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Our Team


headshot of Christine Vanderlan

Christine Vanderlan

Conservation and Land Use Specialist | Contact

Christine joined the Estuary Program in 2022, following eight years at the Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC), a non-profit land trust where she led the Community Planning and Engagement Program. While at CLC, Christine hosted the long-running Roundtable for Conservation Advisory Councils, worked with partners to develop the Taghkanic Headwaters Conservation Plan, and assisted in strategic conservation planning. Christine earned a Master’s of Science in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy from the University at Albany.

Headshot of Laura Heady

Laura Heady

Conservation and Land Use Program Coordinator | Contact

Laura Heady leads the Conservation and Land Use Team at the Hudson River Estuary Program. She has 20 years of experience working to advance biodiversity conservation in the Hudson estuary watershed by creating and implementing innovative programs in conservation planning and community engagement; developing new partnerships; and contributing to NYS policy and planning initiatives. Laura also has interests in science communication, habitat connectivity, and strategic planning and is the founding manager of the volunteer Amphibian Migrations & Road Crossings Project. She earned her Master's of Science degree in biology with an emphasis in ecology from Idaho State University. Read more about Laura here.

Dr. D. Ponstingel headshot

Dr. Daria Ponstingel

Postdoctoral Associate | Contact

Daria Ponstingel is a postdoctoral associate at the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. Daria earned her PhD in Geography from Texas State University at San Marcos. Her research investigates human aspects of environmental well-being, including how decision-making, governance, and policy affect the outcomes of socio-ecological systems, and how these impacts can be managed and regulated. Daria uses GIS and remote sensing techniques to analyze ecological change and evaluate ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration. In her work, Daria also applies diverse economies and Ostrom’s frameworks to understand human behavior in natural resource management.

Dr. Shorna Allred headshot

Dr. Shorna Allred

Principal Investigator | Contact

Shorna Allred is the Susan R. Wolf Distinguished Professor in the Dept. of Geography and Environment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She also holds an Adjunct Professor position in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at Cornell University. A conservation social scientist, Dr. Allred teaches and conducts research in the areas of global sustainability, conservation and land use decision-making, community resilience, and environmental justice with a particular interest in the social dimensions of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Her main interests center on how conservation social science can facilitate community-based approaches to planning and management while enhancing the resilience and sustainability of communities both locally and abroad. Dr. Allred has been Principal Investigator for this program since 2021. Read more about Shorna’s research and teaching interests here.

Headshot of Dr. Patrick Sullivan of Cornell University Department of Natural Resources

Dr. Patrick Sullivan

Principal Investigator Emeritus | Contact

Patrick Sullivan is Professor Emeritus and former chair of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at Cornell University. With a PhD in Biostatistics and Biomathematics from the University of Washington, his research focuses on assessment and management of marine, estuarine, and freshwater fisheries. For 22 years, Dr. Sullivan was a member of the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) that advises the New England Fisheries Management Council. He is currently serving as a member of the SSC that advises the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. He also serves on the Steering Committee of the Center for Independent Experts, which provides independent scientific peer review of fisheries assessment methods nationally for NOAA/NMFS. Dr. Sullivan was Principal Investigator for this program from 2008 to 2021. Read more about Pat's research and teaching interests here.

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A woman stands at the edge of an ice-covered vernal pool in the woods in winter. By L. Heady
Our team has benefited from the assistance of many interns and part-time staff through Cornell, SUNY Albany, SUNY New Paltz, and the Student Conservation Association. Photo by L. Heady


We are fortunate to work with many partners on outreach, planning, and development of new data and tools to advance conservation in the Hudson River estuary watershed. The successful implementation of our program relies on this collaborative and ever-growing network of state agencies, conservation organizations, land trusts, and academic institutions.

Large group of people in conference room listening to a presentation. By L Heady
2019 Hudson Valley Conservation Partners meeting. Photo by L. Heady