Conservation & Science Staff Bios

Jessica Ray, M.A.

  Associate Population Biologist
Population Management Center


  • M.A. - Applied Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University
  • B.S. - Integrative Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Areas of Expertise

  • Small population management
  • Stochastic population models

About Jessica Ray:

Jessica joined the Population Management Center (PMC) in a new position generously funded by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to support the PMC’s ongoing efforts to provide demographic and genetic advice to nearly 600 animal populations cooperatively managed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. She will serve as a scientific advisor for these Species Survival Plans® and studbook programs alongside population biologist Sara Sullivan.

Jessica has a B.S. from University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s in Applied Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University in New York, where her thesis focused on developing a stochastic demographic and spatial model to examine the potential effects of land-use conversion on an endangered species of kangaroo rat in California. She later worked as a consultant helping to develop a risk assessment of the possible effects of wind turbines on bat populations. Through her education and work background she has gained experience in population biology, computer modeling, molecular genetic techniques and statistics.

Prior to settling into the role of associate population biologist in August 2013, Jess worked at Northwestern University as a research technician and made time to volunteer with the PMC. Jessica is very excited to work with the PMC and advance the management of zoo populations and wildlife conservation.