Steven M. Whitfield, PhD


I'm a conservation ecologist currently working as a Lecturer in the Biology Department at Gonzaga University in Washington State.  My research involves conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles in Central America, and addresses a number of threats that affect a wide range of organisms - climate change, emerging infectious diseases, and contaminants.

I have a number of ongoing research activities, currently based primarily in Costa Rica.  I'm working with a large team of collaborators to understand how diffuse global stressors (climate change, emerging infectious diseases, and contaminants) interact to drive large-scale losses in biodiversity.

I'm also working on an exciting new project that aims to understand how several populations of critically endangered amphibians throughout Costa Rica have survived one emerging infectious disease (the amphibian chytrid fungus) that has been widely reported to have driven these frog species extinct.  This research is relevant for protecting these nearly-extinct species, as well as developing conservation solutions that may protect other species vulnerable to the amphibian chytrid fungus.

While my research program has strong scientific and conservation objectives, I also use my research program as a way to train a new generation of biologists.  For this reason, I work to involve undergraduates in my research.  I'm committed to broadening participation in biology, and have considerable experience working with underserved student groups.  All of my recent research programs have involved strong collaborations with international researchers.