Brian Coyle is a program manager and researcher with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. His work involves multi-disciplinary collaboration with other Smithsonian science centers, museums and education programs and spans One Health, conservation of endangered species and habitats, sustainable agroforestry and training the next generation of sustainability leaders.    

Coyle’s projects include:

  • Smithsonian Interconnected Health: a pan-institutional, multi-disciplinary program focused on One Health research and action that integrates across science, humanities and collections
  • Earth Optimism Youth Action: training and empowering teens to research, design and lead community-based sustainability projects in collaboration with Smithsonian-affiliated museums in cities across the U.S.
  • Red Siskin Initiative: a diverse international collaboration between zoos, environmental non-governmental organizations, and communities that employs a flagship approach to species and habitat conservation centered around the recovery of the endangered and iconic red siskin (Spinus cucullatus) and Bird Friendly® agroforestry in the world’s richest biodiversity hotspot, the tropical Andes.
  • Bird Friendly Coffee: promoting best practices in sustainable coffee agroforestry on a landscape scale that achieves biodiversity conservation, cultural preservation of traditional farming lifestyles, and economic viability for farming communities 

Coyle sparked the integration of Bird Friendly Coffee certification in the Red Siskin Initiative conservation program in Venezuela and helped expand the RSI to a broad coalition of diverse partners internationally consisting of zoos, non-governmental organizations, civil associations, communities and more. He co-founded and co-directs a youth action program that has catalyzed youth leadership for sustainability in cities across the country, including dozens of community-based projects ranging from habitat restoration, to editorial campaigns designed to increase environmental literacy, to climate action summits. His work on Interconnected Health is helping to connect researchers from across disciplines and units at the Smithsonian to achieve much greater impact through interdisciplinary collaboration.  

After receiving a bachelor's degree in animal science and pathobiology from the University of Connecticut, Coyle worked with the U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Smithsonian on endangered species and natural resources management.  He then enrolled in the University of Maryland, College Park, where he received a Ph.D. in behavioral and sensory ecology in 2013. The same year, he started a postdoctoral research position on the endangered red siskin at the National Museum of Natural History and later moved to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Coyle also leads a community-based volunteer organization focused on local conservation and sustainability action in natural and built environments.  

Coyle’s work is motivated by a lifelong fascination with the natural world and by the accelerating climate and biodiversity crises. His efforts at the Smithsonian and in his community are driven by the urgent need for transformational change in our environmental values, behaviors and policies.

Research Interests

Brian Coyle works on research and action programs spanning One Health, biodiversity conservation, community sustainability, and environmental education and leadership training.