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Asia and Oceania


Mel Songer taking a break from tracking a conflict elephant for collaring in the Bago Yoma, Myanmar. Photo courtesy of Christie Sampson.

Melissa Songer (Mel)

Conservation Biologist, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Melissa Songer is a conservation biologist researching ways to help sustain and restore species in the wild.     

Photo courtesy of Peter Leimgruber.

Peter Leimgruber

Landscape Ecologist and Conservation Biologist, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Peter Leimgruber is a landscape ecologist and conservation biologist studying biodiversity conservation of extinction-prone species including Asian elephant, Mongolian gazelle, Przewalski’s horse, tiger, and giant panda.

Head curator for Beyond Bollywood exhibit focusing on Indian Americans

Masum Momaya

Museum Curator, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

Dr. Masum Momaya has over 20 years of experience working for women’s rights, gender, race and class equality, and social justice. She is a former Museum Curator at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Her most recent exhibition, Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, showed at the National Museum of Natural History from 2014-2015 and is currently traveling around the United States and India.

Photo credit George Stoyle – Earth in Focus.

Steve Box

Vice President, Global Fisheries Solutions, RARE

Steve Box is a marine biologist studying the effects of fishing practices that endanger more than half of our ocean’s biodiversity. 


Geoffrey “Jess” Parker

Senior Scientist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Jess oversees the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) forest-monitoring plot in Edgewater, MD. The forest ecology research he directs at SERC helps to create a baseline for judging how climate change affects temperate forests globally.

Bill Fitzhugh

William Fitzhugh

Director, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center

William Fitzhugh is an anthropologist specializing in circumpolar archaeology, ethnology and environmental studies and director of Smithsonian's Arctic Studies Center.

Paula DePriest, Headshot, The Deer Stone Project

Paula DePriest

Deputy Director, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute

Paula T. DePriest is the Deputy Director of the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute. She works with Mongolian and international partners to protect archaeological, cultural heritage, and ecological resources across Mongolia.

Bill McShea in Myanmar. Photo Courtesy of Bill McShea.

William McShea (Bill)

Ecologist, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Bill McShea is an ecologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) whose work focuses on the conservation of mammals and forests throughout East and Southeast Asia.