Speakers & Presenters

Here are the bios of some of the excellent speakers, researchers, environmentalists and birders who will be part of The New York Birders Conference. We will continue to add information as we finalize our program.
currieKeynote Speaker: James Currie A life-long birder and native of South Africa, James Currie has many years experience in the birding and wildlife tourism arenas. James has led professional wildlife and birding tours for 15 years and his passion for birding, adventure and remote cultures has taken him to nearly every corner of the globe. He has contributed to several publications, including the acclaimed Southern African Birdfinder and Wildwatch.He is an expert in the field of sustainable development and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in African Languages and a Masters degree in Sustainable Environmental Management. His dissertation received a distinction and has been used as a model for assessing the relationships between wildlife areas and local communities. James presented his dissertation to the Icelandic Government in 2001. One of his passions is forging links between local communities, wildlife and international travelers. From 2004-2007 James worked as the Managing Director of Africa Foundation, a non-profit organization that directs its efforts towards the upliftment of communities surrounding wildlife areas in Africa.James is a highly sought-after public speaker and has been requested to speak at international conservation conventions, humanitarian fundraisers, birding shows, the Educational Travel Conference, The Adventure and Travel Expo and at various other events.  Currently he hosts and produces the popular adventure birding TV show, Nikon’s Birding Adventures, on NBC Sports. James is also the host of the National Geographic show, Aerial Assassins. He immigrated to the United States with his family and resides in West Palm Beach, Florida.


MarkHauber(new)Mark E. Hauber, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Hunter College, City University of New York.  Dr. Hauber is a behavorial ecologist whose research focuses on the social and genetic consequences of species recognition in avian brood parasites, such as cuckoos and cowbirds. He says about his work, “Brood parasitic birds provide an exciting model system for the evolution of social behaviours because, unlike 98% of bird species, they lay their eggs into nests of other species and are reared by foster parents.”  Dr. Hauber has published in distinguished scientific journals such as the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Heredity, and Biology Letters, and is the new Editor-in-Chief of The Auk: Ornithological Advances, the publication of the American Ornithologists’ Union. He has presented to both scientific and nature associations.  A native of New Zealand, Dr. Hauber’s presentations are known for their humor as well as for their substance.

Kim Bostwick portrait_100125-031.edKim Bostwick. In her talk, You, Me, Our Birds, and Climate Change, Kim relates her love of science, nature, and birds to the current climate crisis and its implications for biodiversity.  She shares her personal response to the climate crisis from her perspective as a parent, a birder, and a professional ornithologist, and closes her talk with a serious but empowering message, outlining a “Simple 5 Point Plan” that bird-lovers can use to organize their own response to climate change. 

Originally from upstate New York, Bostwick received her PhD from the University of Kansas in 2002, and since then has worked as the curator of birds and mammals at Cornell University.  Bostwick’s research has focused on bird behavior and evolution, allowing her to travel throughout Central and South America, as well as to South Africa, and Papua New Guinea.  In 2005 Bostwick was featured in Nature’s Deep Jungles three-part series, where she danced like a Red-capped Manakin to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”.  This clip of video was extracted and posted to YouTube, where it went viral and has been viewed millions of times, spawned many knock-offs, and brought great fame and many fans to a very deserving, but otherwise little known bird.  Her research on the Club-winged Manakin was featured in National Geographic in May of 2012.  Recently, spurred by the birth of her own two children, Bostwick decided to reorient her career to become more active in science outreach, specifically as it relates to climate change. She is now using her scientific literacy and communication skills to translate climate science for general audiences, with the specific goal of motivating behavioral changes through science-based story-telling.

dieterich.photo.2Bob Dieterich. Growing up in Queens, Bob has been an active birder since 1970. An active member of the Queens County Bird Club, he served as Christmas Bird Count compiler for the Queens, NY circle for 35 years.  Bob graduated the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse with a degree in wildlife biology, and engaged in a career in the Federal service, in the science and environmental offices of the Food and Drug Administration, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency.  In his time with the EPA, Bob participated in coastal initiatives to maintain and protect the ecological health and integrity of New York and New Jersey’s intertidal bays and estuaries.  These days he travels around the world, getting acquainted with birds, ecosystems, and cultures in Australia and other amazing places.

susan elbin photo.smSusan Elbin is the Director of Conservation and Science for New York City Audubon, where her work is focused on urban ecology—conservation of migratory landbirds and  waterbirds in New York City. Her current focal projects include the study of landbird migration through New York City, including collision monitoring as well as stopover ecology; long-term monitoring of and research on nesting and foraging herons, egrets, ibis, and cormorants in the New York Harbor; and monitoring migratory and beach-nesting shorebirds in Jamaica Bay. These projects have been designed to employ citizen science volunteers and graduate students as well as program staff. Her projects have avian behavioral ecology as their core, leading to conservation action. For example, she is co-author of the Harbor Herons Conservation Plan (2010).

Susan has worked in the field of conservation, within the US and internationally, for more than 30 years. She holds an MS degree in Ecology (Pennsylvania State University) and a PhD in Ecology and Evolution (Rutgers University). She serves on several graduate committees and is an adjunct professor at Columbia University, where she teaches courses in ornithology and migration ecology. She has been the chair of the Ornithological Council since 2010. She is an elected member of the American Ornithologists Union and is President-elect of the Waterbird Society.  

Gochfeld.smDoug Gochfeld. A native Brooklynite, Doug spent his formative years scouring the urban landscape of New York City for birds with his father. Over the last decade (since his return to birding after an adolescent hiatus), he has put his BS in Economics to good use, doing avian research in a number of locations. He was the swing counter for Cape May Bird Observatory (counting the Hawkatch, the Seawatch, AND the Songbird Morning Flight) in Cape May, NJ for two fall seasons, and worked in Southeast Arizona doing point counts for a research project associated with the University of Arizona. He has also done hands-on breeding/wintering/migration ecology work in subarctic Alaska (Hudsonian Godwits), the coast of Suriname in South America (Semipalmated Sandpipers), and the White Mountains of New Hampshire (Black-throated Blue Warblers). For the last three years, Doug has worked as a guide for St. Paul Island Tours in the Pribilof Islands of the Bering Sea, guiding birders and tourists around “The Galapagos of the North.” His writing and photographs have been published in several venues. Doug is on the New York State Avian Records Committee and on Leica’s Pro Staff.

Betsy_Gulotta_headshot.smBetsy Gulotta is Biology Professor Emeritus from Nassau Community College and currently works as Conservation Project Manager for Friends of Hempstead Plains at Nassau Community College.  She has a longstanding commitment to the welfare of Long Island’s natural environment, and has been active in South Shore Audubon Society, Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center, The Nature Conservancy and Hofstra University Arboretum.  Her work with Friends of Hempstead Plains involves coordinating and participating in research and restoration projects, leading tours, giving programs, and developing and teaching educational workshops on the site. You can find out more about the Friends of Hempstead Plains and Prof. Gulotta’s work on their website.

sean mahar.smSean Mahar, a graduate of Siena College, is the Director of Government Relations and Communications for Audubon New York.  Sean began as the Grassroots Coordinator for Audubon New York in 2002, and now directs the Government Relations program, advancing state and federal conservation policies that protect New York’s environment, and effectively promote Audubon in the media.  Currently, Sean is focused on securing state and federal investments for the restoration of Long Island Sound and the Great Lakes, leading state wide coalitions focused on protecting these amazing ecosystems.  He also focuses on building support for wildlife conservation initiatives in the state, including climate change adaptation strategies, and received the 2012 Outstanding Conservationist Award from The Wildlife Society in recognition of his efforts. 

Sean has secured passage of numerous state legislative initiatives, most notably the Great Lakes Compact, and Smart Growth Infrastructure Policy Act.  He has also launched several successful projects, including Mission:Migration a web based video game for children, and most recently the Birds Mean Business campaign to highlight the economic impact of ecotourism, initiated through a Togethergreen Fellowship.  Sean is also an adjunct professor at Siena College teaching Environmental Policy and Management.  He currently lives in Troy, NY with his wife Jessica and daughter Stefanie.

CarenaPoothCarena Pooth has been a nature lover all her life and an avid birder for the last 28 years. When Hope Batcheller, at the age of 15, described her vision of a NYS young birders club to NYSOA, the idea resonated! In 2008, Carena worked with Hope to build and launch the New York State Young Birders Club (NYSYBC) as a special project of NYSOA, and has been its Adult Chair ever since. She has also been an active member of the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club for 20+ years and served on NYSOA’s board for eight years, including two years as president. Carena created and maintains the NYSOA and NYSYBC websites, the online historical NYSARC data base, and the searchable online archive of NYSOA’s ornithological journal, The Kingbird. Away from the computer, she has run the Pawling CBC since 2004, did 16 blocks for Atlas 2000, conducted point counts for various research projects, and enjoys birding with birders of any age!

speaker-stephenson  Tom Stephenson has been birding since he was a kid under the tutelage of Dr. Arthur Allen of Cornell University. His articles and photographs are in museums and many publications including BirdingBirdwatcher’s DigestHandbook of the Birds and Handbook of the Mammals of the World and Guide to the Birds of SE Brazil. He has lectured and guided many groups across the US as well as in Asia, where he trained guides for the government of Bhutan. He has donated many recordings of Eastern Himalayan rarities and other Asian species to Cornell’s Macaulay Library of Natural sounds. He was on Zeiss’s digiscoping team for the World Series of Birding and in 2011 his own team won the World Series Cape Island Cup. As a musician he played concerts and did studio work for many years, working with several Grammy and Academy Award winners. His clients included the Grateful Dead, Phil Collins and the FBI. He joined Roland Corporation in 1991, managed the recorder division, and retired recently as Director of Technology. His latest book, The Warbler Guide, is published by Princeton University Press.

john turner.sm2John Turner currently serves as the Open Space Program Coordinator for the Town of Brookhaven, overseeing the Town’s $180 million open space and farmland acquisition program. Prior to this, he served as Director of the Division of Environmental Protection of the Town of Brookhaven.  He is also co-founder of the L.I. Pine Barrens Society and served on the Board of Directors for 26 years.  He is author of Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island which is now in its second edition and a children’s book on the water cycle entitled Waylon’s Wandering Waterdrop. He is the author of several dozen articles on a variety of natural history and environmental topics and his work has appeared in “Defenders”, “Birder’s World”, “Winging It” and “The Conservationist”. He also is President and co-founder of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours, a tour company dedicated to connecting people with the natural world that surrounds them.