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Christie Sampson, Ph.D.

Smithsonian Fellow
B.S., Michigcan State University; M.S., Clemson University; Ph.D., Clemson University

Christie Sampson is a Smithsonian Fellow at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Conservation Ecology Center, where some of the world’s leading scientists are fighting to save endangered species across the globe. Sampson's primary focus is on understanding the drivers for and mitigating human-elephant conflict and poaching. Her research areas include human-dimensions of wildlife conflict, landscape ecology and conservation biology.

Along with a team of SCBI biologists and outside collaborators, Sampson’s work tracking elephant movement led to the discovery of the extreme rate of poaching occurring in Myanmar, not only for ivory but also for elephant skin and other body parts. She is an experienced field ecologist who has worked on projects with elephants in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, tigers and leopards in Russia, and wolves and bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Her work with SCBI and collaborators on human-wildlife conflict informs management and conservation efforts across multiple continents.
Sampson graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor's in biosystems engineering and a bachelor's in zoology in 2005. She earned her Master of Science in biological sciences from Clemson University in 2013, and received her doctorate in biological sciences from Clemson University in 2018. Sampson began working with SCBI in 2009 as an intern in the GIS lab. She has since been named an Emerging Fellow by the Eurasia Foundation, received two honorable mentions in the NSF Graduate Fellowship Program, was president of the Alpha Epsilon Lambda National Honor Society (Eta Chapter), and is the co-founder/director of What’s in Our Waters, an educational outreach program for high school students.
Her initial dreams of finding fame and fortune through an illustrious singing career were dashed at the age of 10 when family members all agreed she could not carry a tune. Thankfully, she had already developed a passion for conserving the world’s wild places and creatures, which drives her research pursuits to this day.
Recent Publications: 

C. Sampson, J. McEvoy, Zaw Min Oo, Aung Myo Chit, Aung Nyein Chan, D. Tonkyn, Paing Soe, M. Songer, A.C. Williams, K. Reisinger, G. Wittemyer, and P. Leimgruber. 2018. New elephant crisis in Asia—Early warning signs from Myanmar. PLoS ONE: e0194113.

C. Sampson, P. Leimgruber, D. Tonkyn, J. Pastorini, H.K. Janaka, E. Sotherden, P. Fernando. 2018. Effects of illegal grazing and invasive Lantana camara on Asian elephant habitat use. Biological Conservation, 2018: 220 (50-59).
S. Doyle, M. Groo, C. Sampson, M. Songer, M. Jones, P. Leimgruber. 2010. Human-elephant conflict—what can we learn from the news? Gajah, 2010: 32(14-20).

Projects: