Postdocs and Research Professors

Headshot of postdoctoral fellow Gwen Iacona

Gwen Iacona
Assistant Research Professor

Gwen Iacona is an applied conservation scientist who uses quantitative and empirical approaches to understand how biodiversity outcomes can be improved by better decision making. Her current work aims to improve endangered species recovery by better understanding the risks and costs associated with recovery planning. Gwen specializes in using theoretical tools to study how the costs of conservation interventions influence the choice of actions and the resulting outcomes for conservation agencies. Past projects include predicting invasive plant cover, modelling protected area effectiveness and prioritizing conservation action.

Prior to rejoining Arizona State University as an assistant research professor, Gwen was a postdoctoral research associate working with Professor Leah Gerber. Gwen has a PhD from the University of Tennessee, where she studied with Professor Paul Armsworth, and an MS from the University of Florida. In her current role, Gwen serves as Conservation Investment Program Lead for the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes.

Danica Schaffer-Smith
Assistant Research Professor
Water Science Fellow

PhD, Duke University, 2018
MESM, UC-Santa Barbara, 2010
BS, The University of Redlands, 2006

Danica is a Landscape Ecologist with technical expertise in remote sensing and geospatial analysis. Her previous research has spanned a variety of topics, including modeling the spread of wind-driven fires, assessing habitat connectivity for endangered species, analyzing global tropical deforestation dynamics, and exploring methods to quantify linkages between coupled social-ecological systems. Her dissertation work, in collaboration with Point Blue Conservation Science and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, characterized the extent and variability of surface water at important shorebird migration stopover sites in California, and assessed how shorebirds have responded to landscape habitat fluctuations.

Currently, Danica is working with the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and The Nature Conservancy North Carolina to investigate how extreme events ranging droughts to hurricanes impact water quality and the role of nature-based solutions in making floodplains more resilient to extremes. This involves 1) assessing nutrient pollution risks from both urban sources and intensified agriculture, such as concentrated animal feeding operations, and 2) determining the priority locations for interventions to reduce flooding impacts and improve water quality. Danica is additionally engaged in the Sustainable Rivers Program, a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which aims to modify infrastructure operations to achieve ecological benefits downstream.

Katie Cramer
Assistant Research Professor 

Katie Cramer is an Assistant Research Professor at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University and an Ocean Science Fellow at the Center for Oceans at Conservation International. Katie is a marine conservation ecologist whose work reconstructs long-term change in marine ecosystems and predicts their future states to motivate and inform conservation. Her current research is focused on improving the health of coral reef ecosystems by pinpointing the social and ecological mechanisms of recent declines and identifying market-based strategies that can improve the sustainability of coral reef fisheries. Her work is interdisciplinary, spanning the fields of marine ecology, marine policy, paleobiology, and environmental economics.

Katie received her Ph.D. in Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Prior to joining ASU, she was a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in the U.S. Senate, an ecologist at Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, and a Postdoctoral Fellow at Smithsonian Institution and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Simon Lhoest
Postdoctoral Researcher
BAEF Fellow 2021-2022

PhD, Liège University (Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech), 2020
Twitter @LhoestSimon

Simon Lhoest is a BAEF Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at Arizona State University. Simon is a conservation biologist who has primarily focused his research on biodiversity management and conservation in Africa since 2015. He has designed and conducted interdisciplinary work, using environmental and social approaches to improve the assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services through quantitative and qualitative surveys in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, and Gabon. He has developed expertise in biodiversity surveys (e.g., with drones, camera traps), community-based natural resource management, while mastering mapping and GIS techniques.

Since late 2020, his postdoctoral research has helped inform the science-policy interface for wildlife conservation. He works to integrate research findings and efforts into protected area management by designing actionable science for all conservation stakeholders. Simon conducts his research by involving the private and public sectors in close collaboration.