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Wednesdays in April and October | 7 p.m.

Journey with Smithsonian scientists and other conservation professionals as they travel the globe to study and protect species and ecosystems. Share in their adventures during these free science lecture series.

The series is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, so arrive early. Lectures take place at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.

Upcoming Lectures

April 3 | "The SCBI Animal Collection" speaker: Paul Marinari, senior curator, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Animal Programs 

The Department of Animal Programs team currently manages 12 mammal and nine bird species in 24 specialized barns and building complexes spread over more than 1,000 acres at the SCBI. This special environment allows for unique studies that contribute to the survival of threatened, difficult-to-breed species with distinctive needs, especially those requiring large areas, natural group sizes and minimal public disturbance. An overview of the SCBI living collection will be presented along with highlights of our animal management and science. New species and new infrastructure will be discussed.

April 10 | "You Heard it Here: Monitoring local animal diversity with citizen science and passive technology," speaker: Justin Cooper, research associate, George Mason University, research fellow, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Learn how scientist Justin Cooper surveys biodiversity through acoustic recorders and camera traps, and working with citizen scientists. His latest research is about to take him to the Amazon! 

April 17 | "Conservation Medicine — Saving a Species Through One Health," speaker: Dr. Dawn Zimmerman, wildlife veterinarian, SCBI's Global Health ProgramIn the 1980s, the critically endangered mountain gorilla was on the verge of extinction with only 250 animals left. Today, they number at 1,004 — the only great ape increasing in the wild. This is in part due to a One Health approach veterinarians took to address the health and well-being of both gorillas and humans. The recovery of the mountain gorilla population is considered one of the most successful conservation efforts of the last century. However, the population is still in a fragile state, and conservation efforts must remain vigilant. This includes preemptive research, mitigation strategies and prepared responses to current threats. Smithsonian is working both in situ and ex situ in these capacities for the benefit of gorilla conservation — from capacity building with in-country veterinarians and assessing novel technologies to monitor health and well-being to researching potentially devastating diseases.  

April 24 | "Rescuing Reptiles in Myanmar — Evaluating and highlighting the successes of Turtle Survival Alliance and Wildlife Conservation Society's Myanmar program with recommendations for the future," speaker: Matt Evans, herpetologist and assistant curator, Smithsonian's National Zoo - Reptile Discovery Center

In Myanmar, turtles and tortoises are rapidly disappearing — the result of poaching and other threats. The good news: all hope is not lost for critically endangered turtles. Rescue facilities across the country, supported by the Turtle Survival Alliance and Wildlife Conservation Society, are working to save these species from extinction. Thanks to a Friends of the National Zoo Round up for Conservation grant, Reptile Discovery Center assistant curator Matt Evans traveled to these facilities. He brought with him a host of supplies and husbandry expertise to help his colleagues improve the health and welfare of these endangered reptiles so they may be reintroduced back into the wild.

April 30 | "The Elephants and Bees Project — Using Honey Bees as a Natural Deterrent for Crop-raiding Elephants," speaker: Dr. Lucy King, head of the elephant-human co-existence program, Save the Elephants

Elephants in Kenya are not confined to national parks and reserves; hence, interactions between farmers and crop-raiding elephants can pose serious social, political, economical and conservation problems. Dr. Lucy King’s research has proved that African elephants are aware about, and will actively avoid, the threat of African honey bees. These behavioral discoveries were groundbreaking, and encouraged her to develop and test a unique application for this behavior through her design of protective Beehive Fences around farmers’ fields with the aim of reducing human-elephant conflict. Beehive Fences have now spread to 17 countries and are not only reducing damaging crop-raids by elephants by as much as 80 percent, but also helping to pollinate fields. Farmers are now harvesting valuable “Elephant-Friendly Honey” as an additional product from their land.

Additional Details:

The SMSC Dining Hall will be open for dinner at 5 p.m. on lecture dates. Food service ends at 6:15 p.m. Lecture guests will be offered a special price of $10 per person. If you plan to attend dinner (all-you-can-eat), please RSVP to Maridee.Warren-Stearns@sodexo.com. Visit the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation Dining Commons Facebook page to see the evening's featured entree. A salad bar and grill items are also available. Outside food is not permitted in the dinin hall.


Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation Dining Hall
1500 Remount Road
Front Royal, Virginia 22630

Please note: Pets are not allowed on SCBI property.


Directions from the east:

Take I-66 west to the Linden/Front Royal exit #13
At end of ramp, turn left, under freeway to stoplight at Route 55
Turn right (west) on Route 55 and travel five miles into Front Royal
Turn left at signal, Route 522/Remount Road
Drive approximately 2 miles and take a left into Gate 2 and follow event parking signs

Directions from Rappahannock:

From US 211 take 522 north ~ 12 miles
Turn right into Gate 2 and follow event parking signs