The University of New Orleans and Audubon Nature Institute have launched a collaborative venture aimed at addressing some of the most pressing research topics in wildlife conservation and professional training in the field of wildlife management. The collaboration received approval from the Louisiana Board of Regents last month.
The Sustainable Wildlife Fellowship/Internship program is made possible by the combination of UNO faculty expertise, Audubon Nature Institute facilities and personnel, and financial support from a Board of Regents endowment program.
A central component of the Sustainable Wildlife Fellowship/Internship program is the appointment of faculty from UNO’s Department of Biological Sciences to fill four endowed chair positions and revise the areas of specialization of those positions to those identified by the University and Audubon Nature Institute.
“We are extremely excited about our new, innovative collaboration with Audubon Nature Institute centered around wildlife conservation and sustainability,” said Steve Johnson, dean of the College of Sciences. “Working closely with Audubon scientists, our team of endowed chairs, graduate fellows and undergraduate researchers will explore cutting-edge topics in wildlife sustainability in threatened ecosystems and zoo populations. Our students will benefit greatly from this hands-on experience in Audubon Nature Institute facilities.”
The four endowed chair appointments are:
- Professor Bernard Rees as the Greater New Orleans Foundation Endowed Chair in Aquatic Conservation, which will focus on coastal and marine wildlife and fisheries sustainability.
- Associate Professor Simon Lailvaux as the Virginia Kock/Audubon Nature Institute Endowed Chair in Species Preservation, which will focus on rare and endangered species.
- Professor Carla M. Penz as the Doris Zemurray Stone Endowed Chair in Biodiversity, which will focus on rare and endangered species.
- Professor Nicola Anthony as the Freeport-McMoRan Endowed Chair in Wildlife Sustainability, which will focus on wildlife in threatened ecosystems.
In addition to filling these endowed chair positions, the Sustainable Wildlife Fellowship/Internship program provides stipends for a graduate-level fellow and an undergraduate-level intern in each area of focus. Fellows and interns will work under the guidance of the UNO endowed chair as well a program coordinator and mentor employed by Audubon Nature Institute.
“This collaboration offers a unique opportunity to bring together the expertise of Audubon Nature Institute and the talented faculty at the University of New Orleans to address the critical issue of wildlife conservation research,” said Laurie Conkerton, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Audubon. “The partnership also serves as a national model that will strengthen global conservation initiatives by encouraging students to consider careers in the zoo and aquarium industries.’’
Fellows and interns will work at an Audubon facility in New Orleans, which could be the Audubon Coastal Wildlife Center, Aquarium of the Americas, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium or the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife, a collaboration with San Diego Zoo Global housed at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center on the West Bank.
The Paulette and Frank B. Stewart Endowed Sustainable Wildlife Program Fund was also established to provide needed support for activities related to the program. The funds, amounting to $300,000, had been previously donated and with the donors’ permission, they were endowed and designated for support of the program.