OUR PURPOSE

I founded BiodiversityWorks in 2011 because I saw a need for a conservation organization focused specifically on wildlife monitoring and research across the entire island of Martha’s Vineyard. I also saw a need for mentoring opportunities for young adults.

I envisioned a collaborative organization that promoted biodiversity conservation through participation. An organization that works with conservation groups, private landowners, federal and state agencies, citizens, students and scientists to ask questions and find answers together.

-Luanne Johnson

OUR TEAM

LUANNE JOHNSON, PHD

LUANNE JOHNSON, PHD

DIRECTOR/WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST/BOARD MEMBER

I founded BiodiversityWorks because I saw the need for a conservation organization focused specifically on wildlife monitoring and research across the entire island of Martha’s Vineyard. I envisioned a collaborative organization that promoted biodiversity conservation through participation. An organization that works with conservation groups, private landowners, federal and state agencies, citizens, students and scientists to ask questions and find answers together. I was fortunate to find accomplished professionals in conservation, science, and education to become board members and join me in making this vision a reality.

I have a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies/Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England, a B.S. in Zoology from Butler University, and 28 years of experience as a conservation biologist.

LIZ OLSON, M.S.

LIZ OLSON, M.S.

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR/WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST/BOARD MEMBER

  • Growing up on Martha’s Vineyard, I always wanted to work with a wildlife biologist and gain experience in the field, but that experience was not available then.  As a professional wildlife biologist, I wanted to provide interested young people with the opportunity I missed in high school and college. Co-founding BiodiversityWorks was a way to fulfill this wish as well as allow me to do work I am passionate about in a place I love.

    I have a B.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of New Hampshire and an M.S. in Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England. My thesis was on the Activity Patterns, Behavior, and Population Status of North American River Otters (Lontra canadensis) in a Northeast Coastal Environment.

KAYLA SMITH

KAYLA SMITH

SHOREBIRD CONSERVATION COORDINATOR

Working for BiodiversityWorks as the Shorebird Conservation Coordinator and as a Wildlife Biologist is my dream job.  My passion for shorebirds, my wildlife degree from the University of New Hampshire, and practical field research experience focusing on endangered and understudied avian species in Massachusetts, Alaska, and Florida all prepared me for this position.  Whether I am searching for cryptic shorebird nests, conducting surveys of tern or skimmer colonies, radio-tracking turtles, snakes, or bats, or teaching interns and volunteers field skills, I believe in the necessity and importance of the work we do to help protect the island’s biodiversity for future generations.  I grew up coming to the island each summer, but my parents moved here full-time when I was in college. I’m happy to call the island my home.

MATT PELIKAN

MATT PELIKAN

PROGRAM DIRECTOR - MARTHA'S VINEYARD ATLAS OF LIFE

My earliest memories are of moments of delight inspired by wildlife. In the decades since those moments, I’ve spent as much time as possible appreciating the natural world. So I’m excited to be part of BiodiversityWorks, with its clear focus on wildlife conservation, education, and research.

There is no better place to be a naturalist than Martha’s Vineyard! With its unique geology and human history, the Vineyard supports a wealth of interesting species and unusual habitats. If you live or visit here, you will enrich your life by spending time in nature. By supporting BiodiversityWorks and contributing to our wildlife studies, you can help document and protect the biodiversity that makes the Vineyard so special.

A year-rounder on the Vineyard since 1997, my academic background is in literature, but I’ve studied and written about wildlife from birds to beetles. I hope you’ll join me in exploring the natural diversity of this incomparable place!

ANGELA LUCKEY

ANGELA LUCKEY

PROGRAM DIRECTOR - NATURAL NEIGHBORS

From an early age, I developed a fondness for plants and associated wildlife. Curiosity and intrigue for my natural surroundings led me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and ultimately my Master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Management. Upon completing my Master’s, I sought to encourage and educate the community on how to support our native flora and fauna. As the director of the Natural Neighbors program, I have the pleasure of doing just that. I meet with property owners to understand their interests and values and determine how they may add to the existing features of their space. I am delighted by the degree of enthusiasm to increase habitat and connectivity for wildlife at one’s home. Collectively, I have over a decade of horticultural experience, working with environmental organizations like BiodiversityWorks, The Nature Conservancy, and Sheriff’s Meadow, and having served as the Assistant Curator/ Lead Horticulturist at the Museum of Science in Boston, MA.

Born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, I am grateful for this opportunity to give back to the island community and advocate for our unique flora and fauna.

DAVID FABER

DAVID FABER

PRESIDENT - BOARD MEMBER

When I was asked to be a charter board member of BiodiversityWorks, I was honored and thrilled to be part of something so novel and critical. As an educator, I was especially excited about the educational potential for something like this right here on the Island, and beyond, for both the general public and in mentoring young people in conservation and wildlife biology careers.  The need to monitor and protect our vulnerable and diminishing biodiversity is more important now than ever, and our mission to cultivate an even larger, younger, better-prepared generation of environmental stewards is vital.

In June of 2020 I retired from teaching 7th and 8th grade science at the Edgartown School, where I proudly taught since 1986. I earned my B.S. in Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and my M.Ed. in Middle School Education from Leslie College in Cambridge, MA.

WALT LOONEY

WALT LOONEY

TREASURER - BOARD MEMBER

I think often about whether my grandchildren will be able to enjoy the wonderful diversity of nature we now have on the Vineyard – the multitude of shorebirds that pass through in the spring and fall, the scup, crabs and other species they love to catch from the Island’s docks, the marshes, meadows and forests. BiodiversityWorks has done a great job helping us understand and appreciate this diversity, and taking steps to preserve it. I joined the BiodiversityWorks board because I want to participate in this effort.

I am a retired lawyer who has been interested in nature and environmental protection since my days as a boy scout. Much of my legal career was spent in Asia and Europe where I was involved in financing infrastructure development. A graduate of Boston College and Harvard Law School, I currently serve on the boards of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation and one other conservation organization, and spend many spare hours hiking, birding and enjoying the outdoors.

NELSON SMITH

NELSON SMITH

SECRETARY/CLERK - BOARD MEMBER

I joined the board of Biodiversity Works for several reasons. Being a small organization with a professional staff of mostly longtime islanders, they have an intimate knowledge of our unique ecosystems. They focus on research and public education, working with homeowners to preserve habitat for often misunderstood and threatened species such as bats, turtles, snakes, frogs, moths, and shorebirds. The organization’s primary focus on biodiversity conservation is an important service to our community.

I’m a lifelong and native islander with roots going back about 12 generations. I earned a degree in Natural Resources and Conservation from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and worked as a land surveyor for almost 35 years. During that time, I served on the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary Advisory Board and helped Gus Ben David erect about half of the osprey poles on the island.

MARGARET CURTIN

MARGARET CURTIN

BOARD MEMBER

I became involved with BiodiversityWorks as a volunteer in the beach bird and marsh bird program the first year and have remained active as a volunteer since then.  I graduated from Smith College and work in architectural design. I moved here in the 1970's and am an avid birder, participating in the Christmas Bird Counts every winter. To keep learning, I took a deep dive into botany a few years ago and continue to survey the wild plants of the Vineyard as part of a project supported by several conservation groups and Polly Hill Arboretum to update the Flora of MV. I served on the board of Vineyard Conservation Society many years ago, as well as on the Lagoon Pond Association, advocating for the importance of clean waterways. I am happy to be part of the BiodiversityWorks board today.

CHRISTOPHER NEILL, PHD

CHRISTOPHER NEILL, PHD

BOARD MEMBER

I enthusiastically support engaging the public in ecological science and conservation biology and I think that the projects that BWorks does are a great opportunity for combining hands-on experiences with projects that meet real and meaningful conservation priorities.

I am a Senior Scientist at the Woodwell Climate Center. I study how changes to land use alter the structure and functioning of ecosystems. In the Amazon, I investigate how deforestation changes the way water and materials move from land to water and within the channels and streams and rivers and how the intensification of soybean and corn cropping alters runoff to streams and greenhouse gas emissions. In Massachusetts, where increases in residential development threaten estuaries and terrestrial ecosystems that contain high and unique biological diversity, I work with local conservation organizations to design improved methods of ecosystem conservation and restoration.

jeff peters

jeff peters

BOARD MEMBER

My personal passion is birding—I have birded in ~80 countries, many of which are “developing”. I see a crying need to change the way we think about the environment to a more sustainable development model where people and nature can co-exist. Our future depends on it.

My career has been in financial services, leading global businesses in the asset management world. I have recently retired, but have parlayed that experience into several Treasurer, Finance and Investment Committee roles at a variety of conservation NGO’s. I am transitioning from being a part-time resident on Martha’s Vineyard to making the island my year-round home.

CONNIE ROOSEVELT

CONNIE ROOSEVELT

BOARD MEMBER

I grew up as the daughter of a Foreign Service officer so I lived much of my youth in Europe and Africa and have been lucky enough to travel widely since then. The one constant in my life has been a passion for the out of doors coupled with a curiosity and wonder about the biodiversity I’ve encountered. Here on the island, I especially love exploring the salt water marshes next to our seasonal home and finding endless surprises on the beaches and trails. Serving on the board of BiodiversityWorks is a perfect way for me to pursue my interest here on the island with grandchildren by my side and be sure the island’s wildlife remains for their children to enjoy. I have an M.A. in Conservation Biology from Columbia University and currently serve on the board of the Woodwell Climate Research Center in addition to BiodiversityWorks. Most recently I’ve been a board member of the New York chapter of The Nature Conservancy and The Brooklyn Community Foundation.

Oscar Thompson

Oscar Thompson

BOARD MEMBER

I first began working with BiodiversityWorks in the summer of 2013 as a summer intern, returning for a total of 4 seasons. Growing up on Martha’s Vineyard, I always knew I had a passion for wildlife, and the outdoors, but my summers working with BiodiversityWorks is one of the reasons I pursued a degree in Conservation Biology at Warren Wilson College. The field experiences and mentorship I gained helped me in college, and prepared me for wildlife research jobs after I graduated.

I am a coastal ecology researcher at the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, in Brunswick Georgia, where my focus is working with Gopher Tortoises. In my position, we work closely with a heavy mineral sands mining company and state agencies to conduct species surveys and wildlife relocation on mining lands prior to mining. As part of our relocation work we study the effects of relocation and suitability of reclaimed sites for gopher tortoise populations. I am also able to assist with a variety of other field projects including American Alligator and Eastern Indigo snake research, and a sea level rise monitoring program.

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