James MacCarthy

James MacCarthy

What is your previous work experience?
My path to graduate school has taken me from terrestrial (e.g., temperate and tropical forests) to marine ecosystems in a number of different countries and has focused on a range of species (e.g., plants, mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles) and objectives (e.g., invasive species removal, human impacts on wildlife, and global biodiversity monitoring) from local to global scales. In my current position as the Technical and Communications manager for the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network—a collaboration between Conservation International, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Smithsonian Institution—I oversee the technical operations for the world’s largest camera trap network, which is composed of 17 sites in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. I also work closely with site managers to develop solutions to issues like poaching and species declines and lead a professional development program for middle and high school science teachers where they learn data collection techniques from researchers at our field site in Costa Rica. As the leader of the program, I developed a budget and wrote a proposal that brought over $500,000 of support for the program and field site in Costa Rica.

Why did you choose the Nicholas School?
I chose the Nicholas School because of the expertise available there. The Nicholas School has a strong background in landscape ecology, which is a field that I have been involved with over the past few years and would like to learn more about. The opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology like LIDAR also attracted me to the MEM program at Duke.

Do you have any areas of interest or special focus you will undertake during your time at the Nicholas School?
I am very interested in landscape ecology and sustainable methods for preserving those landscapes while balancing the need for economic development.

What are you looking forward to as a new Nicholas School student?
I am really looking forward to learning new skills and building relationships with teachers and fellow students.

What are you doing this summer before you arrive at the Nicholas School?
I will continue to work at Conservation International as the Technical Manager for the TEAM program until August 5 and then will do some hiking around the east coast before starting at the Nicholas School.

What are your plans for future work of employment?
I would like to go back to an international environmental NGO like Conservation International, where I am currently employed, as a program director or site manager based in the field.

Career Interests

Wildlife, Biodiversity, Conservation, Spatial Analysis, Program Management

Employment Sought:


Duke University | Master of Environmental Management | Expected May 2018
Concentration: Ecosystem Science and Conservation
Geographic Information Systems Certificate
Field Scholarship for Environmental Leadership

Wheaton College (MA) | Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science | Magna Cum Laude | 2010
Scholar Athlete (2008, 2009), Academic All-Conference Team (2008, 2009), Davis Fellowship for International Work Experiences (2009)

Professional Experience

Project Manager | Conservation International | July 2013 – July 2016
    Led two international wildlife monitoring workshops and conducted trainings in multiple countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to boost technical capacity of field programs.
    Generated sampling designs for wildlife research using ArcMap 10.4 and oversaw implementation of wildlilfe research protocol at 15 tropical field sites.
    Guided software development for wildlife surveys and pioneered techniques to identify and correct potential data quality issues using R.
    Secured over $500,000 in funding for an environmental education program to foster a new generation of environmental stewards in the U.S.
    Drove stakeholder engagement through regular communication of project activities and ensured timely completion of deliverables.

Big Cats Intern | National Geographic | Nicholas School of the Environment | August 2016 – Present
    Assess wildlife research papers and use knowledge gained to develop effective management recommendations that provide solutions for common conservation challenges.
    Draft and publish articles evaluating wildlife management practices for large carnivores in Africa to increase awareness and build support for big cat conservation efforts. 

Amphibian Research Intern | NYC Parks and Recreation | May – August 2012
    Gathered physical data and collected genetic samples from salamanders along a stream transect, recording their location using Trimble GPS unit to assess impact of isolation on genetic diversity.

Marine Mammal Intern | Mauritius Marine Conservation Society | June – August 2009
    Honed data collection skills while participating in wildlife behavior research activities assessing the impact of ecotourism on marine life.

Natural Resource Intern | Shenandoah National Park | May – August 2007
    Quantified forest health by conducting vegetation surveys and collecting soil samples.
    Used GPS to identify areas with invasive species; applied management solutions to control spread. 

Award ● Field Fellow

Hometown ● Oakton, Virginia

Undergraduate Institute ● Wheaton College


grant writing
program management
survey design

Graduation Date

May 2018



Preferred Location


Preferred Sector

Academic Institution
Non-profit / NGO
State / Local Government