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Sarah J Converse, PhD

Unit Leader - Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

​​​​​​​Dr. Converse received graduate degrees from the University of Nebraska and Colorado State University. She then completed a postdoctoral position at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center before accepting a permanent position with USGS at Patuxent, where she led a research program for 10 years focused on endangered species conservation, decision science, and quantitative ecology. In 2017 she became the Unit Leader of the Washington Unit at University of Washington, where she serves as an Associate Professor. Her research focuses on the development and application of methods to understand the functioning of populations and to improve their management. She works across a broad variety of taxa: terrestrial birds, seabirds, marine mammals, amphibians, and others. Her research projects tend to reflect two primary themes: (1) development and application of quantitative methods in population ecology, particularly for small and declining populations; and (2) development and application of decision-analytic methods to inform management of populations. Sarah collaborates extensively with managers in federal and state agencies, and she works internationally, with current research projects located in Europe, New Zealand, French Polynesia, and the Arctic. Sarah teaches graduate courses in statistics and demographic analysis, and teaches professional and graduate courses on decision analysis. Sarah is active in efforts to increase equity and justice in her professional community.


  • Conference Best Paper Award, Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 2011
  • Department of Interior STAR Award, for work with Outer Continental Shelf energy development team, 2011
  • Department of Interior STAR Award, for work with Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, 2009
  • Department of Interior STAR Award, for work with Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 2009
  • Department of Interior STAR Award, for work with Northeast Region Fisheries Program, 2008


  • Instructor: Training for Effective Conservation Translocation (with IUCN Reintroduction Specialist Group), workshop venues
  • Instructor: Integrated Population Modeling (with Drs. Marc Kery and Michael Schaub), workshop venues 
  • Instructor: Introduction to Structured Decision Making, National Conservation Training Center


  • Dr. Nathan Hostetter, Improved Design and Analysis of Polar Bear Population Studies (2016-Present) 
  • Dr. Jonathan Cummings, Landscape Level Population Modeling as a Decision Support Tool for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken  (2014-Present, w/Dr. Dave Smith, USGS Leetown Science Center)
  • Dr. Sabrina Servanty, Population Viability of the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes (2009-2013, w/Dr. Larissa Bailey, Colorado State University)


  • Dr. Stefano Canessa, Decision Theory for Reintroductions   (2011-2015, w/Drs. Mick McCarthy and Kirsten Parris, University of Melbourne)
  • Ms. Megan Brown, Causes of Poor Fertility i