James Smithson Fellow
B.A. University of California, Berkeley; Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Shermin de Silva is a James Smithson Fellow based at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's (SCBI) Conservation Ecology Center. She is a behavioral ecologist by training with 10 years of experience studying Asian elephants. Her research interests range from animal behavior and communication to population biology. As a Smithson fellow she is investigating how landcover changes might affect elephant populations and is interested in understanding how research translates into international wildlife conservation policy as well as public understanding and engagement with conservation in Asia.
De Silva runs the Uda Walawe Elephant Research Project in Sri Lanka, an ongoing study that follows 400-600 individually identified elephants out of a population numbering approximately 1,000. She is the president and founder of Trunks & Leaves, a conservation nonprofit and is currently collaborating on a book on Elephant Behavior and Conservation. She is a member of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology and Society for Conservation Biology, and joined the IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group in 2015.
De Silva received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002, majoring in both integrative biology and philosophy. She went on to receive her doctorate in biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010. Following this she was an National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow with Dr. George Wittemyer at Colorado State University from 2011-2014, and then a fellow at the College of Life Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin from 2014-2015.