Speaker & Moderator Biographies

Caspar Ammann is a scientist in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He holds a Masters Degree in Geography and Geology from the University of Bern Switzerland and a Ph.D. in Geosciences from the University of Massachusetts. His current research focuses on natural climate variability over the past centuries and millennia, the effects of solar irradiance changes and explosive volcanism on climate, and how the current human influence on the climate system can be separated from natural variability. He uses proxy indicators of past climate to reconstruct past climate states and variations and then simulates them with the latest versions of the coupled Community Climate System Model at NCAR. Recent research activities also include involvement in interdisciplinary programs to reconstruct Arctic climate history and to understand its primary drivers.

Richard A. Anthes is the President of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), is a highly regarded atmospheric scientist, author, educator, and administrator. He has participated in or chaired over 40 different national committees. Dr. Anthes has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and books. He believes that any significant, long-term progress in solving the array of problems facing the world hinges on the education of young people in all countries. This philosophy is reflected in multiple education and outreach programs at UCAR. For example, in 1996, he initiated the SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science) program, which addresses the severe under-representation of minority professionals in the atmospheric sciences.

Timothy Bull Bennett Dr. T. M. Bull Bennett (Mi’kmaq), was born in Brunswick, ME, and grew up in the mountains and prairies of Wyoming. He studied field ecology as an undergraduate and earned a BS in Biology from Black Hills State University. He completed a MS in Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming where he studied captive propagation of black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) as part of the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center recovery program in conjunction with the US Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit. After graduate school, Bull went to work for the Tribal Colleges in South Dakota, first at Oglala Lakota College and then Si Tanka College, before returning to graduate school for his PhD studies. During his tenure at the Tribal Colleges, Bull served as department chair and instructor focusing his teaching on biology, ecology, rangeland ecosystems and wildlife, specifically bison and its role in maintaining and restoring rangelands. Bull continued his rangeland studies and earned his PhD in Atmosphere, Environment and Water Resources at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Funded by a NASA Earth System Science Fellowship and the National Science Foundation, Bull focused his dissertation research on utilizing geospatial technologies and biophysical parameters to assess bison management on shortgrass /shrub steppe prairie in Powder River Basin, Wyoming. After completing his PhD, Bull went back to the Tribal Colleges in North Dakota where he manages science programs, mentors students and faculty, and coordinates science initiatives for the six member institutions of the North Dakota Association of Tribal Colleges. Bull served two years as the first Executive Director of NativeView, and now serves on its Board of Directors. Bull, his wife and three children reside near Mandan, ND.

Billy Frank, Jr. of the Nisqually Indian Tribe has been Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for 22 years. In this capacity, he "speaks for the salmon" on behalf of 19 Treaty Indian Tribes in western Washington. Under his leadership, the tribal role over the past 30 years has evolved from that of activists, fighting the state to secure fishing rights reserved in treaties with the United States government, to managers of the resource. Celebrated regionally, nationally and internationally as an outstanding Native American leader, Frank has been the recipient of numerous recognition awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and the Indian Country Today Inaugural American Visionary Award.

Craig Fleener is Vuntut Gwitchin from Fort Yukon, Alaska and currently serves as the Regional Wildlife Biologist with the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments in Fort Yukon. Craig graduated from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks in 1999 with a B.S. in Natural Resources Management and is currently working towards a M.S. in Wildlife Biology through the Resources and the Environment Program at the University of Calgary, Alberta. He was nominated as a Director to the Gwich'in Council International in 2003 by the Chiefs in Alaska. As a Director to GCI, Craig participates in the Senior Arctic Officials meetings and other affiliated working groups of the Arctic Council. He was chosen as the GCI representative on the CAFF Working Group because of his extensive background in Natural Resources.

Roberto Gonzalez-Plaza is a visiting professor at the Department of Psychology, Northwestern University. Dr. Gonzalez-Plaza teaches science at the Indigenous Education Institute in Utah and is an adjunct faculty at the Huxley College of Environmental Studies, Western Washington University . He has published extensively on traditional knowledge and ecology. Dr. Gonzalez-Plaza holds a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the Universidad Catolica de Chile.

Bret Harper graduated from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California Berkeley.

Sherri Heck is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  She received her B.S. in Physics at the University of Arizona in 2004.  Sherri is working on her thesis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research with Dr. Britt Stephens to estimate regional scale carbon dioxide fluxes in the US Rocky Mountains, Southwest (Navajo Nation, in collaboration with Diné College), and Africa. 

Elisabeth Holland leads the Biogeoscience Program (BGS) and is a lead scientist in the Bio-hydro-atmosphere interactions of Energy, Aerosols, Carbon, Water, Organics & Nitrogen (BEACHON) project. She has participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment reports, serving as a lead author & reviewer for the third and newly released fourth. She was a lead and contributing author for the UNEP led Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report. Holland is a Leopold Fellow and has served on many committees and panels. Her research interests include: Global nitrogen cycle, Earth System Modeling, using measurements to evaluate models, linking atmospheric chemistry & terrestrial biogeochemistry, interactions between the terrestrial carbon & nitrogen cycles, using nitrogen deposition measurements to understand the global nitrogen cycle, terrestrial trace gas exchange.

Oscar Kawagly serves as Associate Professor of Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Liberal Arts. He has a Bachelors of Education with a major in Biological Sciences; a Masters of Education, Ed. Sp. in Administration from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia. He has been executive director of several nonprofit corporations; President of ESCA Corporation, an earth science and remote sensing consulting company; President of Calista Corporation, a native regional corporation; project director of the Indian Education Act Program, Anchorage Borough School District; school teacher; research assistant, Mental Health Unit, Alaska Native Medical Center; and research assistant, Chemistry and Biology Department, Arctic Health Research Center.

Photo of Leroy   LittleBear

Leroy LittleBear is a member of the Blood Tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Leroy is the former Director of the American Indian Program at Harvard University and professor emeritus of Native Studies at the University of Lethbridge where he was department chair for 25 years. He has served as a legal and constitutional advisor to the Assembly of First Nations and has served on many influential committees, commissions, and boards dealing with First Nations issues. He has written several articles and co-edited three books including Pathways to Self-Determination: Canadian Indians and the Canadian State (1984), Quest for Justice: Aboriginal Peoples and Aboriginal Rights (1985), and Governments in Conflict and Indian Nations in Canada (1988). He is also contributor to Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision.

Timothy L. Killeen is the Director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). In that role he has overall responsibility for the scientific, technical, and educational activities of the Center. Dr. Killeen is also a senior scientist at the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) where he leads an experimental and theoretical program in upper atmosphere research. Dr. Killeen leads a research group of scientists and engineers working in the field of aeronomy, using a combination of theoretical and experimental techniques to investigate the dynamics, chemistry and composition of the upper atmospheres of the Earth and other planets. Dr. Killeen has authored over 140 publications in refereed journals.

Patricia Romero Lankao is the deputy director of the Institute for the Study of Society and Environment (ISSE) at NCAR. She is sociologist by training and holds two Ph.D. degrees, one in Regional Development, from the Autonomous Metropolitan University, Mexico, the other in Agricultural Sciences and Environmental Policy from the University of Bonn, in Germany. Her general field of expertise and interest is located within the interface of the human dimensions of global environmental change (e.g. development pathways and public policies as drivers of and responses to climate change).

Shannon McNeeley is a Ph.D. candidate and National Science Foundation Fellow getting her doctoral degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), but is an ongoing visiting scientist based at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Institute for the Study of Society and Environment (ISSE) in Boulder, Colorado. Her doctoral research focuses on climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptive capacity of indigenous people (Athabascan Indians) in the Interior region of Alaska .

Rajul Pandya is the director of the Community Building Program (CBP) at UCAR whose main goal is to build and support relationships that will broaden participation in the atmospheric and related sciences. CBP activities includes SOARS, an internship program that seeks to broaden participation in the atmospheric and related sciences; as well as UCAR's Africa Initiative, the organization of a geoscience diversity summit and collaborations for this conference. Rajul Pandya holds a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Washington.

James Rattling Leaf is the Land and Natural Resource Program Director for the Sicangu Policy Institute at Sinte Gleska University. The Land and Resource Program seeks to provide unbiased, scientific data, methods and policy tools to assess the impact on tribal resources such as land, water, energy and minerals within the context of natural and managed ecosystems. He manages a wide area of education, research and outreach activities which utilizes applications such as; GIS, GPS and Remote Sensing. As the lead in developing a new partnership model with government, industry and tribal communities, he has been successful in developing and implementing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Unites States Geological Survey (USGS). With the MOU in place the NativeView, a consortium of 33 Tribal Colleges, was planned and developed to provide USGS science data to Tribal Colleges to better understand and manage tribal lands.

Denise Stephenson-Hawk is the associate director of NCAR’s Societal-Environmental Research and Education Laboratory. Stephenson-Hawk and her team look at human-environment interactions and provide policy guidance on weather and climate topics. She holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University in geophysical fluid dynamics. While at Clark Atlanta, Stephenson-Hawk served as founding director of the interdisciplinary Earth Systems Science Program and co-led a program to enhance the mathematics and science achievement of Atlanta public school students. She has served on many NSF, NASA, and NOAA science and education advisory committees, as well as on the NOAA Science Advisory Board and the UCAR University Relations Committee.


Merv Tano is an attorney and the president of the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management. He has been working on tribal and indigenous peoples’ issues since the early 1970s as the director of planning and budget for the Administration for Native Americans, as a private consultant and as the general counsel and director of environmental programs at the Council of Energy Resource Tribes. Merv has been a member of several national advisory boards including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Federal Facilities Environmental Restoration Dialogue Committee, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Community Leaders Network and Transportation External Coordination Working Group.

Casey Thornbrugh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Arizona.

Albert White Hat, Sr. is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota and has been a Lakota language instructor for 25 years. He recently published Reading and Writing the Lakota Language. he is also known for providing Lakota translation for films such as Dances with Wolves.

Daniel Wildcat is a professor at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, and an accomplished scholar who writes on indigenous knowledge, technology, environment, and education. He is also co-director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center, which he founded with colleagues from the Center for Hazardous Substance Research at Kansas State University. A Yuchi member of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma, Dr. Wildcat is the coauthor, with Vine Deloria, Jr., of Power and Place: Indian Education in America (Fulcrum, 2001), and coeditor, with Steve Pavlik, of Destroying Dogma: Vine Deloria, Jr., and His Influence on American Society (Fulcrum, 2006). Known for his commitment to environmental defense and cultural diversity, Dr. Wildcat has been honored by the Kansas City organization The Future Is Now with the Heart Peace Award. His newest book, Red Alert! Saving the Planet with Indigenous Knowledge, will be released later this year.