Luke Powell
Luke L. Powell, PhD, is the director and co-founder of the Biodiversity Initiative. Luke is a research fellow at Durham University Department of Biosciences, and a Marie Curie Fellow at University of Glasgow. He received his Masters at the University of Maine, where he studied ecology and conservation of the rare and declining Rusty Blackbird, and received his PhD at Louisiana State University, where he studied the effects of rainforest disturbance on birds of the Brazilian Amazon. He has been working in tropical rainforests since 2005.


Kristin BrzeskiKristin Brzeski, PhD, is a co-founder of Biodiversity Initiative and Assistant Professor at Michigan Technological University. Kristin’s work in Equatorial Guinea focuses on conservation strategies for Protected Areas and capacity building projects. Kristin utilizes a wide range of tools in her research including genomic sequencing, camera traps, and a multitude of field based techniques to best understand, manage, and conserve natural resources both in Central Africa and at home in North America.


Jared Wolfe
 Jared Wolfe, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor at Michigan Technological University and co-founder of Biodiversity Initiative. Jared has spent over 15 years working with tropical bird communities in Africa, Central and South America where he examines effects of climate and habitat change on sensitive bird species and wildlife communities. In addition to his tropical research interests, Jared also works with managers in North America to integrate wildlife management and conservation into sustainable forest stewardship.


Jacob C. Cooper, MS,  is currently a Masters student at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute, and will soon be starting his PhD at the University of Chicago and the Field Museum. He is the audiovisual specialist for the Biodiversity Initiative’s bird surveys in Africa, and spends much of his time in the field trying to obtain recordings and photographs of birds. Jacob has become addicted to field work over the years, and has worked in Jamaica, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and the United States. He is often accused of working on his vacations and using his free time to search for rare and localized birds the world over.



Sese Site is BI’s Administrative and education manager.  Located in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Sese has worked with countless international NGOs to build capacity for youth in Central Africa.  Sese is coordinating capacity building activities for Biodiversity Initiative, including conservation stakeholder meetings and workshops for African conservationists.


agustinmug150x150Agustín Ebana  is BI’s in-country manager based in Bata, Equatorial Guinea.  He is a also a biologist and technician with INDEFOR-AP, Equatorial Guinea’s forestry and protected areas program. Agustin (at left with bird) is managing BI’s effort to inventory the mammals and large birds of Equatorial Guinea’s poorly known mainland protected areas using dozens of remotely placed camera “traps”. Agustin has a Bachelor’s degree from the Universidad Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial.


Taylor SmithTaylor Smith is BI’s Development Manager. She studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, Canada and received her Masters in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation from the University of Bristol, England. Now based in Scotland, Taylor works in funding development across nature conservation organisations. She focuses on managing stakeholder relationships and securing financial support for BI’s research and work programmes.


Laura Torrent AlsinaLaura Torrent Alsina, MS, is BI’s chiropterologist and logistics coordinator. She did her Master’s degree at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague. Her project focused on the role of temporal lakes and ponds for bat conservation in the Neotropical rainforests based on acoustic analysis. Laura has worked on several projects related to bat conservation and ecology in Catalonia, Poland, Mexico, Madagascar and Equatorial Guinea. She has participated in European Bat Symposiums, done scientific publications and assisted in bioacoustics workshops in France, Spain and Norway. In addition to her research abroad, Laura works with Catalan organizations carrying out bat surveys in caves, monitoring bat boxes and giving environmental awareness talks.


Tiff DeGroot

Tiff DeGroot is a master’s student in the Brzeski Lab studying biodiversity and conservation in tropical forests. Her research project utilizes DNA metabarcoding of carrion flies and camera trapping to survey wildlife in Equatorial Guinea, Central Africa. Tiff studied biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology at the University of New Hampshire as an undergraduate, and has worked in the global wildlife conservation NGO space for the past two years. Her interests lie primarily in human impacts on conservation and applied research to mitigate them.


Abigail CarruthersAbigail Carruthers, MS, has just finished a masters at Durham University, supervised by Andreanna Welch, which involved optimising Metabarcoding loci to learn about bat diet, as part of the Biodiversity Initiative cocoa project.


Andreanna Andreanna Welch PhD, is a research assistant professor in the Department of Biosciences at Durham University. Her research centers broadly on gaining a better understanding of the amazing biodiversity that we see around us today, how it arose, and how it has changed and is currently changing through time. She works on multiple scales at the intersection between ecology, evolution, cellular biology, physiology, and conservation. She employs a variety of genetic techniques, ranging from DNA metabarcoding, population and phylogenomics, transciprtomics, to full genome sequencing.


Crinan JarrettCrinan Jarrett  is a PhD student at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine. She is focused on seasonal fluctuations in the bird community in cocoa farms and primary forest in Cameroon. Hailing from Catalonia, she has spent much time monitoring bird populations in Scotland through hundreds of nest boxes.



Diogo Ferreira is a Ph.D. student at the University of Porto’s Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources. Since traveling to the Amazon forest to sample bats in 2014 for his Master’s thesis in Conservation Biology, his research interests shifted mainly to bats and their conservation. Diogo has worked on bat conservation and ecology projects across the world, including Portugal, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Kenya, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. For his Ph.D. thesis, Diogo is studying bats and food security in Cameroon using both mist-netting and bioacoustics, with the goal to promote sustainable cocoa plantations through bat ecosystems services.


Tabe Tiku Regine ClaireTabe Tiku Regine Claire, MS, is an ornithological technician for BI. Hailing from Cameroon, she received her Masters from the University of Buea in Cameroon, where she studied avian malaria. Claire is in charge of bird banding operations for BI’s cocoa project. Claire received a prestigious Master’s fellowship from GCRF; she will study at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine starting in the fall of 2019. She will study bats and birds that eat Malaria-carrying Anopheles mosquitoes.