The Save The Snakes Advisory Committee is an international team of herpetologists, educators, policy makers and naturalists dedicated to protecting the world’s snake species and furthering the wildlife conservation goals of Save The Snakes. The following members and affiliated organizations of Save The Snakes help us with technical guidance, field assistance and intellectual input.
Timm Juul Jensen
Timm Juul Jensen holds a B.Sc. in Biology from Copenhagen University specializing in Macroecology and Biogeography, and a M.Sc. in Biology from Aalborg University specializing in Herpetology. His main interests are herpetology and especially the conservation of snakes. Timm’s academic research has focused on quantifying international exploitation of snakes and to supply policy makers with results to base conservation decisions on. He has over ten years of experience in reptile husbandry and breeding. Timm has extensive field work experience in West Africa where he conducted research on quantifying the amount of snakes hunted for bushmeat. To learn more about Timm’s snake conservation efforts, connect with him on Linked In or view his work that was featured by National Geographic.
Dr. Kathayoon Khalil
Seattle, Washington, USA
Kathayoon Khalil, PhD is the Principal Evaluator for the Seattle Aquarium. Prior to joining the Aquarium, Kathayoon was the Director of Evaluation at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. She received her PhD in Learning Sciences and Technology Design from Stanford University, studying the use of social network analysis to understand how innovation spreads among the zoo and aquarium community.
Kathayoon started her career at as a teen volunteer at the Oregon Zoo and quickly developed a passion for wildlife and conservation. Through over a decade of work in zoo education, Kathayoon has implemented authentic approaches to evaluating visitor learning, including attitude and behavior changes that may have resulted from their visit. She has consulted on education and evaluation for a variety of zoos and aquariums throughout the country and serves as the champion of the AZA’s educational research and evaluation initiative. Kathayoon received her Masters of Environmental Science degree from the Yale School of Forestry and her Bachelors in Organismal Biology from Claremont McKenna College and is an alumna of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program as well as an instructor for Project Dragonfly at Miami University of Ohio.
Dr. Andrew Durso
Andrew Durso was born in New York and grew up catching snakes in North Carolina. He earned a B.S. in Ecology from the University of Georgia in 2009, an M.S. in Biology from Eastern Illinois University in 2011, and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Utah State University in 2016. He writes a blog about snakes called ‘Life is Short, but Snakes are Long’. For more information about Andrew’s research, view his current list of publications here.
Giulia Ricciardi is a biologist, based in Florence, Italy. After earning a BSc in Biology at the University of Florence, she moved to Belgium and pursued a MSc in Biology with a specialization in Herpetology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. While studying and doing research, she got hands-on experience on reptile and amphibian husbandry at an animal facility, where she also had the opportunity to organize events to spread awareness about the importance of herpetofauna and bridge the gap between people and these often-misunderstood animals. Her early research mainly focused on animal behaviour and conservation. Currently, while still minding for those topics, her interests lie in snake antivenom research and in finding solutions to decrease the impact of snakebites worldwide.
Born in Cáceres, Spain, and a resident of Ecuador, Jaime Culebras is a biologist and professional photographer who dedicates his efforts to conservation and environmental education. He holds a masters in Environmental Education and another one in Biodiversity and Conservation in Tropical Areas. He has described six new species of frogs to science and he participates in multiple conservation and photography projects, like against illegal trade in wildlife, protection of amphibian and reptiles of the Choco rainforest and a reduction of snakebites accident, specially in South American. His photographic and scientific projects have been published in prestigious journals and he has received awards from numerous international photography contests such as: Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Big Picture Photo Competition, Golden Turtle, Montphoto, GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year, among others. To learn more about Jaime’s work, please visit his website.
Dr. Patrick Kinyata Malonza
As a biodiversity conservation biologist, taxonomist and a researcher, Dr. Patrick Kinyata Malonza works to further his skills in order to discover integrated natural resource management options that can save fast disappearing biological resources without compromising local peoples’ livelihoods. He has completed a Ph.D. in Natural Science at Johannes Gutenberg University-Mainz, a M.Sc. in Biodiversity at Addis Ababa University and a B.Sc. Wildlife management at Moi University. His research interests are mainly on reptile and amphibian taxonomy, biogeography and community ecology. In addition to these broad fields, he is specifically involved in public education and awareness on the importance of conserving snakes, snakebite management and prevention as well as the protection of key dangerous snakes that as a result of fear, traditional beliefs and perceptions are indiscriminately killed on sight in many rural areas.
Rogier van Rossem
Tilburg, The Netherlands
Rogier van Rossem was born in Tilburg, Holland. Being fascinated by reptiles and amphibians, his parents decided that Rogier could own one at the early age of six and his enthusiasm has grown ever since. From the age of 15 he got the chance to start working with these animals at exotic pet shop Kameleon (Tilburg). During the years, Rogier kept developing his animal husbandry skills through education and experience and is a strong advocate for animal rights and conservation goals. He now lives in Tilburg with his partner Ineke and their three children, Ocean, Darwin and Summer
Rogier began his professional life working with animals from a very young age, starting volunteering at the local animal shelter(s) from the age of twelve. He studied to become an animal husbandry professional as well as a veterinary assistant. He also studied dog behaviour and worked as an educational animal guide at “Safaripark Beekse Bergen”. At the age of seventeen he also started working as a veterinary assistant at animal hospital “Den Herd”. After a few years he made the decision to start working fulltime with reptiles and amphibians cause of his passion in this field. In 2005, he also started to give lectures and teaching courses on exotic animal behaviour and maintenance while pursuing various conservation goals. In 2007/ 2008, Rogier founded the Herpetofauna Foundation to further his ambitions in the field of conservation and education. From those years on he joined various advisory groups and worked on animal legislation and is frequently seen as lecturer on herpetological subjects.
Centerville, Massachusetts, USA
Kelly Donithan received her undergraduate degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona before moving to Florida to work as an Animal Care Specialist at White Oak Conservation Center. In 2012, she received her Master’s of Science in Conservation Medicine from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. She worked briefly as policy analyst with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) before becoming the organization’s Wildlife Rescue Program Officer based at their headquarters on Cape Cod, MA. While with IFAW, Kelly targeted her efforts on the big cat crisis in the U.S., collaborating with wildlife sanctuaries, law enforcement, and other NGO’s to orchestrate rescues of big cats held illegally or in inappropriate conditions around the country. She also worked on a variety of wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release projects around the globe and served three years on the Board of Directors for the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC). She is an alumna of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) program where she co-founded the Painted Dog Protection Initiative, aiming to reduce snare and road-related mortality of painted dogs in Zimbabwe. In 2015, Kelly moved to Vietnam to take on the role of bear manager at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Center in Tam Dao National Park. Kelly is now back in the U.S. and an independent consultant for various wildlife conservation and animal welfare organizations.
While gaining her roots in conservation in the deserts of Arizona, Kelly fell in love with reptiles and amphibians from an early age. As an undergrad, she co-founded and led the student chapter of the Tucson Herpetological Society and participated in related biodiversity research in both AZ and Ecuador during her undergraduate years. While her professional path has drifted from a herpetology focus, her respect and admiration for the cold blooded continue to this day! To learn more about Kelly’s wildlife conservation efforts, connect with her on Linked In.
Dr. Sara Ruane
Newark, New Jersey, United States
Dr. Sara Ruane is an assistant professor at Rutgers University-Newark in the Department of Biological Sciences. Her research is primarily based in reptile systematics and evolution. The Ruane Lab seeks to simultaneously inform reptile and amphibian systematics while also answering broad, contemporary questions in evolutionary biology. Some of Dr. Ruane’s current research focuses on the phylogenetics of the Malagasy pseudoxyrhophiines, as well as examining undescribed diversity in the poorly known New Guinea snakes. While her interests in herpetology are broad, she focuses mostly on snakes, especially with respect to systematics, phylogenetics, and phylogeography. To learn more about Dr. Ruane’s work, please visit her website.
Denver, Colorado, United States
Brian Aucone is Senior Vice President for Animal Sciences at Denver Zoo where he guides the direction of the Field Conservation, Animal Care, Veterinary Medicine and Animal Welfare programs. After receiving his biology degree at the University of Northern Colorado, and doing an internship at Denver Zoo, he went to work at the Dallas Zoo Herpetarium. From there he went to Oklahoma City Zoo as the curator of Herpetology then returning to Denver Zoo in 2010. At Dallas Zoo the animals under Brian’s care were lovingly referred to as the section of death, where 130+ of the 160 or so animals he cared for being venomous reptiles.
Brian has had a passion for snakes since he was a young child and, in spite of her fear, his mother nurtured this passion. Today he focuses on all taxa and still has that boyhood passion and awe for snakes. Brian has a long history with Southwest Partners in Reptile and Amphibian Conservation (SWPARC), working with this group from its inception. On behalf of SWPARC he leads the annual Phrynosoma mccalli biomonitor training at the confluence of California, Arizona and Mexico where this lizard is endemic. Brian has worked on wildlife conservation projects in Anegada, Vietnam, Botswana, Nepal, Peru and Mongolia with a variety of taxa, including herps, and he always takes advantage of discovering the local herpetofauna while there, even if they are not the focus of his work. Pictured is Brian with a Boa constrictor imperator whom has been his faithful companion for 29 years.