Wild Me is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in the United States. We are based in Portland, Oregon in the historic Kenton Neighborhood.
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Board of Directors
ZAVEN ARZOUMANIAN, President
|Zaven Arzoumanian earned degrees in Physics at McGill University (B.Sc.) and Princeton University (M.A., Ph.D.). His research interests include the astrophysics of neutron stars and black holes, testing theories of gravitation and the nature of matter in extreme environments, and new technologies for instrumentation in radio and X-ray astronomy. Zaven is a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, USA. Zaven’s interest in Whale Sharks and pattern-matching computations for biological applications culminated in the co-development of a technique for matching spot patterns adapted from astronomy, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology (May 2005).|
TANYA BERGER-WOLF, Director
|Dr. Tanya Berger-Wolf is a Computational Ecologist, designing computational methods to solve problems in ecology, from genetics to social interactions, focusing particularly on the algorithmic and data aspects of the questions. Dr. Berger-Wolf is the co-founder and lead of the Wildbook project. She is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she heads the Computational Population Biology Lab. As a legitimate part of her research (and Wildbook) she gets to fly in a super-light airplane over a nature preserve in Kenya, taking a hyper-stereo video of zebra populations and learning how to identify each one of them by the unique stripe pattern.
Berger-Wolf holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has received numerous awards for her research and mentoring, including the US National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Association for Women in Science Chicago Innovator Award, and the UIC Mentor of the Year Award.
ALEX DEHGAN, Director
|Dr. Alex Dehgan is the CEO and co-founder of Conservation X Labs, a startup for tech innovation for conservation and development. Dr. Alex Dehgan recently served as the Chief Scientist at USAID, with rank of Assistant Administrator, and founded the Global Development Lab. Prior to USAID, Alex worked in multiple positions within the Office of the Secretary, and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, at the Dept. of State. At State, Alex developed political and science diplomacy strategies towards addressing our most challenging foreign policy issues in Iraq, Egypt, and the greater Islamic world, including engagement with Iran under the Obama Administration with Amb. Dennis Ross. As head of the Wildlife Conservation Society Afghanistan Program, Alex helped create Afghanistan’s first national park.|
JASON HOLMBERG, Executive Director
|Jason Holmberg has logged thousands of hours of development time on Wildbook and Wildbook for Whale Sharks. As Wild Me’s Information Architect, he has designed and implemented new tools to support digital pattern recognition for whale sharks and other species. Using Jason’s tools, our projects have been able to categorize and manage a large amount of wildlife data, promote collaboration across borders and data sets, and to identify individual animals from multiple photos taken by different researchers many years apart. Jason was lead author and population modeler for two widely lauded papers covering whale shark population trajectories at Ningaloo Marine Park in Western Australia, demonstrating that citizen science data can provide improved insight and population models through greater acquisition of high quality data.
Building on 16 years of experience in wildlife software, Jason now provides organizational leadership as Executive Director and manages the professional software engineers and machine learning specialists at Wild Me as Director of Engineering.
Jason’s current research focus is the development of Intelligent Agents that augment and interact with wildlife research communities. Jason’s agents are combining multiple forms of machine learning (DCNN, NLP, NMT, etc.) to data mine social media for usable wildlife information (photos/where/when) and autonomously curating the data and interacting with the public to asynchronously get more information as needed and educate, “returning the gift of data with the gift of knowledge”.
TANYA STERE, Director of Product
|Tanya Stere is a product manager with strong project management undertones. With a varied background dealing with everything from production-grade soldering to technical writing, her goal has always been to drive customer value at scale. Combined with a love for conservation and sustainability, and she is a great fit here at Wild Me.|
DREW BLOUNT, Machine Learning Engineer
|Drew is a data scientist, software engineer, cryptography enthusiast, and the project leader on Flukebook: the Wildbook for Cetaceans. He has academic publications in both theoretical machine learning and applied data analysis, and has been active in the burgeoning, post-Bitcoin “crypto” world. Throughout these experiences, his work has focused on using information technology to benefit public, cooperative communities rather than private interests.|
MARK FISHER PhD, Software Engineer
|Mark Fisher received his B.S. in Ecology and Evolution from Yale University in 2007 and his Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Georgia in 2013, where he studied invasive fire ant population genetics. He also worked briefly as a computational biologist at Oregon Health and Science University. Afterwards, he decided to re-tool as a software developer, and he has been creating open-source educational and biology-themed tools ever since. He also teaches biology at various colleges in the Pacific Northwest, including General Biology, Genetics, Animal Behavior, Evolution, Entomology, and Environmental Biology. He is bringing his joint passions for biology, education, and software development to bear on Wild Me’s ongoing and future projects. He’s also really into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.|
COLIN KINGEN, Software Engineer/Community Engagement
|Colin Kingen is a Software Engineer and Technical Support Lead in Portland, Oregon. He is also the project lead on the Internet of Turtles. He has a strong interest in biology and environmental science. He is passionate about using coding and technology to build tools and resources to benefit the community and foster learning. His work on Wildbook includes working with others to build an adoption and donation system to help with funding and increase interest and engagement for citizen science.|
JASON PARHAM, Senior Computer Vision Research Engineer
|Jason Parham received his B.S. in Computer Science / Mathematics from Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA in 2008 and holds a 2015 M.S. in Computer Science from RPI in Troy, NY. Jason is finishing his Ph.D. under the advising of Dr. Charles Stewart in the Computer Vision research group at RPI.
Jason’s Masters thesis was on the design and implementation of a citizen science-powered photographic censusing of the zebra and giraffe in the Nairobi National Park. His current doctoral research focuses on object detection and classification, using deep learning on wildlife imagery, to power photographic censusing. Jason is a co-developer of Wildbook‘s Image Analysis components, which are used to monitor animal populations in conservancies around Kenya and which integrate with the Wildbook data management platform. Previously, Jason worked three years for Kitware, Inc. in Clifton Park on detecting vehicles and military aircraft in overhead satellite imagery. His work at Kitware led to the development of KWCNN, a customized Python module that enables easy training of deep learning networks such as Fully-Convolutional Neural Networks (FCNNs) and Generative Autoencoder Networks (GANs). Below are some select publications:
Ben Scheiner, Front End Developer (h2o.ai Liaison)
|Ben is a software engineer with a passion for building user-friendly interfaces that achieve complex tasks. He has extensive experience in developing web apps at scale, creating interactive dashboards, and building human-robot interfaces. Ben’s goal is to turn Wildbook into a more intuitive and powerful tool for the conservation community by redesigning and rebuilding the user interface. He values learning from user analytics, improving developer workflows, and listening carefully when feedback is given.
In 2019 Ben fostered two squirrels from infancy to adolescence. His hobbies include Ultimate Frisbee, improv, and adventures in Pacific Northwest forests. Ben’s employment is made possible by Wild Me’s partnership with h2o.ai.
Jon Van Oast, Senior Engineer
|Jon Van Oast has been developing online collaborative software for over twenty years. He has a strong interest in open source software/hardware, open data, citizen science, and conservation. Jon is the project lead on GiraffeSpotter: the Wildbook for Giraffe.|