CARN is comprised of leaders in the fields of tropical research and evolutionary biology, conservation science and awareness, public health, and international development with a history of working in Central Africa for over 30 years.

Eric Fokam

Dr. Fokam obtained a B.Sc. in Animal Biology from University of Dschang in Cameroon, an M.Phil. Entomology from University of Ghana and a Ph.D in Zoology from University of Buea in Cameroon; he was a Postdoc at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He serves at the University of Buea since 2001 and he is currently and Professor and Head of Department of Animal Biology and Conservation. He is serving a second term on the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel of the Intergovernmental Platform Science-Policy on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Eric is a versatile researcher, who is interested in animal diversity, conservation and ecosystem services including pollination and productivity of wild systems. He is a champion of capacity building, especially engaged for the promotion of women in conservation science. He likes to describe himself as a “Research Enabler”.

Mark Cappellano

Mark Cappellano is conservationist, artist and Director of the Skyscrape Foundation – a Family Foundation funding environmental, fine art, and humanitarian projects. Mark has consulted, funded, and collaborated with numerous NGO’s over the past 20 years. Most recently, CARE Int’l regarding underrepresented indigenous women, Audubon’s Salton Sea Initiative and Mongabay’s Conservation Optimism Stories. He is a Director Emeritus of Earthwatch Institute and a Founding Board member of 5gyres. Formerly a vintner in the Napa Valley, he co-launched Versant Vineyards, running all aspects of the premium wine and olive oil business. He has a B.S. degree in English literature and is currently an active member of The Pacific Council on International Policy. Additionally, he has been involved with over 25 film projects on globally diverse topics, including wildlife documentaries, PSA’s, and presenter led segments. He resides in Los Angeles, California with his wife and two daughters.

Mark Gold

Mark formerly served as President of the environmental group Heal the Bay, and was their first employee hired 20 years ago. Heal the Bay is an environmental group dedicated to making Southern California coastal waters and watersheds, including Santa Monica Bay, safe, healthy and clean. Mark received his Bachelors and Masters in Biology and his doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering from UCLA. He has been inducted into the UCLA School of Public Health Hall of Fame, and has received the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award and the Aspen Institute Catto Fellowship.

Mark has worked extensively over the last 20 years in the field of coastal protection and water pollution. In particular he has worked on research projects on urban runoff pollution, DDT and PCB contamination in fish, and the health risks of swimming at runoff contaminated beaches. He created Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card, and has authored or co-authored numerous California coastal protection, water quality and environmental education bills. He served on the USEPA Urban Stormwater Federal Advisory Committee and was the vice chair of the California Ocean Science Trust and is vice chair of the National Estuary Program’s Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission. Mark was recently appointed Acting Director at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Thomas B. Smith

Dr. Thomas Smith is the founding director of CARN and the UCLA Center for Tropical Research (CTR) at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES). Also a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, he is a member of the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration. Dr. Smith has more than 30 years of experience working in the tropics and oversees a host of research projects worldwide. A central focus of his research investigates how biodiversity is generated and maintained in rainforests and approaches to conserving them. Dr. Smith is a frequent consultant for conservation organizations. Working with the World Bank and international conservation organizations, he has helped implement conservation programs and establish new national parks in tropical countries. Dr. Smith holds a B.S. in Natural Sciences and an M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Ph.D. in Zoology from UC Berkeley.

Virginia Zaunbrecher

Virginia Zaunbrecher is the Associate Director of the Center for Tropical Research at UCLA. As a lawyer with a science background, she works to translate scientific findings into policy and regulation. She currently focuses on incorporating diverse data streams into decision making on conservation in Central Africa. This includes incorporation of genetic diversity and socio-economic data and exploring the use of decision support tools. Her previous work focused on incorporating predictive techniques and decision analysis into chemical regulation. She also designed and managed aid and development projects in Africa and Asia for nearly five years. Virginia also helps oversee the Congo Basin Institute (CBI)—UCLA’s first foreign affiliate located in Cameroon. She manages partnerships for CBI, and represents the academic and research institutions on the Advisory Council of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP).

Kevin Njabo

Kevin Njabo is the Associate Director and Africa Director for the UCLA Center for Tropical Research at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES) and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the IoES and the UCLA Department of Environmental Health Sciences. Kevin is also a founding member of the non-profit organization, the Center for Tropical Research, Cameroon, and is involved in the oversight and management of the International Research and Training Center (IRTC) in Cameroon. Kevin provides content direction and leadership to CTR’s core research priorities, fundraising for research projects, direct and strategic links to regional and international partners and collaborators, and provides assurance for all research work and reports carried out in Africa, including proposals, ethical reviews, and research donor reports. Kevin also serves on several professional bodies including the Board of Directors of the Society for Conservation Biology and as a Council Member of the Pan African Ornithological Congress Committee (PAOCC), 2008-2016. Kevin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife and Master of Science in Plant Ecology from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; a PhD in Biology from Boston University, and was a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA. Kevin’s current research interests are in ecology and evolution of emerging tropical diseases.