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MISSION: To help conserve biodiversity for the benefit of wild nature and people.

I am interested in human-wildlife interactions and wild animals' capacity for persistence in human-dominated landscapes. In Tanzania, I was involved in several initiatives including surveys of savanna elephants in forests and mitigation of conflicts between farmers and elephants at the boundary of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. In South Africa, I researched risk, fear and cognition in samango monkeys at two Afromontane forest sites: the western Soutpansberg Mountains of Limpopo and Amathole Mountains of the Eastern Cape. This study, of how wild species deal with risk in a “landscape of fear”, had wider applications including (1) informing our understanding of primate cognitive evolution under conditions of stress and fear, and (2) shaping conservation management approaches in areas where wildlife populations are affected by human activities including research practices and depredation (poaching, problem animal control, trophy hunting). 
I am now learning about North America's Rocky Mountains while developing
a citizen science project addressing whether mountain goat molt phenology is tracking warming - stay tuned.  

I earned a PhD in Biological Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in 2007. My PhD fieldwork focused on the behavioral flexibility of the endangered and endemic Zanzibar red colobus monkey where it inhabits unprotected coastal forests including mangroves. As a postdoc at Princeton University, l carried out research on a population of forest-dwelling savanna elephants in the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania; became more involved in the ivory trade debate; and lectured on the evolution and behavior of the sexes from 2011-2012. I have consulted for NGOs in Tanzania, UK, and USA encompassing a variety of topics including wildlife trade, coastal forest biodiversity, and wind farms. For one of these consultancies, I worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to identify and rank 62 Priority Primate Areas in Tanzania which included two sites at which I conducted my doctoral fieldwork. I regularly contribute to a National Geographic blog and also NG digital news and Wildlife Watch. I stay involved in elephant conservation in East Africa as a scientific advisor to the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program. In Fall 2017, I visited Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins co-teaching a graduate seminar in international conservation with Joel Berger of WCS and CSU. 

  • Large mammal conservation
  • Human-wildlife interactions
  • Flooded forests
  • Human-elephant coexistence
  • Wildlife trade
  • Transboundary conservation
  • PhD   Biological Anthropology       University of Cambridge, 2007
  • BA     Animal Behavior                   Bucknell University, 2001
  • 2018                   Fellow, The Safina Center
  • FALL 2017          Visiting Scientist, Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Biology, Colorado State University 
  • 2016-2017          AAAS Science & Tech Policy Fellow - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Africa Branch
  • 2016                   Consultant, WildAid - USA
  • 2013-Present      Research Associate, University of the Free State, Qwaqwa, Zoology & Entomology - RSA
  • 2013-2016          Junior Research Fellow, Durham University, Evolutionary Anthropology
  • 2013                   Consultant, Environmental Investigation Agency - UK
  • 2010-2012          Postdoc & Lecturer, Princeton University, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • 2008/2009          Consultant, Wildlife Conservation Society - Tanzania                                  
  • 2002                   Field Assistant, spider monkey project, Santa Rosa National Park - Costa Rica
E-mail: knowak02@gmail.com     Twitter: @katzyna