SCCS-NY 2019 Plenary Speakers main content.

SCCS-NY 2019 Plenary Speakers

Plenary talks by leaders in the conservation field are a cornerstone of SCCS-NY, bringing dynamic, innovative perspectives on contemporary conservation issues. This year’s conference will feature talks by:

Profile picture of Dekila Chungyalpa

Dekila Chungyalpa

Director, Loka Initiative

Dekila Chungyalpa is the Director of the Loka Initiative, a new education and outreach platform for faith leaders at the University of Wisconsin – Madison focusing on environmental and climate issues. Dekila was the recipient of the Yale McCluskey Award in 2014 for her innovative conservation work with faith leaders around the world and continued as associate research scientist at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies until 2018. She worked extensively on community-based conservation in the Himalayas and led the development of regional climate change adaptation and sustainable solutions for hydropower in the Mekong region for the World Wildlife Fund from 2001 to 2011. In 2009, Dekila created WWF Sacred Earth, a 5-year pilot program that built partnerships with faith leaders and religious institutions towards concrete conservation results in the Amazon, East Africa, Himalayas, Mekong, and the United States. She has served as an environmental advisor for Khoryug, an eco-association over 50 monasteries and nunneries in the Himalayas carrying out on-the-ground environmental projects.

More information on these different programs can be found at: 

Dekila has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Environmental Policy from the College of Wooster, Ohio and a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development from American University, Washington DC. She is originally from the Himalayan state of Sikkim in India and speaks Sikkimese, Tibetan, Nepali, Hindi and English fluently.


Liz Nichols profile picture

Elizabeth Nichols

Adjunct Professor of Ecology at USP, and a Foreign Affairs Officer and AAAS Science and Technology Fellow at the Department of State 

Liz Nichols is a conservation ecologist and international environmental policy analyst, based at the University of São Paulo's Department of Ecology, and the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. As an academic, she maintains a research program that quantifies tropical biodiversity responses to conservation and management practices and policies, and explores the science-policy interface through teaching, research, and application. As a policy-maker, she manages the science-policy basis of the U.S. relationship with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), coordinates the State Department's environmental oversight of multilateral development bank infrastructure investments, and represents the United States as an environmental negotiator in several multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), including the UNFCCC and Minamata Conventions.