rapid political, social and economic change, presenting it with both risks and opportunities.

Comprising a large portion of the Indo-Burma region, Myanmar is home to a remarkable diversity of unique species and ecosystems. While the country has maintained this rich biodiversity for centuries, Myanmar now faces challenges in sustainably managing its natural life-support systems and must address climate variability, water scarcity, agricultural productivity and energy security.

Recognizing that biodiversity underpins a range of ecosystem services that are required for sustainable development, Myanmar updated its National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in 2015 and confirmed its commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals last year.

Continue Reading


Promoting gender equity and diversity in ASU

Biodiversity News

April 21, 2017

Participants sitting around table having a discussionThe ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology have partnered to host a series of dialogues exploring ways in which institutional transformation can lead to diversity and inclusiveness in STEAM+H (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and health) opportunities.

The series, titled “Community of Scholars Committed to Inclusive STEAM+H Pathways,” has drawn active participation from approximately 25 faculty and deans.

During the Friday, April 14th session, Dean Alfredo J. Artiles of the ASU Graduate College, accompanied by Director Jennifer Cason, cited important data reinforcing the importance of diversifying graduate school. Out of 13,098 graduate students who enrolled in fall 2016, only 22.5% were minorities (minorities includes all categories except White, International and Unspecified). They also reviewed a number of initiatives designed to provide academic and student support to assist minority students.

“I am personally grateful for the session yesterday and for your larger efforts at supporting diversity and inclusion in STEAM+H here at ASU,” expressed Monica H. Green, Professor of History at the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. “It’s not only the students who need affirmation that we belong here!”

The sessions include an interactive portion to allow participants a chance to brainstorm potential synergies and funding collaborations to increase diversity through fellowships and proposals.

Joining forces with private sector for sustainability outcomes

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News Biodiversity News

April 18, 2017

In March, two representatives from Arizona State University attended the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s 2017 Liaison Delegate meeting in Montreux, Switzerland. Amy Scoville-Weaver represented ASU’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO), and William Brandt attended on behalf of ASU LightWorks.

The WBCSD is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.

The conference, Roadmap for Impact in Today’s Reality, focused on the drastic political changes over the past year, implications for sustainability and the critical opportunity for the private sector to engage in new ways on sustainable development. As part of the conference, WBCSD released its CEO Guide to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Continue Reading

What would it mean to lose the Endangered Species Act?

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

April 13, 2017

A whale fin flips above the waterAs the current presidential administration rolls back numerous environmental regulations, Senior Sustainability Scientist Leah Gerber considers the consequences of losing the Endangered Species Act – another item queued for the chopping block.

In an April 2017 commentary in Christian Science Monitor titled "Is the endangered species act facing extinction?," Gerber touts the services biodiversity provides us - among them, food, medicine, clean water and air. Not only do these enhance rather than impede our lifestyle, in Gerber's opinion, the plants and animals that make up our ecosystems enrich our lives in ways often ascribed to art.

According to Gerber, who directs ASU's Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, these benefits provide solid ground for a bipartisan effort to strengthen the ESA's ability to protect endangered species rather than to limit or invalidate it.

"For those species that we deem worthy of protection, we must promote their recovery and be willing to pay for it," Gerber writes. "For the losing species, we need to prepare for the consequences of their disappearance from Earth."


Students benefit from knowledge partnership

Biodiversity News

April 9, 2017

Light bulb against blackboard that reads "innovation, vision creativity, support"Today, State Press published a featured story covering the ASU-Conservation International (CI) Knowledge Partnership managed by the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO). As part of the partnership, ASU recently welcomed six CI scientists as Professors of Practice.

“The idea [behind this partnership] is to create additional research, education and engagement activities for students and faculty in the realm of biodiversity conservation,” explained Beth Polidoro, CBO Associate Director of Research and professor of environmental chemistry.

Students will have the opportunity to be mentored by the Professors of Practice, enhancing their ability to bridge academic knowledge and practical applications to help solve real-world biodiversity conservation issues. In addition, they will be exposed to networking opportunities and one-on-one career mentoring.

Amy Scoville-Weaver, CBO Project Manager, coordinates this initiative and helps create connections within the university. “Sustainability, it's across disciplines, and I think it doesn't matter what you're doing, even if you're a literature major and are interested in biodiversity," she explains. “Ultimately, everything is connected back to the foundations of life.”


Why engage the business sector

Biodiversity News

April 3, 2017

View of large agricultural fields with sky backgroundIn a recent publication by the Ecological Society of America (ESA), Dr. Leah Gerber, Founding Director of ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, shared advice to early career ecologists on why it matters to engage with the business sector and best approaches.

“Engaging with big business offers an opportunity to have tremendous impact on the decisions that are made by these companies,” explained Gerber. “One reason NOT to engage is the hope that deep pockets will provide untapped basic research funding.”

On February 2017, Dr. Gerber was named an ESA Fellow. Gerber was selected for her pioneering efforts to integrate marine ecology and conservation science into tenable policy and decision-making tools.


Supporting sustainable development in Myanmar

Biodiversity News

March 27, 2017

Myanmar lake with house to the left and mountains in the backgroundOn March 27-30, ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) researchers will lead a workshop in Myanmar to identify ways in which biodiversity conservation can enhance human well-being (e.g. food security, climate regulation, flood protection) in the country. This workshop is part of CBO’s Ecosystem Services and Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) project, supported by the Science for Nature and People Partnership.

Myanmar is a biodiversity hotspot, abundant in unique species and ecosystems. 2015 democratic elections in this country have led to rapid political, social and economic change. In recognizing that their social and economic success depends on their natural wealth, last year Myanmar stated its commitment to the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.

Continue Reading

Now hiring! Sustainable fisheries postdoctoral fellow

Biodiversity News

March 27, 2017

Underwater photograph showing coral reef and various fishIn partnership with Conservation International (CI) and the Nereus Program, the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes is hiring a full-time postdoctoral research associate to work in the Honolulu, CI Hawaii offices.

This postdoctoral fellow will develop high-impact science to support sustainable management and conservation interventions in global fisheries and aquaculture.

The fellow will directly support the three goals of the ASU-CI Knowledge Partnership: protect biodiversity, promote sustainable development (particularly in food production and fisheries), and train the next generation of conservation biologists

For more information and to apply, click here>>

Mapping impacts of conservation on human well-being

Biodiversity News

March 22, 2017

This week, Samantha M. Cheng with the Science for Nature and People Partnership at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara is visiting ASU.

During her visit, Cheng will meet with faculty to explore opportunities for collaboration. On Wednesday, March 22, she will be presenting her research on mapping evidence for impacts of conservation on human well-being at a Hugh Hanson Seminar, sponsored by the School of Life Sciences.

During the presentation, Cheng will discuss how their team developed a map of 1000+ relevant studies linking conservation interventions to human well-being. She will explain how to interpret the map, key findings and ways to explore it.

ASU, Conservation International team up to protect biodiversity

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

March 22, 2017

Group photo of President Crow with CBO staff and Professors of PracticeAs a key program within the Knowledge Partnership between the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and Conservation International, ASU welcomed seven Professors of Practice last week.

These scientists will devote time to teaching, mentoring and service initiatives at the university, all aligned toward advancing the three goals of the partnership: protecting biodiversity; promoting sustainable development, particularly in food production and fisheries; and training the next generation of conservation biologists.

“Right now we’re in a race, a race that will not be easily won,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “The forces of nature and the negative force of our impact on nature are accelerating. The acceleration of those forces are such that they will contribute to our need to have something we don’t have, which are better theories, better ideas, better tools, better solutions, better implementation, better translation – none of which comes naturally.”

As the New American University, ASU supports local and global partnerships to ignite innovative solutions to pressing biodiversity conservation issues around the world.


ASU welcomes Professors of Practice

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

March 8, 2017

Collage of professors of practice headshots with ASU and CI logosNext week, the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO), in partnership with Conservation International (CI), will welcome six scientists from CI’s Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and Oceans as Professors of Practice (PoPs). The PoPs will be instrumental in advancing the three goals of the Knowledge Partnership established with CI in September 2016:

  1. Protecting essential natural capital for human well-being.
  2. Transitioning producers to sustainable production methods through science, engagement and technology.
  3. Training the next generation of conservation leaders.

During their welcome week, PoPs will participate in a series of planning workshops to strategize research and teaching. They will present lightning talks and discussion, followed by one-on-one meetings with faculty.  They will also facilitate undergraduate and graduate student workshops.

Continue Reading