The Amphibian Project
 © Piotr Naskrecki
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About Us

The Amphibian Project Team (APT) is a subset of the 2007-2008 class of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) program.  The team is made up of five environmental professionals selected from the non-profit, private and public sectors, with experience in research, environmental education, fund raising, communications, and community outreach.  The team consists of:

Payal Kapoor, Conservation International

Carol Rizkalla, Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Jennifer Sevin, Smithsonian Institution

Scott Smith, Wildlife Conservation Society

Aimee Weldon, Defenders of Wildlife

EWCL is an initiative that brings together twenty-one new, emerging leaders in the wildlife conservation field for capacity building and intense training in campaign development and skills, including implementation of a two-year international wildlife campaign. Wildlife conservation is benefited by the nurturing of future leaders, information sharing and idea exchange amongst conservation entities, and the tangible conservation products generated as part of the group campaign exercise.


Payal Kapoor: Born in Hong Kong and an Indian national, Payal moved to the U.S. to attend the University of Virginia. At UVA Payal majored in economics and following graduation joined the management consulting firm of William M. Mercer as an analyst. After two years at Mercer, Payal decided to follow her heart and started her search for a position in a conservation organization. She joined The Conservation Fund's corporate development team for a short while and then moved to Conservation International where she has been since. At CI, Payal started as the coordinator for the Indonesia program and then transitioned into her current role of senior manager in the Public Funding department. In her position, Payal is responsible for working with CI’s programs on reports, work plans, and proposals to U.S. government agencies. Payal enjoys traveling, photography, and eating out in DC.

Carol Rizkalla: Carol went to the University of Richmond where she pursued a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Political Science. She then went on for a Master of Environmental Management at Duke University. This is a professional program, rather than a research program, stressing multidisciplinary coursework over a thesis. Typically, students do an internship between the first and second year, which results in the master's project. She took a 6 month internship at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Her supervisor there studies cotton-top tamarins in Colombia.  Carol analyzed some of her supervisor's data for her masters project, relating the diet of cotton-tops to reproductive patterns. Upon graduating from Duke, her boss at Disney offered her a position on an ongoing study of captive elephant behavior and vocalizations.  She remained in this position for 2 years before returning to the world of field conservation. She entered a doctoral program at Purdue in ecology. Her dissertation focuses on the dispersal ability of forest rodents in fragmented landscapes, and the implications of future land-use change. She hasn’t finished yet, but has returned to Disney a third time, this time as the wildlife biologist.  About one third of Disney property is in conservation easement. She is monitoring the wildlife there, as well as monitoring sea turtles that nest at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. Current projects involve birds, butterflies and herpetofauna, including testing native Floridian frogs for chytrid infection.

Jennifer Sevin: Originally from Miami, Florida, Jennifer resides in Virginia and works for the Smithsonian Institution. Science and education are Jennifer's two main interests and her work and academic experiences attempt to bridge these two fields. Jennifer received a B.S. from Florida International University in Environmental Studies and later a M.S. in Zoology from North Carolina State University. Her master's gradate research involved studying the use of black bears and salamanders as management indicator species for biodiversity monitoring in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina. Since 1994, Jennifer has served as President of Youth Environmental Programs, Inc., a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing environmental education and volunteer opportunities primarily for youth. She created a water pollution education and action program called the Officer Snook Water Pollution Program. This program has been adopted by the U.S. Coast Guard and together with other organizations has provided educational presentations and materials to an estimated five million people across the U.S. In her current position, Jennifer coordinates professional training courses in the U.S. and abroad for scientists and resource managers on a variety of subjects. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at George Mason University. Her current research interest is studying the distribution, abundance, and habitat use of the endangered Shenandoah salamander and producing a monitoring plan for this species for Shenandoah National Park. Jennifer also enjoys traveling, sports, photography and eating chocolate. Her dog, Raleigh, is the most precious dog in the world.

Scott Smith: Scott was born and grew up in Long Island, New York. He attended the University of Maryland at College Park (Go Terps!) and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Scott worked in the environmental consulting field for several years in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and then for five years in the Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup for the Department of Environmental Protection in Massachusetts. During this time, Scott attended graduate school at Antioch New England in New Hampshire where he graduated with a Master of Science in Environmental Communications in 2006. Since January of 2006, Scott has worked in the Public Affairs Department of the Wildlife Conservation Society at their offices located at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. Present job responsibilities include drafting of press releases, institutional policy, opinion editorials, and letters to the editors of area newspapers. Scott also coordinates much of the online web advocacy, city council outreach, and the Take Action program for WCS.

Aimee Weldon: Aimee is the Living Lands Project Manager at Defenders of Wildlife in Washington D.C., where she works to help the national land trust community to more effectively conserve wildlife and biodiversity on private lands.  Prior to her position with Defenders, Aimee coordinated the Virginia Important Bird Areas program for the National Audubon Society.  In this role, she helped to delineate Virginia’s first 19 Important Bird Areas and then worked with local communities, conservation groups, and state agencies to develop grassroots strategies to protect them.  Aimee is originally from Minnesota, where she earned a B.S. in Biology from the College of St. Benedict. She later received a Masters in Zoology from North Carolina State University where she studied the effects of habitat fragmentation and wildlife corridors on the nest success of Indigo Buntings and other birds. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors looking for birds and other critters or doing just about anything creative.