Speakers & Resource Persons


Dr. David Bickford

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

David Bickford is an evolutionary ecologist, a conservation biologist and a tropical herpetologist. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore. A Ph.D. from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, USA, his research focuses broadly on amphibians and reptiles, their ecology and evolution, understanding diversity as well as the processes of diversification and extinction.

He will be delivering a talk on Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), which was called for by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000. It was initiated in 2001, with the objective of assessing the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and the scientific basis for action needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of those systems and their contribution to human well-being. He will also be conducting workshops on “Scientific Communication” and “Climate Change“.


Dr. Deepak Apte

Ecology: Deep in the Sea

Deepak Apte, a Whitley Conservation Awardee and Director of Bombay Natural History Society, is a marine ecologist, educationist and conservationist. Dr. Apte has worked on and completed nearly 30 field research and conservation programmes, which include coastal and inter-tidal areas, marine biodiversity, mangroves, tiger habitat, urban forests, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies and green governance across India including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Lakshadweep and Andaman-Nicobar. He has developed several documentaries (Our Island, Project Mangrove, Project Giant Clam, Diminishing resources, Coral Reef Promo, 125 years of BNHS, Coastal Plateau, and Guardians of the Mountails) and coordinates distance learning courses in Ornithology and Marine Biodiversity Conservation.

Dr. Apte is an excellent underwater photographer and Advance Open Water PADI diver with more than 5000 hours of dive log. He aims to popularize marine biodiversity through research, field expeditions and publication of books. He has established full fledged Marine Conservation Programme in BNHS.




Dr. Tsewang Namgail

Climate Change and Mountain Ecology

Dr. Namgail is the Director of the Snow Leopard Conservancy – India Trust. The Snow Leopard Conservancy – India Trust, a local non-profit organization, conducts snow leopard research and conservation projects in India with Panthera.

Dr. Namgail is the first Ladakhi (Native of Ladakh, India) to hold a PhD in Wildlife Ecology. He obtained his Masters in Wildlife Biology from the University of Tromso, Norway, and PhD in Community Ecology from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Dr. Namgail has done pioneering ecological work on several taxa in the Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh and has published several research articles.




Dr. Nitin D. Rai

Social Science in Conservation Biology

Nitin Rai, a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA, is a Fellow at the Centre for Environment and Development, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). He uses an interdisciplinary and socio-political approaches to study ecological and social outcomes of biodiversity conservation and to understand the implications of conservation and development for people and landscapes. His research incorporates ecological science, history of landscape transformation, political ecology and local knowledge. For the past decade Dr. Rai has partnered with Soliga adivasis (adivasi meaning: original and autochthonous inhabitants) to study the politics of conservation in the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve. He has also been part of an interdisciplinary team analyzing transformations arising out of state efforts to sedentarise pastoralists, facilitate industrialization and encourage tourism in the Banni grasslands of Kutch district.






Dr. Sudip Mitra

Global Environmental Policy and Crisis

Dr. Mitra, a Ph.D. from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Tezpur University. He received the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Trust Scholarship for carrying out his doctoral research at the International Rice research Institute (IRRI), Manila, Philippines. He has worked as a Nehru Fullbright fellow on carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas (GHG) management under changing climate using simulation modelling approaches at the Department of Environmental Sciences, University of California, Davis, USA. His major research areas include natural resources management, livelihood enhancement, watershed management, agro-ecosystem management, climate change and greenhouse gas management.




Shubhendu Sharma

Urban Forestry and Entrepreneurship

Mr. Sharma is an Eco-entrepreneur and the Founder and Director of Afforestt. An industrial engineer by profession, he worked at Toyota in India, where he first met Japanese forest expert Akira Miyawaki and later interned with Miyawaki and grew his first successful forest on a small plot behind a house. Shrama creates afforestation methods that make it easy to plant maintenance-free, wild and biodiverse forests. His company Afforestt promotes a standardized method for seeding dense, fast-growing (100 years old forest in just 10 years), native forests in barren lands, using robust management, intensive research and cutting edge technologies to create a system allowing a multilayer forest of 300 trees to grow on an area as small as the parking spaces of six cars – for less than the price of an iPhone.

Shubhendu Sharma’s TED talks: An engineer’s vision for tiny forests, everywhere || How to grow a forest in your backyard


Kashmira Kakati


Dr. Kashmira Kakati

Cats on the Camera Trap

Dr. Kakati, graduate from Wildlife Institute of India and member of Cat Specialist Group, India, is a wildlife biologist and recipient of Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). She studied forest fragmentation impacts on Hoolock Gibbons in Assam, India for her PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK. She carried out a camera-trap survey of carnivores in the little-known Jeypore Dehing forests of Assam and found a record seven species of wild cats there — the highest concentration of photo-documented wild cat species anywhere in the world. She is currently documenting carnivores in the Balpakram-Baghmara forests and its surrounding, shifting cultivation fallows in Meghalaya state.

For her interview with Julie Shaw see Voices of CEPF: Kashmira Kakati, Eastern Himalayas.





Dr. Shannon Olsson

Chemical Ecology

Dr. Olsson, PhD from Cornell University, NY, USA, is the Principal Investigator of the Naturalist-Inspired Chemical Ecology (NICE), NCBS, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore. Dr. Olsson and her group seek to understand how animals (and particularly insects) use chemicals to interact with the complex natural world. Before coming to NCBS, Dr. Olsson served as Project Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology where she collaborated with an international group of scientists and engineers to develop an artificial communication system based on the pheromone communication of insects. She is particularly interested in the why and how of object recognition, and how our brains shape our ability to define our world.

Tedx talk: What do you see?


Mr. Gowri Shankar

Eye to Eye with King Cobra

Gowri Shankar, conservationist and founder director of Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology, has been involved with reptiles for more than a decade and has worked at some of the premier reptile conservation centers in India. He honed his skills in captive management of snakes at the Center for Herpetology, Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, Chennai and has also authored several peer reviewed papers. He has been studying king cobras in the wild for the last six years. He has been living in the rainforest environment of Agumbe, observing and documenting the nesting, male combat, courtship, mating and cannibalistic behaviors of King Cobras in the wild. He was also instrumental in the pioneer efforts of Agumbe Rainforest Research Station in conducting radio telemetry study on King Cobras. He is an authority on the ecology of king cobras and has been featured in several wildlife documentaries the King and I, Secrets of the King Cobra, Asia’s Deadliest Snake, and Wildest India by BBC, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild and Discovery Channel respectively.


Ms. Purnima Devi Barman

Challenges and Perception in Community Conservation

Ms. Barman, a wildlife biologist from Assam and awardee of Future Conservationist Award 2009, Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP, UK), was the Team Leader and Project Coordinator of the Greater Adjutant Conservation Project of Aaryanak. The project (CLP project ID: F03110012) titled Greater Adjutant Conservation Through Community Participation in Assam, Indiawas initiated under an award from CLP from July 2009 to March 2011.

The global distribution of Greater Adjutant Stork (Leptoptilos dubius), once very widely distributed in India, South and South East Asia, is currently distributed only in few isolated pockets in Brahmaputra valley of Assam , Bihar  in India and Cambodia.  In Assam this bird mainly nests in privately owned land in countryside tall trees and conservation is mainly dependent on the efforts of the community.  For last several years, Purnima has been working extensively for protection of this bird species that is enlisted in “endangered” in the IUCN Red list.
Download full report here: http://www.conservationleadershipprogramme.org/media/2014/12/F03110012_India_Final-Report_Greater-Adjutant.pdf

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