2022 IWFF FINAL JURY
Dr. Erim Gómez
Dr. Erim Gómez is an assistant professor of wildlife biology at the University of Montana, one of the nation’s best programs. Gómez first became interested in wildlife after watching the famous Craighead brother’s films on grizzly bear research that was conducted in Yellowstone National Park. Gómez holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from Southern Oregon University and Masters and Ph.D. in Natural Resource Sciences from Washington State University. Gómez considers himself a conservation biologist. His more recent research work aims to understand the habitat occupancy of charismatic minifauna; from crayfish and amphibians to butterflies and birds.
Gómez is a first-generation American and is proud of his parent’s farm working and immigrant roots. He spent a decade as advisor to the largest Latinx college student organization in Washington, MEChA de WSU. Gómez is the founding advisor of UM’s Chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (largest STEM Diversity organization in the country).
Colleen Thurston is a non-fiction filmmaker, film programmer, and educator from Tulsa, Oklahoma. As an Indigenous storyteller, her work explores the relationships between humans and the natural world and often focuses on Native stories and perspectives. A graduate of Montana State University's Science and Natural History Filmmaking program, she has worked for the Smithsonian Channel, Vox, IllumiNative, and public television. Currently, Colleen is an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism where she teaches video production and documentary studies. She is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation and a current Sundance Indigenous Film Fellow.
Roshan Patel is an award-winning filmmaker based in Washington, D.C. He earned a BS in Biology and later an MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking and has worked in conservation biology, community development, and over the last decade, turned to filmmaking as his craft of choice to shed light on urgent ecological stories. At IWFF, three of his films have won “Best Short” and one earned the “Conservation Award.” Currently, Roshan is the resident filmmaker and photographer at Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute where he creates short films, social media content, and multimedia for exhibits.