Lincoln Park Zoo’s conservation and science projects have moved from nonexistent to world-class in a little more than 20 years. Looking for our next conservation leader, we wanted a researcher who could maintain that level of excellence while finding exciting new opportunities at the zoo and in the wild.
Candidates were brought in from around the country; we interviewed scientists whose C.V.s covered conservation work around the globe. In the end, we decided the best person for the job was already at the zoo: Alexander Chair of Applied Population Biology Lisa Faust, Ph.D.
As Lincoln Park Zoo’s next vice president of conservation and science, Lisa will be leading an institution she knows well. She first came to the zoo in 1997, spending a summer in the attic of the zoo’s Laflin Memorial Building as a Dr. Scholl Research Fellow. Her research entailed poring through old mammal population records to discover patterns in birth-sex ratios.
Lisa came back to the zoo that next year to prepare her work for publication; she was also officially hired as a zoo employee. Since then, she’s continued to reach new levels of distinction, guiding zoos throughout the country—and partners around the globe—in scientifically planning healthy, sustainable populations.
For species ranging from chimpanzees to eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, Lisa has developed computer models and software tools to answer fundamental questions about their lives. Is their growth sustainable? Are recommendations to breed or transfer them between zoos being followed? How long can individuals be expected to live? Can this species be saved?
These tools enable zoos and sanctuaries to best serve the populations in their care. Her models also inform efforts to conserve animals in the wild. These resources provide a platform we can build on as we continue to learn about species around the globe.
Please join me in congratulating Lisa in her new role. She’s taking the helm of a department that’s flourished thanks to the hard work of her predecessors, notably Steve Thompson, Ph.D., the zoo’s first scientist. When Lisa started under Steve, she was one of five researchers. Now we have nearly 50 who will be working under Lisa’s guidance. Given the high standards she’s already established, I’m confident the results will be spectacular.