× Entry passes are now required to visit the Zoo. Please review the new COVID-19 safety policies and exhibit closures before booking your trip.

Share this page:

Joseph Kolowski, Ph.D.

Wildlife Ecologist, Graduate and Professional Training Manager
B.S., Cornell University; M.S., Southern Illinois University; Ph.D., Michigan State University

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.  

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.
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.
Recent Publications: 
Kays, Roland, Arbogast, Brian S., Baker‐Whatton, Megan, Beirne, Chris, Boone, Hailey M., Bowler, Mark, Burneo, Santiago F., Cove, Michael V., Ding, Ping, Espinosa, Santiago, Gonçalves, André,Luis Sousa, Hansen, Christopher P., Jansen, Patrick A., Kolowski, Joseph M., Knowles, Travis W., Lima, Marcela Guimarães Moreira, Millspaugh, Joshua, McShea, William J., Pacifici, Krishna, Parsons, Arielle W., Pease, Brent S., Rovero, Francesco, Santos, Fernanda, Schuttler, Stephanie G., Sheil, Douglas, et al. 2020. An empirical evaluation of camera trap study design: how many, how long, and when?. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 1-40. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13370
Villafañe-Trujillo, Álvaro J., López-González, Carlos A. and Kolowski, Joseph M. 2018. Throat Patch Variation in Tayra (Eira barbara) and the Potential for Individual Identification in the Field. Diversity, 1-23. https://doi.org/10.3390/d10010007
Gregory, Tremaine, Carrasco-Rueda, Farah, Alonso, Alfonso, Kolowski, Joseph and Deichmann, Jessica L. 2017. Natural canopy bridges effectively mitigate tropical forest fragmentation for arboreal mammals. Scientific Reports. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-04112-x