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Our team

Chief Executive Officer: Professor Owen T Nevin

Owen is an experienced conservation biologist and research leader.  As a population and behavioural ecologist with more than 20 years’ experience in the conservation and management of large carnivores globally, Owen has extensive experience in senior leadership in higher education and research.

Previous positions include Head of the National School of Forestry (UK), Dean of Graduate Research, and, most recently, Associate Vice-Chancellor at CQUniversity Australia.  Owen is the Independent Chair of the Port Curtis Integrated Monitoring Program and Associate Editor of Ursus. He holds an Adjunct Professorship at CQUniversity.

Owen held the prestigious position of Stokes-Leopold Memorial Scholar at Utah State University from 2002 to 2003.  In 2003 he was elected to the Society for Conservation Biology’s European Board where he served for six years and later served on the Global Board of Governors from 2010 to 2013.  In 2008 he was elected as a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London and 2017 was appointed as Anniversary Visiting Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Cumbria.

Much of Owen’s research work has been focused around advancing the conservation of threatened species and their habitats through developing better management and understanding of behaviour and ecosystem function, and human impacts including ecotourism and resource exploitation. In conducting this work, he has applied a combination of behavioural, spatial and economic tools to gain novel insights into population processes.  Techniques applied in these studies range from satellite telemetry and spatial modelling, through to remote camera trapping, genetic sampling, and direct ethological observation.

Owen holds a BSc (Hons) in Biology and Ecology from the University of East Anglia (UK) and a PhD in Wildlife Ecology from Utah State University (USA).

Strategic Engagement Director : Preeti Castle

Preeti has extensive experience in building brand reputation and sustaining social licence through effective communication and stakeholder engagement.  As WABSI’s Strategic Engagement Director, Preeti develops strategies to help build an engaged and informed stakeholder base, and to make scientific knowledge accessible and understood by end users of biodiversity science.

Preeti has worked with several international and national organisations across financial services, science, technology and environment, and established a niche consulting firm that specialised in developing strategies to communicate scientific and technological concepts with clarity.

In addition to her role at WABSI, Preeti holds the International Engagement portfolio on the National Council of the Australian Science Communicators, is a Board Member of the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia and previously served as a Board Member and the Deputy Chair of the Munda Biddi Trail Foundation.

Preeti has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, an M.B.A. from The University of Western Australia and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Executive Assistant: Eilin Mangan

Eilin has extensive experience providing high level executive and administrative support to senior executives. Her strong administrative background covers education, information technology and banking.

Eilin’s previous roles include that of Executive Assistant at the Energy and Minerals Institute’s International Mining for Development Centre, as well as positions in the Vice-Chancellery, Public Affairs and the School of Business at University of Notre Dame, Fremantle and Vice-Chancellery at The University of Western Australia. She has lived and studied in Aix-en-Provence in France and travelled extensively in Europe and Africa.

Program Director, Conservation and Restoration: Dr Renee Young

Renee is an experienced manager and environmental scientist specialising in ecological restoration, with projects showcased at The UN Climate Change Conference (COP28, COP26) and UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15). Working with government, industry and research, Renee collaborates widely to ensure outputs are applied and readily implementable.

Renee has led and contributed to a number of key publications to support restoration outcomes including the International Principles and Standards for the Ecological Restoration and Recovery of Mine Sites (global); Guidelines for embedded experiments in ecological restoration and management in Australia (national) and The Western Australian Restoration Economy: A roadmap towards a sustainable industry with better environmental outcomes (state).

Renee completed her PhD at Kings Park in Western Australia before managing a large botanical team at a leading environmental consultancy. Renee returned to the academia space to manage the ARC Centre for Mine Site Rehabilitation bringing experience in managing large and complex projects before joining WABSI.

Renee holds a number of additional professional positions including Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia (Board member); DEMIRS Mining Rehabilitation Advisory Committee (Chair); DPIRD Soil and Land Conservation Council (Council member); and UWA Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy Advisory Committee (Committee member).

Program Director, Subterranean Fauna, Ecosystem Threats and Processes: Sonja Mennen

Sonja is an environmental scientist and communicator with 23 years of substantial work experience in both private industry and public service, in Australia and overseas. Her background covers project management, environmental science, water resource management, policy and program development and science communications, and she previously held roles at the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, BHP, CSIRO and Chevron.

Sonja has a Master of Environmental Science degree (Environmental management and GIS) from the University of Western Australia, and a Bachelor of Communications degree from Fontys University in the Netherlands.

Research Director, Biodiversity Economics and Finance: Associate Professor Ram Pandit

Ram is an environmental and resource economist with over 20 years of teaching, research and professional experiences in the field of conservation and development in both developing and developed countries.

Ram also holds a position of Associate Professor at the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment where he teaches courses on environmental, resource, and development economics. He has an active research agenda in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services fields, including economics of threatened species conservation, and socio-economic impacts of protected area policies.

Ram has contributed to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Assessments as an expert in different capacities, including as a Coordinating Lead Author of Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment (2018) and as a Lead Author of Values Assessment (2022). He currently contributes to IPBES’s ongoing Transformative Change Assessment as a Lead Author.

Ram is a member of the Editorial Boards of journals Forest Policy and Economics (Elsevier), Ecosystems and People (Taylor & Francis), and Wetlands Ecology and Management (Springer). He is the founding coordinator of the Unit 9.04.05 Economics of Biodiversity and Protected Areas of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO). He also holds a visiting faculty position at the Hokkaido University in Japan.

Ram holds a PhD in Applied Economics, MS in Economics, and MS in Probability and Statistics from Auburn University, USA. He also holds a MS in Forest Resources Management from SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, USA.

Program Director, Biodiversity Data and Information Management: Chris Gentle

Chris has over twenty years’ experience consulting at a strategic level within the information management industry for natural resources and government sectors. He has specialised knowledge in developing and implementing location-intelligence strategies and leading ICT strategy and implementation planning for resource infrastructure capital projects. Chris has a focus on customer outcomes with his multi-disciplinary expertise gained through years of working in the data management and systems as well as the engineering services industry.

Chris holds a Bachelor of Science from The University of Western Australia, a Graduate Diploma in Technology Management and an M.B.A. from La Trobe University.

Senior Research Fellow: Hanouska Bishop

Hanouska is a senior leader experienced in biodiversity assessments and environmental approvals. For the past 15 years Hanouska has led a multidisciplinary team undertaking biodiversity assessments for Rio Tinto’s iron ore and renewable energy environmental approvals projects in Western Australia. She has considerable expertise in WA and Commonwealth environmental approvals, land and freshwater values, environmental research and innovation, project management, partnership development, commercial governance and health safety and wellbeing.

Hanouska is a passionate advocate of the intrinsic value of Western Australia’s biodiversity and combines her skills and experience in leading and influencing complex change to advance solutions that protect and enhance nature.

Research Fellow: Linda Abdo

Linda is an environmental management professional with more than 17 years’ experience working in government organisations, private industry and NGOs in various natural resource management and stakeholder engagement roles. She has previously held positions and represented organisations on a number of technical advisory working groups and is currently a Board member of the international charity Positive Change for Marine Life, and a member of Parks Australia’s South-west Marine Park Advisory Committee.

Linda has specialist skills in the development of biodiversity offset strategy, impact assessment, approvals, planning and design of restoration/revegetation/management and monitoring programs, and evaluation and reporting. She has a specific focus on the development and implementation of nature-based solutions for sustainable development, net-gain biodiversity offsets and nature credits.

Linda has a Bachelor of Science (Marine Science) (Honours), a Diploma of Management (project, people and financial), and a PhD on the contribution of biodiversity offsets to sustainable development that is in the final stages of development.

Project Officer: Chante Fourie

Chante is a dedicated environmental scientist with a passion for wildlife biology and a commitment to environmental stewardship. She is actively involved in local initiatives aimed at protecting wildlife habitats and promoting sustainable practices. With a customer service and community engagement background, Chante has a keen eye for detail and is dedicated to addressing environmental challenges by making a meaningful contribution throughout her career. Chante has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Curtin University, specialising in wildlife biology.

Research Fellow, Biodiversity Economics and Finance: Dr Dinesh Babu Thapa Magar

Dinesh is an agricultural economist with over 10 years of professional experience in Nepal across agriculture, forestry and socio-economic policy research and development. Dinesh has considerable experience in biosecurity, safeguarding Western Australia from the Queensland fruit fly and Polyphagous shot-hole borer, in his previous role with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Dinesh is passionate about leveraging his knowledge and skills to drive transformative change and create positive impacts for the environment, economy and society. Skilled in working with stakeholders for the design and execution of survey and desk studies, data management and analysis, Dinesh has vast experience in project development and management.

Dinesh holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics from The University of Western Australia.

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