Science Advisors

Scientific accuracy through independent review

REWI’s work is strengthened by technical review of our results by independent scientists and technical experts. Science Advisors provide technical input on specific projects and products to ensure rigorous review and scientific accuracy. The participation of REWI Science Advisors does not imply endorsement of REWI’s program or findings.

Amanda Hale

Senior Research Biologist

Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc.

Dr. Amanda Hale earned a BS in Biology and a BA in Spanish at Purdue University. She followed those degrees with an MS in Ecology, also at Purdue University, and then a PhD in Biology at the University of Miami. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Miami before joining the faculty at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth where she attained the rank of Professor of Biology. Dr. Hale is currently a senior research biologist with WEST, Inc. where she is the science lead for the Bat Practice Group. Dr. Hale’s areas of expertise include ecology, animal behavior, genetics, and conservation biology. She has more than 25 years of experience conducting field and lab-based research and has been investigating the effects of wind energy on birds and bats since 2008. In addition to serving as a science advisor to REWI (since 2011), Dr. Hale has been an associate editor to Ornithological Applications (2015-2022), is a member of the BWEC Scientific Advisory Committee (since 2018), and is an active member of several scientific organizations including the American Ornithological Society, the Ecological Society of America, and The Wildlife Society.

Rebecca R. Hernandez

Associate Professor of Ecology and Earth System Science

University of California – Davis

Dr. Rebecca R. Hernandez is an Associate Professor of Ecology and Earth System Science in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources and Director of the Wild Energy Center at the University of California – Davis. Dr. Hernandez received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and completed her postdoctoral training at UC Berkeley. For over ten years, she has led research on ecological aspects of energy systems, identifying their impacts and development options to support a sustainable, just transition from fossil fuels to a low carbon future. She is particularly interested in the land, air, water, biodiversity, and social impacts of energy development and how such impacts interface with global sustainability. She has published over 45 peer-review journal articles, including lead authorship in Nature Sustainability, Nature Climate Change, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews. Her research has been featured in National Geographic, NPR, The Washington Post, Scientific American, and Popular Science and over 115 other news outlets.

Jordan Macknick

Lead Energy-Water-Land Analyst

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Jordan Macknick is a Distinguished Member of the Research Staff and the Lead Energy-Water-Land Analyst for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). His primary work addresses the environmental impacts of energy technologies, while seeking opportunities for energy, economic, and ecological synergies. Since 2015, he has served as the Principal Investigator of the InSPIRE (Innovative Solar Practices Integrated with Rural Economies and Ecosystems) project, the United States’ largest and most comprehensive agrivoltaics research project, with more than 25 agrivoltaic field sites located across the country. He also serves as the Topic Area Lead for Data, Modeling, and Analysis for the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI), a U.S. Department of Energy initiative addressing innovative water treatment technologies for distributed applications and communities.

David Nelson


University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Dr. Nelson received a B.A. in Biology from Trinity Christian College in 2001 and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2005. He then conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Harvard University. He joined the faculty of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Appalachian Laboratory in 2009 and is currently a Professor. Dr. Nelson is a broadly trained ecologist who investigates how environmental changes affect the structure and function of ecosystems around the world. During the past decade he has led efforts to use stable isotope and genetic data to understand the movement and population dynamics of bats and birds affected by wind-energy development in North America. Dr. Nelson founded and directs the Central Appalachians Stable Isotope Facility, and he serves on the editorial boards of the journals Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment and PeerJ. He is a member of the Ecological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union.

Leslie New

Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science

Ursinus College

Dr. Leslie New graduated from Cornell University (BS in Natural Resources, 2003) and the University of St Andrews (PhD in Statistics and Biology, 2010). She remained at St Andrews as a postdoctoral fellow, before continuing her research with the US Marine Mammal Commission and the US Geological Survey at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Ursinus College, where she focuses on statistical ecology. Her research interests include the practical application of hierarchical Bayesian state-space models, understanding and mitigating human-wildlife conflict, and quantitatively assessing the population consequences of disturbance. Dr. New is particularly interested in the quantification, incorporation and propagation of uncertainty in statistical models used for management and conservation decisions.

Terry Root

Senior Fellow (University Faculty) Emerita

Stanford University

Dr. Terry L. Root is Senior Fellow (University Faculty) Emerita in Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.  Her research addressed how plants and animals are changing with the changing climate.  She was a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change 4th Assessment Report that in 2007 was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Al Gore.  Also, she was a lead author for the 3rd Assessment Report (2001) and a Review Editor for the 5th Assessment Report (2014).  In addition to other honors, Root was awarded the Spirit of Defenders Award for Science by Defenders of Wildlife in 2010, and Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 from the conservation organization Point Blue.  She serves as science advisor to several non-governmental organizations, has served on the boards of many environmental organizations, and is currently serving on the board of Defenders of Wildlife and BirdCaribbean.

Root earned her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of New Mexico, her master’s degree in Biology from the University of Colorado and her doctorate in Biology from Princeton University.  She was a Professor at the University of Michigan for 14 years, until she moved to Stanford University where she was on the faculty for 15 years.  She retired and moved to Sarasota, FL, in the summer of 2015.

Sarah Saunders

Quantitative Ecologist

National Audubon Society

Dr. Sarah Saunders graduated from Washington University in St. Louis (BA in Biology, 2010) and University of Minnesota – Twin Cities (PhD in Conservation Biology, 2015). Her graduate work focused on the environmental and genetic factors influencing the survival and reproduction of Great Lakes piping plovers, an endangered shorebird. From there, she joined Elise Zipkin’s quantitative ecology lab at Michigan State University as a postdoctoral researcher, where she modeled the abundance, distribution, and climatic drivers of monarch butterfly populations using community science data. Currently, Dr. Saunders is a Quantitative Ecologist in the Science Division at the National Audubon Society (remotely from her home in Michigan), where she primarily works on projects focused on the Great Lakes region, including modeling occupancy and abundance trends of marshbirds, coordinating science work across Audubon’s Great Lakes Initiative, assisting in development writing to further regional conservation efforts, and collaborating with the Audubon Great Lakes team in Chicago. Her research interests include the application of innovative quantitative methods to understand the demography, distribution, and trend of wildlife populations. In particular, she is interested in how variation in abiotic factors throughout the annual cycle impacts the population dynamics of migratory species. To tackle these questions, Dr. Saunders specializes in integrated population modeling, a method that enables incorporation of multiple data types and seasonal factors into a unified analysis for improved inference on population dynamics. In addition to birds, she has also studied organisms as diverse as red-sided garter snakes and tigers.

Lee Walston


Argonne National Laboratory

Lee Walston is an ecologist at Argonne National Laboratory where he is head of the Ecology, Natural Resources, and Managed Systems Department within the Environmental Science Division. He has over a decade of experience in efforts to better understand and minimize the ecological impacts of solar energy. For the past 5 years he has supported DOE-funded projects to evaluate the ecological and ecosystem service opportunities of solar energy dual land use practices. He has also served on several renewable energy advisory boards and working groups such as the Renewable Energy Working Group for The Wildlife Society.