Meet our Team!

Jessica Lynch-Alfaro

Dr. Jessica Lynch Alfaro is the Associate Director for ISG and co-editor for the journal “Neotropical Primates”, a publication of Conservation International. She is a biological anthropologist whose research centers on the evolution of diversity in socially learned behaviors, mating strategies and social structuring in Neotropical primates. Her research focuses most strongly on the genus Cebus, the capuchin monkeys. Like humans, capuchins are a recent and successful radiation of weedy generalists, able to survive even in marginal habitats through extractive foraging and tool use. Populations of capuchin monkeys in the wild differ markedly from one another in social and sexual behaviors and in grouping patterns, and thus provide an excellent system for comparative study of both cultural and genetic variation. Jessica is the PI of this project as well as the lead for our population genomics work. For more information about Jessica, please click here.  

Anthony Friscia  

My research program has focused on the evolution of early Tertiary mammals and their diversification into modern families, using extensive anatomical and functional knowledge as a basis for comparison. Specifically I have worked on small-bodied mammalian carnivores, both extinct and extant. As a comparative base I have built a large collection of pictures and skull/dentition measurements of living small carnivorans, including members of the Procyonidae (raccoons and their relatives), Mustelidae, (weasels, badgers, otters, and their relatives), Mephitidae (skunks), Herpestidae (mongooses), and Viverridae (civets and their relatives). I use this database to study the dietary specializations of these groups and the morphological correlates of diet. Tony is the lead for our trapping and biodiversity work. For more information about Tony, please click here.  

Jamie Lloyd-Smith

I study the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of infectious disease in animal and human populations, and at the animal-human interface where novel human pathogens such as SARS or pandemic influenza can emerge. By combining theoretical models with data, I aim to deepen our understanding of fundamental principles of disease transmission and adaptation, and apply those principles to interpret observed patterns, uncover driving mechanisms, and design effective control policies. I work on a diverse range of disease-host systems, including leptospirosis in California sea lions, monkeypox in humans and wildlife in central Africa, and influenza and other emerging diseases in human populations. Jamie is the lead for our pathogen surveillance team. For further details about his research and lab, click here.

Sarah Helman

My research interests currently include conservation biology, public health, disease ecology and wildlife population health. These interests inspired my pursuit of an undergraduate degree in ecology and conservation biology followed by  attending veterinary school, and I am now utilizing my previous experience to research zoonotic disease dynamics in California's coastal wildlife. My current research as a PhD candidate in the James Lloyd-Smith lab focuses primarily on the bacterial disease leptospirosis in California sea lions and other terrestrial mammals in coastal California, but this work has expanded to include work on canine distemper virus and fecal pathogens in the wild mammals of Los Angeles County.  As part of the pathogen surveillance team, Sarah is managing our wildlife pathogen sampling efforts as well as our wonderful team of undergraduate research assistants (see below).

Christopher Kelly  

As a professor at UCLA, I have a joint appointment at ISG and in the department of Information Studies. My research focuses on the cultural significance of information technology, especially in science and engineering.  I am the author of Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke University Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles on open source and free software, including its impact on education, nanotechnology, the life sciences, and issues of peer review and research process in the sciences and in the humanities. For this project, I am leading the multi-species ethnography research. Christopher is the lead for our multi-species ethnography research. For more information about Christopher, click here. 

Katherine Prager

My specific interest is in zoonotic multi-host pathogens that threaten wildlife, domestic animal and human health, and in understanding the dynamics of these pathogens at an ecosystem level. I am particularly concerned about the impact of these pathogens on populations of conservation importance. These interests have driven me to pursue a career in conservation and disease ecology, and have guided me through an undergraduate major in ecology and evolutionary biology, veterinary school and subsequent small animal practice, graduate school (PhD) in ecology, and ongoing research studying the ecology of infectious diseases in wildlife populations. Katherine is part of our pathogen surveillance team. For more information about Katherine, click here​.
Undergraduate Research Assistants
This project would not be possible without the help of our amazing team of undergraduate research assistants! We are all incredibly grateful for their ongoing curiosity, dedication and assistance as we work together to make a difference.


From left to right   Back row: Jessica Lynch-Alfaro, Sarah Helman, Brady DeMattei, Valerie Millette, Nick Rodgers, Marcus Weiss,                   Reed Munson (UCLA '18), Nihal Punjabi. Front Row: Isobel Tweedt, Mandy Hagen, Abby Low, Alex Molina, Molly Maloney, Sarah Nugen