Tony Verboom 

Dr Tony Verboom is plant biologist whose research examines the ecology and evolution of the Greater Cape flora of South Africa. His research interests include diversification pattern and process, functional trait evolution, vegetation pattern and the assembly of communities and biotas. In addition, he actively researches the systematics and taxonomy of Cape plants, particularly in the families Asteraceae, Cyperaceae and Poaceae. Dr Verboom is based at the University of Cape Town, where he teaches a range of topics in ecology, evolution and systematics. To date he has authored or co-authored 64 journal articles and three book chapters, and he co-edited a multi-contributor book on the ecology and evolution of the Greater Cape biota

Alexandra D. Syphard

Dr. Syphard is a chief scientist at Sage Insurance Holdings LLC and serves as an affiliate of the Conservation Biology Institute and adjunct professor in Geography at San Diego State University. Alexandra is a research scientist who has spent more than two decades analyzing the ecological and social drivers and impacts of landscape change, particularly focusing on wildfire in Mediterranean ecosystems. Using a variety of mapping, statistical, and modeling approaches, Alexandra investigates how change has occurred in the past, how it is likely to occur in the future, and how different policy or management scenarios may impact ecological and social well-being. For the last decade, Alexandra has concentrated intensely on wildfire risk to communities and identifying the best approaches for balancing fire risk reduction with biodiversity conservation. Her research also focuses on the interactions among wildfire patterns, land use change and urban growth, climate change, vegetation dynamics and biodiversity, invasive species, and species’ range shifts.

Frank Schurr 

Dr. Frank Schurr is an ecologist interested in the spatiotemporal dynamics of biodiversity. His research ranges from basic evolutionary ecology to applied conservation biology. A unifying theme is that he aims to improve the mechanistic understanding of biodiversity dynamics. To this end, he works on linking process-based models to experiments, field surveys and molecular data. While he worked on several Mediterranean-type ecosystems, a long-standing focus of his research is the South African Fynbos biome where he has studied Proteaceous shrubs for almost 20 years.

Wendy Foden

Wendy Foden is a conservation biologist who focuses on climate change adaptation. She led development of IUCN’s methodology for assessing climate change vulnerability of species, and its subsequent application to the world’s birds, amphibians, corals and lemurs. Dr Foden is based at South African National Parks where she leads the Cape Research Centre, a team carrying out applied research in Fynbos and Succulent Karoo biome parks. She is also preparing SANParks’ climate change preparedness strategy.  Dr Foden chairs the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Climate Change Specialist Group and recently won IUCN’s George Rabb award for her “innovative, dynamic and thoughtful leadership of SSC’s work on climate change”. She’s passionate about fostering conservation leadership, and continues her ongoing research on climate change impacts on Namib desert Quiver Trees.

Jaco Le Roux

Dr Jaco Le Roux is a plant biologist, broadly interested in the ecology and evolutionary biology of invasive species. His research traverses spatial and temporal scales, from studying the microevolutionary dynamics of populations to interpreting the biogeography of plant species. He also has a keen interest in understanding how plants interact with soil microbes. Over the last decade his group’s research in this field has focused on invasive Australian acacias (genus Acacia) and their symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Using this system, he aims to understand the role of mutualisms in facilitating the success of non-native legumes in Mediterranean-type ecosystems. His group also studies the impacts of invasive plants on native soil microbial communities and the consequences of these impacts for native plants. Dr Le Roux is affiliated with Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He is the author/co-author of 94 research papers and two book chapters.

Roberto Salguero-Gómez

Dr. Salguero-Gómez is an associate professor in Ecology, a tutorial fellow and NERC independent research fellow at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. His research interests include:

  1. Demography: population responses to disturbances and climate change. Importance of buffering mechanisms for the maintenance of populations in stochastic environments. Demographic resilience. Transient dynamics
  2. Functional ecology: predictive power of functional traits for life history traits and population dynamics
  3. Ecophysiology and anatomy: Acquisition and allocation of belowground resources
  4. Biomolecular bases for the evolution and escape of senescence
  5. Comparative biology: macro-ecology, evolution of senescence, trait diversification, phylogenetic analyses
  6. Desert ecology: Non-linear effects of projected shifts in abiotic factors on biota
  7. Open-access, reproducible research

Mingzhen Lu

Lu is an Omidyar Complexity Fellow (2020-2023) at the Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico. His research interest is to unearth the simple rules that give rise to empirical complexities across the Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems, especially their component biology and elements cycling. He hopes to improve our ability to project the future trajectories of terrestrial ecosystems with improved causal understanding.
Lu received his bachelor’s degrees in Geography and Biology (‘12) from Peking University, his PhD (‘18) in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) from Princeton University. He held a postdoctoral research associate position at Princeton after his graduation before he was promoted to an Associate Research Scholar in 2019. He is a board member of SinoEco, and member of Sigma Xi, Ecological Society of America, and the American Geophysical Union.

Rupert Koopman

Rupert currently works at the Botanical Society of South Africa. Previously, spent more than a decade as a botanist at CapeNature specialising in fynbos – specifically threatened species and habitats. Rupert works in Botany, Ecology and Biology. Their most recent publication is ‘Marasmodes (Asteraceae, Anthemideae), the most threatened plant genus of the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa: Conservation and taxonomy

Karen J. Esler

Karen is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Conservation Ecology & Entomology at Stellenbosch University. She has an interest in best-practice conservation, management and restoration of biodiversity in Mediterranean-Type ecosystems. She has been a core team member of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology since its inception (2004), and currently serves as African Associate Editor for the journal ‘Conservation Biology’

Kathleen M Kay

Kathleen M. Kay is an Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She grew up in California, where she fell in love with the flora from many family trips to natural areas around the state. She then earned her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology from the University of California, Davis. In 2004, she received a dual PhD in Plant Biology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior from Michigan State University, with a dissertation on speciation mechanisms in Neotropical spiral gingers. She then received a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Park Foundation to return to California and her native habitat. In 2008, she joined the faculty at UCSC and has developed a research program centered on understanding patterns and processes of adaptation and speciation in the California and Neotropical floras. She holds the Jean H. Langenheim Chair in Plant Ecology and Evolution at UCSC.

Dr. Kerstin Braun

Dr. Kerstin Braun is an Assistant Research Scientist with the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University. Her main research interest is the reconstruction of South African climates and environments on glacial-interglacial timescales. Dr. Braun is especially interested in the impact that past changes in climate had on the vegetation in the region and how past variability (or lack thereof) can shape present-day diversity patterns. Her research also aims to contextualize the environmental and resource landscapes that hunter-gatherer communities encountered in southern South Africa.