Instruction Team

Learn cutting-edge science and applied experience from a diverse team of contributors.


Program coordinators & mentors from Yale's Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative will guide you every step of the way. We will ensure that you have the resources you need to achieve your learning goals. You choose the schedule that works for you; we help you stay on track.

Gillian Bloomfield, M.F.S.

Tropical Restoration & Management Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative, Yale School of the Environment

Gillian Bloomfield is the Online Training Program Coordinator at ELTI. She holds a Master of Forest Science from the Yale School of the Environment, where she focused on the restoration of native biodiversity, forest health and ecosystem services in human-modified landscapes. Her passion for sustaining forests and local livelihoods began while living in Costa Rica as part of her dual Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and the interdisciplinary Biology & Society program at Cornell University. She specializes in the synthesis and communication of scientific findings for diverse audiences through printed mediums, course design, e-learning tools and other training materials. With 8 years of experience working at ELTI, she works to design training materials, develop online learning curricula and implement online courses on the restoration and sustainable use of tropical forest landscapes.

Karin Bucht, M.F.

Tropical Forestry & Conservation Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative, Yale School of the Environment

Karin holds a Master of Forestry from the Yale School of the Environment and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Oregon State University. She has been with ELTI since 2015, where she plans, develops and delivers online training courses on managing tropical forest landscapes for a global audience. She is especially interested in connecting social considerations with practical and technical aspects of natural resource management. She has conducted research and worked on a variety of projects in Madagascar, most recently investigating species and site considerations for local fuelwood production and reforestation. She has also worked on the Global Institute for Sustainable Forestry's "Global Forest Atlas” project and with Yale School Forests as an Apprentice Forester.

Emily Sigman, M.F./M.A.

Political Ecology & Food Systems Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative, Yale School of the Environment

Emily Sigman is a political ecologist, with research interests in food systems, interspecies relationships, and social-ecological systems and restoration.  Emily has contributed to research at The World Agroforestry Centre, Bioversity International, the Yale School Forests and the Yale Forestry and Rangeland Research Program. Currently, Emily is writing a book about chocolate.  Emily has studied, worked, and collaborated on interdisciplinary projects in more than 75 countries, and speaks five and a half languages.  Emily holds a Master of Forestry degree from the Yale School of the Environment, a Master of Global Affairs degree from the Yale Jackson Institute, and has held visiting scholar positions at National Taiwan University, Beijing Normal University and University of Ghana.



Faculty and experts from the Yale School of the Environment integrate theory and practice from multiple disciplines and perspectives.

Mark Ashton, Ph.D.

Tropical Forest Restoration & Silviculture Yale School of the Environment

“It is exciting to be part of a program that provides such a rich educational experience built around the needs of professionals, landholders and others engaging in tropical forest restoration, conservation and community development."

Dr. Mark Ashton is a Professor of Silviculture and Forest Ecology and Director of School Forests at the Yale School of the Environment. His research focuses on the biological and physical processes governing the regeneration of natural forests and the mechanisms underlying the diversity of forest ecosystems and their adaptability to climate change. He conducts his long-term research in both temperate and tropical forests and has worked in forests from New England to Sri Lanka and from Canada to Panama. He holds a Ph.D. from the Yale School of the Environment.

Carol Carpenter, Ph.D.

Social Science of Conservation & Development Yale School of the Environment

Dr. Carpenter is a Senior Lecturer and Associate Research at the Yale School of the Environment. Her teaching and research interests focus on theories of social ecology, social aspects of sustainable development and conservation, and gender in agrarian and ecological systems. She spent four years in Indonesia engaged in household and community-level research on rituals and social networks. She then spent four years in Pakistan working as a development consultant, primarily on social forestry issues, for USAID, the World Bank, and the Asia Foundation, among others. Her current interests involve the invisibility of women’s economic activities in agrarian households and the implications of this invisibility for sustainable development.

Liza Comita, Ph.D.

Tropical Forest Ecology & Conservation Yale School of the Environment

Dr. Liza Comita focuses on the ecological mechanisms driving patterns of diversity, dynamics, and species distributions in both pristine and human-altered tropical forests. Her research combines extensive field studies of forest dynamics with cutting-edge statistical techniques to produce novel insights into the processes driving tropical forest regeneration and structuring these diverse ecological communities. Dr. Comita earned a BA in Biology and MA in Conservation Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999 and a PhD in Plant Biology from the University of Georgia in 2006. She joined the faculty of the Yale School of the Environment in July 2014.

Amity Doolittle, Ph.D.

Social Justice & Natural Resource Management Yale School of the Environment

“A wonderful aspect about being involved in a certificate program like this, with such talented conservation practitioners from around the world, is that I get to learn from your experiences about the amazing work being accomplished on the ground."

Dr. Amity Doolittle’s research focuses on property rights and how control over and access to natural resources is defined, negotiated and contested by different stakeholders. She is interested in understanding the social and political processes that result in centuries of social inequities and unequal distribution of the benefits and burdens of natural resources. Her research often takes on a historical approach focusing on issues of legal and cultural pluralism. Her research approach is interdisciplinary, combining perspectives from anthropology, political science, environmental history and political ecology to explore environmental histories, property relations and conflicts over resources use. Her research has been primarily in Southeast Asia, but she has also worked on projects in Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Peru. Current research is focused on history of land use change in New Haven, Connecticut.

Eva Garen, Ph.D.

Social Sciences & Conservation Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative, Yale School of the Environment

Dr. Eva Garen has spent almost twenty-five years working on the social aspects of conservation and development in the tropics. Prior to becoming the Director and Principal Investigator of ELTI in 2012, she was a technical advisor on the social aspects of REDD+ with Conservation International's Science and Knowledge Division. She also worked with USAID’s Forestry and Biodiversity Teams in Washington D.C. as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For her postdoctoral research in Panama at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, she worked with cattle ranchers and smallholders on issues of native species reforestation and land restoration in human-dominated landscapes. She completed her Master of Environmental Science and Ph.D. at the Yale School of the Environment, with a concentration in social ecology.

Bradford Gentry, J.D.

Private Investment & the Environment Yale School of the Environment

“Forest restoration will be a key part of a more sustainable and resilient future – finding ways to fund those efforts at scale is a key challenge.”

Brad Gentry is the F.K. Weyerhaeuser Professor in the Practice at the Yale School of the Environment and the Yale School of Management, Senior Associate Dean for Professional Practice at the Yale School of the Environment, and a Director of the Yale Center for Business and the Environment. Trained as a biologist and a lawyer, his work focuses on strengthening the links between private investment and improved environmental performance. He has worked on land, water, energy, industrial and other projects in over 40 countries for public (UNDP, World Bank, Secretariat for the Climate Change Convention), private (GE, Suez Environnement, Working Lands Investment Partners), and not-for-profit (Land Trust Alliance, The Trust for Public Land, the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation) organizations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Swarthmore College and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School.

Namrita Kapur, M.E.M/M.B.A.

Private Investment & the Environment Yale School of Management

Namrita Kapur combines a unique mix of traditional finance skills from her time in investment banking with environmental, social and governance impact assessment experience as a senior leader in the nonprofit space. Currently, she is Lecturer in the Practice at the Yale School of Management and Resident Fellow at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment; advises the National Geographic Society on its philanthropic impact investing strategy; and, consults to several philanthropists, including founders of one of the oldest venture capital firms and of a Fortune 500 company. Namrita began her capital markets focus by launching and leading the alternative energy franchise at the investment bank Adams, Harkness & Hill, now Canaccord Genuity. She is best recognized for being second-in-command in developing the products and platform of Root Capital – an early leader of the impact investing space. As former Managing Director at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), she built and led EDF’s Sustainable Finance strategy.

Florencia Montagnini, Ph.D.

Agroforestry, Restoration & Biodiversity Yale School of the Environment

“I am excited about being involved in this certificate program, as it represents an opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with a broad audience of qualified professionals around the globe, in manners that transcend the standard, conventional classroom teaching. On-line teaching opens up new and exciting possibilities of closely interacting with students that otherwise would be difficult to reach. It also offers flexibility to accommodate needs and tight time schedules of each.”

Dr. Florencia Montagnini has over 30 years of experience researching and teaching about the sustainability of managed ecosystems in the tropics, such as forest, tree plantations and agroforestry systems, with a special emphasis on Latin America. Her work encompasses sustainable land-use systems that integrate ecological principles with economic, social and political factors; the principles and applications of forest landscape restoration; the reforestation of degraded lands with native species; identification and quantification of ecological services (biodiversity, carbon sequestration and watershed protection); organic farming using indigenous resources; biodiversity conservation in human-dominated landscapes; biodiversity islands. She received her doctorate from the University of Georgia and, since 1989, has worked as a professor and researcher at the Yale School of the Environment, as well as the Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE). She has written 11 books and around 200 scientific articles about the ecology of tropical forests, agroforestry systems, native species reforestation and forest restoration.

Oswald ‘Os’ Schmitz, Ph.D.

Biodiversity & Ecosystem Ecology Yale School of the Environment

“This represents a wonderful opportunity to advance science-based conservation and management of tropical ecosystems.”

Os Schmitz is the Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology, in the Yale University School of the Environment. His research aims to make sense of nature’s complexity that comes from interdependencies among the variety of carnivore, herbivore, decomposer and plant species within ecosystems. The insights are used to teach about stewardship to enhance the sustainability of ecosystem functions and services. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Amy Vedder, Ph.D.

Ecology & Applied, Field-Based Conservation Yale School of the Environment

“It is great to be part of the ELTI certificate program team: I enjoy contributing my practical experience from the field of forest conservation, but at the same time I am fortunate to learn constantly from the diverse group of practitioners who enroll in the program.  They – you  - are our future."

Dr. Amy Vedder has worked in applied conservation for more than 30 years, integrating ecological and social science as a basis for conserving wildlife and wildlands. She has conducted ecological research, launched wildlife and forest conservation projects, managed large field programs, consulted for the Global Environment Facility & USAID and served in senior positions at the Wildlife Conservation Society and The Wilderness Society. Dr. Vedder currently teaches in the graduate program of the Yale School of the Environment, focusing on the practice of international conservation. During her free time she hikes & kayaks the forests of the Adirondack mountains with three generations of her family.




Field experts from ELTI’s network of affiliates bridge science and practice by showcasing experiences and perspectives from around the world.

Alicia Calle, Ph.D.

Tropical Forest Restoration & Agroecology The Nature Conservancy, Colombia

Dr. Alicia Calle has been working at the intersection of tropical forest restoration and agroecology for over 10 years, mostly in Latin America. In both her applied and research work, she seeks to understand how different forms of incentives contribute to engage farmers in the use of sustainable production and conservation practices, and what impact those decisions have on the landscape. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California Santa Cruz. Prior to completing her doctoral work, she worked as ELTI’s Leadership Coordinator where she contributed to develop ELTI’s unique model for personalized alumni mentorship and support.

Zoraida Calle, M.Sc.

Restoration in Agricultural Landscapes Center for Research on Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems (Fundación CIPAV), Colombia

Zoraida Calle is a biologist with an MSc in ecology. For more than two decades, she has coordinated an ecological restoration group at the Center for Research on Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems (Fundación CIPAV), a Colombian organization that promotes sustainable agricultural production systems. CIPAV's restoration work involves a combination of participatory research, pilot projects, on-farm activities and bioengineering. Focused on the synergy between restoration and sustainable farming, she has explored the complementary role of silvopastoral systems in landscape-scale conservation. The exuberant nature, unique biodiversity and resilient rural communities of her native country have inspired her restoration work in Colombian agricultural landscapes. She has been an ELTI affiliate at CIPAV since 2017.

David Neidel, Ph.D.

Environmental Anthropology World Agroforestry Centre, Philippines

Dr. David Neidel has been with ELTI since its Asia Program launched in 2008. He is currently based with the World Agroforestry Centre in the Philippines and was previously at the National University of Singapore and Yale-NUS College. Prior to joining ELTI, he was a Visiting Professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, where he taught environmental science and policy, environmental conflict management and ecological restoration. He has lived in Southeast Asia for over 16 years. In addition to his time in Singapore, he spent six years in Indonesia where he conducted his dissertation research on park-community conflicts and settlement archaeology in the Kerinci Seblat National Park in central Sumatra. He holds a Ph.D. from the joint program in Environment and Anthropology at Yale University.

Jacob Slusser, M.F.

Restoration and Sustainable Ranching Achotines Laboratory, Panama

Jacob L. Slusser is a forester with over a decade of experience working in the Neotropics designing and implementing tropical forest restoration projects in agricultural landscapes. With ELTI, he specializes in the development of field-based training course materials and communicating forest restoration strategies for diverse land-use decision makers in Latin America. As a Pre-Doctoral Fellow with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, he developed ELTI’s Focal Training Sites Initiative in Panama. There, he established two permanent training sites in the wet and dry tropical forest ecosystems and created training materials for ELTI field courses. His interest in capacity building began as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer, where he spent over three years living in rural Panama developing agroforestry and silvopastoral system projects with small producers and community groups. He holds a Master of Forest Science from Michigan State University.


Guest Contributors

Participants also learn from over 50 different global experts, through video lectures, case studies and live sessions. Our roster of guest contributors is constantly evolving to ensure that participants have direct access to the most current, relevant and practical ideas in the field.

Image: Video lecture with guest speaker Frances Seymour, Distinguished Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute.


Image: Live session discussion with guest experts Minnie Degawan, Kankanae-Igorot, Philippines, and Dominique Bikaba, Strong Roots Congo, DRC, moderated by course instructor Dr. Eva Garen