Meet the Panelists







Moderator: Shahid Naeem is Professor of Ecology in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology and Director of the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability at Columbia University. He obtained his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, was a postdoctoral fellow at Imperial College of London, the University of Copenhagen, and the University of Michigan. He has served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota, the University of Washington, and currently serves on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Recipient of the Ecological Society of America’s Buell and Mercer Awards and the Lenfest Distinguished Faculty award at Columbia University, he is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an Aldo Leopold Leadership fellow. Considered among the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” in environmental and ecological science by Thompson Reuters/Clarivate, his teaching, research, and publications focus on the importance of biodiversity in the functioning of ecosystems and the services they provide humanity. 







Clara Holmes is a Field Scientist with NYC Parks, specializing in Botany. Most of her field work consists of monitoring vegetation pre and post restoration, and tracking rare plant populations in NYC Parks. She holds a Master’s of Science from Pace University and a Bachelor's of Arts from the College of Charleston.








Scott Silver is the Director of Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary as well as the three other Audubon Sanctuaries in the Hudson Valley. He assumed the responsibilities of stewarding the Marsh in June of 2019. Previous to this, he was the Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo and had worked for WCS for over 35 years. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in zoology from the State University of New York at Oswego. He earned his Master’s and PhD degrees in Biology from Fordham University

In addition to his responsibilities at the Zoo, Scott has conducted research focused on everything from Jaguars and Howler monkeys in Latin America to Cottontail rabbits and Butterflies in upstate New York, and has lived in Garrison, NY since 2002. He has served on the board of the local Audubon Chapter since 2010. 






Jessica Ware is an Associate Curator in invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Ware’s research focuses on the evolution of behavioural and physiological adaptations in insects, with an emphasis on how these occur in Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) and Dictyoptera (termites, cockroaches and mantises). Her research group focuses on phylogenetics/phylogenomics and uses these tools to inform their work on reproductive, social and flight behaviors in insects. Jessica holds a BSc from the University of British Columbia in Canada, and a PhD from Rutgers, New Brunswick. She was an NSF postdoctoral fellow at the AMNH 2008-2010, before being hired at Rutgers Newark where she was an associate professor of evolutionary biology. She is the current president of the Worldwide Dragonfly Association, and Vice President of the Entomological Society of America. She was recently awarded a PECASE medal from the US government for her work on insect evolution.