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Past Leaders

SER owes much of its accomplishments to the time and dedication of its volunteer Board of Directors. We recognize the past Chairs/Presidents in particular for their tremendous contributions, not only to SER but to the entire field of ecological restoration. We encourage you to read their biographies below to learn more about their significant achievements in SER and beyond.


John Rieger
President, 1988-1993

John Rieger is a consultant with Biological Analysis Group and John Rieger & Associates, conducting biological studies for federal, state and private development. John received a B.Sc. in Zoology from Califonia State University, San Diego and a M.Sc. in Biology with emphasis in Vertebrate Zoology from San Diego State University. Over the past thirty years John has shared his passion and insight into ecological restoration though dozens of presentations, workshops, and trainings around the world.

Read John's full bio

Andre Clewell
President, 1993-1995

Andre F. Clewell taught botany at Florida State University in Tallahassee for 16 years before entering private practice as a restoration practitioner and plant ecologist where he owned a consulting firm for 22 years. He is currently the managing trustee of the newly formed nongovernmental organization, RNC-South Asia, which is affiliated with the RNC Alliance, based at the Missouri Botanical Garden. His research interests include ecosystem inventory and characterization, restoration ecology, and plant systematics.

Read Andre's full bio

Nik Lopoukhine
Chair, 1995-1997

Nik Lopoukhine has served as the Director General of National Parks, Canada and the Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and has played a major role in conservation and restoration of protected areas in Canada and around the world. In February 2012, Nik was honored with the J.B. Harkin Award for his life-long commitment to Canadian conservation and, more recently, the Gold Leaf Award by the Canadian Council for Ecological Areas.

Read Nik's full bio

George Gann
Chair, 1997-1999, 2007-2009

As a founder and Chief Conservation Strategist at the Institute for Regional Conservation, George Gann has spent the last 40 years working on the conservation of rare plants, the restoration of ecosystems and a host of other conservation and sustainability issues. He attended the University of Colorado Boulder, where he received a B.A. with distinction in International Affairs and Environmental Conservation.

Read George's full bio

Edith Read
Chair, 1999-2001

Dr. Edith Read has been a professional biologist and restoration ecologist for 27 years since graduating with a Ph.D. in biology from UC Irvine in 1989, monitoring hydropower impacts on streams, restored riparian forests impacted by stream diversions, and restored scrub habitats impacted by illegal development. Since 2003 she has managed the Ballona Freshwater Wetlands on the west side of Los Angeles, California, a project that has demonstrated one of the most successful wetland restoration projects in the nation.

Read Edith's full bio

Eric Higgs
Chair, 2001-2003

Eric Higgs is a Professor in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria, Canada. His research focuses on ecological restoration in a changing world: How do we intervene appropriately in ecosystems undergoing rapid change? His approach is interdisciplinary, ranging from hands-on fieldwork in historical ecology, to applied policy work and conceptual issues in ecological restoration. He received his PhD in Philosophy, Regional Planning and Resources Development from the University of Waterloo.

Read Eric's full bio

Keith Bowers
Chair, 2003-2007

As the founder and President of Biohabitats, Inc, Keith Bowers (RLA, FASLA, PWS) has been a pioneer at the confluence of ecological restoration and landscape architecture for the past 30 decades. Under Keith's leadership, Biohabitats is a widely successful 70+ person multidisciplinary firm focusing exclusively on conservation planning, ecological restoration and regenerative design today. Keith holds a B.S. in Landscape Architecture from West Virginia University and an honorary degree from the Conway School of Design.

Read Keith's full bio

Jim Harris
Chair, 2009-2010

Jim Harris is the ‎Chair in Environmental Technology at Cranfield University, where his research and teaching interests are wide - ranging from microbial ecology and how the diversity of the microbiota and their spatio-temporal distribution affect ecosystem processes, ecological restoration, systems ecology, policy implications and resilience. Jim's first degree was in Applied Biology at North East London Polytechnic, specializing in plant biochemistry followed by his doctoral work in the microbiology of stored topsoil on opencast mine sites.

Read Jim's full bio

Steve Whisenant
Chair, 2010-2013

Steve Whisenant is a retired Professor of Ecosystem Science and Management at Texas A&M University where he lead academic, research, and extension programs in rangelands, forestry, and ecosystem management. During his time as a professor, he initiated and taught the first ecological restoration course in 1989 and organized the development and creation of a B.S. degree in Ecological Restoration. Steve is currently a Senior Research Scientist and Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East at the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture.

Read Steve's full bio

Cara R. Nelson
Chair, 2013-2015

Cara R. Nelson is an Associate Professor of Restoration Ecology in University of Montana’s Ecosystem Sciences and Conservation Department and the founding Director of the University’s Ecological Restoration Program. She received Masters degrees in Forestry and in Conservation Biology from University of Wisconsin and a PhD in Forest Ecosystem Analysis from University of Washington. Cara and her students study the effects of large-scale disturbance on vegetation, the efficacy and ecological impacts of ecological restoration, and the conceptual basis for ecological restoration.
Al Unwin
Chair, 2015-2017

Al serves as Chair for the School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies at Niagara College in Canada. Al also teaches graduate courses in ecosystem restoration and restoration ecology. He served on SER’s board in a variety of capacities since 2001. Al was the conference chair for the 13th Annual SER International conference held in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in the fall of 2001. His passion and commitment for restoration are second, only, to his passion for fly fishing.