Director is Top Conservation Biologist

WASHINGTON (November 15, 2006) -- The Natural Resources Defense Council today announced the launch of its new Science Center to bolster its technical capabilities and environmental advocacy efforts across a range of priority issues, from cutting global warming pollution to the extinction of endangered species.

The center will be led by Dr. Gabriela Chavarria, who brings to NRDC extensive experience in conservation biology and ecology. Dr. Chavarria most recently was vice president for Science and International Conservation at Defenders of Wildlife. Earlier, she worked at the National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Dr. Chavarria, who will be based in NRDC's Washington office, will oversee implementation of the Science Center's dual mission of expanding NRDC's technical capabilities as well as increasing the visibility of environmental policy debates within the scientific community.

"Gabriela brings us additional scientific expertise to support all our advocacy programs," said Frances G. Beinecke, president of NRDC. "And that role is becoming increasingly vital at a time when science is developing so quickly on so many of NRDC's issues, from the depletion of the oceans to the molecular biology of toxic chemical effects."

Dr. Chavarria earned her Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University, where she studied under E.O. Wilson, the researcher, naturalist, entomologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Born and raised in Mexico, Dr. Chavarria got her start in entomology at an early age, becoming enamored with bees when she was a child. She later earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the National University of Mexico.

Dr. Chavarria, who also serves on variety of boards and advisory councils, including the Canon National Park Science Scholar Program, the Eco Systems Institute, and the Mexico-North Research Network, will lead a cadre of young post-doctoral science fellows who will work with NRDC advocates in their respective fields of expertise, pursuing scientific research and increasing and expanding our collaborations with academic researchers. She will also direct additional funds for specialized technical consulting help to the NRDC program staff.