The Team

In the Center for Conservation Innovation (CCI) at Defenders of Wildlife, we pioneer creative, pragmatic conservation solutions at the intersection of sciencetechnology, and policy. Our team of scientists, policy analysts, and technical specialists makes this possible:

Jacob Malcom, PhD – Director, Center for Conservation Innovation

Jacob is a biologist, programmer, and policy analyst who previously worked in the field for the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the US-Mexico border in Arizona; completed his PhD in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Texas at Austin; and has been at Defenders since January, 2015.  When not working on science, technology, and policy for conservation, he’s out finding plants and critters, often in Western Maryland where he lives with his wife, daughter, and three dogs.

OSF | ORCID | GitHub | ResearchGate | figshare | LinkedIn

Michael Evans, PhD – Conservation Data Scientist

Mike has a background and interest in spatial ecology. He studied the movement patterns and space use of black bears in relation to man-made features while working on his PhD at the University of Connecticut and tracked mountain lion behavior in response to human activity in Saskatchewan.  He is also a scientific SCUBA diver, and studied coral ecology in the Bahamas and Florida Keys during his M.S. at the University at Buffalo.  In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar, archery, snowboarding and disc golf.

GitHub | OSF | ResearchGate

Megan Evansen, MS – Conservation Science and Policy Analyst

Meg has a background in conservation and biology and has previously worked with Defenders on research relating to the Endangered Species Act before joining the Center for Conservation Innovation in 2017.  She has previously worked on conservation issues around the US at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA, the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, WI, and the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species in New Orleans, LA.  She holds a Master’s of Science in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Genetics with a minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin.

ResearchGate | OSF

Jennie Miller, PhD – Senior Scientist

Jennie is a wildlife ecologist who studies the socio-ecological drivers of human-wildlife interactions and develops decision support tools to transform conflict into coexistence. She has worked in North America, Asia, and Africa on a range of taxa, and is particularly infatuated with big cats. Jennie also actively contributes to efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within the science and conservation community. Jennie earned her Ph.D. while data crunching over New Haven pizza at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She enjoys birding and painting in Washington DC with her husband and tiny cat.

ResearchGate | Google Scholar | Personal Website

Mae Lacey, BS – GIS and Technical Computing Associate

Mae earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behavior with a minor in Environmental Studies from Bucknell University with a background studying species delineation, the effect of climate on wildlife, and seabird endocrinology and feeding behavior via GPS tracking. Prior to joining Defenders in September of 2018, Mae worked with a variety of wildlife and plants in Australia, Alaska, and most recently with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Connecticut monitoring endangered roseate tern populations. In her free time, Mae loves to get out and explore the best places for hiking and wildlife photography outside DC.

ResearchGate | GitHub | ORCID | LinkedIn

Shayna Steingard, MS – CCI Coordinator

Shayna graduated from Indiana University in 2018, earning a Master of Science in Environmental Science and a Master of Public Affairs, with a focus on Environmental Justice.  While in Indiana, Shayna worked for Sycamore Land Trust, protecting land for many of Indiana’s endangered species.  Shayna also spent two years as a science teacher in Missouri with Teach for America while earning her Master of Elementary Education.  In her free time, she enjoys baking for her friends and family.


Sasha Patsel, MS – Application Developer

Sasha is a full stack web developer with a background in Javascript and Python. Prior to joining Defenders, he was a member of the teaching staff at UC Berkeley Extension Full-Stack coding program, where he helped develop the program’s curriculum in addition to mentoring students. Before working in software, Sasha worked in the California State Senate after graduating from Clark University with a Master’s in Public Administration.

GitHub | LinkedIn

Conservation GIS Scientist – VACANT

Are you a GIS scientist with a background and strong interest in conservation? We’re looking to fill our Conservation GIS Scientist position!

Senior Conservation Policy Analyst – VACANT

Do you have a background in conservation policy and science or technology? We’re looking to fill our Senior Conservation Policy Analyst position!


We’re always on the lookout for interns to learn and work on a variety of topics.  We have more information about internships in the Center here; if interested, please check out our openings!