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

Tropical wildlife conservation and management, geospatial analysis, non-profit project management

Employment Sought:
Permanent Position


Master’s of Environmental Management, May 2018
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University, Durham, NC
Coursework: Wildlife Surveys, Tropical Ecology, Landscape Ecology, Advanced GIS, Remote Sensing, Resource and Environmental Economics, Environmental Law
Concentration: Ecosystem Science and Conservation
Certificate: Geospatial Analysis
Field Scholarship for Environmental Leadership
Bachelor of Artsmagna cum laude, February 2010
Wheaton College (MA)
Major in Environmental Science
USTFCCCA Scholar Athlete (2008, 2009), USTFCCCA Academic All-Conference Team (2008, 2009), Davis Fellowship for International Work Experiences (2009)

Professional Experience

Project Manager, Conservation International
Led two international wildlife monitoring workshops and conducted trainings 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. July 2013 – July 2016
Teaching Assistant, Duke Unviersity 
Led help sessions for students enrolled in two GIS-related courses—Fundamentals of GIS and Conservation GIS. September 2017 – May 2018
Wildlife Intern, The Nature Conservancy 
Drove the development of guidelines for implementing camera trap projects for monitoring wildlife. May – August 2017
Big Cats Intern, National Geographic, Nicholas School of the Environment
Evaluated wildlife management practices for large carnivores in Africa and wrote blog posts to increase awareness and build support for big cat conservation efforts. August – December  2016
Amphibian Research Intern, NYC Parks and Recreation 
Gathered physical data and genetic samples from salamanders along a stream transect, recording locations using Trimble GPS to assess impact of isolation on genetic diversity. May – August 2012
Marine Mammal Intern, Mauritius Marine Conservation Society 
Honed data collection skills and participated in wildlife behavior research to assess impacts of ecotourism on marine life. June – August 2009
Natural Resource Intern, Shenandoah National Park
Quantified forest health by conducting vegetation surveys and collecting soil samples. May – August 2007

Award ● Field Fellow

Hometown ● Oakton, Virginia

Undergraduate Institute ● Wheaton College


grant writing
project management
survey design

Graduation Date

May 2018

Additional Resources



Preferred Location


Preferred Sector

Entrepreneur / Start-up
Federal Government
Non-profit / NGO
Research Institute / Think Tank
State / Local Government