REVIVE & RESTORE STAFF
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Ryan Phelan is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Revive & Restore, with a mission to enhance biodiversity through the genetic rescue of endangered and extinct species. Ryan works with some of the world’s leading molecular biologists, conservation biologists, and conservation organizations to envision and develop pioneering genetic rescue projects using cutting-edge genomic technologies to solve seemingly intractable wildlife conservation challenges such as those posed by inbreeding, exotic diseases, climate change, and destructive invasive species. She has organized landmark workshops on genetic rescue bringing together global experts to identify the challenges facing endangered species and identify what genetic tools can be used or designed to help save them from extinction. The Intended Consequences Workshop took place in June of 2020, which led her to the main stage of TED in Monterey 2021 with her TED Talk titled The Intended Consequences of Helping Nature Thrive and the podcast on TED Radio Hour.
Ryan is a serial entrepreneur, active in the for-profit and non-profit worlds. Prior to her conservation work, for two decades she was a leader in patient-oriented healthcare and was the Founder and CEO of two innovative healthcare companies focused on empowering the healthcare consumer: DNA Direct and Direct Medical Knowledge.
Pete serves as deputy director, responsible for overall project management and strategy to bring our complex projects and initiatives to life and help our team execute these plans. He works collaboratively with partners and stakeholders to develop new programs, including Biobanking, to accelerate timelines for genetic rescue and ecosystem restoration.
Before joining Revive and Restore, Pete developed and led advanced technology development programs of consequence to conservation and climate change. He developed strategic partnerships across philanthropic, non-profit, government, and commercial sectors to develop technologies for coral reef restoration, measuring microplastic in the world’s oceans, and zero carbon aviation fuel. Pete is an engineer at heart and has a passion for innovation- the realization of powerful ideas- to solve the most challenging problems in conservation of our time. He holds a Ph.D. In Materials Engineering, an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from North Carolina State University, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Director of Research & Development
Program Manager, Catalyst Science Fund
Establishing and growing Revive & Restore’s Catalyst Science Fund has been a major focus since Bridget joined the team in 2019 as Program Manager. Since then the fund has grown substantially and has awarded over 40 research grants to research institutions around the world. Bridget works closely with Revive & Restore leadership and the Catalyst Science Fund Advisory Council to develop an overarching investment and grant strategy designed to accelerate the creation of impactful innovations in conservation. She works directly with various research teams as they submit proposals, refine their scope of work, establish milestones, and oversee progress and deliverables.
Prior to Revive & Restore, Bridget spent five years in program creation, development, and management as a contractor to the Biological Technologies Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). There, she developed a passion for promoting the use of green technologies to solve big problems. At Revive & Restore she’s continuing that work by developing biotechnologies that counteract the impacts of climate change and reduced species diversity. Bridget has a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, and a B.S. in Biochemistry from Stony Brook University of New York.
Program Manager, Biotechnology for Bird Conservation
Ben J. Novak collaboratively pioneers new tools for genetic rescue and de-extinction. As lead scientist, he heads Revive & Restore’s de-extinction efforts and is the lead coordinator for conservation cloning projects, and in 2022 has expanded his role to include Program Manager for the newly launched Biotechnology for Bird Conservation endeavor.
Ben’s primary passion is the restoration of the extinct passenger pigeon, the goal of Revive & Restore’s flagship project, The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback. Ben is working with collaborators and partners towards restoring the ecology of the Passenger Pigeon to eastern North American forests. Ben uses his training in ecology and ancient-DNA lab work to contribute, hands-on, to the sequencing of the extinct Passenger Pigeon genome and to study important aspects of its natural history. Ben’s mission in leading the Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback is to set the standard for de-extinction protocols and considerations in the lab and field.
While passenger pigeons are Ben’s passion and specialty, the conceptualization and advocation of biotech-based genetic rescue solutions for all organisms have been a lifelong pursuit. Ben’s work at Revive & Restore also includes extensive education and outreach, the co-convening of seminal workshops, and helping to develop ongoing projects and scope new opportunities to expand genetic rescue science and applications through Revive & Restore’s Catalyst Science Fund and Wild Genomes Grants.
Ben graduated from Montana State University studying Ecology and Evolution (2008). He later trained in Paleogenomics at the McMaster University Ancient DNA Centre in Ontario (2010-2012). This is where he began his study of passenger pigeon DNA, which then contributed to his Master’s thesis in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Santa Cruz (2016). From 2017 to 2019, Ben worked at the Australian Center for Disease Preparedness – CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) to advance genetic engineering protocols for the domestic pigeon. Ben’s work at CSIRO lead to the world’s first successful egg handling and husbandry protocols for hatching manipulated pigeon embryos and raising hatchlings to maturity – a crucial milestone for expanding future genetic rescue and de-extinction research for altricial birds (birds whose survival is dependent upon parental care), which comprise ~90% of the world’s 11,000 bird species. Ben is now continuing the work he began at CSIRO in the U.S. as a private venture.
Ben’s notable publications include his 2018 review article, “De-extinction,” in the journal Genes helped to define this new term, his treatment, “Building Ethical De-Extinction Programs—Considerations of Animal Welfare in Genetic Rescue” published in December 2019 in The Routledge Handbook of Animal Ethics: 1st Edition, and most recently a 125 year analysis of the impacts of biodiversity translocations “U.S. conservation translocations: Over a century of intended consequences” published in the Journal of Conservation Science and Practice 2021 Intended Consequences Special Issue. Currently Ben is working on publications of the world’s first successfully cloned Pzrewalski’s horse and black-footed ferret, and a review of the historic trends of cloning research for conservation.
Director of Operations
Marmee serves Revive & Restore as Director of Operations, helping to keep the organization running gracefully under the leadership of its Executive Director. Marmee oversees the daily operations which include donor management, accounting, administration, project coordination, media relations, website development, event planning, —and ensures the dynamic Revive & Restore global community stays connected.
Before joining our team, Marmee owned and operated a restaurant in San Francisco and then Berkeley for 13 years before moving into wine sales. As a Certified Sommelier, and conservationist who values sustainability and accountability, Marmee specialized in biodynamic wines and farming practices. Her love of nature has led to her appreciation for the biotechnologies being developed to protect it.
Kika develops communication campaigns around genetic rescue, de-extinction, and the successes happening at Revive & Restore. As Communications Director, she collaboratively manages stories, media, and communication strategies for on-going projects.
Kika likes to experiment with storytelling as a tool to demystify the process of science and help audiences connect with the human side of research. Before joining Revive & Restore, she founded Impact Media Lab, a communications agency for scientists and science organizations. She has worked with hundreds of researchers from around the world to help share their science with a diverse and growing global audience.
Outside of work, Kika practices her craft leading quests in a long-standing game of Dungeons & Dragons. Storytelling-as-play remains a driving philosophy of her life and work. Kika received her PhD in Ecology, with a speciality in science communication, from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Traci Eckels has had a multi-decade career in non-profit fundraising and management. Her career has included securing significant funding for Public Media, national parks, universities, and affordable housing. She has served in just about every fundraising position including overseeing grants and gifts.
As a life-long conservationist, she is excited to be part of the Revive & Restore team. Her role as Grants Manager brings together her experience in fundraising and non-profit administration to the benefit of the organization. She will administer both outgoing grants and incoming funding.
In her spare time she enjoys travel especially to parks and gardens around the world, reading, cheering on the SF Giants, riding her bike and going for walks, and spending time in her lovely garden at home.
Sven serves as a consultant for the Plant Biobanking Project, an initiative dedicated to safeguarding the genetic diversity of endangered plants within the United States. His primary focus revolves around the utilization of seed biobanking, tissue culture and cryopreservation to preserve the unique diversity of the United State flora. In close collaboration with the Revive & Restore team, the plant biobanking community, and landscape stakeholders, Sven’s role involves the development and dissemination of a comprehensive plant biobanking roadmap, as well as the identification of potential candidate species.
Presently, Sven holds the position of Associate Professor in plant genomics at Boise State University (Idaho, USA). Within this capacity, his laboratory undertakes eco-evolutionary research with the overarching goal of assessing the adaptive capacity of plants to response to climate change and translate this research into conservation and restoration actions.
Stem Cell Consultant
Ashlee is a post-doctoral scientist from Melbourne working with the Revive & Restore team as a stem cell consultant. Currently she is developing a unique up-and-coming workshop to drive advances in stem cell technology for wildlife.
Ashlee completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in Australia. As a marsupial biologist, her research has focused on the development of new tools for conservation of these special mammals. Her expertise encompasses stem cells and assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in both conventional and diverse model species. Always an animal lover, Ashlee’s dream is to bring ART and stem cell technology to zoo- based research.
Jackie is a consultant for the Informed Biobanking Project, an initiative to preserve the genetic diversity of U.S. endangered species. She works closely with the Revive & Restore team and its partners to develop collection protocols for living tissues, mobilize pilot projects with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, summarize state-of-the-art biobanking technologies, and build a platform of knowledge sharing.
Previously, Jackie was a research scientist at the Rockefeller University, helping to sequence the complete genetic code of over 100 species for the Vertebrate Genomes Project. She optimized sample collection and DNA extraction protocols for long-read sequencing, and advised collaborators on genomic projects. Jackie is an ocean-lover and a passionate creative with an unwavering curiosity for innovative science that tackles our planet’s greatest challenges. She holds a MPH in global public health from Boston University and a B.S in Health Science at Wake Forest University.
Philanthropic Advisor to the Board
Barnaby Marsh serves as a strategist for some of the world’s most ambitious philanthropic projects. He has helped to conceptualize, structure, and launch large new initiatives at major academic and cultural institutions worldwide, including the Smithsonian, The Royal Society, The Santa Fe Institute, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Chicago, and Oxford, among many others. Before co-cofounding Saint Partners LLC, Barnaby was a senior executive at the John Templeton Foundation, where he led grantmaking, communications, and philanthropic partnerships. Through competitive funding processes, he has helped to create new scholarly networks in diverse areas including positive psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, genetics, complexity, virtue ethics, and wisdom. In various capacities, he has guided more than $3 billion in various non-profit activities and currently specializes in helping philanthropists with capstone benefactions and setting up new private foundations.
Barnaby grew up in Alaska and has a long-standing interest in ornithology and natural history. Homeschooled until college, he did independent ornithological research as a student at Harvard, Cornell, and Oxford, and did postdoctoral research on complexity and risk at the Max Planck Institute, Berlin, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He is the co-author of the popular book “How Luck Happens” (Dutton/Penguin), which has been translated into 6 languages and is currently working on a book on risk-taking in the context of philanthropy.
Stewart Brand is co-founder of Revive & Restore and co-founder and president of The Long Now Foundation, where Revive & Restore was incubated for its first four years. The idea of bringing cutting-edge biotech to conservation first went public with Stewart’s 2013 TED Talk, “The Dawn of De-extinction.” Stewart has been an ardent conservationist since he was 10. That led him to get his degree in Biology from Stanford in 1960, focusing on ecology and evolution. 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 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, Stewart 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.” He also co-founded The WELL and Global Business Network.
Executive Director of Village and Wilderness Project; Heath Hen Project Advisor
Tom directs the Village and Wilderness Project, a program that he founded to reconnect and restore ecologically viable wildlands and redevelops climate-safe communities. He was one of the panelists at Revive & Restore’s Heath Hen Event in July 2014 which brought the idea of a heath hen de-extinction to the Martha’s Vineyard community, where the bird last lived. Born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, Tom brings a deep understanding of land-use change to the conservation of Massachusetts’s coasts, including making residential landscapes more supportive of essential ecological processes. Tom has a B. S. in Zooarchaeology from the University of Florida and an M.S. in Quaternary research from the University of Maine. His areas of expertise and interest include Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island, ecological restoration, conservation entrepreneurship, conservation education and community engagement, island ecology, archaeology, and climate change. Tom grew up hearing first-hand accounts of the heath hen and as child fantasized he might one day find them in a hidden corner of the Vineyard.
Executive Director of Bio Policy & Leadership Initiatives, Stanford University
Dr. Megan J. Palmer is the Executive Director of Bio Policy & Leadership Initiatives at Stanford University. She leads research, teaching, and engagement programs to explore how biological science and engineering are shaping our societies and to guide innovation to serve public interests. Based in the Department of Bioengineering, where she is also an Adjunct Professor, she works closely with groups across the university and with stakeholders in academia, government, industry, and civil society around the world.
Megan has led numerous programs on the role of synthetic biology in society. She leads social responsibility for the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, and founded and serves as Executive Director of the Synthetic Biology Leadership Excellence Accelerator Program (LEAP). She is on the council of the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC) and advises a number of organizations on their approaches to the responsible development of biotechnology, including serving on the Board of Revive & Restore.
Previously, Megan was a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), part of FSI, where she is now an affiliate. She also spent 5 years directing policy efforts for the multi-university Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc), and held positions as a project scientist at UC Berkeley, and a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford.
Dr. Palmer received her Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from M.I.T. and a B.Sc.E. in Engineering Chemistry from Queen’s University.
Professor of Ecology and Evolution, University of California, Santa Cruz; Passenger Pigeon Project Advisor
Dr. Beth Shapiro is an evolutionary biologist who specializes in the genetics of ice age animals and plants. She uses DNA recovered from bones and other organic remains to study how species and communities evolved through time and how human activities affected this dynamic process. Her PhD research developed new tools to infer temporal changes in species’ abundance and distribution from chronological samples of genetic data. She has since used these to trace evolutionary changes in organisms ranging from influenza to mammoths, asking questions about domestication, admixture between species pairs, and pathogen evolution. Her current work develops techniques to recover and analyze increasingly trace amounts of DNA, such as from environmental and forensic samples. A 2009 MacArthur Fellow, Beth is also an award-winning popular science author and communicator who uses her research as a platform to explore the potential of new genomic technologies for conservation and medicine.
Her book, “How to Clone a Mammoth,” offers a critical, pragmatic, perspective about de-extinction that is rooted in her ancient DNA expertise, Beth is a protagonist for the appropriate, ethical, and responsible application of de-extinction technologies for conservation of living species and their ecosystems. She co-directs the Paleogenomics Lab at UCSC, and her lab published the first DNA sequences of the Passenger Pigeon in 2002. She has since become one of the premiere scientists contemplating the emerging field of de-extinction.
Board of Directors, The American Chestnut Foundation; Board of Visitors, Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University; President’s Council, Southern Environmental Law Center; Commissioner, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Brad Stanback owns and manages a 1300+ acre Research Farm in the Southern Appalachians between Asheville and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He is involved as a funder and advisor to many local environmental groups, particularly land trusts involved with protecting land through purchase or conservation easement. His hobby is Ecological Restoration, but done on a scale that most would consider well beyond a hobby. Brad’s particular restoration focus is with The American Chestnut Foundation, working to develop a disease-resistant American chestnut tree to restore to the Appalachian forest.
Matt is a lifelong biologist and environmentalist. He received a B.S. degree in Genetics and a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of California at Berkeley. He joined the Zoology Department at the University of Texas at Austin as an Assistant Professor in 1983 and in 1989, as an Associate Professor, founded Ambion Inc., a biotechnology company that was a pioneer in the use of RNA technologies for biomedical research. In addition to Ambion, he also founded Asuragen, a molecular diagnostics company and Mirna Therapeutics, a cancer therapeutics company. He is the author of over 30 publications and has 19 issued patents. He sits on the boards of Akoya Biosciences (AKYA), The Breakthrough Institute, Revive & Restore, Austin PBS and several advisory boards associated with The University of Texas. He has a long-term interest in using the tools of biotechnology for conservation and environmental issues.