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Dr. Montira Pongsiri to Direct WCS HEAL Program, Guide Policy Work of New Planetary Health Alliance

Program Updates February 02, 2016

Dr. Chris Golden has, with excitement and encouragement from the WCS and the HEAL consortium, accepted a new position as Associate Director of the Planetary Health Alliance, based at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard University Center for the Environment. This position is funded by the Wellcome Trust and by the Rockefeller Foundation. WCS has also received a new grant from The Rockefeller Foundation for our role in the Planetary Health Alliance, which is essentially that of the "science policy arm" of the PHA. As such, we will continue to work to move solid science into the applied decision-making realm, taking advantage of WCS sites and relationships around the world: ongoing proof of the PH concept. We are extremely pleased to announce the hiring of a new HEAL Director / PHA Science Policy Advisor, Dr. Montira Pongsiri, based at WCS in the Washington, DC office. Our long-standing partnership with Harvard will continue to be invaluable in our ongoing development of new approaches to influencing positive outcomes in the conservation and public health realms.

Dr. Pongsiri was the first Science Advisor at the U.S. Mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), based in Jakarta, where she led the Mission’s efforts to apply science and technology to support ASEAN’s sustainability goals and to improve the capacity and quality of science-based policy making. She developed science programming including a sustainable cities partnership to support climate adaptation and resilience planning, as well as the U.S.-ASEAN Science and Technology Fellows Program aimed at improving science capacity in ASEAN member countries.

She was on assignment at the U.S. Mission to ASEAN from her base at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development in Washington, DC. As an Environmental Health Scientist at the EPA, Dr. Pongsiri developed an interdisciplinary research initiative on biodiversity and human health.  She was also the agency’s lead on partnerships with the Smithsonian Institution focused on biodiversity-health research and education / outreach activities. Dr. Pongsiri also led EPA’s partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Initiative to apply science-based tools to support community resilience. 

As a long-time contributor to HEAL's development and as a member of The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health, Dr. Pongsiri brings expertise on the links between environmental change and human health. Montira earned her Masters of Environmental Studies (MES) at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, her Masters of Public Health (MPH) from Yale's Department of Public Health, and a PhD at Yale's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She majored in neuroscience as an undergraduate at Oberlin College. Montira can be reached at mpongsiri@wcs.org.

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