Joe Kolowski is a graduate and professional training manager for the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation, based at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's campus in Front Royal, Virginia. In his role, Kolowski works with a range of SCBI and external partners to develop, coordinate and evaluate training programs for graduate students and professionals. These short, intensive, residential programs range from one to two weeks in length, and teach a wide range of skills deemed essential for successful biodiversity conservation. The courses focus on topics that are often neglected in, or are too specialized for, standard university degree programs. Starting in 2020, new online formats were designed to maximize accessibility for professionals working a range of different schedules, and joining from around the globe.

Kolowski's own research has focused on the interaction between large mammals, primarily carnivores, and various types of human disturbances or activities. He has studied these interactions with hyenas in Kenya, bobcat in Illinois, ocelots in Peru, and more recently, black bears in Virginia. He was involved in the development and implementation of one of the largest canopy camera trapping efforts to date, which studied the effectiveness of natural canopy bridges in reducing fragmentation impacts of oil pipelines in the Amazon. He has worked on a range of projects around the world using these motion-triggered cameras to monitor wildlife, and he brings this experience to bear in teaching one of SMSC's most popular courses: Camera Trapping Study Design and Data Analysis. Recently, Kolowski has begun focusing on local conservation projects, and began a large GPS-tracking study of American Kestrels in Virginia to investigate habitat selection and inform land management in the region.

Kolowski received his bachelor's degree in natural resources with a concentration in wildlife ecology from Cornell University in 1998. He received his master's degree in wildlife ecology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2000, and his Ph.D. in zoology from Michigan State University in 2007. A postdoctoral research position is what brought Kolowski to the Smithsonian in 2007, and he spent two years studying the impact of oil-exploration activities on ocelots and primates in the Peruvian Amazon with SCBI's Center for Conservation Sustainability. He transitioned to his current position in 2010, where he is inspired by the hundreds of students, scientists and managers that attend SMSC's courses each year to improve their effectiveness in working to manage and conserve species around the world.

Research Interests

Joe Kolowski is a wildlife ecologist using tracking data, camera-trap surveys and public databases to better understand the ecology of mammal and bird populations living in human landscapes. His research seeks to inform policy and management that reduces human-wildlife conflict and promotes sustainable coexistence between humans and animal populations.

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