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 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

    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.

  • U.S.

    Aliki Panagopoulou, Ph.D

    Operations Manager

    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

    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

    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

    Laura St. Andrews

    Field Manager

    Laura leads the sea turtle monitoring project at the Goldring-Gund Marine Biology Station, ensuring success by maintaining standardized data collection methods and organizing the team 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

    Jeremy Evans

    Field Assistant

    Field assistants participate in sea turtle monitoring program. They also engage volunteers and visitors in scientific research activities.

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    Jeremy is a new addition to our Field Biologist crew this season. He recently graduated from Southern Utah University where he first heard about the Leatherback Trust through one of his professors. Jeremy enjoys studying all forms of aquatic wildlife and has spent the last two summers working as a Fisheries Technician for the U.S. Forest Service. As part of the Leatherback Trust, he desires to expand his knowledge of sea turtles and research techniques and gain valuable experiences that will one day be useful in a classroom setting as he pursues a career to be a professor of biology.

  • Costa Rica

    Abigail Parker

    Field Assistant

    Field assistants participate in sea turtle monitoring program. They also engage volunteers and visitors in scientific research activities

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    Having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology, Abigail is currently completing a Master’s

    degree in Marine Biology to further her interest in marine conservation. After working on
    sea turtle conservation projects in Greece during her time at university, Abigail developed a
    strong passion for sea turtle conservation and is hoping to pursue this as a career. This
    prompted her interest in the Field Biologist position with The Leatherback Trust, and is very
    excited to join the team this year!

  • Costa Rica

    Cory Snyder

    Field Assistant

    Field assistants participate in sea turtle monitoring program. They also engage volunteers and visitors in scientific research activities.

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    Cory attended Raritan Valley Community College earning an Associate’s Degree in Environmental Science in May of 2015. Afterward he transferred to Cornell University. In May of 2017 he graduated from Cornell with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental and Sustainability Science. He has worked on various conservation projects working with species like oysters, birds, and different plant life. In the future he hopes to focus in on studying reptiles and amphibians and the processes that effect their populations. While not working on conservation Cory enjoys tabletop games and is a professional disc golfer.

  • Costa Rica

    Alessandra Sulis

    Field Assistant

    Field assistants participate in sea turtle monitoring program. They also engage volunteers and visitors in scientific research activities.

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    Alessandra obtained her bachelor degree in biology at University in Italy. She has been working with sea turtle since 2004 in a sea turtle rescue center. She joined The Leatherback Trust last years as volunteer. Her interest is marine life and its conservation, and for this she wants to work in that field, as well to contribute and help these animals and their surrounding environments.

  • Costa Rica

    Callie Veelenturf

    Field Assistant

    Field assistants participate in sea turtle monitoring program. They also engage volunteers and visitors in scientific research activities.

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    Callie Veelenturf recently finished her master’s in biology at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, under the direction of Dr. Frank Paladino and Dr. Shaya Honarvar.  Her thesis work involved sea level rise modelling and hatching success of leatherback and green sea turtles on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. Previously she has worked with olive ridley, green, hawksbill, and leatherback sea turtles in Ostional and on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, and on St. Kitts & Nevis, West Indies.  Callie has also volunteered with the Leatherback Trust periodically since 2015, throughout the process of completing her master’s degree.

  • Costa Rica

    José Vindas

    Field Assistant

    Field assistants participate in sea turtle monitoring program. They also engage volunteers and visitors in scientific research activities.

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    José studied Ecology and Sustainable Development and now he is emphasizing his studies in Management of Marine Resources and its preservation.  Also studies Business Administration and have being working as a Naturalist Guide all around Costa Rica.  He will be helping as a Field Assistant contributing in the success of our projects. His interest are with nature and with sea Turtles, that’s why his passion and dedication for TLT's work is to try to contribute and fight for this wonderful animals and making this planet a better place for them to continue living in it.

  • 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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  • 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

    View bio

  • 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

    View bio

  • Vincent Saba, Ph.D.

    NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center

    View bio

  • Bryan Wallace, Ph.D.

    Abt Environmental Research

    View bio

Board of Advisors