Leslie is a conservation ecologist who enjoys working across disciplines and with diverse groups to create innovative solutions. As a research scientist at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, her work focuses on the intersection of conservation, natural resources, gender, and development, particularly ins conflict regions.
She has created multiple high-impact student engagement activities, emphasizing experiential learning and multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving. She has taken students to the Peruvian Amazon, Nepal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Botswana, Honduras, Israel, and Costa Rica. She teaches courses on natural resource management, natural resource policy, gender, international development, conservation, and environmental conflict both in the classroom and abroad.
She holds a PhD in Ecology from University of Georgia, served as Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana, and managed university-based initiatives for NSF and USAID. Having lived in four countries and traveled to over 90 countries in her career, she has broad experience in international applied conservation and research including stints at Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute- Panama, Honduran Coral Reef Foundation, Applied Biodiversity Science Program (NSF-funded), Earthwatch, and the Center on Conflict and Development (USAID-funded). Her work is recognized with the United Nations Development Program’s Equator Prize Initiative for grassroots community conservation for the WCHS, the Dean of AgriLife’s Award for Interdisciplinary Teams, The Founder’s Excellence Award from her alma mater, and Dean of the Bush School’s Award for Excellence.
She recently founded the NGO Conservation in Action with programs in eastern DRC supporting green entrepreneurship, Botswana to foster human-wildlife co-existence, marine conservation activities, and introducing young people to conservation.
She is an avid scuba diver, hiker, and explorer of all the diversity the planet has to offer. She loves sports, particularly volleyball in all its forms, women’s basketball, and men’s basketball.