Board of Directors

Mom and GorillaNancy Czekala, Founded Papoose Conservation Wildlife Foundation in 2003. She has been all over the world in Nature and studied all types of species in the wild. She has walked with mountain gorillas (of Gorillas in the Mist fame) in Rwanda. She was the first to work directly with this species to monitor hormone changes for reproduction and stress – all in a non-invasive manner. She has directed a team of 20 African trackers in Zimbabwe to study wild black rhinoceros, the first study of its kind. She led a team of research scientists to investigate the biology of the white rhino in South Africa, for the first time documenting critical biological information for the managing the species for their well being in the wild. She has worked closely with the Chinese government to help save the giant panda. When she began work in China, to share her knowledge in monitoring reproduction in the giant panda, this species was doomed to extinction in captivity, with a negative population growth. Today with the use of this information, the giant panda population is bursting at the seams in China with a reported 31 births this year (2006). Her work was instrumental in the panda births in the United States. Nancy has published over 100 peer reviewed manuscripts and book chapters during her 30 year career at the San Diego Zoo. She was awarded the 1997 American Society of Primatologists Senior Biology and Conservation Award. She is dedicated to Nature and to the well being of all species, including our own.

Megan OwenMegan is inspired by wildlife and Nature. As a pre-med biology-major at the City College of New York, she was given the opportunity to do a summer of fieldwork in the Canadian sub-arctic. During this field season she experienced wildlife up-close, encountering polar bears, wolves, foxes, caribou and numerous species of waterfowl, shorebirds and passerines. These experiences changed her life. Since then, her work has been focused on wildlife conservation with a special emphasis on how human activities are impacting large carnivores. Megan received her PhD from UCLA in 2014, and much of her work continues to be focused on Arctic wildlife.

Much of Megan’s current work is centered on the behavioral and sensory ecology of large carnivores, with a special emphasis on how these systems may render wildlife more vulnerable—or resilient to—the negative impacts of human induced rapid environmental change. She is also interested in exploring how knowledge of behavioral and sensory ecology can inform and be applied to management strategies.

Megan makes sharing her work with children and the general public a priority, as these connections to wildlife can truly foster a lifelong love of the natural world, and motivate people to protect it. Sharing stories from the field is essential because HOPE for the natural world is only possible if we connect our conservation success stories with the work that made that success possible.

Megan Owen is Associate Director of Recovery Ecology at the Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo Global.

Portrait of Cheryl Knott, an anthropologist studying orangutans.Cheryl D. Knott is a biological anthropologist who conducts research on wild orangutans in Gunung Palung National Park, Indonesia. She earned her PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University, where she also served as an Associate Professor until 2008, when she joined the faculty at Boston University. She also studies and teaches on women’s reproductive biology and is a Core Faculty member in BU’s Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Program. Dr. Knott has been studying wild orangutans in Indonesia’s Gunung Palung National Park, on the island of Borneo, since 1992. She is the founder and director of the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project, one of the longest running primate research projects in the world. Her work reveals how orangutan adaptations, such as the longest inter-birth interval of any mammal and the evolution of two adult male morphs, are shaped by their ecology. In 2000, she co-founded the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Project which works to protect this critically endangered species, and their rain forest habitat, through education, public awareness campaigns, population and habitat censuses, sustainable livelihood development, establishment of village-run customary forests, investigation of the illegal pet trade and active engagement with Indonesian government organizations. She is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and other forums on orangutans, great apes, and rainforest conservation. In addition to publishing over 50 scientific articles, she also creates, and has been featured, in popular books, articles and films on orangutans, in collaboration with her husband, National Geographic photographer Tim Laman. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards for her research and teaching.


12239557_10207115935971088_8083590715409969252_nLaura Gruber
is the Conservation Program Manager at White Oak Conservation, where her responsibilities involve managing conservation capacity building, professional development programs, and K-12 education programs. Dedicated to conservation and education, Laura has worked in the zoological and conservation field since 1999, where she has filled roles in education, outreach, and animal care at the Zoological Society of San Diego and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As an admirer of lesser-known species and an avid outdoors enthusiast, Laura is excited to support Papoose’s initiatives.

DonDon Lindburg Emeritas- holds a PhD in Biological Anthropology from the University of California-Berkeley. He has taught Anthropology at UC-Davis and UCLA. In 1979 he was recruited by the Zoological Society of San Diego to establish a research program in Animal Behavior. In 2001 he became the head of a new department in Giant Panda Biology. Under his guidance record numbers of cheetah and giant pandas cubs have been born at the San Diego Zoo. Don has received the Smithsonian’s Centennial Award for Excellence in Zoo Research, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Presidential Award for 10 years of service as editor of the journal Zoo Biology, and the American Society of Primatologists Outstanding Primatologist Award.