Team

Our organization is run by a dedicated team of researchers and professionals advancing sound science and protecting turtles through respectful, collaborative actions.

Staff

  • Costa Rica

    Elizabeth Solano Pacheco

    Costa Rica Director

    Elizabeth has served as TLT's Costa Rica Director since 2009, using her legal training and international relations background to coordinate advocacy work for the conservation of the marine resources, the protection of marine turtles and the consolidation of Las Baulas National Park.

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    Elizabeth is an enthusiastic lawyer with a degree from the University of Costa Rica. For the past decade she has worked on environmental issues with a special interest in marine and coastal protection, including a position in the Legal Department in the Environmental Ministry's National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC). Elizabeth is TLT's primary liaison with the Costa Rican Government, the Congress and other NGOs in addition to coordinating projects with community leaders. Elizabeth is also in charge of our staff, budgets, logistics and administration in Costa Rica. Her main objective is to work in alliance with authorities to achieve our common goals in conservation!

  • Costa Rica

    Myriam Norori Gadea

    Office Manager

    Myriam assists with management of operations in Costa Rica to achieve planned objectives.

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    Myriam has worked with The Leatherback Trust since 2009, when she joined as a volunteer. She was one of the lucky few to witness a nesting leatherback sea turtle during her first visit to Las Baulas National Park. They remain her favorite sea turtle, and she's always amazed at their size. She is an industrial engineer with a Master in Business Administration from UCA Universidad de Centroamérica. Myriam is always interested in the welfare of employees and volunteers in all our locations and works to achieve our goals in a cost effective manner.

  • Costa Rica

    Pilar “Bibi” Santidrián Tomillo, Ph. D.

    Science Director

    Bibi liaises with all scientists to meet research objectives, ensure strong implementation in the field, and develop field protocols to maximize conservation outcomes.

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    Bibi obtained her bachelor degree in Biology at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. She holds an MPhil from University of Wales Swansea, U.K. and a Ph.D. from Drexel University. Bibi has worked with sea turtles for 17 years and has been part of the Leatherback Trust team since 2000. Her main research lines are on the population biology, nesting ecology and conservation biology of leatherback turtles. Bibi and Dr. Gabriela Blanco started the sea turtle project at Cabuyal in January 2011. In 2013, she received a Marie Curie Fellowship to study the effect of climate change on sea turtles at the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies.

  • Costa Rica

    Nathan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Field Director

    Nathan supervises research for the long-term Playa Grande monitoring project and the Earthwatch volunteer program.

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    Nathan has been working with sea turtles since 2007 and in this time he has worked in Costa Rica, Greece, South Africa, and the USA. Like an olive ridley sea turtle, Nathan is nomadic (and likes to dance). His research focuses on investigating how large marine species, such as sea turtles, respond to oceanographic processes. He is also very interested in applying novel technologies to uncover the secrets of marine megafauna and develop effective conservation management strategies. Nathan holds a Ph.D in Biology from Purdue University, USA, and a Masters in Marine Biology from Southampton University, UK.

  • Costa Rica

    Christian Díaz Chuquisengo

    Outreach Manager

    Christian works with key local stakeholders, welcomes school groups visiting Costa Rica, and maintains Goldring-Gund Station to facilitate the research and education.

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    Christian has been involved in conservation efforts in Costa Rica since 2009. He has volunteered in more than 10 protected areas and his passion for conservation led him to work with leatherback sea turtles. With a Business Administration degree from Universidad de Costa Rica and a Naturalist Guide certification from INBio, Christian works in the promotion of ecotourism and environmental education. He is very interested in a positive relationship between communities and stakeholders that can develop conservation strategies benefiting the environment and, in consequence, the people and economy.

  • Costa Rica

    Jenell Black

    Field Manager

    Jenell leads the sea turtle monitoring project at the Goldring-Gund Marine Biology Station, ensuring success by maintaining standardized data collection methods and providing regular reports.

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    Jenell has been working with sea turtles since 2013, when she first started as a field assistant for The Leatherback Trust. Like a black turtle, Jenell is determined to have things just right, no matter how long it takes. Practice makes perfection! During the off-season she’s been field manager for a fresh water turtle project in Silver Lake under Dr. Harold Avery. She obtained her Bachelor's in Biology from Drexel University in 2011. She is currently pursuing a Master’s under Dr. Frank Paladino.

  • Costa Rica

    Aliki Panagopoulou, Ph.D

    Research Fellow

    Aliki addresses fisheries interactions with sea turtles through her research and works with ISTS President Frank Paladino to organize the 2017 International Sea Turtle Symposium.

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    Aliki has been actively involved in conservation since 1994, when she joined a sea turtle conservation project run by ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece. Aliki is experienced in running sea turtle conservation projects, compiling and implementing management policies for important sea turtle habitats and running collaborative programs with fishermen. She received her Ph.D. in environmental science from Drexel University in Philadelphia. She has been a member of the Marine Turtle Specialist Group since 2005 and is serving as Regional Vice Co-chair for the Mediterranean. She has served in the Board of Directors of the International Sea Turtle Society and the National Marine Park of Zakynthos and is also a member of ARCHELON’s Scientific Committee.

  • Costa Rica

    Quintin Bergman

    Field Biologist

    Field biologists participate in sea turtle monitoring by searching for nesting turtles at night, assisting with tagging and measuring nesting turtles, monitoring incubating nests and excavating hatched nests, in addition to engaging volunteers and visitors in scientific research activities.

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    Quintin is a 2016 graduate of Murray State University where he earned his B.S. in Wildlife Conservation & Biology. In his undergraduate research he observed the interactions of Colorado native large mammals and livestock. He also brings experience in stream ecology and amphibian surveys. Quintin enjoys monitoring and protecting sea turtles in Costa Rica because of the dwindling population numbers. His research interests are habitat restoration and studying invasive species. Quintin has a passion to teach others about the environment and sharing his love of learning. Like the Hawksbill sea turtle, Quintin likes to travel to tropical locations across the world.

  • Costa Rica

    Dana Neel

    Field Biologist

    Field biologists participate in sea turtle monitoring by searching for nesting turtles at night, assisting with tagging and measuring nesting turtles, monitoring incubating nests and excavating hatched nests, in addition to engaging volunteers and visitors in scientific research activities.

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    Dana comes to TLT with a background in educational outreach. With a Bachelor's of Science in Marine Biology from UC, Santa Cruz, she has spent the last two years teaching marine science at a camp in San Diego, CA. Her passion lies with marine mammals but she loves all large marine vertebrates. She believes in conservation through research and community outreach and is excited to start this new chapter of hands on conservation. Like a leatherback turtle she wants to dive deep into the world of marine science and experience as much as possible.

  • Costa Rica

    Rhys Pegrume

    Field Biologist

    Field biologists participate in sea turtle monitoring by searching for nesting turtles at night, assisting with tagging and measuring nesting turtles, monitoring incubating nests and excavating hatched nests, in addition to engaging volunteers and visitors in scientific research activities.

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    Rhys is an ecologist who grew up on two continents. Surrounded by animals during his younger years in South Africa, he then went on to study animal care and conservation in the United Kingdom. Like a nomadic Leatherback turtle Rhys has travelled the world, experiencing many animals, environments and cultures and he has taken part in programs in Honduras and in countries in Southern Africa. When diving off the island of Utila, Rhys encountered a Green turtle and this is when he became determined that he should become a part of the turtle conservation movement.

  • Costa Rica

    Paola Ramirez

    Field Biologist

    Field biologists participate in sea turtle monitoring by searching for nesting turtles at night, assisting with tagging and measuring nesting turtles, monitoring incubating nests and excavating hatched nests, in addition to engaging volunteers and visitors in scientific research activities.

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    Paola graduated from Marine Biology at the Autonomus Univesity of Baja California Sur in December 2015. She currently collaborates on a project focused on sea turtle health along Baja California Sur. Previously, she volunteered with turtle camps, and has participated in workshops with local communities. She considers it is very important to involve communities in environmental conservation, especially children. Paola has a fascination and admiration for all sea turtles, but her favorites are the leatherback and black turtles. Leatherbacks for their evolutionary adaptations, their characteristics are so different from other turtles, and black turtles because they are very agile an show incredible skill and freedom at sea.

  • Costa Rica

    Laura St. Andrews

    Field Biologist

    Field biologists participate in sea turtle monitoring by searching for nesting turtles at night, assisting with tagging and measuring nesting turtles, monitoring incubating nests and excavating hatched nests, in addition to engaging volunteers and visitors in scientific research activities.

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    Laura brings research and field experience connecting anthropogenic oceanic change, endangered species conservation and policy. Combining her Environmental Studies and Government degree, Laura studied effects of rising sea levels and storm surges on native Alaskan communities. Her first visit to Playa Grande was with Earthwatch Institute, working to monitor and collect data on the nesting turtles. Learning about the destructive affects of human activity on these species motivated Laura to get in the field. She is excited to dive into this position like a Leatherback dives into the ocean to understand the research and work needed to better protect them!

  • Costa Rica

    Gisselle Vargas

    Station Maintenance

    Gisselle ensures healthy conditions at the Goldring-Gund Marine Biology Station.

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  • Costa Rica

    Jesús Suarez

    Station Maintenance

    Jesús ensures that the Goldring-Gund Marine Biology Station is well maintained.

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  • Costa Rica

    Alexandria Baker

    Intern

    Alexandria assists the field team with developing best practices for animal health and safety.

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    Lexi is an Animal Sciences major at Purdue University. She has been working with the Leatherback Trust since she first started on her protocol for sick sea turtles in November of 2015. During her research, she came into contact with Costa Rica’s government and they have shown interest in using her work across the country to help save ill sea turtles. She's most like a hawksbill because she's the most stubborn (determined) person you will ever meet. Also, she loves a medium rare steak more than most people.

  • U.S.

    Jana Williams

    Bookkeeper

    Jana serves as TLT's bookkeeper.

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    Jana has over 40 years of university accounting experience. This experience has included: research grants budgeting and detailed expense monitoring to verify compliance with granting agency guidelines, campus-wide university budgeting and data entry of the entire campus; annual budget, payroll, various types of internal audits, university bank account reconciliations and final approval of university travel reimbursements. During this time, the most pleasurable part of her work has been learning about our environment, endangered sea turtles, snakes and wetlands. She enjoys sharing her bit of knowledge with others on these topics and has created interest about the concern of saving sea turtles. She has learned from some of the best researchers in this field. She believes that all can make a difference in some fashion.

Board of Directors

Contributing Scientists

  • Tera Dornfeld

    University of California, Irvine

    View bio

  • Stephen J. Morreale, Ph.D.

    Cornell University

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  • Dora Pinou, Ph.D.

    Western Connecticut State University

    View bio

  • Pamela Plotkin, Ph.D.

    Texas A&M University

    View bio

  • Richard Reina, Ph.D.

    Monash University

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  • Vincent Saba, Ph.D.

    NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center

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  • Bryan Wallace, Ph.D.

    Abt Environmental Research

    View bio

Board of Advisors