Staff & Advisors


Ryan Phelan

Executive director, Cofounder
Ryan Phelan is a serial entrepreneur active in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. She is the Executive Director of Revive & Restore, with a mission to enhance biodiversity through the genetic rescue of endangered and extinct species. Ryan currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Personal Genome Project, which aims to sequence and publicize the complete genomes and medical records of 100,000 volunteers, in order to enable research into personalized medicine.

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In 2005 Phelan launched DNA Direct, the first medical genetics company to focus on bringing personalized medicine to the consumer market. The company was acquired in 2010 by Medco Health Solutions (with over 55 million Medco members) to provide pharmacogenetic testing services and clinical support focused on drug/gene interactions. In 2001 she was co-founder and director of the ALL Species Foundation, a global science initiative to discover all life on Earth in 25 years. It led to the online Encyclopedia of Life, which so far has collected web pages on 925,000 species. In 1995 she founded Direct Medical Knowledge—a consumer health web site unique for its content depth and innovative search interface that was acquired by WebMD in 1999. DMK’s content became the backbone of WebMD’s consumer health site.


Stewart Brand

President, The Long Now Foundation


Stewart Brand is co-founder of Revive & Restore and president of its parent organization, The Long Now Foundation.  Bringing biotech to conservation first went public with his TED talk in 2013, “The Dawn of De-extinction.”

Brand has been an ardent conservationist since he was 10.  That led him to get his degree in Biology from Stanford in 1960, focussing on ecology and evolution.
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The Whole Earth Catalog, which he created and ran from 1968 to 1984, purveyed a biological perspective on everything.  Besides earning a National Book Award in 1972, the Catalog and its later philanthropy became one of the founding pillars of what is called the Modern Environmental Movement—as chronicled in the book Counterculture Green: The Whole Earth Catalog and American Environmentalism (2007 by Andrew Kirk), and in the feature film “Earth Days” (2009 by Robert Stone).  Recently, in an effort to inspire environmentalists to follow science instead of ideology, Brand wrote Whole Earth Discipline: The Rise of Ecopragmatism (2010, Penguin).  The book has two chapters on the environmental benefits of biotechnology.  In 2015 Brand was one of the authors of an influential essay, “An Ecomodernist Manifesto.”

Brand also co-founded The WELL and Global Business Network.  His other books include The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT (1987); How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built (1994); and The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility (2000).  Among the books about his involvement in the personal computer revolution are From Counterculture to Cyberculture (Fred Turner), What the Dormouse Said (John Markoff), and The Innovators (Walter Isaacson).


Ben Novak

Lead Researcher, The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback

Ben Novak graduated from Montana State University studying Ecology and Evolution (2005). Novak specialized in paleontology, genetics, ecology and ornithology. Novak was trained in paleogenomics laboratory protocols at the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre under Dr. Hendrik Poinar, exploring DNA extraction and sequencing of Mastodon fossils (2010-2012). It was at this laboratory that Ben began his first studies of passenger pigeon genomics. With this experience he has taken on the challenge of leading The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback which began in 2012. In 2013 he joined the UCSC Paleogenomics Laboratory, under Dr. Beth Shapiro, to initiate genome studies for passenger pigeon de-extinction. Read More

Passenger pigeons and the conservation ecology of de-extinction have been his life-long passion. In conjunction with his work for Revive & Restore, Ben is pursuing a Master’s degree at UCSC. His thesis dissertation will serve as an “ecological risk assessment” for the reintroduction of passenger pigeons to the eastern United States/Canadian forests. Research for this body of work will provide the foundation for our understanding of the genomics of de-extinction, the comprehensive design plan for the breeding and repopulation of de-extinct passenger pigeons, and the regulations and policies pertaining to de-extinction. Ben is leading The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback with the goal of setting the field standards for de-extinction protocols and considerations.

Ben is also involved in public communications & education outreach for Revive & Restore, as well as lending his expertise to related projects.

Meghan Foley

Executive Administrative Assistant

  • Edward O. Wilson
    Naturalist, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology
  • Peter Raven
    President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Tom Lovejoy
    Biodiversity Chair of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment
  • Tim Flannery
    Mammalogist, Macquarie University, Sydney
  • Hendrik Poinar
    Evolutionary Biologist, Ancient DNA Centre, McMaster University
  • Ross MacPhee
    Curator, American Museum of Natural History
  • Sylvia Earle
    Oceanongrapher, National Geographic Explorer
  • Russ Mittermeier
    President, Conservation International
  • Tierney Thys
    Marine biologist, National Geographic Emerging Explorer
  • Matt Ridley
    Science writer
  • Joel Greenberg
    Project Passenger Pigeon
  • Isabella Kirkland
    Artist of taxa
  • Jack Dumbacher
    Ornithology and Mammalogy Curator, Calif. Academy of Sciences
  • Josh Donlan
    Founder and Director, Advanced Conservation Strategies
  • Eric Dinerstein
    Vice President and Lead Scientist, Conservation Science Program, World Wildlife Fund