IWFF Labs Fellows

Meet our distinguished 2018 IWFF Labs Participants. Over 200 people applied, we accepted 16. Congrats!


Kyle McBurnie


Kyle McBurnie is a filmmaker, an expedition leader, and an entrepreneur. Best known for his work in the California ocean, Kyle has shot for the BBC, Discovery Channel, Passion Pictures and others. His underwater photography has been published in NG Magazine and he is a NG Young Explorer. Kyle is also a co-founder of SD Expeditions, an ocean company specializing in cage-less shark diving and wildlife experiences.

Justin Lawrence

J.P. is finishing his PhD at the University of Mississippi. He is working to understand how color variation can evolve in animals with warning coloration. He has focused on the Poison Frogs of Central and South America, and the Australian Brood Frogs to investigate these questions. His work has allowed him to travel around the globe from Costa Rica, Panama, French Guiana, and Ecuador to Australia and Malaysian Borneo. In addition to research on these excursions, he will take students to teach them in the scientific method and use his photography to communicate the importance of conserving such biodiverse areas.

Victoria Armayor

My name is Victoria Armayor and I’m originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. While working as an environmental policy negotiator at the United Nations, I discovered the powerful role that media plays in raising awareness about the issues the world is facing. After earning my Masters degree in Media, Politics and Communications from NYU I became a junior producer for a documentary series on climate change called Years of Living Dangerously for the National Geographic Channel. Since then, I’ve continued to explore my passion as a storyteller working on documentary series for the History Channel and CNN.

Adrian Smith


Dr. Adrian Smith is a biologist studying in the behavior, evolution, and ecology of social insects with a particular focus on ants. He is an active science communicator who specializes in communicating primary research through digital media and video. He is the head of the Evolutionary Biology & Behavior Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The lab is a glass-walled, on-exhibit display where museum visitors can observe Smith and his students and colleagues at work. He is also a research assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University.

Alison Caldwell

Alie Caldwell is a PhD Candidate of Neurosciences at UC San Diego where she studies the roles of brain cells called astrocytes in how the brain grows and develops. She also writes science videos and is the co-creator and co-host of Neuro Transmissions, an award-winning educational YouTube channel all about the brain.

Mark Chynoweth

Mark Chynoweth is an assistant professor of wildlife ecology and conservation biology at Utah State University – Uintah Basin. He is an educator and researcher whose work focuses on large mammal ecology and conservation in human-dominated landscapes. He hopes that his research will be used to guide conservation and management of mammals, specifically carnivore species, and protection of biodiversity at the ecosystem level. All of Mark’s past, current and future work focuses on natural resource management. In his spare time, Mark enjoys exploring the outdoors on foot, bikes or skis, playing music, and traveling to new places.

Becca Skinner

Becca Skinner was born into a family of adventurers and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the high plains of Wyoming. This environment fueled a lifetime passion about wild places and exploring. While studying social work and technical writing at the University of Wyoming, Becca won a National Geographic Young Explorer Grant to document post-tsunami Sumatra, Indonesia. That trip sparked a leave from school, which led to 32,000 miles of living out of a car, traveling and photographing around the West. She now resides in Bozeman, Montana and works as an adventure and conservation photographer and writer.”

Jennifer Adler

Jenny is conservation photographer, cave diver, and National Geographic Explorer. She has a degree in marine biology from Brown University and moved to Florida to work as a biologist at USGS. She uses her background in science to inform her imagery and tell visual stories that communicate science and conservation. As part of her dissertation, she started the Walking on Water program, which immerses elementary school students in Florida’s springs, cameras in hand. Jenny will graduate with her PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology in May 2018. She is a TEDx speaker and her imagery is represented by National Geographic Creative.

Cassandra Chowdhury

Cassandra Chowdhury is a Los Angeles based filmmaker with a passion for wildlife. She co-founded Mindfruit, a production company, in 2010 and has since worked on over 100 productions. Though her career started in commercials and music videos, Cassandra has refocused on documentary and educational content and seeks with each of her projects to make people think more compassionately about the world around them. Alongside her film work, she has worked as an educator at the Los Angeles Zoo and a wildlife rehabber. She has also been known to binge David Attenborough and spend countless hours researching arthropods on Wikipedia.

Jaclyn Aliperti

Jackie is a PhD candidate in Ecology at University of California, Davis. She aims to bridge the fields of behavioral and spatial ecology to aid wildlife management and increase awareness of conservation issues through science communication. Her Master’s work investigated plant-animal interactions between two species of bats and the world’s largest species of cactus in Baja California, Sur Mexico. Jackie is now focusing her dissertation research on long-term habitat selection decisions and the interplay between behavioral and spatial dynamics of golden-mantled ground squirrels in Gothic, Colorado. She feels passionate about engaging the public through scientific storytelling.

Danny Copeland

Born and raised in a small, seaside town in Northern Wales, Danny Copeland is a freelance multi-media specialist focusing on creating digital content that aids in marine conservation.

Wendy Baxter

Wendy Baxter has diverse interests. Currently a research associate at UC Berkeley, she maintains weather stations throughout the state of California, collaborates on several research projects in a variety of ecosystems, helps manage a lab, climbs really big trees and makes videos about as much of it as she can. Combining her passion for science with videography, she shares the unique experience of studying giant sequoia and coast redwood canopies with people around the globe from the perspective of scientists. Most recently she joined Meg Lowman and an international team of scientists in Penang, Malaysia for a whole forest Bioblitz.

Tanya Martinez

My name is Tanya Martinez, I’m a Puerto Rican conservation biologist working to save the endangered Puerto Rican parrot. As a native of the island, I’ve always loved the wildlife of my tiny homeland, but the parrots hold a special place in my heart. I conduct research and participate in the management of this critically endangered species. I believe in the importance of science communication and consider it my mission to share the story of the parrots with the world. I’m also an amateur photographer and love documenting my work in pictures.

Jeff Kerby

I’m an ecologist and photographer currently based at Dartmouth College. Though I work in systems spanning the Arctic to East Africa, climate change and species-interactions are unifying themes in my research and conservation priorities. As a postdoc, I link field and satellite data, teach ecology and conservation, and build drones as Technical Director of ConservationDrones.org. Beyond academia, I’m increasingly interested in scientific journalism. In 2017, I had my first feature photo story published in National Geographic magazine. I see Filmmaking LABs as a unique chance to further develop skills critical to both scientific research and photojournalism.

Zach Montes

After graduating from Carleton College with a B.A. in Geology, Zach Montes decided to take a year off from the academic track… 8 years later, the PhD train has apparently left the station for good, leaving Zach behind in Jackson Wyoming where he skied powder and navigated rivers as a professional bum. In 2015, Zach co-founded Orijin Media, a full service creative agency dedicated to crafting stories for organizations doing good. In the past 3 years Zach has lent his production skills to projects in Samburu Kenya (Safari Seat Kickstarter Campaign – an open source wheelchair for the developing world), Baffin Island (Paleoclimate Research Summary to raise additional funds for work), and Guyana (WWF funded series of short films to garner support for the creation of a 3 million acre national park).

Billy Almon

Billy Almon has been an Imagineer for nearly a decade. He’s an architecture graduate of Howard University and is completing his Masters studies in Biomimicry at Arizona State University. He is the creator and host of upcoming show Billy Biology. As a designer and storyteller, Billy’s interests lie at the intersection of nature, design, and technology. In all of his projects, his purpose is to create immersive experiences that give people some form of “peace of mind” while also educating them on nature’s inherent value. He believes in nature are sustainable answers and innovative solutions to the challenges of humanity, we just have to be willing to find them.